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Making sounds from anything

For 17 years Joe Craven was a multi-instrumentalist with the David Grisman Quintet. He was the guy with the Ralph Stanley autographed bongos and fiddle.

St. Clair Productions will be bringing Craven to the Rogue Valley for a concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29, at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

The next day he will give a workshop, "The Wacky Wonderful World of Joe Craven — Thinking Outside the Box and Playing On It," from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the Fellowship.

The workshop is open to adults and children who wish to deepen their connection to self-expression, not just those who play an instrument. Participants will explore the joy of organized sound by learning to think differently about it all. They will experience heightened listening, manipulation of tools (including found objects), observation and imitation, and the all-important significance of rhythm.

Craven has played with and/or recorded with Jerry Garcia, Stephane Grappelli, Maria Muldaur, Vassar Clements, The Persuasions, Psychograss, The Alison Brown Quartet, Darol Anger, Rob Ickes, Bob Brozman, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, spoken word maven Ken Nordine and many others. Craven's phone rings often for studio work. He has performed music and sound effects on a wide variety of recordings including commercials, soundtracks, computer games and several Grammy-nominated projects.

Craven can make music or least interesting sounds with anything that has strings attached; violin, mandolin, tin can, bedpan, cookie tin, tenor guitar, mouth bow, banjo, berimbau, balalaika, boot lace plus a world of percussion instruments including animal bones, squeeze toys, cake pans, waste cans, umbrella stands, martini shakers and ... himself.

More a re-composer and recycler of music as object and idea, Craven believes in stretching the boundaries of musical style while paying tribute to and helping forward evolving musical traditions.

As Craven puts it, "If you want to live an artful life, you've got to find ways to bust through the box of normality, category, mediocrity. I try to mix the discipline of being an adult with the wonder of a child. ... Staying open to things, focusing, listening deeper, looking longer and letting go. It's about passion and that means sometimes you got to quit thinking ... just close your eyes, do it, feel it ... and learn."

Tickets are $22 at the door, $20 in advance, and $10 for youth 12-17. Children under 12 admitted free. Tickets are available at the Music Coop, Ashland; online at www.stclairevents.com; or by calling 535-3562.

Multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven, who was a member of the David Grisman Quintet, will perform in concert in Ashland. - St. Clair Productions