It was early April. I had the day off, and was still in bed, while a few feet away Casey was at his desk logged into FaceBook. Kari Hirst Starkey, who once ran a place called the Yippee Yi Yo Café, had posted a link on Casey’s timeline. It said something like, “Want to make your friend famous? If you know a bass player or tuba player, please share this opportunity with them: Auditions today at Freihofer Casting for the movie
‘Rudderless’ produced by William H. Macy!”
I thought it would be a cool thing if Casey were a part of this movie. Freihofer is in Norman, which is about a forty-minute drive; that wasn’t very appealing, but I talked Casey into it. He said I should bring my fiddle. The plan was for me to crash the audition.
Casey reluctantly hefted his aluminum bass down from where he keeps it in the attic. “It seems like I just can’t get away from this thing,” he shook his head. Casey is happier playing rhythm guitar, but had been playing bass since middle school. The burden of transporting an enormous instrument, and the physical toll it took to play it, were things he wanted to leave behind. This was his latest calling to be a bassist, and once again he took up the mantle.
We found Freihofer at the business park in Norman, walked in the front door and ran into our friends Chelsey and Rachel Cope, signing out after their auditions. The receptionist shushed our exuberant greetings. She kindly informed us, “Auditions are in progress.” Chelsey was in a good mood. Her sister was kinda grumpy.
We were prompted to quickly unpack and wait, ready in the hallway. Soon a door opened, another local bassist exited. The man in charge, ‘Rudderless’ casting director, Chris Friehofer greeted us. Smiling, he seemed happy to see us. Casey said, “I know your only looking for a bass player, but can my girl friend, Minna, audition too?” Chris said, “Of course! Let’s get started.” He took our pictures and names. We played and talked for the camera. Casey did his hillbilly slap bass thing. It was over fast and we were out the door and back into the Norman afternoon.
We wondered about our chances over the next couple of days. As friends like Chelsey Cope, Travis Linville, and Tara Dillard announced their callbacks, and rejoiced about their parts in the movie. We started to loose hope, and eventually forgot about it.
I was working at Organics OKC garden supply when Casey called me with the news that we were scheduled for a call back. I was overjoyed.
The office had been decorated in dark wood tones in the early nineties, had been used hard, and then left vacant for sometime. It was dusty and dim. It was having a short renaissance during the casting of the movie. In one of it’s many rooms William H. Macy and his crew where deciding who would populate the movie.
We waited much longer this time. Interesting people came and went: a mean-looking dark haired baby boomer woman in sparkly jeans and fancy boots, a clean-faced, quiet and prim young woman dressed in a conservative business suit, and many musicians with a variety of instruments.
Casey’s hair and beard had achieved an all-time unruliness; I was wearing my favorite tie-die shirt: we were ready. Inside the audition room we stood before a long table, the familiar face of William Macy smiled at us along with Chris Friehofer, and three others. We talked a bit and played some instrumental tunes. Macy wanted us to sing in harmony, we did. He asked us if we had any original songs. Casey answered, “We aren’t prepared to play one right now, but we could have one in a day.” Macy calmly accepted this.
I approached the bench and gave them all a HonkyTonk StepChild flyer. The woman to Macy’s right exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I have this hanging on my refrigerator at home! A friend gave it to me.” Macy said, “Honkytonk Stepchild, that’s a great name.” As we exited I heard someone say, “They’re the real deal.”
Four days later we got the call that we had been cast in ‘Rudderless.'