Joe Craven

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Joe Craven
Background information
Genres Roots
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Fiddle, Mandolin, Tenor Guitar
Puerto Rican Cuatro
Tres Cubano
conventional and found sound percussion
Labels Blender Logic Arts

Joe Craven is a Freestyle folk, world and roots music multi-instrumentalist, singer and award winning educator. Joe is the Director of RiverTunes Music Camp and a Co-Director of the Wintergrass Youth Academy. He plays a wide variety of string instruments, including fiddle, mandolin, ukulele, tres, cavaquinio, balaliaka, as well as a world of percussion, including anything he can get his hands on, such as a pickling jar, a credit card, or a jawbone. Craven is a well known sight at acoustic music festivals and, for many years, was violinist and percussionist for the David Grisman Quintet.[1] Craven lists some of his influences being Jimi Hendrix, dumpster diving, Hermeto Pascoal, thrift stores, Frank Zappa, educator and aesthetician John Dewey, beachcombing, Carl Stalling, Eddie Palmieri, field recordings, Tiny Moore, Los Pleneros De Viente Uno, Darol Anger and The Horseflies.

Joe Craven has played with many notable musicians including Jerry Garcia, Stephane Grappelli, Alison Brown, Rob Ickes and David Lindley. He performs solo and in different sizes and versions of his own projects, most notably The Joe Craven Trio.

Craven's noted instrument ability is matched only by his creativity. He finds rhythm and unique sound in almost any object. A favorite "instrument" of his is any small, plastic trash that can turned upside down and played with either brushes or his own hands. Craven's collection of percussion instruments (found sound and ones designed for the purpose) is vast and includes examples from around the world.

Along with Joe's concert and festival performing, he is highly regarded for his work with school children, university students and communities in general. His workshops are as much about finding the "voice" we all have as they are about music. The kids attending these school assemblies and classes often come away with a better sense of self and their value in the world around them. Self-esteem building via music and humor is what this part of Joe's work is all about. The value of his work with children has serious positive results. Craven's "free child" seems to be heard by every student attending his workshops, even the ones who claim to be "too cool" to bother.

The western regional arm (FARWest) of Folk Alliance International (formerly known as the North American Folk Music & Dance Alliance) awarded Joe its highest honor "Best of The West" for 2009. Previous recipients have included The Kingston Trio, Rosalie Sorrels, U. Utah Phillips, and Lowen & Navarro. The award announcement was made in July 2009. Presentation to Joe was made on Saturday November 7, 2009, during the FARWest annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Irvine, California.


  • Camptown (1996) - An album full of classic American/Celtic fiddle tunes internationally interpreted in Joe's special way.
  • Mo' Joe (2002) - A collection of classic folk and bluegrass tracks performed in a variety of styles including jazz, hip-hop, rock, and pop.
  • Django Latino (2004) - A Latin-inspired collection of Django Reinhardt compositions performed on a wide range of instruments, including Joe's Mandolin, Mandola, violin, cavaquinio and vast toolbox of percussion. An impressive roster of guest artists round out this award winning recording.
  • Foakee (2009) - In collaboration with bassist/pianist/composer Sam Bevan, Joe has assembled a unique collection of traditional songs and instrumentals reflecting what some have called a refreshingly innovative mix of "folk music" of America and beyond.
  • All Four One (2011) - Original compositions by the four members of the Joe Craven Trio. Instrumental works and two songs paying tribute to the Blues, New Orleans, Swing, Funk and Bluegrass,as well as music of Brazil, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Ireland. A power trio of keyboards, key bass, drums, fiddle mandolin, and vocals, the celebration is a surprisingly full sound for a party of three.


  1. ^ Harris, Craig. "Biography: Psychograss". AMG. Retrieved 18 May 2010.

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