Floyd Casey

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Floyd Casey kept a great beat, but the way he went about doing it varied greatly with a resulting shift in his burden. Drummers will immediately understand; other members of civilized society might need…
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Floyd Casey kept a great beat, but the way he went about doing it varied greatly with a resulting shift in his burden. Drummers will immediately understand; other members of civilized society might need to be reminded that the latter reference is to the amount of gear he needed to carry, in direct connection to the style of music that was being played. Casey had his links to the jug band music scene drifting east from Memphis, and in that context, as in the classic blues concoctions of Clarence Williams, all that was needed was a simple washboard. Simple, yes, but easily able to cut through whatever combination of unamplified melodic and chordal instruments were featured. Other ensembles, such as the later dance bands or the loud (for the mid-'20s) Jimmy Powell's Jazz Monarchs required a full drum set.

Casey first became known playing on riverboats during the early years of that decade, particularly with Ed Allen's Whispering Gold Band in 1922, an ensemble that in actuality is said to have been almost as loud as the vessel's fully engaged paddle wheel. When not on the water, Casey drummed in St. Louis with Dewey Jackson and the previously mentioned outfit fronted by Powell. By 1927, he had relocated to New York City and began working regularly on Williams' prolific recordings as well as with trombonist George Wilson. In the '30s, he was a familiar face at dance halls in the metropolis and he pretty much stayed in this idiom for the balance of his career. Jimmy Reynolds was one bandleader whose phone calls sent Casey off to pack his drum gear, but his collaborator of longest standing turned out to be Allen, his old buddy from the riverboats. This relationship continued with a New York band led by Allen, then continued with both of them as sidemen in pianist Benton Heath's group. This ensemble became planted at the New Gardens venue in New York for more than 15 years.