An Interview with Musician John Craigie
John Craigie (Photo: Bradley Cox)
By Rebecca Horrigan
John Craigie’s brand of authentic and approachable folk music is sure to warm hearts, stimulate minds, and arouse laughs during his two-night residency at SOhO Nov. 21 and 22.
Craigie has released six studio albums, two live albums, and two cover albums. He’s also opened for SB favorite, Jack Johnson, where he was able to expand from coffee shops to large venues, such as the Gorge.
However, Craigie’s poignant, clever and often humorous storytelling and songwriting are best showcased in an intimate space like SOhO. As part of his “Keep it Warm” tour, $1 from each ticket sold will be donated to Planting Justice, an organization aimed at empowering people affected by mass incarceration and other social inequities to develop food sovereignty and economic justice.
I caught up with Craigie in advance of his shows. Tickets can be purchased online at sohosb.com
Did you always know you wanted to be a musician? Did you try anything else out before?
It’s true that I wanted to play music from as far back as I can remember hearing it. But the dream was simply that, a dream. It seemed so out of reach and fantastical that it wasn’t something I realistically imagined possible. In college I studied math and was a high school math teacher briefly before going on my first tour and realizing that music was a possibility. Other jobs I had were - host at a restaurant, parking lot maintenance in Santa Cruz, substitute teacher
How did you decide on donating $1 from each ticket of this tour to Planting Justice?
After working with Jack Johnson, me and my team got very inspired by his commitment to non-profits and how he uses his music to help read his message. Last year we donated money and clothes to homeless shelters around California, Oregon, and Washington. This year I really wanted to focus on food and feeding people. It’s always been something that’s very important to me.
Where do you find the inspiration for your songs?
I find inspiration all over the place, but I think my biggest song inspiration comes from human interaction. Stories I hear from the road or things that actually happen to me. I feel those things are the most relatable to me and my listeners and also it feels the most honest. My travels are a huge part of my songwriting and my story.
You mention in your song, "The Silver Lining of Trump as President" that "artists are better when they're bummed." What about an unfortunate political situation stimulates this kind of creativity? Have you noticed a difference in the arts under our current administration?
I think unfortunate situations get people out of their comfort zone and feel inspired to do something. When we are comfortable, when we are happy, we are less inspired to make change (obviously). Not to say that good times aren’t inspiring in their own way but I feel like bad times are just much more stimulating. You seek community, you get out more, have more conversations, and you look for ways to express the frustration you’re feeling. I have seen a great artistic reaction to the current state of things. Whether it’s the current administration or the other concerning things that are going on (climate change, civil rights, violence etc.). I think good art inspires good art as well. So I’m also seeing that domino effect which is a beautiful thing amidst all the chaos.
You opened for Jack Johnson in 2017. What was that like playing in larger arenas rather than more intimate venues? Did it change your approach?
It definitely changed my approach. Opening at the Bowl vs. headlining SOhO is different on so many levels. In the end though, people are just there to see music and hear your story. No matter what the space is like. It’s hard to put into words the adjustment one has to make, and I’m sure it’s different for every artist. For me, it’s always a matter of reading the crowd every night, and it’s just a little easier to read 150 people vs. 4500. But Jack’s crowds were so kind and welcoming to me as was Jack and his crew. Every night he would go out and introduce me which helped get the crowd ready for a songwriter.
What can attendees expect from your live show?
On this tour they will get the special addition of Aviva le Fey on bass, Niko Daoussis on guitar, and special guest vocals by Katelyn and Laurie Shook. Not to mention an amazing opening set by Shook Twins trio.
John Craigie will perform at SOhO with the Shook Twins on November 21 & 22. Tickets can be purchased online at sohosb.com