Big Rapids Musician Streams Midwest Sound with Latest Album


BIG FAST – For some music is a quality hobby for fun, for others it is a passion for life. Big Rapids native and musician Billy Craig’s extensive discography includes his latest album Black Swan Theory, one that exemplifies his concept of the sound of the American Midwest.

Released on October 22, the 14-track album mixes acoustic and electric country rock and is partly inspired by the pandemic.

Craig, who grew up on Marion Avenue in Big Rapids, said music and songwriting has always been a part of his life.

“I really enjoy writing and recording, so that’s the end result, and it’s something I’ve been doing for a few years,” Craig said. “It wasn’t really meant to be a pandemic, but a lot of it kind of has that feeling. It’s really just an album that encountered what this world has been going through in recent years and with the pandemic. But really, I just love putting our product on and writing songs inspires me.

Craig’s early love for music led him to perform in local parks, high schools and more. At 18, he was playing guitar on a short international tour with musicians from Detroit to Chicago. He switched from acoustic guitar to electric guitar, developing his own sound, and eventually ended up on a much longer tour of the United States.

He has toured with several different groups, including a 28-piece band, a trio of Craig and his two brothers, and Michigan rock band, Brownsville Station.

Craig said much of his songwriting and personal style came from his childhood and living in a Midwestern culture in Big Rapids and the Detroit area.

“It’s not your typical Nashville country sound,” Craig said. “What I’m trying to do is take the Bakersfield sound out and create the Midwestern and Rust Belt country, which is a little more daring and a little rock-oriented. My roots are rock and roll, so it comes out like that. “

“I’m from the Great Lakes and wanted to represent that,” he added. “I grew up with rock and roll, so my influences come from there and from 70s singer-songwriters like Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, up to AD / DC and Van Halen. When you write songs you don’t always have a choice about how they come out, they just come out the way they come out, especially when you perform them.

Thanks to ATM Records, Craig released four more albums, including “Beyond the Pale”, his first instrumental album. He enjoys playing for his hometown and has visited local schools including two visits to Riverview Elementary in Big Rapids to play for students in 2013 and 2014.

Craig said that despite his rock and roll roots, the songwriting process starts with the basics.

“When I write songs, I often start with my acoustic guitar and use it,” Craig said. “What comes out is what comes out, but to me it’s not representative of what comes out of Nashville and more so of what comes out of the Midwest. I think we have to have that identity, especially outside of Detroit. “

“When you think of Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland, they’re all blue collar cities, and that’s the kind of album I think I released,” he added. “There’s a song about alum called ‘Blue Collar’ and the first song on the album ‘Let’s Get Along’ is playing on one of the biggest country stations here in Detroit, WICD.”

Craig said his hopes for his latest album Black Swan Theory are for people to enjoy it.

“I just want listeners to see it as a quality album,” Craig said. “Sitting down and putting on the headphones to listen is what I think about when I record my songs, doing something that people can sit down and listen to and enjoy. I want to put on a show, have hills and valleys like a roller coaster, hit them hard at the start and have ups and downs. It’s a good and interesting listening experience.

Looking ahead, Craig said the pandemic has put a damper on many live music and concert programs for many artists, but he intends to create a unique concert experience for fans.

“It’s definitely one of my goals to perfect, and I have six albums to draw on for a show, so I think I’ll be able to create a really cool one,” Craig said. “I’m going to start a group, but a lot of it fell off because of the pandemic.

“It’s a different animal. It’s not the cover band world; it’s an original project. And I’m lucky to have a talent pool here in Detroit and incredible players. ‘ve formed the band, I think it will sound really good and it will be a real rock show. I know it comes with a country flair, but I want to make sure my rock guitar is in the foreground. “

Black Swan Theory is currently available on Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

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