There is no label to accurately describe the music of Joe Craven and the Sometimers. Acid-Rockgrass? Amerijazzyicana with a Copacabana Infusion? To try to box it in would be to crush the exuberant creative spirit that happens when Craven, Jonathan Stoyanoff, Bruce MacMillan, Barry Eldridge and Hattie Craven play together. “No genre left behind” is their musical motto, and they accomplish the task with joyful abandon, playing paradigm-shattering free range music that entices and excites. Joe Craven is a creativity educator and prankster savant and, while a multi-instrumentalist proficient with strings and percussion from mando to canjoe to bongo, he is also a eulogist, wordsmith and fashion insultant.
“Everything Joe touches turns into music” says mandolinist David Grisman, with whom Craven played for almost 17 years. Craven has rubbed creative elbows with Jerry Garcia, David Lindley, Alison Brown, Jason Marsalis, Inga Swearengen, Roy Rogers, Howard Levy and many others. Joe also sings the praises of incredible, inspiring souls he has collaborated with that many folks may never know of. His creative genius sparks and ignites his fellow musicians, who travel to other worldly musical destinations not explored by many others.
Fittingly, Joe & The Sometimers’ latest album Garcia Songbook pays homage to, while re-imagining, the music of one of the better known pioneers of Experiential Jam Music. Joe recorded and performed with Jerry in the acoustic quartet Garcia Grisman.
Joe Craven wears a lot of hats. He is an award-winning instrumentalist, vocalist, music producer, creativity educator, actor, storyteller, visual artist, carnival barker, noisemaker, fashion “insultant” and former museologist. For over 35 years, Joe has made a living playing forward folk tradition and process by mashing up ideas and sound tools from a variety of unexpected places, creating new music altogether. Joe has made music with Jerry Garcia, David Lindley, David Grisman, Alison Brown, Howard Levy, Vassar Clements, Rob Ickes and many other innovative artists. He is a featured artist/educator in the PBS television series, Music Gone Public, and Joe has created music and sound effects for commercials, soundtracks, computer games and contributions to several Grammy-nominated projects. From Carnegie Hall to street-corner busking, around the world and back – Joe’s at home and loving every minute. As an award-winning educator, Joe has taught with jazz vocalist Inga Swearengen, bassist Victor Wooten, children’s music innovator Paul Reisler and jazz percussionist Jason Marsalis. He’s the Executive Director of Vocáli Voice Camp and RiverTunes Roots Music Camp in California, the recipient of a Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year Award and the Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award in North Carolina where Joe has taught for over a decade during Fiddle Week and, more recently, Contemporary Folk Week.
“Joe Craven is magical” – San Francisco Chronicle
Jonathan Stoyanoff is a first call bassist who is a fan of, trained in, and very proficient at, a wide variety of vernacular music. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on a performance scholarship and, since then, Jonathan has been involved in a variety of musical projects. He has kept musical company with Larry Coryell, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Huey Lewis, Dave Mason, Jackie Greene, Ozomatli, Spearhead, Maceo Parker and many more. Jonathan has also played at some of the nation’s most prestigious festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, High Sierra Music Festival and Delfest.
Bruce MacMillan is a wonderfully intuitive musician dedicated to the holy temple of American Roots Music. His passion for the history and variety of America’s musical heritage has resulted in a versatility across many musical genres. From Blues to Bluegrass, Country to Jazz and Rock & Roll, Bruce plays with wonderful energy and artistry. He has performed upon many stages and at many music festivals, including the Strawberry Music Festival, High Sierra, and California Worldfest. With his wife Sally, they have two fine music stores in Chico and Redding, CA, known as The Music Connection where Bruce displays his chops as an educator, repairman and salesman. Bruce’s impressive skills on vocals plus all manner of guitars, Dobro and lap steel, bring a broad palette of sound to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.
Barry Eldridge The deep pocket grooves of drummer Barry Eldridge can be heard across an array of musical styles. Based in Northern California, the freelance musician’s diverse skills cover wide territory: from high-intensity jazz-rock fusion to folk, bluegrass and indie rock; from one-drop reggae to New Orleans second line, from hip hop to world beat, and to backing some of the region’s top singer-songwriters, Barry’s ability to support the music and bring inspired playing to the stage has earned him a reputation as one of the most versatile and in-demand drummers in Sacramento. Having performed at more than 100 venues with over 40 artists and bands the last several years, Barry’s passion for high-end performance and his relentless work ethic will continue to yield musical harvests in The Sometimers.
Hattie Craven has built a reputation as one of the finest young, if not youngest, performers on the stages of the Strawberry Music Festival, Kate Wolf Music Festival, California World Fest, Hangtown Music Festival, The Redwood Ramble, Parkfield Bluegrass Festival, Wintergrass, Live Oak Music Festival, Delfest, Millpond Music Festival and others – and all to standing ovations. She has two recordings to her credit, “Eleven” (recorded at age 11) and “Bright” (recorded at age 15) both produced by her father Joe Craven. Hattie brings the important presence of a woman to the Sometimers sound with her stunning vocal work and captivating stage presence.