Piano player and singer Mike Craver is a walking anachronism -- a songwriter of extraordinary talent who distills elements of traditional British and American folk song and Tin Pan Alley into a mesmerizingly original blend. Craver accompanies himself on piano, and sings in a warm, engaging, and intimate style.
For over a decade Craver was one of the linchpins of the Red Clay Ramblers, acoustic music's most unclassifiable band. Craver complemented the Ramblers rustic Americana with the spit-shine of mellifluous urban music -- his spiraling 88s and flamboyant Cole Porter style lyrics fueled the band's eclectic repertoire and helped establish them as "America's premier whatzit band."
A North Carolina native, Craver attended the University of North Carolina and lived in Chapel Hill for many years. After leaving the Ramblers in the late 80's, Craver moved to New York City to pursue a theatrical career. Off-Broadway credits include Sam Shepard's A LIE OF THE MIND, THE OIL CITY SYMPHONY (co-author and original cast member, Drama Desk award) SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, and RADIO GALS (co-author and original cast member, LA Ovation award)
In addition to nine Red Clay Rambler albums (Flying Fish, Sugar Hill) and original cast recordings of Oil City Symphony (DRG Records) & Radio Gals (Varese Sarabande) Craver has made three solo albums, the first FISHING FOR AMOUR (Flying Fish), which the WASHINGTON POST has called "witty, intimate and enormously appealing cabaret" -- and the independently produced WAGONER'S LAD, which DIRTY LINEN called "a timeless disc of rare and profound beauty" and the Knoxville News Sentinel called "a county full of characters come to life -- their tales as tragic and twisted as classic Appalachian ballads."His third and newest cd, "Shining Down" is slated for a late spring 2002 release.
With the Ramblers, Craver toured the club and festival circuit in North America and Europe. With Oil City Symphony and Radio Gals, he has worked in theatres across the country, including the Pasadena Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Mass. He has been a featured performer many times on A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. Garrison Keillor remarked that Craver "has an amazing ability to write songs of a period that are perfect."
In the late 90's Craver moved back to North Carolina and started his own record label (Sapsucker). He continues to write songs and shows, work in musical theatre, and play the occasional live gig. Recent appearances include the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Festival for the Eno.
Owen Cordle of the NEWS AND OBSERVER had this to say about Craver's music: "it's as if Michael Franks, David Frishberg and Noel Coward had been filtered through the Elizabethan folk music South. "Other cursory comparisons of Craver's music could be made to XTC (they share a gentle whimsy), Rufus Wainwright (both lean toward art songs) and Tom Waits (both love simple melodies and are as out of sync with pop music as they come.)
Craver's strength lies in making use of flights of fancy and piercingly intimate vocal delivery to make ideas as well as emotions part of his musical message. And the message of his music is unusual. Underneath the pleasant melodies Craver combines the openhearted emotionalism and idealism with a wit somewhere between Voltaire's and Charles Addams'.
"One of North Carolina's most talented artists" -- THE SPECTATOR