Sibling Sound

How Austen and Ian Case went from singing Bible songs to playing local gigs

by Peter Duell

From recording albums at 14-years-old and playing in church groups to the off-the-beaten-trail bars of Spokane, siblings Ian (senior) and Austen (junior) Case, have traveled many roads in their musical journey.

At the age of seven, Austen began her passion for music that has lasted throughout her life by recording with a group of kids for a Bible album at her church.  She continued through middle and high school, writing and playing music informally. Then at 16, she was approached by the man who produced the Bible album. He offered to record and produce her first solo album comprised of the music that she had been writing and playing through the years.

“[A local producer] approached me and offered to cover the financial end of the album,” Austen said.  “We recorded my first album when I was 14 and then my second when I was 16.”

Ian’s story is different. While his sister was writing, playing and recording music, Ian was playing football or studying.

“Our family is very musical — our parents met because they were in a band together,” Ian said. “I always enjoyed singing and playing music. I just wasn’t as involved with it compared to Austen until later.”

Ian’s passion for music ignited when he asked his father to show him the chords to a particular song in his senior year of high school. He took those chords and wrote a song for a girl. He used the same chords to write a song after they broke up.

Though the relationship didn’t last, his love for music continued to grow, especially at Whitworth.

“My freshman year, I would just sit in my room in BJ and play guitar and sing with my buddies,” Ian said. “We loved to jam. I got together with my sister [Austen] and some other guys and we’d just play. At one point, someone said, ‘Let’s make this a band,’ and so we did. That was the beginning of Franklin.”

Franklin played together for about a year before they stopped playing and continued in separate ways.

“We did Franklin just for the joy of playing music with friends,” Ian said.  “I’d bring something to the group and we’d just work it up.”

Austen felt the same way about the band’s experience playing together.

“Franklin just happened so easily,” Austen said.  “Playing with my brother is my favorite thing ever. We have this synergy. Sometimes it’s crazy, but I feel like I can release that with him.”

At times, Franklin would play at somewhat large venues, but it was the small intimate stages that made a lasting impression on the band. Jones Radiator, a small brick building, is one Franklin frequently played.

“We were basically playing for free beer, but we always loved being there and experiencing it,” Ian said.

Austin said Jones Radiator was her favorite place to play.

“The big venues are cool because you really feel the vibe of the music shared with all of those people, but the small places build intimacy with the audience,” Austen said. “I thrive on that.”

Music is a deeply rooted part of Austen’s and Ian’s lives. It is something that is more than just a band or free beer. It’s as much a part of them as their heart or lungs, Austen said.

“To me, music is the most tangibly shared form of art,” Ian said.  “I love to find the romance in all things. The fullness of music is only made when shared with friends and other people.”

Austen said when she goes on stage she just tells her story.

“That is so important to me with music,” Austen said. “I believe we all have stories, and the way I express my stories is through music and sound.”

Ian and Austen still play together occasionally. Austen continues to play shows by herself locally around Spokane and in Coeur d’Alene.

Contact Peter Duell at pduell16@my.whitworth.edu

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