Craig Rafuse, in his own words.


Luckily, I fell 30 feet out of a tree at age 9. Ouch! Up until then I cared only about hiking, skiing, and Little League baseball. Well... I got a 5 year break from all that, and so I tuned, instead, into the `folk boom'.

Craig at 9 One of my dad's colleagues lent me a vintage Gibson and his Chet Atkins records, which got me fingerpicking my way through a maze of fancy chords in time to fathom the Beatles. And I proceeded to love and mimic just about everything that burst out of the radio in that fabulous era.

In the early `70s I followed my wanderlust through Europe and the Middle East, several times, and even spent 7 months teaching guitar in Beirut.

Settling in Atlanta, I took up carpentry, which is how I've supported myself for more than 25 years. At first, during a somewhat serious college phase, music took a back seat. Still, I occasionally played coffeehouses and parties around Emory University.

Heading out west for a final hippie fling, I happened to write music for a Bertolt Brecht play (Mother Courage) at the University of Oregon, and the critics raved:

This production has one extraordinary aspect, and that is the original music written, arranged and performed by Lee Heuermann and Craig Rafuse... the biting lyrics have been beautifully set... and the songs meld gracefully into the show--in fact, they give it virtually all of its strongest scenes.
(Cal Turlock, Willamette Valley Observer)

Awakened to politics, I soon found myself singing the likes of Phil Ochs and Malvina Reynolds for every damn cause you can imagine. And, in the process, I began to find my voice.

Back in Atlanta a bohemian spirit bubbled up in Little Five Points, and I was fortunate to include myself among the movers and shakers of a neighborhood where the currents of the Sixties found an actual home. In addition to my role as a `topical songwriter', I learned to play electric guitar in a band called `Muggles'. Many thanks to Janna and Scott for immersing me in the standards of Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, etc., and for appearing on my CD.

When I directed the Mother Courage music again, at Seven Stages, the Atlanta Constitution's Helen C. Smith titled her review: "Music Highlights Production of Mother Courage".

The difference lies in the original music... which infiltrates the three-hour production as if indigenous to it.

In 1982, when the Atlanta chapter of `PERFORMING ARTISTS for NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT' was formed, several of us launched a community dance band, playing Sixties' rock 'n roll (Grateful Dead, Little Feat, Allman Brothers, etc.). Over 100 excellent musicians have graced us with their chops over the years, and we have injected an amazing amount of enthusiasm and good will into the communities of folks struggling to make a difference.

Occasionally, we blow people's minds by playing out in the middle of fields or off the backs of our pick-ups, powered by a solar collector/converter!

In a whimsical effort to peer beyond the anti-nuclear heritage, yet still pay homage to it, we changed the name, awhile back, from `PAND Band' to the `ExPand Band'. `Merci beaucoups' to Bill, Bob, Ed and Rodger for the tracks they laid down on my CD, and, especially for a decade-and-a-half of inspired fun.

Flower Craig For me, celebrating `community' has always been as important as the music itself, so I've cultivated relationships with community-based singers needing accompaniment. I spent a decade with Joyce Brookshire (who writes textile mill-culture tunes). Amanda Perdew was a songwriter-leader of the Civil Rights Movement (who is featured on records issued by the Smithsonian), and she invited me into a marvelous culture. At a rally protesting the Presidential Parkway through our neighborhood, I found myself backing up Brenda Boozer (an opera singer at the New York Met), who then hired me to perform with her at her father's 50th college reunion (I also got to meet her husband, comedian Robert Klein).

Elise Witt and the Small Family Orchestra included me now and then. I learned some cajun from Pig Iron & the Back Bayou Band. And a once-a-week cabal of jazz enthusiasts guided me into the improvisational universes of Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, etc.

I've also kept a toe in the theatre. Played guitar in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Contributed songs to Faust For President, which played at the Alliance Studio during the 1988 Democratic Convention. Put a lyric to music for Theatre On The Prowl's Food Fright, and was `The Folksinger' in Banana Land. Portrayed Karl Marx in The American Supply and Demand Stand Show, a `battle of the bands' between "Karl and the Dialectics" and "Jimmy (Carter) and the Trilaterals".

As you can see, I'm eclectic. A true Gemini. The following gives you a sense of my quirky approach towards audiences. Please excuse the length of the list. It's just that I'd like to honor those I've enjoyed keeping various dreams alive with.

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • SEVA
  • The Freight Room
  • Craggy State Prison (Asheville, NC)
  • Alternate ROOTS
  • Savannah River Plant
  • Manuel's Tavern
  • First Existentialist Church
  • Jubilee Festival (Knoxville, TN)
  • Public Service Commission
  • Athens Human Rights Festival (14 years in a row)
  • Little Five Points Pub
  • Men & Masculinity Conferences
  • Radio Free Georgia (WRFG)
  • Open Air Theatre (Sommerville, MA)
  • Mary Lin Elementary PTA
  • Lena's Place coffeehouse
  • Atlanta Juggler's Association
  • Harvest Moon Saloon
  • Koinonia Farms 50th Anniversary
  • Piedmont Arts Festival
  • Sevenanda Food Co-operative
  • Fiddler's Green
  • ACLU
  • The Annual Georgia Reunion and Goodtime Boogie
  • 40 Watt (Athens, GA - 3 different locations)
  • Gay Pride Celebrations
  • Rock `n Roll Camp (Allenstand, NC)
  • Performance Gallery
  • Moto's Restaurant
  • CAUTION and Roadbusters
  • Rainbow Family
  • 688
  • Oregon State Penitentiary
  • Atlanta City Hall
  • Horizon School
  • Feminist Women's Health Center
  • The Moonshadow
  • Nexus (Art Center)
  • Georgians Against Nuclear Energy
  • Unitarian Churches (Birmingham & Atlanta)
  • Planet Earth (Knoxville, TN)
  • Exception and the Rule (street theatre)
  • 800 East
  • Sierra Club
  • Cannon Chapel (Emory University)
  • The Point
  • Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance
  • Art Plubibus Unum
  • Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern
  • Campaign For A Prosperous Georgia
  • WRECK Room
  • Arts Exchange
  • Grass Roots Organizing Workshop (Columbia, SC)
  • Uptown Lounge (Athens, GA)
  • Metro Correctional Facility
  • Alternative Energy Festivals (Little 5 Points)

Along the way, in the Famous People Department, I've shared the bill and rubbed elbows with Jimmy Carter, Wavy Gravy, Andrew Young, the Indigo Girls, William Sloane Coffin, Congressman John Lewis, Stephen Gaskin, Dave Dellinger...

And I've performed at birthday parties, weddings, block parties, and so forth.

In the late `80s, I began writing a lot of songs. Most of them were quite forgettable, but the keepers started piling up, and this led naturally to the dream of producing an album. The gods must have been smiling, because a timely fellow named David Truran approached me and asked me if I'd help him remodel his studio in return for his engineering services. In the process we forged an enduring friendship, the place looks marvelous, and I felt very much at home helping him break in a Mackie mixing board, hooked up to an Alesis 16-track ADAT.

David, by the way, is a wizard, totally on top of the recording craft, and his easy-going, supportive personality creates an ideal climate for creativity. If you're in the market for a studio, A Sound Collective just might change your life.

Recently, David and his long-time friend, Randy Myers (thanks to him, too, for playing on the CD), formed Echo Lake Records and invited me to become their 3rd release. I am a lucky man, indeed. And we hope, of course, that y'all and your friends will buy, Buy, BUY!

What can you expect to find on the CD? A range of styles: new folk, jazz, country, ragtime, a touch of rock `n roll. Thoughtful guitar work. Spacious solos. An honest voice. Intelligent lyrics. Social concern and love woven into a motley fabric.

I haven't inspired a lot of press yet, but Creative Loafing's Gregory Nicoll was quite nice to me recently, and I'd like to share his thoughts with you.

Green Light at the Red

At the Red Light Cafe, Echo Lake Records is show-casing another of its roster, Craig Rafuse, a new initiate to the fretboard fraternity of Andy Irwin and Ray Chesna. Rafuse is smaller in physical stature than his labelmates but packs as much musical muscle. His "Between The Lines" [actually a Steve Goodman tune] is a telling chronicle of all the paperwork between certificates--of birth,and of death--that begin and end a human life. On other songs he shows he's quite a scat singer, but his showcase tune is reworked Broadway. Plucking a few notes from "The Sound of Music" songbook, he proffers politics under the slightly reworked title: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?" The number includes a needling Nixon impression, a little punk-side story of his own.

Thanks for reading and listening. See you out on the road!

Craig Rafuse

Copyright (c) Echo Lake Records, 1995-2004
Echo Lake Records