Noblesville singer and songwriter, Craig Thurston, is living his dream.
Writer & Photographer / Allison Yates
For Noblesville graduate and singer, songwriter Craig Thurston, everything has changed so fast.
Three years ago, he congratulated himself for playing a record number 12 shows. Fast forward to June 2017 and he played 26 shows, and that’s even considering he took a week off. Having more than doubled his performances, yes, things have changed enormously.
Thurston is no longer driving a beat-up car or sleeping on friends’ couches. He doesn’t even need a ‘day job.’ He’s now making a living from playing music, his long-awaited dream that only came from hard work, determination and genuine passion for music.
“I’m blessed,” Thurston says. There were some tough times along the way, but now he’s thankful for everything that’s happened.
”Even the bad stuff,” he says. “That’s the only way to get to where I am now.”
Now that he’s fully focused on music, he’s starting to become a household name in Indianapolis. High in demand, Thurston plays covers almost nightly at places throughout the Indianapolis area such as Ale Emporium, The Tap, Eddie Merlots and The Lakehouse.
He plays crowd favorites like Jimmy Buffet, Pink Floyd or David Bowie. Ninety percent of his covers are from Hall of Fame artists, he says, but his sets aren’t typical of other musicians. He adds lesser known tracks and songs that aren’t usually part of a cover artist’s performance.
“I’m not trying to be everyone else,” Thurston says.
Thurston jokes that during those shows he’s just wallpaper and that’s not a bad thing. His goal is to create a laid-back environment where people can catch up with friends. Then, if they want to focus on the music, he’s there.
For Thurston, music is a means for transporting you to an emotion, feeling or place.
“That’s what it’s all about, making people feel,” he says.
He may be noise in the background, but the heart and soul he puts into each show, no matter if he’s playing his original music or covers, doesn’t go unappreciated. Providing a space for reflection and memory through his music, audiences are moved.
He’s played shows where men have broken down crying, like the time he played “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, and an audience member was reminded of his brother who passed away in the Vietnam War. Thurston says it’s not uncommon for people to approach him after a show and say things like, “Thank you for doing what you’re doing. I can tell how much you care.”
His original lyrics, passion in his performances and his cover song choices often communicate something he’s feeling.
Lately, he’s been thinking a lot about the opioid epidemic. After losing friends to drugs, it hits close to home. He added the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter” to many of his set lists “just to try to get people to wake up,” he says.
The lyrics can be interpreted many ways, but he believes it relates to addiction.
“Trading your life for a buzz is stupid,” Thurston says. “What is the purpose of Life? It’s not getting high.”
Thurston says he isn’t trying to become a superstar. He is simply grateful to be paid to do what he loves. He would, however, love to get to the point where he’s paid to play his original music.
This summer, you can find him playing at his habitual venues throughout Indianapolis. Check his Facebook, Craig Thurston Music, for updates. Thurston is especially excited to be performing on the second and fourth Fridays at Noblesville’s Federal Hill Commons from 11a.m. to 3p.m. Join him there for good music and food trucks.
Don’t miss his appearance playing original music on an upcoming WTIU PBS Weekly Special airing on July 27 at 8:00 p.m.