There was no bigger enemy in music in July of 2014 than Kasey Anderson. The songwriter and performer plead guilty to wire fraud and was accused of bilking dozens of investors out of nearly $600,000 for fraudulent music projects, including a benefit album and tour for the West Memphis Three he told investors had the active participation of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, and others.
Anderson set up fraudulent email accounts and forged documents to make investors think that $1.7 million had been raised for the West Memphis Three project and that major music promoters were involved. When people started questioning Kasey about delays in the project, Anderson continued to lie, and even when the scheme was exposed, he continued to reach out to others to attempt to raise more money.
Kasey Anderson also falsified documents while trying to raise funds to make a record for his band, Kasey Anderson and the Honkies. He also lied about another album he’d worked on previously as well as a music tour, all on the way to eventually raising upwards of $590,000 from roughly 30 investors for the various projects.
All of this occurred while Kasey was an active member of the music community, and appeared to be involved in helping to move independent music forward in multiple roles. He played Daytrotter sessions, toured, released albums, and appeared to be willing to help others. He worked with and wrote for numerous music blogs including Blurt, Farce the Music, and ninebullets.net.
Federal charges were eventually brought against Anderson in January of 2013, and along with his four year prison sentence, Kasey was ordered to pay $594,636 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma.
Anderson, who was based in Vancouver, Washington at the time, blamed mental illness on the schemes, explaining that he would go weeks without sleep, or be bedridden with depression, and was a compulsive liar.
“I lied to myself and others, and believing those lies, I told myself consistently that whatever was going on with me … I could fix it on my own,” Anderson said in a letter to the court. “I convinced myself that it was normal. I am a deeply flawed and mentally ill person who made some terrible choices, causing so much emotional and financial damage to others. But I believe I have much to offer my community. I am so sorry for what I’ve done and want so badly to make it right.”
After Kasey Anderson was sent to prison in July of 2014, the music community though they would not be hearing from him for a while. But he is back, and making his presence known online and in music again, wanting to makes things right, and spooking some who remember the stories of his investment schemes.
Even though the initial news was Anderson would have to spend four years in Federal prison, he was released from a halfway house on October 13, 2015, and began a three year probation period in April of 2016, according to Anderson. He recently launched a music website, and has released an album of live songs recorded while on tour with Counting Crows in 2012 for $5.
It says on Anderson’s website, “Any attempted explanation or discussion of the last several years would serve very little purpose to anyone but me. I think Bill Faulkner was right about the past and Bill Wilson was right about how to make amends … I don’t know to what degree I’ll ever return to a ‘career’ in music but I like writing and recording songs, and occasionally performing those songs for people.”
Saving Country Music reached out to Kasey Anderson to get more details on his plans, and it appears he’s not interested in trying to rewrite history, and doesn’t blame those individual who are unwilling to accept his apologies.
“The stories that ran after my arrest are more or less accurate,” he tells Saving Country Music. “I lied to and stole from people who trusted me, and to my friends, family, band, and the people who supported my band. I don’t know that an explanation beyond that serves anyone other than me at this point. The only thing I can do in terms of writing wrongs is make amends — financial, direct, and living. To try and convince people I’m a ‘good guy’ seems disingenuous because for a lot people, the only context they have for me is that I really was not a good guy.”
Anderson went on to say that he still has a passion for music, which was on display before the moneymaking schemes started in earnest, and he hopes to continue with music, in whatever capacity feels appropriate.
“I like writing songs and playing songs for people and working in the studio with other musicians,” Anderson says. “I don’t know if or when I’ll make a record, or to what degree I’ll play shows outside of Portland. I have a website and a Facebook page and that’s the degree to which I feel comfortable self-promoting right now. If people want to hear the songs, or if they think I’m an asshole, or if they just don’t care one way or the other, all of those reactions seem reasonable to me.”
If nothing else, Kasey Anderson continues to make things spicy in the music scene. The sad part about Anderson’s story was that beyond all of the obviously terrible things he did to investors and the music community, deep down there appeared to be a musician who was trying to help move the music forward. But the heart he brought to music manifested itself in adverse ways that were unprecedented in scale, and may take the rest of his life to rectify completely, if ever.