Songs of the American west on tap at folk society concert

Hank Cramer is a man of many talents and an interesting past

Hank Cramer to perform on Saturday

The Sooke Folk Music Society is very pleased to be welcoming back Hank Cramer to our April Coffee House this Saturday, April 19. Please note that for this month only, our Coffee House is being held at Sooke Baptist Church out on West Coast Road.

Hank Cramer is one of the best-loved folksingers in the American West. He is widely known for his booming bass voice, smooth picking on a vintage flat-top guitar, and his wry sense of humor. He has a repertoire of over a thousand modern and traditional songs, spanning the genres of Celtic, Appalachian, Maritime, cowboy, and plain old folk music. He is more than simply a performer, however. He is a historian and educator who weaves music and history into presentations which bring to life the rich story of America’s westward movement, and give his audiences insight into the “folk process” by which traditional songs evolve and change to describe new events.

Cramer was born in North Carolina. His father was a Green Beret, his mother an elementary school teacher. Hank’s father, Captain Harry G. Cramer was the first American soldier killed in Vietnam in 1957. Hank’s mother never remarried. Hank inherited a gift of music from his father, and by high school was a prominent performer in glee club, choir, and school musicals. He earned a history degree at the University of Arizona, paying his way by working nights and weekends as a radio dee-jay and coffee house folksinger.

After graduation, Cramer pursued a unique life journey involving adventure, hardship, travel, and public service. He has been an underground miner, an Army officer and paratrooper, a 9-1-1 emergency communicator, a deepwater sailor, and a wrangler for a high-country outfitter. These life experiences make Hank’s songs ring with the special authenticity of someone who has “been there and done that.” A full-time touring musician for over 10 years, Cramer now has 19 CD’s and several movie soundtracks and music videos to his credit.

Cramer’s music has garnered professional recognition in the music industry. He has been selected to receive the Humanities Washington Award for 2011. Heartland Public Radio named his recording of My Sweet Wyoming Home to the Top Five Cowboy Songs of 2007. Texas Public Radio “Random Routes” listed two of Hank’s songs in their Top Twenty of 2007, while Northwest Public Radio’s “Inland Folk” chose his CD Songs From Maurie’s Porch as one of the Top Ten Folk Albums of 2006.

After 9/11, Cramer interrupted his music career to resume military service. He taught Army ROTC at the University of Washington, then volunteered to deploy as an adviser and trainer to the Afghan National Army. He was injured during this tour of duty, medivaced back to the U.S., and is now retired from the Army Reserve.

Cramer married Kit McLean of Winthrop, Washington in 2000. She is a high-country wrangler in one of America’s most scenic mountain ranges. She is also a photographer, a local historian, and published author. The Cramers live on a small ranch in Washington’s Methow Valley with their many critters.

Come out this Saturday, April 18 to the Sooke Baptist Church on West Coast Road for an evening of lively music with Hank Cramer, Doors open at 7 p.m. with open stage at 7:30 and our feature at 9.

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