David Kraai (pronounced cry) was born in New York City and raised Upstate in the ever present shadow of the Woodstock music scene. Growing up listening to many diverse styles of music, David eventually attended and graduated from Binghamton University before returning to live in the city of his birth. There he played music constantly and eventually began traveling the country, visiting everywhere; making brief stops to live in Texas, Oklahoma and Los Angeles.
In 2001, David returned to Upstate New York and began work on a new batch of songs that would examine and express what he witnessed from America. David’s first outlet for these was as a member of the highly traditional country group The Old States. With their singular sound, The Old States quickly became Upstate favorites and Kraai gained attention as the main songwriter and force behind this group’s high lonesome sound. However, The Old States’ days were numbered and, determined, Kraai went into the studio to capture on tape the songs he had put so much time and effort into crafting.
In May 2004, David Kraai released his debut solo album, A Denim Fall. The concept: no frills, just pure examination of the human condition and foundations of songwriting. The album of mellow, Sunday morning, jeans and t-shirt songs and spare, golden, countrified folk music immediately made Kraai a fixture in the New York folk scene. Regularly playing such notable venues as CBGB’s and The Sidewalk Café, invitations soon came for Kraai to pay homage to his predecessors and play at tribute festivals for Gram Parsons, Gene Clark and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow out in California. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world caught on and songs off A Denim Fall would begin being played in films and on radio stations as far away as Belgium; one track would even be selected for inclusion on Neil Young’s Living With War Today website as the number 2 protest song of the times.
The subsequent years of touring saw Kraai playing onstage with legends like Pete Seeger, Bill Keith (of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys) and John Simon (producer of The Band and Janis Joplin), as well as future legends like Tim Easton, and sharing bills with the likes of Victoria Williams, Dar Williams and members of The Flying Burrito Brothers and moe. It wasn’t long before David would hit the studio once again; equipped with some new instrumental skills (banjo, dulcimer, harmonica and mandolin) and a tight group of musicians who individually had already shared stages with Bruce Springsteen, Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), Little Feat, The B-52’s, Third Eye Blind, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Fugees and members of The Band.
Joined by Jon Stern (of ska/funk legends Perfect Thyroid) on bass, Chris Ragucci on drums, Sean Powell on electric guitar and Marty Hodulick on pedal steel, David Kraai & The Saddle Tramps spent over a year recording their follow-up album, 2007’s high & lonesome. Showcasing the band’s ability to dole out both traditional and progressive, acoustic and electric, laid-back and upbeat, country and rock, it would earn them not only consistently solid reviews but slots on television and radio, headlining stages at festivals and be named the 79th album of the year by WNCW.
In support of the album, David (both with and without The Saddle Tramps) would find himself gigging all over the country and at leading venues like The Knitting Factory and Eddie’s Attic, booked as part of a national tour honoring late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, performing as the backing band for Ian Dunlop (of Gram Parsons’ International Submarine Band), playing with legendary drummer N.D. Smart II (of Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris’ Fallen Angels, Mountain, Great Speckled Bird and The Remains), interviewed on Amsterdam radio by poet, activist and counterculture impresario John Sinclair, at Gram Parsons tributes in Florida, Georgia and New York City as well as on bills with Kevn Kinney (Drivin’ N’ Cryin’) and J.P. Bowersock (Ryan Adams’ Cardinals and guru to The Strokes).
Now, with a whole slew of instruments that need to played, songs (old and new) that need to be sung and people that need direct and emotional music to heals their souls, David Kraai & The Saddle Tramps continue traveling down the never-ending road that is life.
"Friends and daughters, it is relatively simple to find salvation, sweet tea, grits and good barbeque at a reasonable price these days, and all in one place! I recommend headin' on over now. Go on, take my word for it, you'll not only be a hand shake wiser and a half moon closer to quality denim, you'll be happier for the time too!
"Take exit number eighteen and keep going down, down to the one-way, hanging a right until you hit that orange room where music and the human condition still matter. Let yourself in because it is only here that you can hear guitars, play harmonicas, see cowboys, walk with Deans, talk with Brandos, follow girls without country and know that Texas still is in America. You might get taken home, you might wind up almost dead again, you might be a had been or, maybe, if you're lucky, take a stroll down Brouck Ferris dreaming of a dream in the land of dreams. It is only here that you will find first rate lemon water served with an unvarying frequent frequency and a new type of black cat whose crossing of your path is considered a very good sign. It is only here that you will find David Kraai (and his Saddle Tramps).
"So, mosey on down and have a bowl. You won't be disappointed, whatever your fancy."
The Reverend G. Harris-Twain III