Craig Baumann performing on 06.27.21 @ Stolley's Hogg Alley in Delafield, Wisconsin
photo by DeWook
Can I be honest with you? Seriously on the level, I never thought about writing. I’ve had a few conversations with my circle of friends about why I should be taken seriously, even about what I write. But what I write about seems to convey more then just my opinions, but others life experiences. Others journeys that many of us know little to nothing about. Other peoples’ stories.
Waukesha, Wisconsin based Musician and songwriter Craig Baumann has so many stories to tell. I met Craig at Jam For Jam in 2014. I had no clue how many bands he was involved with let alone that he owned a music store. But it took years for me watching him perform and capturing his moments to really peel back the layers to get to the source: the real story about Craig Baumann.
On a hazy warm Sunday afternoon, prior to his performance to a crowd of relaxing spectators and fans at Stolley’s Hogg Alley in Delafield, Wisconsin, I had a moment to chat with Craig Baumann.
DeWook: I’m here at Stolley’s Hogg Alley with Crag Baumann. Thanks for sitting with me. There’s so much here to talk about today. The Smokin’ Bandits, The People Brothers Band, Craig Baumann & the Story, Outpost Music, or Jam for Jam. Where should we start!
What have you been focusing on lately?
Craig Baumann: I had a baby boy with my lady 8 months ago so really that’s what I’ve been focusing on. Stayin busy swinging a hammer during the day and checking into the music store as often as I can. Keeping things going there. These are some obviously different times but I always end up at home with my boy and the little lady. Lots of cool songs will be coming out of it. It’s been a really inspiring time. Definitely feel like I’ve been able to focus and narrow down all my priorities.
DeWook: I’m a dad myself 3 times over. Question for you is, Has it changed your outlook for music? Are you thinking of settling down with one of your 3 bands (Smokin’ Bandits, The People Brothers Band, Craig Baumann & the Story) more than the other? Or do you feel like you can continue all the bands?
Crag Baumann: Craig Baumann and the story is now my flagship act. For me it’s my focus as far as marketing and what I try to tell people about. Obviously, the People Brothers Band are making a huge move. I cannot not talk about that. The Smokin Bandits when we get called up by a national touring act we’re going to go play with them. And we’re gonna play hard. We’re gonna play well. We don’t have a business plan for the Smokin’ Bandits, so it’s “invitation only” right now. So it’s People Brothers, Craig Baumann and the Story, and it’s my life priorities. I also played drums with the Wrenclaw Band the other day and I still get called up to play a few gigs here and there. Staying busy no matter what.
DeWook: Any big announcements with any variety of business you have going on?
Crag Baumann: The People Brothers have been recording about 25 songs. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to come of it. At least an album. Perhaps a double album, and then another album.
The Story is working on an album too right now. Outpost music has been going quite well. Teaching kids how to play music for the future; for the next generation. We’ll help keep the strings, brass and the woodwind instruments involved in all the compositions.
DeWook: Speaking of Outpost Music, How have things been since the pandemic and coming out of it right now.
Craig Baumann: All I could say is that it was “different”. Wasn’t necessarily worse, it was just different. Our income channels changed, but really everything pretty much stayed the same. A lot of people picked up guitars while cleaning out their basements. So we’ve seen more repairs and setups for people. Helping them get their instruments going again. I think we’re going to see a resurgence or a renaissance of people at performing, making music.
DeWook: Jam for Jamaica, how did this Mission come about?
Craig Baumann: I was graduating college in Platteville in 2005 and I was planning to go to Jamaica and hang out with friends and have a good time. Well, it ended up just being me. I crossed paths with an old drinking buddy from Platteville, a middle aged man. And he said, “we’re going to Jamaica, you should come with us.” And so I ended up going and building houses, like little shantys. Doing repairs for the Catholic Church of all people. And that’s how I ended up in Jamaica. But since then we’ve removed the religious sanctions from it and the political ties to it. And now it’s just about people to people, neighbor to neighbor, How can we help each other. We’ve built over 140 projects in Porus, Jamaica.
DeWook: And people can still donate actively?
Craig Bauman: www.jamforjam.org - go to the Contribute page on the website.
DeWook: I gotta ask real quick, Your Grandfather. I’ve known you a long time, big influence on you. Can you tell us a little about your relationship?
Craig Baumann: He taught me how to play guitar when I was eight years old. I had to push mow 5 acres of lawn 3 times and eventually he gave me the keys to the tractor. But we used to trade a lawn mow for a guitar lesson. So it was ”Johnny Be Good”, “Kansas City”, anything by Hank Williams. Those old famous country tunes. We still hang out. We still make music together. He’s played on one of the Honest Monday tracks, you can find him on “learning me”. Ron Klein, he is a golden god!
DeWook: Anything you want to say to the fans before I let you go?
Craig Baumann: Thanks for 25 years of killer times! I’ve played over 3,300 shows and I’m gonna keep plugging away because that is the reason why we are all doing this! To make culture, share culture, and have a good time doin’ it.
After our quick gab, Craig ran back to the stage to sit in and play bass with Augie Barnhart. The man always seems to be on stage. You can always find an artist at any festival sitting in with multiple performers just like he does. But there is only one Craig Baumann. So just take a moment and listen to these stories and experiences, which gave me the inspiration to write these words that you read right now, that in the end, become our stories.
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