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Music meant the world to Mike Casale

— His son, Nick, remembered that marvelous moment when he eulogized his father Feb. 21, at Maurer’s Funeral Home at Moyers Corner. “My dad was on stage wearing a smile like the Cheshire cat…I thought his head was gonna pop!”

Mike died Feb. 16 at Crouse Hospital. He was 64.

After his funeral service last Friday, his friends, family and fellow musicians paid homage to him at an impromptu jam session at the Green Gate Inn in Camillus.

World-wise and opinionated

Mike was gregarious and garrulous and proud of his Italian heritage. He was big-hearted, all right, but he was also opinionated — i.e. “The Stones not the Beatles!” His strongly stated opinions, however, were based on values such as fairness, equality and community. He uttered world-wise observations such as “There’s a fine line between confidence and conceit,” but he regularly recognized confidence while rejecting conceit. It was a standard on which judged other people and other musicians.

As his son said, “When he was little…or littler…music was everything for him. He loved to play and he loved to support other musicians.”

A talented rock guitarist and a Sammy winner with the band Muzzlestamp, Nick said, “I admired the hell out of him. He did not let any disability dictate how to live his life. He made a lasting impact anywhere he went.”

And Mike’s sister, Mary Lou, seconded the emotion. She called Mike’s many years of work on the Johnson Park concert series “a feather in his cap.”

Mike never thought of himself as a ladies’ man, but he certainly impressed a few. After online journalist Babette Puzey interviewed him, she wrote, “Although he’s less-than-average in height, he stands taller than most people you’ll meet, with a heart as big as all outdoors.” Babette described Mike as “one tough cookie.”

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