Craig Smith Music

Craig Smith: Biography

Craig performing on his portable grand piano

About Craig

Craig is an experienced and multi-skilled professional musician based in Preston, Lancashire. His primary instruments are piano and keyboards (synths, workstations, Hammond organ etc). He also plays rhythm guitar, Latin percussion and bass, and sings 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.

In recent years, Craig has become firmly established as one of - if not the - most sought-after wedding and event pianists in the UK, providing well in excess of 100 wedding packages a year. He is available as a soloist, but also has a number of other musicians he teams up with on vocals, sax and strings, dependent on the needs of the client.

Craig is 32, a dad to two boys, and enjoys nothing more than getting creative in the kitchen (preferably with a cold beer in his hand): "when music is your life, you need something else to help you unwind!"

Please read more about his career to date and projects past and present below:

Early Years

Craig was born in Preston in 1986 and took up keyboard and piano lessons aged eleven at the local branch of the Technics Music Academy (TMA) at A&C Hamilton Musical Instruments. He 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. He played his first professional wedding booking during his final year at Archbishop Temple High School.

Craig studied Music Technology at Preston College, where he was introduced to musical direction. By now playing beyond grade 8 standard, Craig was offered a job teaching piano lessons and keyboard lessons Hamilton's and took his first residency at a high-class city centre restaurant.

Top Class Training

Craig with Sir Paul McCartney at his graduation from LIPA

It was musical direction that in 2004 won Craig a place at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (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, and discovered his potential as a composer/arranger under the guidance of 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 musical to celebrate Liverpool's 8th Centenary; and produced records for various singers and bands, with some of this work now available world-wide.

Whilst at LIPA, Craig met many of the top class session musicians he now employs on various projects.

Life as a Full-Time Pro

After graduating from LIPA, Craig received an associateship to the Victoria College of Music and he forged a successful career as an instrumental tutor, building the North West's largest mobile music academy.

Alongside the music school, Craig developed a fantastic reputation as a full-time professional musician, eventually relinquishing control of the academy, and the majority of his work is now in live performance and musical direction. He continues to teach a small number of private students and oversees piano and keyboard studies at Garstang Community Academy, as well as supporting some of the GCSE composition students.

Craig is available for composition and arranging commissions (right: an example of his work on the moving documentary Justice for Matthew) - working with local, national and international production companies - and has made various media appearances, either performing or discussing the music and wedding industries.

He has now worked alongside a wide variety of artists, including Paloma Faith, Pixie Lott, Andy Abrahams, Tinchy Stryder, Bastille, Guillemots, Spin Doctors, The Noisettes and more. Craig's most notable studio recording session saw him recording keyboard parts for a Bryan Adams track.

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

Current Projects

Jessicas Ghost

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

Craig has played regularly with Jessica's Ghost since 2012, making a five-piece folk-rock originals and classic covers band, popular on the festivals scene, live music scene and at private parties and corporate functions. The band formed all the way back in 2005 and is still going strong!

Their last album, 'Losing Track of Time' was released in 2012 to rave reviews and regular radio play, and is available on iTunes, Spotify and other outlets, 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 sound on the covers scene, 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.

Acoustics by Kate

Craig is the regular accompanist to one of the North West's most distinctive singers, Kate Torevell, on her Acoustics by Kate project. The project usually consists of piano/vocal live lounge style covers, but accommodates guitar-based gigs too.

Kate also studied a degree at LIPA, hers being in Music, Theatre and Entertainments Management. She now sings throughout the North West and beyond, and is represented by Dream Day Music. Like Craig, Kate is wedding and event entertainment specialist and also occasionally gigs at restaurants, bars and pubs. She has quickly become one of the most popular wedding singers in the region over the past few years.

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!

Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd

Craig is a director of Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd, a North West based production company that produces musical theatre and live music events, and owns Dream Day Music, a specialist wedding and events music business, through which Craig provides many of his wedding performances each year.

Depending on the project, Craig will either work in a performance role, usually as musical director, or in a creative production capacity: musical supervisor, or overseeing design, creation and rehearsal of the production.

The company enjoys a close relationship with many top session musicians all based in the North West on keys, vocals, guitar, bass, drums, horns and strings, who are regularly contracted on Soundsmiths Promomotions Ltd projects, be they tours or one off events.

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

Simply70s: Ultimate Classic Rock, was produced to tour theatres throughout the UK. The show was 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 was principally an executive one: as a co-producer, he worked as creative director and musical supervisor, also responsible for overseeing set and lighting design. He also recruited most of the musicians and singers, who had 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.

Opera Boys

Since Spring 2015, Craig has toured on and off 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 including West End leading men, with vocal harmonies that must be heard to be believed, performing opera and pop hits from Nessum Dorma to Oh What a Night. There is also plenty of comedy mixed in for good measure! It's still well worth a visit for a night of fun, music and laughter.

As well as MD'ing the Opera Boys show, Craig has contributed to Contempo Productions' projects by arranging band parts, recording backing tracks, and writing vocal arrangements in the pre-production phases, most recently for a project adapting modern hits into blues and jazz styles.

See www.operaboys.com for their forthcoming tour dates and cruises.

Craig Smith Music
@lancashire_wedding_musician