There are a small number of Homosapiens that belong to a special sub-class. One might not see them often, but one has definitely heard them. The individual in the coffee shop that reads and writes poetry, the one who thinks for hours about the little things in life that makes us feel vibrant and alive. It is the role of this sub-class to remind us about our humanity and the little gems that make us feel. Examples of this sub-class would be Bob Dylan, Jewel, Lucinda Williams, John Prine and Dave Alvin. Artists that distill the human condition down to little phrases set to melodies that enrich our lives and make us wonder, "Why didn’t I think of that? That is so true" as the emotion of discovery and memories rush over our consciousness.
Craig Schumacher would easily fall into that special sub-class. Schumacher spent his childhood on the prairies of the Dakotas, inspiring him to develop a slightly tilting imagination and a love for music to help fill in a lot of the blank spaces surrounding him. At age 10, Schumacher toured as the drummer in an otherwise all-girl high school rock and roll band managed by a priest, no less. Despite this auspicious beginning, Schumacher soon took up the more portable and composer-friendly guitar (the instrument of choice of the special sub-class).
As a producer and writer, he has worked with acclaimed artists such as Ricky Peterson, Hiram Bullock and The Steeles. Schumacher co-wrote several songs with J.D. Steele, many of which became staples of The Steeles live act. Melanie Rosales' outstanding debut CD Can't Change It (1999), was produced by Schumacher and featured three of his original songs. Schumacher has also written songs with Tim Mahoney and composed the movie-trailer music for the independent film "Bound and Gagged: A Love Story." Craig Schumacher's debut CD Live at Creation was released in 2002. Featuring top Twin Cities musicians, the "live in the studio" recording took a spontaneous approach to Schumacher’s eclectic song list.
Schumacher’s latest release New Shoes is made up of eight original songs populated by vivid characters, timely questions and frustrated romantics. With a warm and weathered voice made to tell stories, Schumacher is complimented by an all-star lineup of nationally recognized jazz cats that capture the rich textures and sonic moodiness befitting the citizens of each tune.
Craig’s characters come to life with each verse, allowing the listener to follow each journey. "The Right Thing" tells about "too many frightened people backed up too far against the wall, not enough conscious people who dare enough to risk the fall. We still got time to question the world we’re gonna leave behind. Still time to look inside you.... might be surprised what you may find."
The folk-leaning (guitar/voice/harmonica) anti-war song "From the Other Side" is one of the topical numbers on the disc, reflecting the maturity of a writer whose been down the road more than a few times. The Motown/Blues title track "New Shoes" ties up the project with a pensive, rye, tongue-in-cheek exclamation point.
The many layers of expression on New Shoes clearly reflect a musical plan by Schumacher as both producer and writer. The songs are meaningful and the playing is great. The songs with their slightly tilting imagination will help fill in a lot of the blank spaces surrounding a life full of "to do" lists and keeping up appearances.
So remember, one might never know if a member of this special sub-class is setting close by enjoying the same "house blend" as you. However thanks to Schumacher and his fellow classmates, we will continually be reminded that there are more important things than the number of calories in that latté and muffin.