Can you tell us what you do?
I’m a musician/guitarist, primarily. I am also a proficient bassist and do some keys and singing. I’ve been working with Groove Alliance and Introduction – The Chicago Experience for a number of years now. I also fill in for bands that need someone to cover guitar for a night or number of dates. I work on my own original music in between.
When did you know you wanted to do this?
It began at 6 years old when my parents bought me my first guitar. I knew I loved music. The guitar was the toy plastic kind. No way to tune it. I loved it anyway and played it all the time. Then, one day I remember clearly even now, it hit me all of a sudden: you can’t pretend at this. You actually have to know how to play it! This totally bummed me out.
Then, at 11, I had my first real guitar. It was a classical guitar and I went crazy studying and playing music. As I studied the Mel Bay level 1 book I noticed all of the fingerings for the strings formed some kind of pattern, which is a scale but I didn’t know it then.
This made perfect musical sense when I played them up and down. It reminded me of the time I saw Glen Campbell soloing on, “Indiana” and I was really starting to put things together (and that’s still a great solo). I was also smart enough to know I was nowhere near to doing what he did and knew I wanted to study and play more….
Did anyone inspire to go into this field?
The main inspiration was just that I loved it and wanted to be as good as I could be….My wife thinks it may also be related to my last name–Croad–when, a few years back, she came across something mentioning Croad was derived from Medieval references to some kind of stringed instrument/player.
I can’t confirm or deny that for sure anyway but I can say that as I went deeper into it I was really amazed by a number of musicians such as Bach, Beethoven, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Andres Segovia, Paco DeLucia, Al DiMeola, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Charlie Hunter, Preston Reed, Stanley Jordan, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, Rush, Yes, Kansas and many others.
The great thing is that the more you learn in music, the more you see how much you don’t know; it’s a never ending journey. I still study today because I love that….
What you did before?
I’ve always done music. In the early years I was lucky enough to be making a living from teaching and doing shows for a very long time. When I was older, I began to work a day job as well.
There is no shame in having multiple jobs, whatever someone else may tell you about that. Aside from peace of mind for ensuring you can always “pay the bills”, it is backup for moving forward with all of your goals in life, including day-to-day structure and support for your music (though not always sleep).
What struggles along the way did you face?
Not knowing how the industry works at first and what to look out for, both good and bad. I had never learned about marketing/promotion and the music business and all of the things you have to do for your music that have nothing to do with playing, writing and recording it, but they make it possible. You’re the only one that will have your best interest in mind.
What did you do to change/adapt to become successful? (Turning point)
When my wife Gina pointed out the difference between creative and business thinking. I’m so grateful she did because I wouldn’t have found the opportunities or made the smart decisions that I did without her. It helped make me more focused.
In the end I had more than enough time to practice, study, execute my musical plans, meet attainable goals and be able to adapt to changes in the industry (it’s nothing like it used to be).
Additionally, I took the time to better read and write music, which paid off much better than I expected. For example, for being able to pick up jobs and quickly run with them because I can read notation and transcribe something I hear to memorize for a short notice show.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Start learning at an even younger age, know the right things to study and the correct way to do so, along with music business. In addition to the approaches I’ve used to study, I would like to have learned Jazz music from Barry Harris’ perspective and also learn the lost art of Classical improvisation.
What is your next big goal with your career?
A: Without a doubt, my original music, for sure, it’s the most satisfying thing for me to do going forward. This doesn’t mean I won’t be juggling mulitple things of course as always. I do plan on finishing up a series of music related writings along the way, too. I’m definitely in a completely different phase of my musical life and really looking forward to where it leads.
How you can help or final words of advice for other people with similar goals?
For musical improvement: study and learn as much as you can from the music and the musicians you like, but don’t be a clone. Be yourself. That’s what the world will want, ultimately. Learn the basics well. Learn to read and write music.
Never stop learning so you can be a better you. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just like there was only one Mozart, there is only one you and that’s what music is about, if not just for the enjoyment of playing it. And importantly, take musical challenges and work with musicians that are much better than you are to get you to the next level. This can be intimidating. You can work through that. Don’t shy away from it. It will only help you in the end.
For getting work: show up on time, learn the music you were given and most importantly: be nice. Those three things alone will get you work. It isn’t the music you’re playing it’s the kind of person you are that will have the musicians you work with call you back.
Same for all of the relationships in your life. There is nothing you can’t do if you stay focused and keep at it, delays and all. It’s amazing looking back how many things that happened that looked like obstacles actually helped get me where I am. Somehow, things always seem to work out. Eventually, something will happen for you.
I thank God every day for what I have and I look for how I can help others out, whether related to music or not. I hope something here is helpful to others as they follow their own paths….