Craig Hand - Biography
Few things can bring life into clearer focus than a bad ride on a big bull. Just ask Craig Hand. The singer/songwriter had been dividing his time between his two loves-music and rodeo-when an accident prompted him to hang up his spurs and spend more time with his guitar. It's a decision he's never regretted and with the release of his sophomore album, he couldn't be more excited about the path he chose.
Hand is being touted as one of country music's most talented new artists, a compelling singer and a songwriter of enviable depth and maturity. He's also earned a reputation as a charismatic performer on stage, while off stage he displays an easy going charm and penchant for not taking himself too seriously as evidenced by his recent appearance on the cover of Playgirl magazine.
Hand has a dedicated work ethic that he owes to his early days on the rodeo circuit. "I had a friend whose dad was a team roper, and he and I just started riding bulls. For about four or five years, that's all we did," he says. "Then I got hurt pretty bad and I never rode much after that. I got a horn right in the mouth and had most of my front teeth knocked out. It wasn't good."
It seemed like an obvious choice to walk away from bull riding and concentrate fully on his other love. Music had always been a passion for the thrill-seeking Florida native and he began honing his skills early. "I started playing with bands when I was about 16-years-old, which was around the same time I started writing songs," he says. "It took a while to get me up in front of people to sing because I was shy, but once I started opening up and singing, I had a ball doing it."
With a variety of influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to Hank Williams Jr., Hand forged his own distinct musical personality and began garnering a legion of devoted fans around St. Augustine, Fla. He made the leap from popular regional artist to the national spotlight when he signed with Category 5 Records and released his acclaimed debut album "A Long Way From Town." Noted actor/director Rick Schroeder shot the video for Hand's self-penned single "Direct Connect," which has continued to impact the marketplace long after its run at country radio. Nextel has just licensed the song and is utilizing it in their marketing efforts.
Though Category 5 succumbed to the music industry's competitive climate, Hand refused to let it dampen his enthusiasm for creating music, and began working on his sophomore effort with producer Charlie Craig. "I headed down here to my little hole in Florida and have been just hiding out and writing songs for months," says Hand, who has also been trying some of his new material on the locals. "Sometimes I'll be thinking of a melody in between songs and I'll start playing it, just to see people's reaction. When you throw a new song in there, you don't tell anybody what it is and you watch their reaction. You can get a good read out of people that way."
The first single from Hand's new project on Bling-a-Billy Records is "Satisfy You," a hauntingly beautiful track about loving someone so much you'll do anything to make them happy. Hand's warm, sensual delivery brings the lyric vividly to life. "I wrote that for my wife," he says with a smile. "It's special to me because it was inspired by her."
The new album also includes more light-hearted fare. "There's one song called 'Somewhere In Mexico.' It's about a guy who can't afford to take a vacation to Mexico, so he goes to a bar and drinks his way there every night," says Hand describing the escapist anthem. "Then there's another one titled 'I Don't Love You Anymore.' The guy leaves the girl in this one. The first time I played that song I think for a big crowd, I was opening for Montgomery Gentry and we got a great response."
Hand admits the new project is somewhat of a departure from his debut. "It's not as traditional as my first album," he says. "We've combined traditional country music with some Nickelback and 3 Doors Down kind of stuff and the sound is pretty unique. It's more reflective of who I am as an artist."
It's his distinctive voice combined with his ability to write songs that resonate strongly with his audience that make Craig Hand one of the industry's most promising talents. Whether opening a show for one of his heroes, headlining his own raucous Florida club dates or performing this fall on "Cruisin' with Craig," (a Carnival Fascination Cruise that has already had Craig Hand devotees teeming with anticipation), he knows how to give an audience exactly what they want. It's a musical love affair that looks sure to continue for years to come.