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.
Hank was born in North Carolina. His father was an Army “Green Beret”, his mother an elementary schoolteacher. Hank’s father, Captain Harry G. Cramer, was killed in Vietnam in 1957, the first American soldier lost in that conflict. Hank’s mother never remarried, but raised her three children as a “single mom”. 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 coffeehouse folksinger.
After graduation, Hank 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 fulltime touring musician for over ten years, Hank now has nineteen CD’s and several movie soundtracks and music videos to his credit. While he performs a regular concert series like most musicians, Hank is strongly drawn to performances in educational settings which enable him to delve into his dual loves of history and music.
Hank has performed for the National Historic Oregon Trail Center for thirteen years now. For ElderHostel, he has taught “Northwest History In Story & Song” three times a year for over a decade. Other long-term clients include Humanities Washington; Buffalo Bill Historic Center (Cody, WY); the High Desert Museum (Bend, OR); the National Maritime Historic Park (San Francisco); the Maritime Museum of British Columbia; the USS Constellation (Baltimore); Grays Harbor Historic Seaport (Aberdeen, WA); and the Tall Ships Challenge Series (Pacific Coast and Great Lakes). He founded and directs two specialized music education programs, Sea Shanty Camp and Cowboy Song & Poetry Camp. Hank has also performed for veterans’ groups and events around the country.
Hank’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, Hank 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, medevaced back to the US, and is now retired from the Army Reserve.
Hank 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.
You Just Can't See Him From The Road
The Witch of the Westmorland
|1||Alongside The Santa Fe Trail|
|2||Angelina Baker & Soldiers' Joy|
|3||No More Auction Block For Me|
|4||Across The Blue Mountains To The Allegheny|
|5||Four Strong Winds|
|8||The Oregon Blue|
|9||Across The Wide Missouri|
|10||Ring, Ring The Banjo|
|13||The Wind That Shakes The Barley|
|14||The High Wild Country|