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Creative corner: Brotherly love inspires a life's obsession with music

Coveting his brother's classic guitar inspired a life-long passion for music.
Tony Crank

Tony Crank, a Longmont-based artist, grew up surrounded by music, exploring it through singing and piano. However, the forbidden fruit of his brother's guitar launched his passion for classical guitar that sprung him toward his current music career.

"I was always inspired by music, but what I really wanted was my brother's guitar. He would tell me, 'Don't touch it,'" Crank said. 

He defied his brother's instructions, but his brother was understanding.

"I'd touch it anyway. I was curious how it worked. One day he saw me play it. He was not angry but said to me, 'if you can play a song in a couple of weeks, then you can have your own guitar.' After two weeks of playing his guitar, I played Greensleeves for him. He was trying to remember how to play it, and I was happy to show him how it went. He was shocked. Later he bought me my first electric guitar," Crank said.

Although his first guitar was electric he never lost his passion for the classical guitar. He now runs Tony Crank Music.

"The classical guitar for me gives me the feeling of home. The openly naked tones of the natural wood vibrating give off colors and patterns that I see in my mind when playing beautiful music. It is like weaving a basket from natural plants and colors.," Crank said. "I wanted to hear the guitar sing (not the amplifier or pedals). I love that sound."

The sound reminds him of his childhood home in the deserts of the four corners states. Crank was born in Monument Valley, Utah and raised in Montezuma Creek, Utah. 

 "My art always comes from deep within, from my connection to where I grew up. I play a lot of melodic and open chords typical of the desert and wide-open plateaus near bendy rivers I experienced in my youth," he said.

Crank's youth included exposure to various music genres, including Navajo cultural music.

"Music was always a part of my life. Even as a young child. Both my parents played records of all genres of music, from pop, blues, rock, classical and jazz. I was also exposed to traditional native American cultural music through Navajo ceremonies and Peyote music," Crank said.

While he primarily plays classical guitar, he has also developed an appreciation for synthetic sounds. That appreciation and his love of taking things apart later led him to music production.

Learning the ins and out of electricity from his father and brothers, Crank found a mentor who mixed both worlds. Crank's teacher and mentor, Bill Thomas, who has worked with Colorado artists Mojomama, Hazel Miller, and more, inspires him.

"I also became a Pro Tools Engineer for a local music producer named Bill Thomas, '' Crank said, "he taught me all about music production."

Crank received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Northern Arizona University, double-majoring in music and education. 

There was a time Crank thought he wouldn't finish school. Not only did he finish, but he teaches both music and language.

Crank almost gave up another time: this time, he thought he wouldn't be able to work or teach anymore. Crank had two accidents back to back that left him with a severe concussion. Music brought him back to both those endeavors and his work as a musician.

"I was not able to teach or work anymore. My doctor suggested that I play more guitar to help rebuild my memory — my muscle memory was there. I played open mics (open mic nights) and found that it did improve my memory and helped my thinking skills," Crank said.

He's found support and acceptance  in Longmont.

"I've found that Longmont has embraced me. I began performing out, starting around 2016. I actively got involved with the Lefthand Artists Group, projects in music performance, and just being social. I found that I no longer had stage fright," Crank said. 

Stage fright had plagued Crank to the point of being sick before each performance, however, time and acceptance have boosted his confidence allowing him to explore his passion. "Today, I'm a confident man.", he said.