Craig Link

Master Rhythm Maker - Drums, Percussion, Vocals. Craig's enthusiasm brings a huge sound to the bands he plays in. His clear-cut beats and exact timing give everyone the rhythm that supports the song.

What does that mean - More Cowbell? Saturday Night Live's 1970s Cowbell sketch centers around Will Ferrell who thinks the cowbell is the essential element for any song. And Craig loves the cowbell.

Being a musician in Kearney has been an amazing experience for me and given me the opportunity to play with many outstanding musicians and wonderful friends.

I was born and grew up on a farm just west of Broken Bow, Nebraska, and graduated from Broken Bow High School in 1973. I began playing drums and percussion in the 5th grade and continued through high school participating in marching and concert bands as well as a jazz band and several choral organizations. I had a wonderful experience playing drums with two gentlemen when I was about 12 years old. With my parents’ permission, we traveled to many small communities on weekends, playing the great standard classics , such as the Elks Club, Knights of Columbus for club member dances. In addition to a couple of garage bands through high school, this was my foundation and where I found my love for live performance.

In 1973 after graduating high school, I attended Kearney State College – now UNK – to study music education with an emphasis on performance. Ron Crocker, a percussionist himself, was then Director of bands at KSC and I had the opportunity to study with him. That education was cut short after one semester when I started playing with a band called Fresh Air, which included Jim and Chuck Salestrom and Bill Howland, all from Kearney. Soon after we changed our name to Timberline.

Timberline had great success playing all over the Midwest, booked by Variety Artists in Minneapolis. Variety Artists put us in touch with Jack Daley from Pasadena, California, who was managing Pure Prairie League and Tom Waits. In 1976 after the band moved to Denver and with the help of Variety Artists and Mr. Daley, we were offered a contract with Epic Records and recorded and released our first album – Timberline-the Great Timber Rush – a country-rock album. The album was recorded in Hollywood and produced by Bones Howe, a Grammy Award winning record producer who produced hit singles with the 5th Dimension, the Turtles, the Association, and Tom Waits.

After the release of Timberline’s album, we toured all over the U.S. playing mostly smaller college concert venues. For several years we were touring an average of 300 days a year. We did many tours opening for well-established bands as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Leonard Skynard, Starbuck, the Outlaws, Elvin Bishop, Pure Prairie League, and Peter Yarrow. Our longest tour was 3 months with Dolly Parton.

In 1981, as happens with many bands, we dissolved Timberline and pursued individual interests. Epic Records did not option to produce another album and everyone was ready to move on. I worked as a studio musician and part-time engineer at a small recording studio in Denver, playing with several bands for short stints. I got married, had two children, and began working in the hotel industry to supplement income. Then after struggling for several years as a single parent with two young children, I moved back to home to Kearney in 1987.

I found a rewarding career here in Kearney in the hotel industry and even more rewarding opportunities playing with great Kearney musicians – many who I’ve been playing with for 35 years. First I began sitting in with Jasmine. This band later became Yikes! which performed all over Nebraska. Later I was asked to join Blackberry Winter which had a history dating back to the 1960s playing horn-rock all over the Midwest. This first reincarnation of Blackberry Winter continued for 10 years and currently another updated version of the band is still performing. In addition several of us formed a band Code Blue, a blues band, and I perform with a smooth jazz-pop band Thalkin Tesdall Thalken and Blue Plate Special.

I cannot express enough what a blessing it has been to have the opportunity to get to know and grow to love Kearney community’s musical talents. I will always consider it a great honor to listen to them and play music with them. But more importantly – I am proud to call them my friends. I will always be thankful for Kearney and other communities in Nebraska for their support of live music and the arts. It has enriched my life beyond any expectation.

Thank you Kearney!

Written by Craig Link, musician
* Photo by Kerri Garrison

Categories: Music
Blackberry Winter Band 
Group: Blackberry Winter Band
Categories: Music
Blue Plate Special Band 
Group: Blue Plate Special Band
Categories: Music