There's No Trouble In Paradise

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If you ask Barbara Casey where her favorite vacation spot is, she will reward you with an incredulous look and a shrug of her shoulders. Then she will open her hands wide to the landscape of pine trees.

She smiles and says, "Where else?"

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Barbara Casey and her husband, Chuck, are the duo, Trouble in Paradise. They regularly participate in the Old Time Fiddlers' Jam in Pine and are frequent guest artists at other events.

For violinist Barbara and her husband Chuck, who plays the guitar, living under the Mogollon Rim is paradise. Hence, the name of their duo.

"We live in paradise. This world is paradise. But there is trouble in it because of all of the things (the human race) has done, the prejudices, et cetera," Barbara said.

The name was Chuck's idea.

"He's clever like that," she added.

They wrote "One Mile Closer to Heaven" as their ode to living among the ponderosa pine trees.

Since settling down in Pine 17 years ago, the Caseys have played at festivals and events all over the Rim Country including the Fiddler's Jam Session the third Wednesday of each month at the Pine Cultural Center.

The magic when they play is born of nearly 30 years together.

The candle was first lit one night at Angelo's, in Wichita, Kan.

Mark Mercer, a mutual friend and the bass player Chuck was making music with at the Italian restaurant, invited Barbara to "sit in."

"I knew of Barbara. Everyone knew of Barbara. She is profound. She can say a lot with just a few notes," Chuck said.

Barbara earned her fine arts music degree from Wichita State University. She went onto study at the Hank Thompson School of Country Music in Claremore Okla.

Classical, blues, jazz and country -- she played it all and toured extensively during her 30s.

"When I first heard Chuck's voice, I thought if he looks half as good as that voice, he's mine. He did and he is," Barbara said.

"She is the best thing that's ever happened in my musical career," Chuck said.

He attended WSU different years than Barbara. He also studied music at Phillips University in Okla.

"Kansas had great music programs in high school and I credit those high school teachers who saw I could make music and encouraged me to become a musician," Chuck said.

School is fine, but there is no school like the performance stage, the Caseys agree.

They played together at Angelo's, the Blues Ambassador and Barbara played The Rodeo Club for two years without Chuck.

They remained close, even while playing separate venues.

"I really missed her," Chuck said.

They married in 1985.

Between the two of them, they play the mandolin, guitar, violin and cello.

"We play most stringed instruments. I'm not real good at the hurdy-gurdy," Chuck said.

Trouble in Paradise plays, as their business card states: everything from Bach to rock.

"They can write on my tombstone, ‘he played it all'," Chuck said.

Music takes on an ego of its own when musicians play without ego.

"That's the difference between music and magic," Chuck said.

They improvise, easily taking subtle clues from one another.

"If it is music and there is something you can add, it doesn't matter what kind of music it is," Barbara said.

While Barbara describes her ability to improvise the melodies and harmonies of song as "a gift from God," Casey said, "For me, it's a perspiration thing."

Their skills at improvisation are most apparent when they play jazz.

Jazz is Chuck's favorite because it is "intellectual music for musicians," he said.

"Improvisational music is not something you write down and play twice. It is something you express every time you play the song," he added.

By contrast, the blues are fun and most people can relate to the emotions they express.

Trouble in Paradise hosts the blues jam at Sidewinders' rib night: from 6 p.m. to about 9 p.m. Fridays.

Sidewinders is on the northwest corner of the Beeline Highway at Hardscrabble Road in Pine.

"The jam session is hot. We have some really excellent players," Casey said.

He and Barbara welcome other musicians to come and sit in.

The blues band is available for bookings.

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