The Craig Thatcher Band does not need electric to is amp up a crowd.
The stylings of guitarist Craig Thatcher will join in an acoustic collaboration with violinist Nyke Van Wyk, and harmonica player Ansel Barnum, with drummer Don Plowman on the cajón, a Peruvian percussion instrument.
The Craig Thatcher Band will perform this acoustic special 7 p.m. May 10 at The Historic State Theatre of Boyertown, 61 N. Reading Ave., Boyertown.
Thatcher and his band played at the theatre in December, and are looking forward to coming back. “I love the intimacy of the room, and great sound [of the venue],” Thatcher said.
In their full electric set, Thatcher and his band “perform in a lot of theatres” but it is only the second time the foursome performed the acoustic set. (They premiered at The Blast Furnace Blues Festival in Bethlehem earlier this year.)
The Coopersburg resident has been perfecting his skills on the guitar since he was 8-years-old, but recognizes that playing guitar is “a life long study.”
As a child he was exposed to the instrument, as both his father and older brother played. Like many artists, Thatcher was intrigued by The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and showed interest in learning to play.
“My father asked if I would like to start lessons,” Thatcher said. He jumped at the opportunity, and has yet to look back.
Thatcher continues to have an appreciation for The Beatles, and frequently will play their songs at his shows.
“There was no Internet to find out what was really going on,” he said. “And [musicians] were not willing to share their lead work.” Thatcher needed to dig for inspiration. He received a true gift, a John Mayall and the Blues Breakers album featuring Eric Clapton, for Christmas 1966 from his grandmother.
“That was the first thing that turned me in a different direction from The Beatles,” he said. Clapton’s style showed Thatcher that the guitar could lead as the main instrument of the band.
Thatcher and his band rock to emulate the icon, dedicating entire performances to Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Allman Brothers specials.
While the cover shows are a hit, The Craig Thatcher Band has no problem filling-house for their own music, as the band is a must-see act for the local residents.
“Nyke and I play various shows with the band,” Thatcher told Berks-Mont Newspapers. “I don’t want our own material to get lost, this year we are focusing on [that].”
Thatcher and Van Wyk have been meshing their musical talents, pairing the guitar and electric violin, for the past six years.
The duo met at a show where they were both on the line-up. After Thatcher heard Van Wyk play, he knew his talents could be a great addition to the band.
“We had an incredible year playing locally,” Thatcher said about last year.
Thatcher is a regular performer at Bethlehem’s Musikfest, and often collaborates with talent local to the area. He has worked with ArtsQuest for the past 25 years and is a “Martin Artist” for Martin Guitar.
His music has provided the opportunity for not only local shows, but rock performances around the world. Thatcher has performed in Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Africa, to name a few, and he and Van Wyk completed tours through Italy and Ireland.
Plans for the group to visit Italy, yet again, next year, are already in the works.
The guitarist and violinist recently shot video to accompany their musical tracks. By the end of this year, Thatcher hopes to produce three more albums; a Thatcher/Van Wyk duo album, a full Craig Thatcher Band album, and a solo acoustic instrumental album.
“I’ve embraced acoustic at the level of electric playing,” Thatcher said about his guitar work over the years. “I believe in using what you have.”
The blues/rock guitarist personally owns 20 guitars, but to Thatcher, that’s not many. “Each has a different voice and place. I use my guitar, you only really need one.”
Thatcher sleeps with a recorder in easy reach for those mornings when he awakes at 4 a.m. he can record the melody.
“I have dozens of them half or three-quarters of the way through,”
I had a dream of doing my own radio/TV show for years, but the process fell on the back burner until recently. With PBS 39/WLVT’s President and CEO Tim Fallon, Thatcher filmed his first Behind the Guitar show with Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, founding members of Jefferson Airplane. Thatcher was “floored” by Kaukonen and Casady’s presence and ability. “I learned a lot from them,” he said. The interview was conducted in front of a live audience. Thatcher has more episodes in the works, and looks forward to the discussions with others who are passionate about their craft.
Thatcher’s musical collaborations offer learning opportunities for him as an artist, and sound that will have all-ages truly rocking out.
For information on purchasing tickets for the May 10 performance, visit statetheatreboyertown.com.