Since 2021, Trey Anastasio Band saxophonist James Casey has been bravely fighting colon cancer. Through numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, his bravery has shined as a beacon of light as he makes triumphant appearances with the Phish guitarist, Billy & The Kids, and Phil Lesh & Friends. As Billy & The Kids prepare for a two-city run this weekend in New York and Baltimore, Casey is in the hospital.
“James Casey needs your support,” a statement on a GoFundMe launched to cover his medical expenses reads. “As you may know, for the last two years James has been battling late-stage colon cancer. He has reached a critical point in his fight against this horrible disease that has left him unable to perform. Your donations will displace that crucial loss of income and help cover mounting medical and living expenses so that James may focus on his health and loved ones at this time.”
Casey first revealed his diagnosis back in September 2021. Immediately following the diagnosis, he sat out TAB’s 2021 fall tour as he pursued treatment, only to make his joyous return the following year. In the years since his diagnosis, Casey’s onstage presence has become an inspiration as he adds new meaning to many old, familiar songs, in particular, his moving delivery of the Grateful Dead‘s “Touch of Grey” when performing with Phil Lesh & Friends.
When not onstage or receiving treatment, Casey has used his platform to raise awareness about colon cancer—which disproportionately affects Black Americans, who are “20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from it than any other groups.” He released his first solo EP, the Christmas record A Little Something For Everyone, last year and used it to advocate for proactive screenings and raise money for colon cancer research organizations like Colorectal Cancer Alliance and Eastern Virginia Medical School’s HOPES Clinic.
“No matter what happens today, you’ll be okay. That is the mantra I’ve had going through this cancer journey.” Casey told TODAY in a profile back in March. “I hope that it speaks to the people, because it spoke to me.”
More recently, Casey was forced to largely sit out a run of Trey Anastasio Band tour dates. During shows in Baltimore and New Jersey, however, the saxophonist made surprise appearances to deliver tear-jerking covers of “O-o-h Child” and “Over The Rainbow“. According to the fundraiser statement, new scans show Casey’s cancer has progressed to stage four.
“Incredibly, and in spite of the cancer, James has pushed forward,” the GoFundMe statement continued. “Following another surgery in May 2023, James this summer was able to make a handful of special appearances on stage. However, his health has continued to decline and affect his ability to work as a musician. Despite his own optimism, James is unable to join Bill Kreutzman in New York this week as planned and is currently in hospital, with expenses mounting.”
Consider donating to the James Casey GoFundMe here. Watch the saxophonist bring a little light into The Capitol Theatre with this take on “Touch of Grey” from Phil Lesh & Friends’ Halloween run last October.
Phil Lesh & Friends – “Touch Of Grey” – 10/22/22