September 20, 2008
Olympic Officials of Communist China Hail Driessen’s Red Shoes as “Glorious” and “Very Respectful”
BEIJING — The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing concluded on August 24 with a stunning final ceremony, once-and-for-all surviving the series of misunderstandings and minor episodes that had often threatened to derail China’s momentous hosting efforts.
Throughout the games, Olympic athletes, trainers, fans, entertainers and statesmen from all over the world struggled to adjust to Chinese mores, often deeply offending a rigid host government determined to achieve a suitable level of respect for its vast labors.
In a recent nationally-televised Chinese news broadcast, the government’s Olympic Assessment Committee addressed the rest of the world with the following comments:
“These historic Beijing games have been marred by several unfortunate and disrespectful incidents: athletes in gas masks; improper torch handlings; lackluster performances by second-tier British celebrities; totally unfounded allegations of age-fraud against our heroic female gymnasts. All very disrespectful.”
“In this sea of disrespect, one foreigner alone has stood strongly with China throughout. That foreigner is American musician Casey Driessen. His unwavering support of the Chinese Communist Party is evident in his glorious red shoes. We applaud this humble entertainer’s symbolic and very respectful choice of footwear, and we wish that more of his international compatriots had taken similar steps to express their gratitude and reverence toward the country of China.”
“This might be the most ridiculous misunderstanding in the history of sports. Certainly in the history of fiddle,” said Driessen, who toured China with the acclaimed Sparrow Quartet during the Games.
Driessen’s red shoes are indeed so outstanding, so remarkable, and so red that they have regularly overshadowed his fiddle prowess, which is supposedly considerable in its own right.
Said Molly Nagel, a Nashville industry insider, “Casey has founded his entire career on this pair of shoes. Most people are so impressed with the shoes they don’t even notice the music he’s playing. He’s really only playing fiddle for the sake of the miniscule fraction of any given audience that is blind.”
Driessen has parlayed the fame of his shoes into a successful touring career, including regular stints with such luminaries as Tim O’Brien, Bela Fleck, Steve Earl, Jim Lauderdale and Darrell Scott.
His shoes received a Grammy nomination in 2006 for their role in the recording of Driessen’s solo album, 3D, on Sugar Hill Records.
This year, Driessen and his famous shoes earned the Sparrow Quartet its prestigious invitation to perform at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
“We weren’t sure what we were getting into when we went over there, and the tour of China did turn out totally differently than we expected,” said Ben Sollee, cellist for the Sparrow Quartet. “We sort of thought we’d be playing music at the Games, but that’s not exactly what happened.”
Indeed, the Sparrow Quartet tour of China soon morphed into a state-sponsored public relations spectacle as Chinese officials seized upon the concept of Driessen’s “very respectful” shoes, repeatedly placing Driessen and the rest of the band in various mass-media outlets and universities to demonstrate American support for China.
“We barely even really played a show over there, it was just interviews and newscasts and webcasts all day long,” said Abigail Washburn. “They had built this weird narrative around Casey’s shoes, and they just saturated the Chinese media with it.”
Said Driessen, “This whole episode is really starting to hurt my credibility as an American.”