● By Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group
In Stephenie Meyer’s book New Moon, she writes: “Sometimes, kismet happens.”
And that is just what happened when Carl Salmonsen and Tim Onorato met for the first time. Strangers at the time, these two accomplished musicians were attending the same camping trip about six years ago. Onorato arrived at the communal campfire with a mandolin and Salmonsen brought his guitar. They both just started playing and the result was impressive. Three years later, fate intervened again when another chance encounter brought keyboard player Mark Siefert on board and they became a trio. More band members joined along the way. “We have a dozen plus people that come to just jam with us sometimes,” Salmonsen says.
The award-winning Campfire Crooner’s tag line says it all: “Have fun. If we are not having fun, we are doing something wrong.” And fun is what this group and any listeners within earshot have. Their love for performing live really comes out while they’re on stage. “We are a live band,” Salmonsen explains. “Our online and studio stuff doesn’t do us justice.” Their musical repertoire includes covering country favorites from artists like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, to rock and roll classics from Elton John and the Rolling Stones and everything in between.
Bandleader Salmonsen also writes original songs that express the joys and pains of everyday life. When he is finished with a song, he gives it to the other band members. “We then add our own flavor to it and it becomes a ‘Crooner’ tune.” Siefert adds, “We Croonerize it!” The group is named to honor their first gig—around a campfire—and what they feel is their singing style.
Life changes made the band possible. Both Salmonsen and Siefert are now self-employed and have time to dedicate to their music. “It all came together,” Salmonsen says. “Everything aligned as our careers changed and time loosened up.” Whether it’s the trio or the entire band playing, the group seems to have a psychic connection. “We have great band ESP,” Siefert admits. “We play what feels right and keeps the audience engaged.”
The Auburn-based trio plays at local farmers’ markets while the entire band performs at larger venues. The acoustic nature of the farmers’ markets is really appealing to the musicians. “Music is a payback in both ways,” Salmonsen says. “The audience gets to hear our music…and we get to have fun.”
Siefert describes the group as his second family. “Music is my meditation, my prayer and my solace,” he shares. Salmonsen feels similarly. “I used to be tickled pink to just play alone and let the stress of the world drop way,” he explains, “[and] now I get to play my own music with a bunch of really talented guys.”
He hopes the music he writes and plays will be remembered for a long time. “It is my child, my legacy” Salmonsen says. “When I’m gone, it is what I will leave behind.”
Visit campfirecrooners.com for more information.