Tony Craig remembers the night when everything changed for his family.
In 2003, Craig, a musician rooted in Fresno for nearly 40 years, was finishing his performance around 2 a.m. at the bar on Gettysburg Avenue, when the bartender called him and said there was a call for him.
On the other side was his wife Jill, who frantically informed Craig that her son, Seth, had had a seizure.
“I didn’t even really understand what it entailed, but I just remember being terrified,” Tony said. “I told the guys in my group that I had to leave and go to the hospital.”
When Tony arrived at the hospital he found out what had happened to his son, who was 9 at the time. In his sleep, Seth had a grand mal seizure, which is caused by abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain and creates loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. He was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“I just remember waking up and there was an ambulance outside and some guys putting me on a stretcher,” Seth said. “I couldn’t move my body and speak.”
It changed the course of his life.
At school, he was not allowed to go out with his friends during recess. Seth began taking medication and seeing a neurologist, and he said he dreaded spending the night with other people because of fear of having a seizure in his sleep.
“I didn’t want my friends to see me having a fit. I was almost embarrassed about it,” Seth said.
Despite the medication, the seizures continued to occur every year. Tony and Jill Craig were desperate for answers from the doctors. At age 13, Seth had his fifth seizure. His parents were waiting at Valley Children’s Hospital when attending physician Seth pulled them aside and asked Tony if he was playing music.
The question caught Tony off guard and even angered him, he said. He wanted answers about his son’s health and felt the question was irrelevant to the situation. The doctor calmed him down and let him know that music could help with Seth’s conditions.
“She started explaining to me how music can reconnect the pathways that failed,” Tony said.
Tony now remembers that moment being the night everything changed for his family, this time for the better.
Since Seth was born, music has been part of his life. When Tony took Seth to any music store as a baby, Seth was the center of attention. When Tony’s band was rehearsing in the garage, Seth was held by his father as he played guitar. When Tony’s band had a gig, Seth was there to help set up the show.
However, Seth said he really had no interest in pursuing music like his father did.
“I didn’t want to play music at all, mostly because it was like what dad was doing and I wanted to do something different,” Seth said. “I really had no interest in any of that.”
But when he had his fifth seizure, some of Seth’s friends started a band and asked him to play bass. Seth didn’t know how to play any instrument, so he hesitated.
The answer soon dawned on him. After Tony was told about the potential benefits of music by the doctor, he went to Guitar Center and bought Seth a bass to play in the band.
“I brought the bass home and said, ‘You’re gonna have to learn to read music, and you’re gonna have to learn some theoretical concepts, or I’m not gonna let you play,'” Tony mentioned.
Seth hasn’t had a seizure since. Both father and son agree that music saved Seth’s life.
“Honestly, music was the first thing I ever really did. [uses] like 110% of my brain, and still do,” Seth said. “If I hadn’t had epilepsy, I probably wouldn’t have played music. I don’t think I would have connected to it as well as I did.
Seth, who graduated from Fresno State in 2019 with a Bachelor of Commerce, transitioned from bass to vocals and songwriting. After his teenage years, during which he was part of two different bands, Seth wanted more after his goal of breaking a record fell short.
He took matters into his own hands when he began performing as a solo artist under the stage name Charlie Steady, which Seth says stems from people comparing him to ‘Peanuts’ protagonist Charlie Brown for his behavior. calm and stable.
Now this same kid who describes himself as shy and introverted, and who was isolated at one point for his own safety, is dropping music on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and BandCamp, while performing in front of crowds as small as 10 people and up to 2,000 people.
Tony also used his experience with Seth to help others as an instructor at the Guitar Center, where he sometimes worked with people who had experienced similar struggles with epilepsy, autism, or blindness.
“I’ve been amazed that people approach me after a month or two of class and say a student has improved in those other areas of their life,” Tony said. “After teaching for three and a half years at the Guitar Center, I have really changed my mind about the power it has over a spiritual component.”
Seth achieved his goal of breaking a record in 2018 with the release of “Tenderfoot,” an album about an inexperienced young person trying to figure out who she is. Recently, he released four singles to help promote his second album, “Magpie.” His next single, “Once Upon a Time I Fell in Love”, with the B-side “Out of Control Pathos”, will be released on May 13 via streaming platforms.
“For me, something that started as a way to help with epilepsy when I was a kid ended up becoming an integral part of my life and a way for me to creatively express myself and communicate with others,” he said. “Good things can sometimes come from difficult life events.”