CRUISIN’ THE MUSES: Craving a heaping helping of Craven |

CRUISIN’ THE MUSES: Craving a heaping helping of Craven


A cat called Craven is coming to our area with his trio next year, an event far enough in the future to ignore now if it weren’t for his musical mastery.There’s that, and in addition I’m thankful Joe Craven is coming. So this is the perfect day to give thanks for such a blessing. Craven has played with giants and still does. But none tower over him in putting forward quality sounds. His trio will play the evening of Jan. 11 at the Carson Valley Improvement Center Hall in Minden. The concert begins at 7 p.m. that second Friday evening of 2013 with a meet-and-greet an hour earlier after hall doors open, according to Steve Farnsley, director at the Carson Valley Arts Council.Earlier in the day, according to Farnsley, Craven also is expected to perform at the Minden Elementary School for students there. Craven is known for his commitment to music education for kids.The multi-instrumental talents that Craven brings to his craft have melded with the likes of the late Jerry Garcia, guitarist and singer with The Grateful Dead and The Jerry Garcia Band. He worked with Garcia and David “Dawg” Grisman on that pair’s self-titled 1991 album/CD.Garcia and Grisman go back in music lore to a Bay Area bluegrass group in the early 1970s Garcia called Old And In The Way. Garcia played bluegrass banjo even before rock; Bill Monroe was his idol. Craven plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and various percussion instruments in genres ranging from bluegrass to jazz and Latin music.He worked with Grisman in the David Grisman Quintet, as well as with Psychograss, a fusion group. With Grisman over almost 17 years, he was fiddle/violin player, percussionist and an integral part of the quintet in performance and on CDs such as 1993’s “Dawgwood” and 1995’s “Dawganova.”Craven also played for years as a special guest with Alison Brown, banjo player extraordinaire, and her Alison Brown Quartet. Brown’s group included Brown’s husband, bassist Garry West, along with tear-’em-up pianist John R. Burr and accomplished drummer Kendrick Freeman. A Harvard product who owns a record label with husband West, Brown has pushed the envelope with her quartet by doing genre-bending fusion jazz work that rivals the likes of Bela Fleck, another banjo wizard. Craving the music of Craven and his trio, which includes the aforementioned Burr and Freeman, comes naturally to me. The $25 a pop should be money well spent. This won’t be Craven’s first trek to the community 10 miles south of Carson City. He played the same venue in March of 2010. Back then, he was a special guest of the Houston Jones Band when the Carson Valley Arts Council brought the Jones group in. • John Barrette covers the arts, senior issues and health care. If you have a story or upcoming event that you want the public to know about, email him at or call 775-881-1213.