Craig Allison: High Fidelity
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
HEALDSBURG — Upon purchasing his first stereo system in 1966, a young Craig Allison found himself immersed in a scintillating new world of sound that would prove to be a seminal influence throughout his formative years. What he didn’t realize, however, is that his musical fixation would one day lead to a professional career. “I’ve always had a deep interest in music,” he says. “For a certain amount of time, hi-fi was my serious hobby, but that all changed in 1983 when I started working at Catania Sound, a high-end audio store of which I’d previously been a customer. Since then, I’ve successfully operated four high-end audio shops in the Sonoma County area.”
Today, as the hi-fi expert at Lavish Theaters, Craig still enjoys improving people’s lives through better listening. “Hi-fi is not selling refrigerators—while we’re ostensibly selling hard goods, what the customer gets out of it is a genuine metaphysical experience,” he explains. “The simple fact is, with today’s fast-paced, over-stimulating lifestyle, listening to high-quality, low-distortion music is one of the few non-pharmaceutical ways to relax the mind.”
Originally from Manhattan, New York (he jokingly likens his adolescence to “West Side Story”), Craig migrated to the Bay Area in 1974 and today resides in Windsor with his wife, Patricia. After four decades in the Bay Area, he says he appreciates the distinctive aura that characterizes the region. “There’s a unique level of consciousness to be found in the Bay Area, and part of that comes from being tapped into such a tremendous legacy of music history.”
Besides living in an area steeped in musical heritage, Craig has his own roots in the professional music scene. “I spent three decades as the lead vocalist for a rhythm and blues outfit,” he explains. “While attending college, in order to earn credit for an American Music History class, a few classmates and I put together a group and did some tunes. Thirty years later, the Bourgeois Blues Band had opened for the likes of John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, Etta James, Bo Diddley and Charlie Musselwhite.”
While now retired from stage performance, Craig continues to nurture his passion for music by playing recreationally. “Actually, I was recently asked to play with some people, so I’m kind of excited to keep that connection,” he says. In addition to enjoying music, Craig likes cooking (a talent he developed during his former career in food service); spending time with his wife; and playing with their three dogs, Keith (named after Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards), Cookie and Maury.
When asked about a personal philosophy, Craig says music is just as much a gift to be shared as something to individually enjoy. “I don’t believe we’re on this earth for any other reason than to love and be loved. In my case, helping others enhance and deepen their enjoyment of music is the best way to do that on a broad scale.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: The Rolling Stones.
Q: If you could put together a supergroup, who would be in the band?
A: Definitely Keith Richards on guitar. Just for fun, I’ll say Keith Moon on drums. Bass has to be Willie Dixon. Tommy Flanagan on keyboards, and for vocals, let’s throw Howlin’ Wolf in there.
Q: If you were going to sing karaoke, what song would you choose?
A: “Goodnight, Irene.” It’s one of the oldest public domain folk songs, originally recorded by Lead Belly.
Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My first dog, Mick.
Q: What was your first concert?
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A: Soft Machine, the Chambers Brothers, Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jimi Hendrix at the Singer Bowl in New York, 1967.