A love of music and an obsession with the guitar led me to teach myself how to play at the age of 18. At first the goal was to accompany my singing, but I was soon learning leads. Within a year I started playing in bands and have been playing live music off and on ever since. Although it is primarily a hobby, I played professionally full time for about 3 years in my early twenties and continue to play semi-professionally on a part time basis today. I have mainly played in Classic Rock and Oldies bands; playing everything from the Beatles to Blink 182. I can play in most Rock and Blues styles, but as an electric lead player specialize in 50’s Rock ‘N Roll, Rockabilly and Chicago Blues. I also play the acoustic guitar specializing in solo acoustic blues, country, and folk stylings.
You can check out my current projects in the following links:
THE HILLBILLY HEPCATS
The Hillbilly Hepcats are an Ottawa based trio playing an energetic blend of burning hot Swing, Rockabilly and 50’s Rock and Roll.
Members: Craig – lead guitar, vocals / Rob – standup bass / Andre – drums
Our first official gig was St. Patricks day 2016. We gig regularly around the Ottawa and outlying area, and we maintain a weekly house gig at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse every Thursday night from 8-10:30 pm. No cover and the Ribs are all you can eat.
Woodshed Slim (a.k.a. Craig Taillefer) is a solo act, playing a mix of acoustic blues and Roots from artists of the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s to contemporary acoustic blues and roots artists. One guitar, a rack harmonica, kazoo, foot stompin’ and hooting and hollerin’.
I’ve always had a fascination for the solo style of pre-war acoustic blues and the 60’s folk and blues revival re-discoveries and new discoveries. I always wanted to be able to pull off a solo show and after the dissolution of the Bandits I took on the task of teaching myself the style. I did a lot of woodshedding and by 2003 I had a pretty large repertoire and a demo ready. The only problem was a distinct lack off confidence and a severe fear of getting up and playing without a band. It took me a number of years to work up the courage to do an open stage, and it took a bit of mental trickery to do it.
I had just met a girl (my now wife) and we kind of bonded over our love of music and musicianship. She was a closet singer-songwriter who wanted to work up the courage to try an open stage as well. For our 4th date I suggested we go to the open bluegrass and Old-Timey Open Stage at Rasputin’s (a late-lamented local legendary folk club) the last Thursday of every month with the intention of scoping it out – with the stated intention of me playing it. I knew what I was doing… how was going to chicken out and not lose face with the new girlfriend. I practiced 3 songs like a fiend for the next four weeks. I was terrified, and my hands were shaking while waiting for my turn. I went outside and played my first song over and over again while the person before me played. When I got up to start, the crowd was chatting away and not really paying attention, Which I’m used to from bar band gigs, but the second I started to play the room went silent. You could hear a pin drop. All I could hear over my voice and guitar was the nervous tap of my foot on the carpeted stage and my heart pounding. When I finished there was a brief moment of quiet as the room
Previous Musical projects:
Feb 2014 – March 2016 THE LONESOME DEVILS
The Lonesome Devils were an Ottawa based 4-pc band playing an energetic blend of burning hot Swing, Rockabilly and 50’s Rock and Roll.
Members: Craig – lead guitar, vocals / Jason – guitar, vocals / Rob – standup bass / Andre – drums
We started out as a 5 piece with a female lead singer, with both Jason and I taking a few lead vocals to fill out the set, but our singer unfortunately left us to concentrate on a Masters Degree which left us as a 4-piece, and more and more our band leader Jason pushed me into the lead vocal slot. It was a lot of fun, and the weekly gig did wonders for my confidence and stage presence. It was a sad day when the band dissolved. But a new combo grew from the ashes…..
2001-2003 Assorted Short-Lived Bands: A couple of one off band and duo performances under different names with some of the usual cast of suspects: Lead guitar, backing vocals and lead vocals.
I don’t have a lot of archives from my years as a sideman. I was a hired hand and have no photos and only limited audio from these years.
1996-1999 GEORGE STRYKER and the BANDITS: Lead guitar and backing vocals.
George Stryker was the lead singer of the popular 80’s local Rockabilly act the WILD ONES. In ’87 he went solo and released an album and had a few years of popularity playing regularly in Ottawa. He was the go to opening act for all the touring bands playing at Barrymore’s for a number of years. That band eventually broke up, and after a year or so off, George began playing a regular Saturday night gig at Eddie’s dinner as a trio playing lead guitar himself. I got up and played a song or two with him over the years and in early ’96 he asked me to join the band. I felt like the odd-man out though as George would play lead on all the songs the band already knew and I would get trotted out to play a hand full of solos for the odd new song. The rest of the night I’d play rhythm and sing back-up.
In ’98 we landed a Monday night house gig at the old Downstairs CLub, then named “Lucky Ron’s” and half way through the year renamed “The Hi-Fi”. Crowds were pretty light and we weren’t making any money, so maybe two months in, the bass player and drummer quit, the same day as the gig. I didn’t find out until we had git to the gig. We kind of sat there for a few minutes unsure of what to do, then said what the hell, and we got up and played as a duo. For a change it was kind of fu, because I felt like I had a role to play. Because it was just the two of us, and we both knew the Rockabilly and 50’s songbook, we could wing it and pull songs out of the hat and just wing it. We were singing Everly Bros. harmonies and I was getting to solo on most of the material. We’d trade off guitars for a hand full of songs, but for a change I felt like I wasn’t superfluous.
We played as a duo for about 4 months until George found a new drummer and Bass player. That allowed us to start taking bigger gigs, and this was during the 8 month swing craze, so for a brief while we worked a lot, playing swing dance parties and we opened for a few bands at Barrymores including BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY and BIG RUDE JAKE. By early ’99 though, the house gig had fallen through, and the band drifted. George had a kid and we didn’t play with the full band again, though we did do a one off duo show in late ’99.
Frankly I was ready to be done with the band. Bars were still full smoking and I couldn’t take it anymore. I have an allergy to cigarette smoke, not super-extreme, but after a night in a smoke filled bar I would have a hang-over, nauseous with the shakes and splitting headache. And for the last few years I was not drinking at all so there was no mistaking the symptoms for a booze hangover. And, my vocal chords were tired. George’s voice is pitched a touch higher than mine, and the type of material were were doing had me singing the harmonies above him and while I could do it, it was a strain doing it for hours a t a time week after week.
1990-1993 JIMMIE KNOX and THEE GROUP: Lead guitar and backing vocals.
This was my first real band, and it was a crash course in professional gigging. Jimmie Knox was probably the most successful Ottawa band during the 70’s and early 80’s playing a succession of house gigs at major Ottawa landmarks. Their single It’s A Long Way Home was a staple of Ottawa radio from it’s release in ’76 until the late ’80’s when radio stations moved away from vinyl. After a few years off, in the mid 80’s Jimmie attempted a comeback in the late 80’s early 90’s. After struggling with a string of guitarists flaking on him, he took an odd move and asked his son’s best friend (me, 21 years old and 20 years younger than the rest of the band) to audition. I was green, and rough, but he saw something in me, over-ruled the rest of the band and took me on. We put in 3 weeks of intensive rehearsing and I debuted at a fairly prestigious ball-room banquet gig. For the next 3 years I gigged with Jimmie fairly regularly moving from the greenhorn kid, through many member changes until I was the one constant member and semi-band leader by the time Jimmie called it quits again and moved to BC. I did a lot of soul searching and decided not to follow and put my efforts into breaking into comics.