Artist Profile: Musician Tim Kraft shows his versatility

Keyboardist and singer Tim Kraft, 55, who was born in Corvallis, Ore., but has lived in Bellingham since he was about 1 year old is the latest addition to the Naughty Blokes band, which won KISM’s “Road to Rockstar” competition in 2014. He’s looking forward to some fun gigs this summer, including some outdoor festivals.

One event coming up is a benefit for Relay to Life on Saturday, May 30, at Northwood Hall. Here’s more about Kraft.

Question: What’s your day job?

Answer: In 1997 I completed my degree in electronics engineering technology with a minor degree in music at Western Washington University. I work at WWU as a biomedical electronics engineer and IT specialist in the speech and hearing clinic, which is part of the department of communication sciences and disorders.

I love my job. I admit that some of the bands that I’ve played in probably played a little too loud at times, so it’s fitting that I now work in a clinic where we try to help prevent and treat hearing loss.

Q: What are some of the artsy things you’ve done and why do you enjoy them?

A: I have several creative outlets that I enjoy.

• Crooner: I love to sing old standards. I honed my Frank Sinatra shtick in many of the local assisted living facilities. For this, my pay is getting to have great conversations with members of the greatest generation.

• Rock ’n’ roll: In The Naughty Blokes, the band I recently joined, we do mostly original tunes and a few covers. I would describe our sound as blues-infused pop.

I’m really enjoying working with some icons of the old-school Bellingham music scene. All of us have logged some serious years in the trenches of live music in the Northwest. It is an honor to play with these seasoned players: Warren Meier, vocals and acoustic guitar; Johnny Brewer, guitar and vocals; Denny Segel, bass and vocals; and Tim Maloy, drums.

I’ve played in a few other bands over the years, notably: The Ducks/Redux/Offshoots, Skamania. I’ve also sat in with Patrick McFarland, The Chryslers, and The Jasmine Greene Band.

• Critical Mass Marching Band: We’ve marched in the Ski to Sea parade, St. Patrick’s Day parade, Procession of the Species parade, and we occasionally cause parades to break out sometimes for no reason at all other than to bring out smiles.

• Radio Theatre – Midnight Mystery Players/Chuckanut Radio Hour: I have done live and prerecorded sound effects for the Chuckanut Radio Hour on-and-off since they started. I’m currently on hiatus from the CRH due to so many other creative outlets at the moment. I also worked with the Midnight Mystery Players on and off over the years, doing sound effects and voicing characters.

• Oregon Country Fair: In 1988, my band, The Ducks, performed at the Oregon Country Fair near Eugene. That was IT! We were hooked; such a wonderful concentration of art and music in such a beautiful setting. My wife, Chantel, and I have worked volunteer positions at the Oregon Country Fair every year since.

Q: What’s important about the arts in our community, particularly for young people?

A: Music education should be right up there with the three Rs. Music is a language. Children learn music the same way they learn speech, by hearing it and by producing it. If we squander that golden opportunity to share the joy of music in public schools, we deprive our children of a lifetime of opportunity to communicate with one another on a level that transcends the clutter of words.

I know that during the most difficult times of my life, I’ve always been able to say, “At the very least, I still have music.”

Q: Where can people see you perform?

A: I’ll be performing with The Naughty Blokes for a couple of benefits in May and June:

The Stars and Stripes Relay for life “Beat Cancer” benefit happens at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at Northwood Hall, 3240 Northwest Ave. This is a benefit in conjunction with The American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life.” Details: www.facebook.com/events/846875348705790/

This will be my 2015 debut with The Naughty Blokes. I’d love to see Bellingham help fund cancer research by attending this event and seeing me and the other Blokes pour it out on stage. The Blokes are walking the Relay for Life walk. This goes right along with our support for arts in our community, particularly for young people, which I discuss above:

“Music Moves Me” instrument drive featuring Black Beast Revival, The Naughty Blokes and Sweet Invicta. Details: www.facebook.com/events/1436935176617319. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6 at Boundary Bay Brewery we will be collecting instruments for young musicians in Bellingham Public Schools. People are encouraged to bring instruments and we will ensure they get the repair and love they need to be ready for a new life in a band or orchestra.