Based out of NYC, singer songwriter Craig Maher whips up a sonic storm on his 2010 eight track album Propel. Amazing that in a tribute move, Maher covers the lead off track from the first 1968 NAZZ album, featuring Todd Rundgren’s song “Open My Eyes” in a cover version on Propel. A very unusual musical move and overall, it’s a pretty cool album start to finish. Maher’s key influences include late period Pink Floyd and Bowie and you can also hear a definite kind of Bon Jovi / Steven Tyler influence in Maher’s dramatic rock vocal mannerisms. Also outstanding on Coral sitar, oud, acoustic, electric and synth guitars, Maher truly dominates the proceedings with a cross section of memorable original rock tracks. Not only does Maher find musical solace in the classic prog-rock sound but he also was quite influenced as well by England's progressive rock album cover designers Hipgnosis and likewise Maher has put together a unique and cool cover design for Propel.

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Guitarists making waves in the music world,
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Musical Background

Funny, my musical background started when I was a little man around 5 or 6. I used to hear my mom wail at my brothers at the top of her lungs, and I would try and emulate her tone and pitch, so I think that was the first point where I took an interest in music. But it really didn't kick-in until I was in my teens, when I wanted to sing or play some kind of instrument. I think my mom could have been a great singer if she only knew the power of her voice. My sister used to play acoustic guitar for a bit, and she worked at a restaurant in Princeton where this guy, Barry Peterson, used to play gigs. I would often see him there performing so I eventually asked him if I could take some guitar lessons. I was maybe 12 or 13 at the time. I studied from Barry for about a year or so, learning all the basics circle of 4ths and the circle of 5ths (Simon and Garfunkel/Stones) songs on acoustic until I eventually progressed to electric guitar. Barry was the first person who introduced me to singing & playing at the same time, which was no easy task for me back then.

Once I moved on to electric guitar at the age of 15 or so, I started playing around with writing heavy riffs like Mountain and Cream and I decided to take it a little more serious. After graduating high-school, I decided to go to The New School in NYC, where I studied from a guy by the name of Steve Tarshis. Steve showed me all sorts of lead guitar techniques, from Jimi Hendrix to advanced blues progressions, which was a real eye opener for me. I did that for a year or so trying to figure out what the hell to do next. I then discovered my next mentor/teacher, John McCracken, whom I met by chance one night out on the town with some friends. They wanted me to go into this bar and check out this band called The Fusionaires, who consisted of John McCracken (guitar), Wilbo Wright (bass) and Sim Cain (drummer from the Henry Rollins Band). I thought these guys were from another planet because they weren't your standard blues band - they were doing more experimental music mixing jazz, rock and weird "Ween" stuff. It was a breath of fresh air for me, so I decided to stretch out my guitar skills and take up lessons with McCracken. I studied with McCracken for about five or six years, learning composition/music theory, exploring musical horizons, and getting introduced to players like Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin and Pat Metheny.

New CD

The name of the new CD is called Propel, I came up with the title when I was going to art school some years back in NYC, and shit was looking grim with the whole "9-11' thing going on. I knew that there had to be a better path for all of us on this planet earth so Propel came to mind. The album was recorded at Sound Spa recording studio in NJ. The person who owns it his name is Stevie D. Stevie's an old mate from my pirate days and he has a ton of out-board gear. Stevie has a great ear for things and we had a very interesting dichotomy when it came to making Propel but that's part of the challenge and fun when you don't see eye-to-eye all the time. You can't always have it like peach jam…plus it made me look harder and deeper to push the envelope to make something that I thought was fresh and sounded new.

I have some really great musicians on this album including one of my first musical colleagues, Dave Fisch, who played bass and contributed to the production on Propel. Fisch has been with me though all the bullshit of the music industry for the past twenty years, and was also in my first real rock group, Walk The Talk. The man has an incredible stamina, and he's definitely not a teetotaler when it comes time to have a soirée.

Steve Decker played drums on a couple of the tracks like, “Summer,” and “War of the Roses." I've been playing with Steve off-and-on since our first gig at the Cat Club in NYC back in the early nineties. I really admire his playing.

I also hired a bunch of great studio musicians as well to play on the record.

Asaf Shor: drums - Benny Harrison: piano, organ - Tom Jones: piano - Tomer Hoffman: violin

Favorite Guitars

My favorite guitar at the moment is my ‘64 reissue Strat (powder-blue) which I used on "Living in the Utopia” and “Where I Belong". It has a real thin rounded neck and I did some modifications by installing a Kahler locking tremolo and replacing the back pickup with a Joe Satriani (Fred) double humbucker to get some more kick.

I have about 10 other electrics, which range from a 80's Alpine White Custom Les Paul (which I used on "Cosmic Ride") to a 1977 B.C Rich mockingbird USA model, which was previously owned by the guitar player from Blackfoot in the 70's. It's signed by Neil Moser on the back and is a real gem.

I also have a 70's Strat body with a B.C. Rich neck, which I hooked up a Roland Synth to. I did a lot of orchestral strings and sound treatments on Propel with that one.

A 7-string Ibanez was used on the title track "Propel" to give the song that low, “in-your-face" tonality.

I own a Taylor acoustic (koa wood) guitar which I used on "Summer” and “War of the Roses," which holds up really well with my open tunings and it has incredible tone and action. Taylor makes the best acoustic guitars on the planet as far as I'm concerned!

I should also mention that I used a Coral Sitar on "Cosmic Ride" and an oud on "Where I Belong."

Musical Influences

My musical influences span a wide-range but some influential vocalists include: Joni Mitchell, Ian Gillan, Jon Anderson, David Crosby, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Bono, Gary Brooker, Ozzy, Chet Baker, Chris Robinson, Glenn Hughes and Roger Daltrey to name a few…

Favorite guitarists: Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Allan Holdsworth, Michael Hedges, Steve Vai, Ritchie Blackmore, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin.

Favorite lyricists: Joni Mitchell, Pete Townshend, Michael Franks, Roger Waters.

Most influential albums: Hissing Of The Summer Lawns (Joni Mitchell), Pink Floyd (Animals), In Rock (Deep Purple), III (Led Zeppelin), Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), Killer (Alice Cooper). I got a kicked out of show-&-tell for that one!

Favorite Album Art work: Animals (Pink Floyd) Led Zeppelin (Houses Of The Holy) Division Bell (Pink Floyd)

Upcoming Plans

After promotions wrap up with Propel, I'm planning on recording a new song, "Shed my Skin," this summer to showcase on my new website. The track was originally going to be on the album, but I left it off the record because of time restraints. I wrote the song some years back and it has always been a favorite to play live, so I'm finally going to get a chance to get it down in the studio!

I'm also planning some live shows to support Propel…So stay tuned!!!

Web Site

Yeah, my website is: It’s a conceptual site with the background imagery going on - but I'll let you figure it out on your own…


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