Joe Craven is a musical madman with anything that has strings attached or not; violins, mandolins, tin cans, bedpans, gas cans, cookie tins, chamberlins, tenor guitars, panitars, mouthbows, charangos, banjos, canjoes, cuatros, bongos, buckets, berimbau, bundt pans, balalaikas, brake drums, bells, bottles, brush ‘n box, boot ‘n lace, oud, face, Cuban tres, jewel case, metal-glass-clay vase, paper, PVC, pots ‘n pans, panderetas, knitting needles, hoe blades, hambone, jawbone, jello molds, water jugs, oven grates, glasses, squeeze toys, triangles, tongs, cups, cajons, cake pans, waste cans, umbrella stands, stones, cymbals, sea shells, silverware trays, spoons, ukuleles, martini shakers, matchboxes, mbiras, reco recos, guiros, gourds, rhythm sticks, thermos, zippers and....
His stage setup more often resembles a yard sale. But there's more to Craven than meets the ear. Educator, visual artist, former museum curator, motivational speaker, actor/storyteller and festival emcee, Joe’s work is born out of respect and reverence and seeks to honor the creative energy in everyone. An advocate of the folk arts, Joe’s educational mission is to empower individuals to take possession of their own music and tell their stories by “demystifying” art through self-expression as a daily ritual.
For almost 17 years, Joe Craven was the highly respected multi-instrumentalist with the David Grisman Quintet. Joe held a challenging post as Grisman’s percussionist, fiddler and sometimes swatting backbeats and trading licks on mandolin next to Grisman and at times all within one tune - and Joe enjoyed the workout. He’s made a wide range of music with a wide range of artists including Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, The Alison Brown Quartet, Maria Muldaur, Vassar Clements, Psychograss, Rob Ickes, The Persuasions, and many others, Joe has performed music & sound effects on a wide variety of recordings including commercials, soundtracks, computer games and made contributions to several Grammy nominated projects.
In music, Joe is a bit like Indiana Jones; a musical archeologist going on wild adventures with his finds. Widely known as a re-composer and recycler of music as object and idea, Joe believes that "Music that's informally made and shared is a hallmark of folk music and it is this spirit of art making that leads to a more creative life of not just art consumer but art maker as well. Anyone's life stories can be wrought into amazing tunes and songs - shared and handed down through observation and imitation – then embellished/altered with different versions through time. That's where the new music comes from. When you learn other people's music you learn about your own". Joe’s own wildly varied recordings are testimonies to this folk music philosophy. They stretch the boundaries of musical style while paying tribute to and helping forward evolving musical traditions.
Breedlove Revival Tenor