Local Blues-Rock Icon Craig Thatcher to Join ZZ Top at Musikfest Aug. 12
BETHLEHEM, PA–When ZZ Top fans attend the band’s concert at the Musikfest Sands Steel Stage Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m., many of them will notice another very familiar face and voice on the stage as local blues-rocker Craig Thatcher opens the show for the legendary Texas trio.
One of the most popular artists in the Lehigh Valley, Thatcher has been entertaining audiences with his distinctive brand of blues-rock for more than a quarter-century. Thatcher’s original music, combined with his tribute shows to artists like Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers, have made him one of the most sought-after music acts in the region, both for acoustic and electric performances. Last year, when ZZ Top was forced to cancel its Aug. 1 Musikfest show after one of the group’s members needed surgery, Musikfest contacted the Coopersburg-based guitarist to see if he might be able to perform in the band’s place. The Craig Thatcher Band, along with special guests Mike Dugan and Craig Kastelnik, quickly adjusted their performance schedules to lend a hand, offering up a free tribute to the Allman Brothers on Aug. 1 that attracted thousands of people to the Sands Steel Stage.
“The opening-night performance by the Craig Thatcher Band at Musikfest 2014 really helped our festival get off to a great start,” says ArtsQuest Senior Vice President of Programming Patrick Brogan. “We’re thrilled that ZZ Top was able to return to Musikfest this summer, and there’s really no better special guest that I can think for this show than Craig and his bandmates. This will be an amazing night of blues and rock from start to finish.”
In addition to his extensive local performance schedule, Thatcher is also a Martin Guitar Ambassador, representing C.F. Martin & Co. at concerts and events throughout the Unites States, Europe and other parts of the world. In addition, he performs with Nyke Van Wyk, doing tours of Ireland, Italy and prominent New York museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of the City of New York. Over the years, he’s shared the stage with well-known artists ranging from blues guitarists Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy to Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and Hot Tuna.
At the start of the ZZ Top show Aug. 12 at Musikfest, the audience will enjoy and electric set from the Craig Thatcher Trio. Joining Thatcher on stage will be drummer Don Plowman and bass player and vocalist Wayde Leonard. As part of the trio’s set, the audience can expect a mix of Thatcher’s own original tunes, as well as classics from some of the most legendary artists in blues and rock.
“The thought of performing once again on the Musikfest Sands Steel Stage is an unbelievably special honor for Don, Wayde and I, and we are truly grateful to all who have made this possible,” says Thatcher. “Opening the show for one of America’s legendary and original blues-rock-roots trios, ZZ Top, is quite a thrill to say the least. ZZ Top are the best at what they do, keeping their brand of music alive and well since 1969, in their original configuration.
“With the release of ZZ Top’s first album in 1971, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard started the ball rolling. But it was Tres Hombres in 1973 and the song “La Grange” that spoke to me and so many other guitarists worldwide, and set the band on its path to worldwide fame. The audience is in for a real treat on August 12, and I can assure you that we’ll get the night off to a great start with our own brand of three-piece rock-blues.”
Tickets for ZZ Top with the Craig Thatcher Trio are on sale now at musikfest.org and 610-332-3378. For more information on the 32nd edition of Musikfest, set for Aug. 7-16, check out:
Mark Demko, ArtsQuest
gro.tseuqstranull@okmedm or 484-634-1800