Dynamic Duo

Musicians Perkinson, Crafton
keep Madison area fans grooving

The two musicians play dozens of classic rock favorites

(December 2021) – Joe Perkinson of Trimble County, Ky., and Dean “Deano” Crafton of Hanover, Ind., have known each other since the late 1970s when they began playing music together in their self-described “urban cowboy” days. Crafton has always played guitar, while Perkinson experimented with multiple instruments and sought to copy the sound of the songs he heard growing up.
They got together through a mutual friend and formed a band with the intention of getting an agent and traveling, which they did for a while, traveling as far as Kansas and Mississippi. “We did that for a year or two then decided we didn’t want to be away from home,” said Perkinson, 64.
They both took a break from the band and eventually started families. Though their musical journey took a hiatus, life continued bringing the duo back together. At one point, the same friend that introduced them helped them find jobs at the same location.
Perkinson continued playing with bands around town but said there was a three-year period where he quit music altogether before David Butler, a dental surgeon and a member of Madison’s “Doctor’s Band,” asked him to join the group to play guitar.
Crafton, 67, also played gigs off and on until 2000 before taking an 11-year break. “After that, in 2010 or 2011, I got pretty serious again and started playing anything anybody offered me, mostly country music,” he said. Crafton has opened for a lot of country music stars, including Martina McBride, Toby Keith, Joe Diffey, Sammy Kershaw and Aaron Tippin.

Perkinson Crafton

Photo provided

From left, Dean Crafton and Joe Perkinson perform at the outdoor patio at Mad Paddle Brewstillery in Madison, Ind.

In 2020, with the uptick in coronavirus cases and the changes those brought, the music scene shifted in Madison. Kathie Petkovic, owner and operator of Riverboat Inn, got in touch with Perkinson after a regular musician at the inn took a break during the pandemic.
“I started filling in for the guy who used to play, and two years later I’m still playing there,” said Perkinson.
Perkinson then got in touch with Crafton, whose gigs had also slowed down due to the effects of COVID-19. “I got ahold of Deano, and he started sitting in with me, and we started a sort of duo,” said Perkinson.
The two currently play nearly every weekend of the month, with three weekends a month spent performing at Riverboat Inn and another spent playing at Mad Paddle Brewery. Since getting back together, the two have also performed at Madison’s Music in the Park and Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew, and Carrollton’s BBQ and Blues festival.
Perkinson and Crafton describe their style as music that people want to listen to. They both enjoy listening to a variety of genres, including jazz, country and rock, and incorporate bits and pieces of several styles into their songs. They play both original music and covers, and take a lot of requests from their audiences.
“They’re the best in the world,” said Petkovic. She added that Perkinson and Crafton are great with the guests and provide an interactive environment where the audience can sing along. “They let us sing with them no matter how bad our voices are. It’s almost like live karaoke.
The two of them are so good with tunes that they’re able to play just about anything,” she said. “It’s just a ton of fun. They’re so personable, and everyone really loves them.”
Perkinson does all the singing and emceeing, and both play guitar for the most part, though Petkovic said that the audience loves when Crafton plays the fiddle.
Crafton and Perkinson have played 150 shows this year with no signs of slowing down. They both have enjoyed getting to play at multiple clubs and venues throughout Madison and have enjoyed them all, including Broadway Hotel and Tavern and the Elks Club. Along with their regular shows at the Riverboat Inn and Mad Paddle Brewery, Perkinson said they also have a new project in the works with Jerry Wade, owner of Mad Paddle, and to stay tuned for more details on that.
It is evident that both Crafton and Perkinson love what they do because of the interaction with the audience, the freedom and flexibility of playing music, the fellow musicians they’ve met along the way, and the community of artists in Madison of which they get to be a part.
Crafton said, “I heard a phrase that said something like, ‘If I were to win a $10 million dollar lottery, I’d still play music.’ That’s how I feel.” Perkinson quickly agreed.

•  Information about upcoming shows can be found on Joe Perkinson’s Facebook page.

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