Multi-talented Americana-style troubadour from Portland, John Craigie, was discovered by Jack Johnson and on tour with him six months later
John Craigie will open for Jack Johnson, live at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s this weekend.
When: Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29 | 7p.m.
Where: Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena in Stateline, NV. | 15 US 50, Stateline, Nev.
“My intention with music is really to tell my story and hopefully it relates to someone else’s story,” said guitarist and singer, John Craigie.
“The purpose of music is not to make you feel better, but to make you feel like you’re not alone. You could be bummed out and the music might not make you feel less bummed out, but you might think, ‘We’re all bummed out’, and that in turn, makes people feel better,” he said.
Craigie has generated quite a following since his music start in the Bay Area. He is known for his style of storytelling, using his performance time not just to hammer out tune after tune, but to interact with the crowd and tell funny stories.
“I was always the class clown, the funny guy,” he recalled.
“I’d relay events to the friend in our group who wasn’t there, I was just known as that guy — the storyteller.”
Craigie picked up the guitar and got into music in the 1990s, during a time which he recalled most musicians were putting on a serious façade.
“Music was serious then, lots of Pearl Jam — and no one talks during the show, that was not cool; so when I started playing music I kept the music and the storytelling separate, as I thought they were supposed to be.”
After traveling to Santa Cruz, Craigie saw artists doing both, talking to the crowd and singing to them, and he decided that his shows were going to be used to interact with the people, to feel the vibe from the audience and make something out of it.
“Talking to them became more natural than the music. People would say ‘oh I like it when you talk’ and I would ask them what they thought abut the other half of the show and they’d say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s nice when you sing, too’,” he laughed.
Craigie says his songwriting process comes organically out of a storytelling. He uses whatever he is going through at the time and current events happening in the world.
“Lyrics come first for me, if I don’t have lyrics I won’t write the song; it’s just too important to me, it’s what people relate to the most,” he said.
Some of the songs he enjoys performing the most are politically motivated, challenging hot-topic political and cultural issues.
“I always get most excited right when there’s a lot of heated debate on something, like when (then-president) Obama said that the Supreme Court said gay marriage was cool, I had a fun but kind of political song on that. I had another one when Trump got elected that was humorous and political at the same time — that was so fun to get that reaction from people, positive or negative; though it’s mostly positive.”
Craigie’s sound is distinct and true, his lyrics have meaning and his performances are designed to give people an experience — no wonder Jack Johnson scooped him up after having heard a CD from Craigie’s live album last summer.
By January, Craigie was contacted by Johnson’s team to perform in Hawaii and after some confusion about planning, Craigie found out that it was Jack Johnson who was arranging gigs for him in Hawaii.
Fast forward a few shows later, after Johnson hosted Craigie in Hawaii, and he ultimately asked him to join his tour.
“(The year) 2017 will definitely go down in crazy history as the most significant year for me, so far,” Craigie said.
Craigie will hit Tahoe with Johnson this weekend, performing from the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena and says he appreciates touring and talking to all kinds of different people.
“I like meeting new people and feeling out each area and seeing what’s happening there, what makes them tick, similarities and differences between the east and west coasts, conservative or liberal, weed is legal or not legal — all the aspects of their culture,” he said.
Craigie is no stranger to Lake Tahoe, he used to visit Truckee frequently when he lived in Santa Cruz and is excited to finally play from Tahoe for the first time, reaching Sacramento and Reno, Nev., in the past.
He has the next day to himself while on this trip stop, after his final performance with the Jack Johnson tour and is grateful for the experience and what’s to come.
“This will be my last show with the Jack tour for now. It’s been an amazing time, Jack’s band is real hot, they’re playing newer and older songs and it’s been an honor to be part of it. I’m honored everyone is giving me a shot,” he said.
Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.