Called "a fine and funky pianist" by Living Blues, piano player and composer Craig Brenner has been voted "Best Musician" in Bloomington, IN numerous times in the Bloomington Independent; Craig & The Crawdads have been selected best band in the same poll. A graduate of Florida Southern College, Craig attended the Indiana University School of Music from 1976 through 1980, studying with composer John Eaton, pianists Joseph Rezits and Enrica Cavallo Gulli, and jazz guru David Baker. Craig has also studied with boogie woogie and stride piano master Bob Seeley and blues pianist Big Joe Duskin through a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.
Craig's first recording is "Backstage Boogie" (1990) with drummer Dan Hostetler. His second recording, "Play it Again, Professor!" (1995), includes award-winning conga drummer and Professor Longhair collaborator Alfred "Uganda" Roberts, drummers Kenny Aronoff and Tim Brookshire, guitarists Gordon Bonham and Stuart Norton, bassists Brian Lappin and John Huber, tenor sax-man Dennis Riggins, and trombonists Tim Riggins and Dave Pavolka. Craig's third recording is the jazzy CD Man At the Piano (1997), featuring The Crawdads.
The CD "Window On the Soul," recorded at Echo Park Studios, Bloomington, IN, includes ten original compositions and features Craig's sons Eli and Nate Brenner as well as Gordon Bonham, Tim Brookshire, James Campbell, Jeff Chapin, Joe Donnelly, Bob Dubinski, Pat Harbison, Janiece Jaffe, Jane McLeod, Jerry Morris, Stuart Norton, Dave Pavolka, Sonja Rasmussen, Mark Robinson, Sue Swaney, Pete Wilhoit and others.
The latest album by Craig Brenner & The Crawdads, "Live to Love," recorded at Farm Fresh Studios in Bloomington, was released on July 17, 2009. It features all original music, with the first appearance on record of vocalist Lori Brenner, who sings lead on six of the ten tunes.
Craig is also featured on the Cooler Kings' CD "Looks Like Trouble" on the Slippery Noodle label, on Cathi Norton's "Various Stages of Undress" on Flat Rock Records, and on releases by Piney Woods Blues Party and Andy Ruff and the Dew Daddies.