From Craig’s mouth:
I dreamed of being a guitarist since I was a small kid and would often get my dad’s guitar out of the case and realign the tuning keys. I liked them to be straight in a row. I couldn’t tell that the guitar was out of tune because I couldn’t even play a note.
It wasn’t until many years later at the age of 15 that I got my first guitar. My buddy Ralph Squillace played a few licks then put the guitar in my hands and patiently helped me get started. I was instantly hooked. I called my mom and asked if I could drain the 150 dollars I had in my bank account on a guitar and amp at the local pawn shop. By the end of the day I had a $60 Harmony guitar and a Gorilla Amp with 25 bucks to spare.
To say I became obsessed is an understatement. I would play 12 hours a day every day. Three months later I got my first “real” guitar. It was a $299 Ibanez Roadstar II sold to me by Randy “Rockstar” Robertson at Wray’s Music House. I loved that guitar. It was the perfect stepping stone. I also once again convinced my mom to split the cost of a Fender Showman amp. Love you mom!
In less than a year I teamed up with a few classmates from school and we formed a band. Looking back, I’m pretty sure we sounded aweful but it was fun and I looked forward to all day band practice each Saturday. Playing in a band was super helpful for listening to all the other parts and playing along as one unit. We played a couple of gigs. I took it so seriously. Looking back I wish I would have been a bit more relaxed. As a perfectionist it’s hard to let the little things go sometimes.
Since then I have had the pleasure and privilege of playing with some really great musicians. I have performed tons of shows and recorded a few albums. One of the highlights of performing was touring in Croatia. I hope to tour again in the US and Europe soon.
Stuff you may find interesting.
* B.A. in Music Performance w/ Classical/Jazz Guitar concentration
* Guitarist/worship leader at CEFC
* 2 Battle of the Bands wins (on 2 tries)
* 4 time Central PA’s “Guitar Wars” Champion (on 4 tries – first win at age 17)
* Guitar World Hometown Hero Feature
* 6 Commercially released CDs
o Craig Kelley EP (1995)
o Still Searchin’ (1997)
o Tried & True (1998)
o All of My Heart (2005)
o Back in the Fold (2008)
o New Beginnings (2016)
* 1000+ performances – solo/band supporting Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Rick Derringer, Joan Jett, Fuel, Stroke 9, Finger 11, Ghoti Hook, Lunch Box Heroes, Chevelle, Rusted Root, Firehouse, Tom Larsen
* Written 350+ songs