Craig Baumann and the Story

An interview with singer, guitarist and band leader, Craig Baumann
by Teri Barr
May 2019

Craig Baumann

Craig Baumann

The harmony, of both beautiful voices and funky guitar riffs blending together, is what catches your attention on the first listen. But Craig Baumann and The Story is so much deeper. Every song highlights something different; a mood or a style of music. I’ve listened to Baumann and The Story’s latest album, Trade in My Hands, a half-dozen times while putting this piece together, and every replay presented a new musical surprise.

Yet, he describes the group’s effort pretty simply. “Blues, Soul, Americana blend of crafted vocals, sultry grooves, and concise arrangements,” Craig says. “With the ability to breathe and improvise in the moment.”

Having that ability, certainly comes from someone who has been playing for a long time. Craig learned guitar at the age of 8, and was on a stage by the time he was 12, much of his early influence coming from his Grandfather, who he says, “Is a vintage Country player. You’ll hear it in everything I do.”

Craig guesses he’s played 3,000+ shows with more than two million miles on the road at this point. But to do it right, he’s surrounded himself with some terrific talent. “I made the call to these cats to create The Story. Everyone was onboard. Some of us barely or never met before our first gig,” Craig says. The Story is made up of musicians from across the Midwest. Kurt Andersen on bass guitar and vocals is from the Twin Cities in Minnesota as is guitar player Tom Alane, who grew up with Craig in Dousman, Wisconsin. There’s also Cliff Weimer of Waukesha. Craig describes him as a “bricklaying mason by day, drummer by night.” And you can’t miss the distinctive sound of Madison’s own Joe Burbach on the organ, and also providing solid background singing to Craig’s lead vocals and guitar. He’s happy by the band’s success, but not satisfied. “I’m constantly striving to be a better musician, and to keep the band tight,” Craig says. “Always enjoying where I’m at and yet always eager to see what is around the corner. Definitely not content or coasting.”

Craig has little time to coast. Along with his band, he currently contributes to the groups Fat Maw Rooney, Moloko Shivers, Honest Monday, The People Brothers Band, Smokin Bandits, and Overserved Gentlemen. He also owns and operates Outpost Music in Waukesha, and tells me though he used to teach downhill skiing and sell shoes, he hasn’t given up the side gigs, altogether. “These days, I do a lot of carpentry to afford the music addiction. Carpentry has a similar energy to music. The rewards are very similar as well,” Craig says.

But an even bigger project is one he has put his whole heart into for years. Jam for Jamaica is a non-profit organization Craig co-founded with the goal of building or renovating homes and other structures there. “Our organization has built 100 projects on the Island. I’ve been present on every project,” Craig says. “We’ve seen the effects of 15 years of mission work, and it is absolutely positive.” An annual music and camping festival, “Jam for Jam,” supports the effort, and is happening this year, May 16-19 in Marshall. Find all the info at jamforjam.org. Craig and The Story will play the fest on Friday, May 17 at 9 pm.

And SAVE THE DATE:  Craig and The Story is also set to play the 2019 AtwoodFest in Madison for the first time this July. It’s sure to be a show you don’t want to miss. And though Craig has already accomplished so much, there’s still so much he wants to do. “I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities,” Craig says. “I’ve lived many of my dreams so now it is a matter of constantly creating and exploring the nooks and crannies of the industry. Consistency is always a goal in delivery.”

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