“The audience wants to hear songs sung well, and they want to be engaged.” Galen Crader has come to realize that to be a true entertainer, it’s not only about vocals and instrumentals, but also about engaging the audience with eye contact and witty banter.

A regular at the Little Bear Saloon in Evergreen, Crader delivers his music in a “looping” style (à la Ed Sheeran) so he can add his vocal harmonies and instrumentation to enhance his live performance. While he prerecords instrumental and vocal tracks, Crader’s gigs are anything but predictable.

“I try to learn one or two new songs each week, and I memorize all the lyrics… ”

“I can’t stand playing the same set more than once,” he says. “I try to learn one or two new songs each week, and I memorize all the lyrics so I’m not looking down at an iPad. It’s important to me to make eye contact with the audience and engage with them.”

Crader’s journey to the stage and back to Colorado was a bit nontraditional. With family roots in Westcliffe, and early years in Pueblo, Galen and his family moved to the East Coast and then to his dad’s government post in the Middle East. Crader lived in Turkey, Greece and Saudi Arabia, attending high school at a boarding school in Switzerland. At age 19, he got his own job in Saudi, aided by his ability to speak Arabic. With not a lot of social activities at his disposal, Galen bought a guitar and proceeded to teach himself how to play from chord charts.

“I tried to model the first guy I saw play guitar and sing with a lovely timbre—James Taylor.” According to Galen, “James Taylor writes from a heartfelt place, putting great poetry to music. Despite changes in popular music, he never capitulated from his style and genuine delivery.”

Eventually, Galen’s well-tuned ear, which may have been inherited from his piano-teaching, lead-singing mother, enabled him to play guitar and sing along with tunes from his CD collection.

When the first Gulf War broke out in 1991, Galen returned to the states and settled in Atlanta where his music blossomed. He became a regular at Limerick Junction, where he could integrate some of the Irish and Scottish folk music of his ancestry. Atlanta was also Crader’s home base for his East Coast college circuit performances, open mic gigs, and the formation of the five-piece Galen Crader Band.

“One of the true highlights for me was when our band was the opener for Jimmy Buffet in 2004 at Atlanta’s Lakewood Amphitheater,” Crader recalls. “It was magical! I’d always been a fan of Buffet’s songwriting and what I call his ‘beach folk’ music.”

Crader’s Atlanta farewell performance at the Hard Rock Café marked a new phase in his life. As a result of a heart-wrenching personal situation, he decided to go to law school and study family law. The Georgia State Law School graduate practiced five years before his law license became reciprocal in Colorado.

An attorney who found his home in Aurora, Crader has broadened his solo practice to take on cases outside of family law. He has also expanded his performance schedule with a little universal intervention. After pursuing a gig at the Sheabeen Irish Pub in Aurora but being denied because he’s a solo act, fate took a hand. It happened at DIA when Galen

went to a bar to watch the NFL Division Championship games before boarding a plane.

“There was only one bar near my gate and only one seat available at that bar,” Crader explains. “The guy to the left of me was rather loud and obnoxious with his political views. As soon as he left, the guy to my right thanked me for “blocking” him from the noise. The grateful guy was the owner of Sheabeen’s, where I always wanted to play. After creating a connection and showing him my performances on YouTube, I was hired on the spot!”

Galen has a regular monthly gig at Sheabeen’s (which means ‘speakeasy’ in Gaelic), and he is building a faithful following at the Little Bear on alternating Sunday afternoons. He also plays at the Bear every other Friday afternoon during the summer.

Galen is grateful for the universal plan that led him back to Colorado. “I had to begin making happiness decisions for me, and that meant being in the environment and landscape that I love,” he reflects. “Being a performer has helped me connect. I’m surrounded by wonderful people who have become genuine friends. The past few years have been amazing.”