Webster's New World Dictionary defines heritage as, "Something handed down from one's ancestors, as a culture, tradition, or birthright." As we continue into the new millennium, a renewed interest in America's Western heritage is having an undeniable impact on our society. From our arts and literature to architecture and advertising, the food we eat, and even some of the clothes we wear, all seem to reflect a desire to get back to those days of yesteryear. Easy to understand then, is the current revival of traditional Western music in all it's forms; as this ever-present part of our culture continues to regain its identity, while today's mainstream Country Music veers farther and farther from its roots.
Riding calmly all this time has been a "posse" of traditionalists such as Ian Tyson, Don Edwards, Michael Martin Murphy and others. Somewhere near the top of this list of talented artisans is Craig Chambers, a Texan known for his smooth baritone voice and 'easy to get to know' stage presence. Craig's Western musical legacy runs deep. As a youngster, 'cowboying' through the Southwest, Chambers acquired early on, a knowledge and appreciation of the music from the older hands with whom he worked. His guitar was never farther away than his favorite saddle, and quite often after the day's work was done, Craig was called upon to do the singin', and he warmly obliged. The popularity of his music soon spread, and he began entertaining at ranch dances, local gatherings, and rodeos. On many occasions, he would play for the rodeo dance after competing in two or more events! Craig recalls with an easy grin, "I always had to pack an extra shirt!"
The day inevitably came when Craig hung up his spurs to pursue music professionally. The career that followed allowed him to hone his talents in the trademark dance halls of his native state, then led him to Nashville for several years, and on to New York City.
New York City !?!?!
Yep, the big Apple is a long way from a ranch dance in south Texas, but for more than four years Craig appeared on stage as the bandleader and narrator of the hit Broadway play, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." "The New York audiences and the press were fascinated by the music," Craig remembers. "I'd get stopped on the street, in a restaurant, wherever, by people who would say, 'your music... it sounds like Jazz, it sounds like Country... We don't know what it is, but we love it!" Chambers' voice and his music lent itself to the success of "Best Little Whorehouse" and to many, many radio and TV commercials as well.
Craig Chambers is featured in the book, "Saddle Serenaders", along with other entertainers, past and present, who are dedicated to keeping the spirit of the West alive in their music. Influenced by Marty Robbins, The Sons of the Pioneers, and Bob Wills (just to name a few), Craig's music is proclaimed as 'genuine' and 'authentic' by aficionados of the genre. A CD released in 1995, Where the Pavement Ends, was cited by one critic as "The best recording of Cowboy Music in thirty years." A more recent CD, The Cowboy's Conscience, spent twelve weeks on the Americana Music charts - a part of the Gavin Report, an important music industry trade publication.
Innovative and versatile, Craig Chambers is as well known for his performance of Western Swing as he is for the 'Cowboy' music. WESTERN SWING! This musical hybrid called, Texas' only original music, has elements of Big Band Swing, Western music, Country, Jazz, and just a little of the Blues. Pioneered by groups like Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Western Swing endures today due to the musical efforts of bands like Asleep At The Wheel, The Original Texas Playboys, and Tommy Morrell and the TimeWarp Tophands. Through his association with Morrell and the Tophands, Craig is known for his uncompromising approach to this wonderful, danceable music, both on their CDs and in the shows and dances they play together. In 1996, Chambers was named "Western Swing Vocalist of the Year," and was honored with the Will Rogers Award for his contribution to the music. His ideal is to continue playing this music of the past with today's punch and inventiveness. In both kinds of Western music that he performs, Craig continues to tastefully mix new and original songs with the familiar standards, bringing a new energy to the music while remaining true to its roots.
From the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in the East, to the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in the West, Chambers has entertained at campfires and barbecues, conventions and trade shows, concerts, fairs, rodeos, and way more than a wagon-load of dances! Performing solo, with his acoustic Cowboy band, or with a hot Western Swing aggregation, Craig Chambers keeps on earning fans the World over, wherever people enjoy real Western entertainment.