Podcast 290: Craig Ventresco


For years, ragtime guitarist Craig Ventresco was one of the music world’s best-kept secrets: The only way to see him was to catch him in his hometown of San Francisco, playing a solo show or with the gypsy jazz band, Gaucho. He seldom left the city and recordings were never a big part of his career.

Like many others, when COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders hit, Craig and partner Meredith Axelrod turned to the internet to keep performing. Here’s where things get interesting: With a minimalist setup, Ventresco and Axelrod started live streaming their performances on Facebook… not once a month or weekly, but every single night. As of this interview, Ventresco and Axelrod are up to 100-plus shows. And their unique take on ragtime guitar is suddenly finding new fans around the globe.

On this week’s podcast, we chat with Ventresco about growing up in Maine, getting turned on to 78 records, the years he spent busking around SF, his role on the Crumb soundtrack, and his life online. We also talk about his Fraulini guitars, the music he’s been obsessing over and much more.

Meredith Axelrod’s Facebook page (where Craig and Meredith perform every night at 8 p.m. PT): https://www.facebook.com/meredithaxelrod or on Instagram.

(Their tip jars: Paypal.me/meredithaxelrod or Venmo: @meredithaxelrod)

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This episode is sponsored by Mono Cases and Retrofret Vintage Guitars.