By Denise Ortuno Neil
It would be an enormous understatement to say that breaking into the music business is difficult, and maybe even more so of a challenge here in the Coachella Valley. But if you have undeniable talent and persistence to keep going, the understatement will be more of just a plain old opinion. Randy Caserta knows this truth all too well as he moves forward doing what he does best…making music that defies the status quo.
Caserta came to the California via Florida in the early 90’s. His family’s rich musical background cemented his future as a musician. Caserta started playing guitar professionally at 16. On arriving in the desert, he met up with Chad Cancino, who in turn led Caserta to John Stanly King, who Caserta ended up working with. After some time, Caserta introduced an idea to Chad Cancino, proposing the inception of a band to bring different music to the valley. From that, The Barflys were created along with Eric Buchannon and Rob Martinez. The band focused on cover songs from the likes of heavy modern rock bands, the Foo Fighters to Led Zepplin. The band had local success, entertaining desert alternative rock fans, until the late 90’s when Caserta left the band and headed up to Sacramento.
His decision to leave stemmed from the desire to move on musically, which was encouraged by an opportunity to audition for an up and coming band, The Dissidents. The offer came from the band member Larry Cox who had known of Caserta’s talent and invited him to audition. His solid audition gave Caserta a spot in the band. His reality with them seemed promising, as they had good response and interest from major record labels Atlantic, Arista, Columbia and Sony after their first record received popular airplay. Atlantic ended up willing to work with the band, but the hype would be short lived as the lead singer had other designs, as a consequence the deal fell through. Undeterred, Caserta decided to work on his own music, and along with his girlfriend, did exactly that.
Caserta and his girlfriend gained the assistance of Frank Hannan from Tesla, whom Caserta had met some time before and of which he speaks as one of his best collaborative experiences. Hannan had interest in the couple’s music, and was willing to produce it on spec. They ended up writing a series of songs including “Downtown Rain” which became a success. They were moving fast and had plans to produce more, but Caserta still had a lingering bad taste do to his prior disappointment with The Dissidents. He was also having difficulties with his girlfriend, who was struggling with keeping focus on what needed to be done to get the songs up to level of the last one. As a result, the project lost steam and it was time for Caserta to move on once again.
In 2001, he received a call from former band mate Chad Cancino who asked him to come back to The Barflys, and come back he did. The Barflys gained momentum and played the desert live rock venues. When I asked what the pitfalls were of performing in the desert, Caserta was generous to enlighten me. It seems that not only were the venues limited, forcing bands to seek out of town gigs, but the bars that did provide live rock music expected the bands themselves to promote not only their own band, but the bar itself, which took away from the bands musical focus. Another annoyance was that the bars would rotate the bands frequently, making the performance schedule inconsistent, “It was a strike against both,” said Caserta. But despite the irritations, the band spread their talent around the Coachella Valley, bringing eager fans along for the ride.
At one point, Chad received an offer to play with the Dude Jones band, playing different gigs throughout Southern California. To replace his spot in The Barflys Chad brought in his nephew Benny Cancino. Soon after, the band started playing regularly at the Village Pub for several years.
All the while Caserta continued to nurture his own music as The Barflys popularity grew, not only in the desert but in the Inland Empire as well. Caserta’s music is inspired by a signs of the time. He awakes in the morning with lyrics on the brain, quickly jotting them down, channeled by his own innate talent. He is always mindful to have his lyrics match the melody, a careful balance of soulful words and rock music. Not an easy high wire to traverse, although Caserta’s finished art would make it seem so. In 2009, Caserta started to record his own music in the studio of longtime friend Arthur Seay and then finished up months later at another studio when Seay was unavailable. It was a long process Caserta admits, likening it to one of his recorded songs, “Living Hell”.
However grueling it was, his talent and persistence has shined through and the songs have paid off when he entered them in the International Songwriters Competition winning him 1st runner up in 2011 for “Living Hell” and a semi-finalist title in 2013 for “It Won’t Be Long”. The competition is judged by industry super stars. The 2013 judge lineup included Lenny Kravitz, Gwen Stefani and Dave Grohl. The contest is very competitive and gives out cash prizes for the winners and worldwide recognition for the finalists. There are over 15,000 songs that don’t even make it into the running at all. The competition judges the songs on varied criteria including, creativity, originality, lyrics, arrangement and likability. The combination has to be right.
Caserta was recognized in the contest for his song “It Won’t Be Long” in this year’s competition, an ironic tribute to his everlasting dedication to his music, proving that his success is just around the corner. Caserta and The Barflys have also been awarded by the deserts own Coachella Valley Music Awards, put on by CV Weekly’s own Tracy Dietlin, who has become a strong supporter of Caserta and The Barflys.
Caserta and the Barflys are still actively playing cover songs and Caserta’s originals, with a desert performance planned for some time in October of this year. Caserta is currently working on his next recordings and the public can listen to his music on Reverbnation.com/CD Baby/ITunes. His CD “Long Story Short” featuring “It Won’t Be Long” will be released soon.
Caserta’s path in music, however paved with muted speed bumps, is no match for his obvious talent. After two decades in the business, his growth has set him up for inevitable triumph in a very unforgiving business. It certainly won’t be long until Caserta gains the success he deserves.