Craig Smith – Musician / Artist
Craig Smith is a an explorer and a musical path finder. A talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, and solo recording artist, producer, mixer and live sound engineer, this man wears quite a few musical hats. It is to the great advantage of the vibrant Collingwood music scene that Craig Smith has made the Georgian Bay area his home base.
Smith is recognized for his laid-back folk-rock and pop, with a passion for atmospherics and emotional songwriting. His music and performances embody the spirit of vintage psychedelic rock, soul, R&B through the lens of a modern day singer-songwriter.
As a kid Craig discovered his mom’s record collection and became obsessed with Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Fleetwood Mac records. His musical tastes have evolved since this time, but at the heart of it is always about the song: melody, lyrics and sonic textures – that “vibe”.
Craig has performed internationally as a solo artist and has released two solo albums Not Sure Not Sure (2007) and Heavy Early (2011), with a new solo album Frozen Light that has been recorded but as yet to be released, as well as, many songs and albums he has collaborated on with other artists and songwriters, including with his band, Mad River, Swamp Music (2017), Mad River, Love Grows (2020),with Neill Lanz, singer/songwriter and Rick Garner multi-instrumentalist. Also, soon to be released Ontarians, a cross-continental band collaboration featuring Frank Deresti (Sault Ste Marie, ON), and Jay Stiles, (Austin TX).
Smith has a reputation for bringing not only the skill associated with recording music well, but the alchemy that goes into bringing out the best of the artists he collaborates with. He has spent years honing musical chops, writing, performing, recording, in a dedicated pursuit of mastering studio techniques. In the Georgian Bay region of Ontario, and well beyond, Smith is an in-demand music producer, mixer, and go-to collaborator. Mad River Recording, in the Highlands of Duntroon, Ont., is the studio where Craig’s musical soul and expertise comes to life.
Some recent production credits from the studio include : Drew McIvor (Through the Tangle of Trees, 2017), Frank Deresti & The Lake Effect (Hi’s & Lo’s 2017), Mad River, (Swamp Music, 2017, Love Grows, 2020), Jayden Grahlman (Diving In, 2018), Rob Elder (Changer, 2018), Kelly Jamieson (Pure Gold, 2020).
Smith is also the music manager, talent booker and a highly experienced sound engineer who co-manages music at Crow Bar & Variety in Collingwood ON., with Steven Vipond, owner, advocate and champion for live music. Due in part to Craig’s passion for live music, his time spent playing gigs near and far, connection with performers and musicians of all stripes and colours, Crow has become a destination for lovers of quality live and original music. He runs a highly successful open mic at Crow, known for it’s lively and fun atmosphere and inclusiveness for musicians.
Smith is also the new co-host of the highly respected The Songwriter Series, along with music journalist and promotor, Chas Hay.
Craig has worked with many of the who’s who of Canadian artists, such as Steve Poltz, Tom Wilson, Barney Bentall, Carole Pope, Stephen Fearing, Neil Osborne, Colin Linden, Ron Hawkins, Digging Roots, Craig Cardiff, Irish Mythen, Danny Michel, and many more established and up and coming artists.
Craig is also recognized as a community-minded guy who encourages and mentors young bands and performers. He also has helped in raising money for charities, such as My Friends’ House and the local food bank, often through performances with his other band Motown & Marley.
With an steadfast dedication to all things music Craig passionately embraces the life of a hard working musician, with an openness to continued creation through times of change.
Craig Smith has a genuine and gifted ability to listen and connect with people in a meaningful way, through life and through music – he pushes the boundaries in pursuit of “that sound.”
Craig Smith possesses a warmth and honesty that permeates everything he touches, everyone he meets, every song he sings.
Craig first made his mark, as a solo recording artist, in 2007, with the album ‘Not Sure Not Sure’, a musical statement of self awareness that made the Toronto Star Anti-Hit List (a compilation of the best music found outside the mainstream)
Craig’s self assessment then – “I’ve never really been sure about what I’m doing. I just write songs and kind of hope for the best.”
Since then, Craig has stayed the course, touring and continuing to clear a path that cleverly walks the line between the roots of rock and country, and the melody of pop.
“I guess my main influences have been people like Neil Young who have always had the integrity to follow their own instincts,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to get boxed into one category, even though I understand some of the advantages of that. I mean, I love country music, but I also love Bowie”.
Add to Craig’s inspirations Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Paul Westerberg (Replacements) who have clearly permeated Smith’s musical psyche.
On his newest album, HEAVY EARLY, (spring, 2011 release), Craig Smith coaxes his familiar Gretsch guitar in and out of corners of his mind, from where comes 12 more musings of a young man pondering his place in the world and the relationships that have brought him love, loss, longing and evidently a little wisdom along the way.
These are highly personal narratives of alienated characters searching for something to connect with, finding hope – set to a melodic and often joyous swagger of loud rock and roll intertwined with little acoustic songs that give Heavy Early a cognitive dissonance – a classic, two-sider vinyl album kind-of-flow.
She said “hurry up kid you’re time will come,
You’ve got to be ready for God & the Devil my son,” She said “you better learn to walk before you run, You’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven, So get ready for God & the Devil my son …”
Craig Smith, from ‘God and the Devil’
So all aboard this mystery ride,
It’s called life you better hold on tight,
Soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, It turns you upside down,
Sometimes love might come undone,
Maybe there’s a wounded heart in everyone?
Craig Smith, from ‘Wounded Heart’
HEAVY EARLY was recorded in late 2010, by Craig Smith with his brother Ian Smith, and the late Dan Achen, @ Catherine North, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
In addition to getting out on the road and playing live as a solo performer, as well as his band The Machine, Craig Smith continues to record and produce other singer/songwriters.
Since the release of Not Sure Not Sure, Craig has shared the stage with an eclectic mix of established and up-and-coming artists, such as Fred Eaglesmith, Jason Collett, Danny Michel, Zeus, Matthew Barber, Afie Juvanen (Bahamas), The Warped 45’s, and Drive-By-Truckers. He tours as a solo artist and with his band ‘Machine’, and is also the guitarist for his partner, acclaimed roots artist, Romney Getty.
So come on come on come on
Get on get on get on,
We can save the world tonight before the dawn So come on come on come on
Get on get on get on,
So let’s celebrate today before it’s gone
Craig Smith, from ‘The Machine’
_______________________________ Jeff Woods (2011)