Craig Smith Music Biography

Craig performing on his portable grand piano
Craig performing Lancashire wedding piano at The Villa, Wrea Green

A graduate of the acclaimed Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts with a First Class BA (Hons) degree in music, and an associate of the Victoria College of Music, Craig Smith is an experienced and multi-skilled professional musician based in Preston, Lancashire and working mainly out of Liverpool.

His primary instruments are piano and keyboards. He also plays rhythm guitar, Latin percussion and bass, and is able to provide backing vocals.

Working freelance in many musical disciplines, Craig is available as a live musician; a studio recording session musician; a theatre and film composer/arranger; a live touring band and theatre musical director; and an advanced level private music teacher. His live performances are managed by Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd.

Please read more about his career and projects past and present below.

Forthcoming Gigs: See the Performance section for a gig guide!

Current Projects

Acoustics by Kate

acoustic singer Kate of www.acousticsbykate.co.uk

Craig is excited to have recently become involved with high-end acoustic covers act Acoustics by Kate, accompanying singer Kate Torevell for gigs at restaurants, bars, pubs and events such as weddings, parties and christenings.

Kate has recently moved back to Preston from Liverpool, where she has studied a degree in Music, Theatre and Entertainments Management at LIPA and is now booking gigs across the North West through her new Preston-based management company Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd.

The set list includes songs by modern artists like Ed Sheeran, John Legend, James Bay and George Ezra, through to ultimate classic favourites by singers such as Ben E King, Artetha Franklyn, Blondie and Bryan Adams.

Kate has a soulful voice, uniquely suited to adapting traditionally male songs into unique acoustic cover versions, and her performances and vocals have been described as awesome, amazing and sublime!

Simply70s: Ultimate Classic Rock

Simply70s: Ulimate Classic Rock- the UKs most entertaining classic rock show!

Craig is heavily involved through his role at Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd (see below) with their touring show "Simply70s: Ultimate Classic Rock", which visits theatres throughout the UK. The show is a high octane gig packed full of the the best, most recogniseable, 70s classic rock anthems from bands and artists including Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Meat Loaf, Led Zep, The Who and more.

Craig's role on the production is principally an executive one: as creative director and musical supervisor, he has been responsible for set construction to musical arrangements, largely building the show from scratch and contributing to its design too. He has also recruited most of the musicians and singers, who have performed with some top household names including Phil X, Bryan Adams and The Osmonds.

Craig performed the keyboards and backing vocals on the show's 2015 promotional material, which contained Bat out of Hell, Bohemian Rhapsody, Walk this Way and School's Out, and can be seen on the show's website. The show will next tour in 2017. Craig is undecided yet whether he'll tour with the show, but will once again take the role of musical supervisor.

Here's Craig performing on the promotional video:

Opera Boys

Opera Boys' charity single Angels CD cover

Throughout Summer 2015, Craig toured as musical director for the UK tour of classical crossover show Opera Boys, produced by Contempo Productions Ltd taking in venues throughout England and Wales.

The UK's answer to Il Divo, the show is primarily a cruise ship entertainment show, placed regularly on P&O and Cunard liners. It features four of the country's top classically trained tenors with vocal harmonies that must be heard to be believed, performing opera and pop hits from Nessum Dorma to Oh What a Night.

The follow-up 2016 tour is already being booked into theatres around the UK for dates when the performers are on dry land, and Craig will be returning to direct the live band backing the singers.

The image on the right is the CD cover for Opera Boys' charity single, a version of Robbie Williams' Angels, which can be bought for only 99p at www.operaboys.com. 2016 tour dates will be found there too, as well as on Craig's Gigs Guide page.

Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd

Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd Logo

Craig is a co-director of Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd, a North West based production company specialising in musical entertainment products for UK theatre venues, corporate clients and private events. Depending on the show, Craig will either work in the role of musical director, performing on the show, or musical supervisor, overseeing the design, creation and rehearsal of the show.

The company is currently in the pre-production phase of its next product, a theatre tour of the best, most recognisable classic rock songs of the 70s, including hits by such bands and artists as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Queen, Meatloaf and Fleetwood Mac. As well as only the best musical performances, Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd also prides itself in striving for the visually spectacular, using cutting edge lighting and top lighting and set designers.

Previous theatre tour concepts have included the Gary Barlow Live Tribute show and Adelation, a night of Adele's hits.

The company also produces theatre, musical theatre and live music events, and owns Dream Day Music, a specialist wedding and events music business, through which Craig provides many wedding performances each year.

Jessicas Ghost

Poster for Jessicas Ghost's support work with Paloma Faith

Craig is a full-time member of Jessica's Ghost, a five-piece folk-rock originals band, popular both on the festivals scene and at private parties and corporate functions for approaching ten years.

The band is currently in the middle of recording their fourth record, a yet-to-be-named EP, featuring three new original tracks. Their last album, 'Losing Track of Time' was released in 2012 to rave reviews and regular radio play, and is available on iTunes and Amazon, as well as on CD. You can hear a taster below.

As well as their original songs, Jessicas Ghost are famed for their distinctive takes on classic rock and soul tracks by artists such as The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, The Doobie Brothers and modern acts like Paloma Faith, Kings of Leon and Maroon 5.

The line up up of two guitarists (electric and acoustic), drums, bass, and Craig on keys provides a unique rocky line-up within a folk outfit and creates a unique sound, which combined with energetic performances and skilled musicianship adds up to a live show not to be missed. This has led to invitations to open for a plethora of household names at live music events and festivals. See www.jessicasghost.co.uk for more details.

Education

Craig also works as a music educator, working as head of piano and keyboard tuition at Garstang Community Academy, and also supporting some of the GCSE composition students. He has recently worked as a guest lecturer at sixth form colleges including Preston's College and The City of Liverpool College. He also dedicates a limited number of hours per week to private tuition.

2❤Close Piano/Vocal lounge entertainment duo

2❤Close duo logo

Craig works in a classy piano-vocal duo called 2❤Close, offering relaxed acoustic (mainly piano/vocal) versions of popular songs, in a similar style to those on the hugely successful BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge CDs. Tracks include gorgeous new acoustic reworkings of current and recent hits like 'Titanium', 'Ho Hey', 'Next to Me' as well as favourite classics like 'More Than Words', 'Stand By Me', 'Dock of the Bay' and 'Just the Way You Are'. Their unique sassy takes of songs like 'Seven Nation Army' and Disclosure's recent smash 'White Noise' are well worth a listen on their YouTube channel. More information can be found at www.2close.co.uk, where you can hear the duo's live and studio demos, and their YouTube channel is www.youtube.com/2CloseAcousticDuo.

Life as a Full-Time Pro

Since graduating from LIPA, Craig received the aforementioned associateship and has developed a fantastic reputation as a full-time professional musician, with the majority of his work in live performance (either with bands or as a soloist playing classical or pop styles), composition/arranging and tuition.

Within the last few years, he has supported acts such as Pixie Lott, Tinchy Stryder, Paloma Faith, Bastille, Guillemots, Spin Doctors and The Noisettes. He has also worked as the music director for several popular singers, arranging backing bands made up of his selected session musicians of the highest standard. Craig himself plays as a session musician, as a non-regular member of other bands, and with singer songwriters. Craig's most notable studio recording session saw him recording keyboard parts for a Bryan Adams track. He performs on piano, keyboards, and Hammond organ, and various workstations/synthesisers.

In January 2013, Craig was commissioned to write the music for the closing scenes of a moving documentary about the Justice for Matthew campaign.

Album cover of Jessicas Ghost's second album, Losing Track of Time

Craig also works as a musical director in musical theatre. Most recently, Craig held the baton for RENT, a production of Footloose at New Brighton Floral Pavillion, and, before that, a very successful run of Jesus Christ Superstar at Preston's Guild Hall. He also worked on West Side Story the at Blackpool Grand the week after Superstar, filling in as a dep musician at short notice, and worked away MDing another production of Footloose for national theatre chain ATG Theatres. Other recent theatrical projects have included The Wedding Singer and We Will Rock You.

Craig continues to play at private functions such as a wedding pianist and at parties across the North West.

Tuition clients are spread across Lancashire and the North West, and travel from as far away as Yorkshire, the Cumbrian Borders and Greater Manchester. The demand for Craig's services (and him having too many students with over 100 weekly students!) led, in 2010, to the expansion of the business to create the Craig Smith Music Tuition Agency. Over the years, there have been around 30 teachers on Craig Smith Music's books, all highly trained and meeting Craig's particular standards, with lessons on piano and keyboards, guitars, brass and woodwind all provided.

Craig has made several media appearances as either a performer or speaker, including as a guest on a BBC feature about the impact of the recession on professional musicians and the live music industry.

Top Class Training

Craig with Sir Paul McCartney at his graduation from LIPA
It was musical direction that in 2004 won Craig a coveted place at LIPA, arguably one of the world's top performing arts institutions, co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney from whom Craig received his degree three years later.

During his first year as a musical director on LIPA's Performing Arts Music degree, Craig developed a passion for both popular music performance and production. He also worked on co-founding a theatre production company, staging two musicals before the producers turned their attentions to other projects.

It was during this first year at LIPA that Craig discovered his potential as a composer/arranger, under the guidance of such practitioners as Paul Mitchell-Davidson and Gary Carpenter. He transferred to LIPA's Music degree for his final two years, during which he worked with several acts and bands as musical director or performing on piano, keyboards and percussion; he was commissioned as a composer scoring a Black Box Merseyside musical to celebrate Liverpool's 8th Centenary; and produced records for various singers and bands, with some of this work now available world-wide through iTunes.

Through his time at LIPA, Craig met several of the top class session musicians he now employs on various projects.

The Early Years

Craig was born in Preston in 1986 and took up piano lessons and keyboards lessons aged nine at the local Technics Music Academy, with tutor Chris Cookson. Craig sped to grade 5 piano and music theory within three years and was a winner two years running in the Technics Music Festival, where he discovered sequencing and programming.

Ian Carten - then a top figure at the TMA - encouraged Craig to study Music Technology at Preston College, and when Ian became a lecturer there he introduced Craig to musical direction. By now playing beyond grade 8 standard, Craig was offered a job teaching piano lessons and keyboard lessons at A&C Hamilton's Music School (previously Preston TMA) and took his first residency at a high-class city centre restaurant.