Craig THUMPER Samuels...one smooth Cat!
Jazz man, peace maker...one smooth Cat!
Craig THUMPER Samuels
By Ian Browne Shamrock News
The name “Thumper”, were your parents Bambi tragics?
The name Thumper was given to me in High School when I first made my debut as a Bassist. (Although I was called a lil Thumper in my baby days because I was always kicking while inside my mothers stomach when I heard music playing.) I was playing alto and tenor sax that year and when I learned that the current school bass player was graduating the following year, and there was no one to replace him, I took over as the schools bassist. Everyone thought that my playing stood out, but the name Craig did not stand out enough. Several names were floating around…“Punch” (but that name was more for my abilities as a drummer. “Thunder Thumbs” but that name was already taken by Mr. Louis Johnson, and “Shake” because people thought I made the ground shake when I played. So after some time it was finally decided that “Thumper” would be my name. More people know me by that name than Craig.
Your smooth jazz has been described as ‘The O-Zone Sound’. Are you proud in knowing that your seductive tunes have instigated lovers in producing new life?
LOL x’s 1000 That is funny !!! I never thought of that part of it, but now that you mention it, YES I am very proud of that fact. I am also proud that everyone around the world that has heard my music becomes a fan / friend and shares it with others who may not have heard it YET. I am also proud that my music has an impact in those same people’s lives, and helps them share good times, and also helps to heal or get through bad times or experiences that they may be going through. I often get emails from friends / fans thanking me for touching their lives with my music. It’s a tremendous feeling and a great gift to have.
A teen of the 70’s and 80’s, you played music from an early age. On a hot summer’s night in Omaha-Nebraska, what artist do you remember most that brought joy to your life?
I would have to say that the late GREAT musical icon “Prince” had a major impact and influence in my becoming a musician. I started playing in 1970 and as I grew and developed musically, I started paying more attention to other musicians and Prince always stood out because he played all of the instruments and everything himself. As I continued to grow older and started writing, I learned that I would soon have to do that as well because I didn’t have a lot of money to pay musicians and the musicians that I tried to work with wanted to play MY music their way. Not only that, Prince played a lot of different styles of music and often combined them, which at the time (to my knowledge) no other musician was doing.
You have played a variety of musical styles throughout your career. Other than the jazz you are known so well for today; R&B, Blues and Gospel have grabbed your attention. Is there one genre that’s your real passion, one that cries out to the planet “Thumper”?
I am a big fan of all styles and genres of music (as long as it is positive). There is no genre or style of music that I can’t appreciate or learn from. Our world is so diverse and the people in it come from all walks of live, my favorite genre is the combination that puts a smile on a face of a friend / fan WHEREEVER they are from. I (like Prince) like to mix and match my music genres to capture the emotions of everyone. Not only what sounds good….but what feels good. I play with a lot of feeling both in my live performances and my recordings, so there is double time work put in for me.
You have dabbled with heavy metal. Who is your inspiration?
I have been influenced by the sound of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock music for decades, to put a name on it would be tough because there are sounds or songs that I hear and may not know who the artist is. Although, there are great ones out there whom I have not yet met, I have been a big Kiss fan for years, but Steve Vai, Eddie VanHalen, Joe Satriani, are ones that stand out the most. But I am seeing more and more upcoming players on Youtube that are great players.
Blessed to have played alongside Prince, what has this talented man taught you about music and the industry, and what did his passing mean to you?
I was truly devastated by the loss of Prince, I felt like I had lost an arm or a leg when I found out he had passed. He was such an influence on the entire world; there are only a few select people that have done that. Prince was the Bruce Lee of music and he was taken away from us way WAY to soon. Prince taught me a lot about how the music industry works, what and what not to stay away from, and how record deals, publishing and contracts work. Those lessons will be memories cherished forever.
Did the likes of Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy inspire you, and if so, in what way?
The inspiration from those artists came from them being some of the first few of many to do what they did and stood out making a name for themselves doing it. It shows me that if you want something bad enough you can achieve it. It was different than anything that was out at the time and they made it a permanent fixture in today’s music. They have made a major impact on music in their genre, and continue to til this day.
On an Australian television station recently, NITV, which shows Indigenous cultural themes from Oz, and around the world, I was blown away by the story of DEATH, a trio of Detroit African-American brothers who played punk two years before the Ramones, and in a community where Funk, Soul and the Blues ruled the roost.
Are you impressed by those who think outside the square in music, and can you tell us about someone you know that has achieved success within the industry while trying something totally ‘Left Field’?
I am very impressed by anyone who can create something (not just music) that is different than the norm and come up with something that EVERYONE has seen, used, or passed along. Most creations come from thinking outside the box, otherwise, things would be the same ole boring replica of itself and people would get tired of them. Mix and Match is a prime example. Take a little of this and add it to some of that then, throw in some of your own imagination = something new!!! That formula works with everything in life. It makes non-existent things real and existent things better!!!
Your single “When I think of you” recently moved into the Top 500 National Charts in the USA, and found its way to No. 1 in the Reverbnation Local Smooth Jazz Charts. You have had 5 singles within the Top 100 National Jazz Charts! Your song “Schmoove Groove” is used on television shows, on internet sites and on airwave radio shows.
With all this success, do you still become excited and feel a sense of achievement while knowing that so many folk are being enriched by your fine efforts?
Yes, I get excited whenever any of my works do things or reach levels that gain attention higher than the level before. My smooth jazz cover version of “I Wish” by the great Stevie Wonder from my CD “Love…4 2morrow is not Promised” has reached #1 on several national radio station charts and I was very excited when I received that news. But even if a project does not do as well on the charts, or on the music scene, I still feel a sense of pride and achievement when I complete it because I was blessed enough to be able to create something for someone (at least one person) who was impacted by an experience that a piece of my work helped to change their life. Also, I am able to express my thoughts through music; I feel a sense of accomplishment as soon as I finish a project. I too am a person whose life is impacted by my music.
Many Australians are besotted by black-American rappers, singers, sports stars, actors and comedians. What do you think is in the psyche/character of African-America that is so unique and inspiring, and what has instigated this cultural creativity and charisma?
That is a good question…It may stem from the struggle that African Americans have endured from history’s past. Equality in America is not the same for some races as opposed to others. Some have to work harder for the same result. (Especially in the entertainment industry or the public eye). So the fact that they gain success being who they are makes them stand out and admired by those who have not experienced that situation. Everyone roots for the underdog.
What do you think Donald Trump’s main message is? Do you think he will divide society even further if he becomes president? Do you fear your nation will move backwards?
In all honesty, I do not follow politics, God has a plan and I just pray for the best for all of us…United States, Australia, and the rest of the world !!!
As you are a champion for peace, equality and harmony, what does Martin Luther King mean to you? How has his grace and confidence in the face of vile racism influenced you?
Although equality has not reached its peak, things are slowly changing for the better in that category. Martin Luther King not only taught me, but everyone who is not at the top of the power pile, to stand up and speak up for yourself, and likeminded others across the world who may not be as strong, to be strong, and to be treated with respect and love from those who are at the top of that pile. Like Prince…one person can impact the entire world. ANYONE can be that person.
You have set up a not-for-profit organisation “The Skin & Bones Foundation” to aid against domestic violence, racism and gang violence. How does your foundation achieve this positive initiative, and where does it all begin?
The foundation is set up on the principal of civil rights and love for each other as human beings. The main ingredient in this formula is awareness and education on the core elements of the foundation. We plan to launch our JADA (Jazz Against Domestic Abuse) world tour when we can obtain sponsorship and financial support to raise world wide awareness for this and many other human rights causes: like hunger, homelessness, education, equal rights and more. The project began with a vision of a better world and will continue with trying to obtain financial sponsorship and support so we can continue to climb that ladder.
Other than my stories I send your way on Aboriginal culture and multiculturalism, what else do you know about Australian society? Is there an Australian artist or outfit that you are a fan of?
Although I have never been to Australia (but would love to) I am a big fan of a number of people (not just music artists) such as, but not limited to… Steve Irwin (R.I.P), Iggy Azalea, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Andy Gibb & the Bee Gees. In fact, on my latest CD “Love…4 2morrow is not Promised” there is a cover of “Too much Heaven” on there in honor of the band. As my fan base in Australia continues to grow, I am learning more and more about your country and am falling in love with your cultures. I hope to one day be able to visit your country.
Have you heard of “BLUESFEST”…the ‘Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival’ - which has seen some of the greats of R&B and Blues heading over to northern New South Wales from your neck of the woods? If so, are you planning on signing up for the festival in coming years and visiting us here in paradise?
I have indeed heard of the “Bluesfest” and would love to play there. I am an entertainer, Singer / Songwriter, Musician, Performer, Actor, Model, and more- who will come to anyplace I am wanted, to visit, perform, or entertain for anyone who will have me. I love spreading the positive messages, love, and influence that I have in my heart, mind and soul to everyone who will listen, watch, and share my vision.
Thank you very much for allowing me and my music career to be the subject of your interview, and for all of your love and support. I hope to see you and all of my adopted Australian family soon!!! As soon as I can get there, I’ll be there…I promise!!!
G’Day Mates!!! www.thumpinhard.com