Kasey Anderson has fond memories of the last time he played Boise. He and his old alt-country band The Honkies opened for Counting Crows at the Idaho Botanical Garden in August 2012. The night before, members of both groups had held a two-hour jam session at Neurolux with acclaimed Americana artist Jason Isbell, who came over after playing a show at the Visual Arts Collective.
"We tried to do stuff like that as much as we could, you know?" Anderson said. "If we were in a town where one of our friends was playing or one of our friends lived, we tried to get together and play with them if we could."
Anderson remembers his former bandmates as "dedicated to the idea of rock and roll being as much fun as it could be as much of the time as it could be. ... I mean, I personally got carried away with it. Those other guys did a better job of reining it in."
Anderson's fans found out just how carried away he'd gotten in January 2013, when he was arrested and charged with five counts of wire fraud. The charges centered on $586,000 that he took from 30 investors for a West Memphis Three benefit album and a series of related concerts, neither of which ever materialized. He pled guilty, received a four-year prison sentence, and was released in October 2016. Since he last played Boise six years ago, he has also gotten married and undergone treatment for substance abuse and Type I Bipolar Disorder.
When Anderson returns to Neurolux on Thursday, Aug. 16, he'll be alone (aside from local opener Travis Ward) on his first U.S. tour since his arrest. The Portland, Oregon-based musician will play songs from the Honkies days as well as material off From a White Hotel (Jullian Records, 2018), the powerful debut album of his new roots-rock group Hawks and Doves.
Anderson doesn't shy away from discussing his crimes and regrets. He addresses them explicitly on From a White Hotel's title track, in which he cops to doing "enough cocaine to raise my heroes from their graves" and "telling half a million lies / and living all around the world / on bread that wasn't mine."
Anderson sees this directness as a way of holding himself accountable.
"I think if you start to get into dancing around the things that you did, that's really, really dangerous territory," he said. "And I felt like if I was gonna release an album that I asked people to listen to, there had to be at least one song on the record that ... addressed the fact that most anybody who was listening to the record probably had an idea that I had been to rehab. And probably had an idea that I had been to prison. And probably had an idea of why those things had happened."
When Anderson first got out of prison, he wasn't sure that he'd play music again, especially after the Honkies broke up in 2012.
"I had some misgivings about releasing an album again and had expressed that to friends," he said. "And almost everybody, to a person—at least within my circle of friends and especially the folks who worked on the record with me—just said, 'You know, you have to give people a choice whether or not they want to listen. You can't just assume that no one wants to hear from you again.'"
An even larger priority for Anderson is to repay the support he has received since his release. On top of paying restitution to the people he defrauded as part of his probation, he has started working as a counselor for youths dealing with addiction and mental illness.
"I think unless you're inside of [Bipolar Disorder], it's really, really hard to explain," Anderson said. "And I try to be really careful too about trying to speak about it separately from the crime or any of the prison stuff. I talk about it more hand in hand with the addiction stuff because in a lot of cases of Bipolar Disorder, substance abuse happens too."
Anderson said that his counseling work "puts me in a place where I'm in touch with what's going on with me on a daily basis because I have to be." This and his recent marriage should help him walk the line no matter what happens to Hawks and Doves or From a White Hotel.
"For me, I have to be grounded in work in my community and being around for my family—and now, being around for my wife," he said. "It's really a blessing and a bonus that I'm able to do music, but... it's better for me to be grounded in stuff that keeps me healthy and keeps me plugging along on the right track, and to let the music stuff come as it may."