Tony Craig remembers the night everything changed for his family.
In 2003, Craig, a musician with roots in Fresno for nearly 40 years, was finishing his gig at The Bar near Gettysburg Avenue around 2 a.m. when the bartender called him over and said it was a call for him.
On the other end was his wife Jill, who frantically informed Craig that his son Seth was having a seizure.
“I didn’t even really understand what that meant, but all I can remember is being scared,” Tony said. “I told the guys in my band I had to go and go to the hospital.”
When Tony arrived at the hospital, he found out what had happened to his son, who was 9 years old at the time. While asleep, Seth had a grand mal seizure caused by abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain, resulting in loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. He was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“I remember just waking up and there was an ambulance outside and people put me on a stretcher,” Seth said. “I couldn’t move my body or speak.”
It changed the course of his life.
At school, he wasn’t allowed to hang out with his friends during breaks. Seth started taking medication and seeing a neurologist, and he said he was scared of spending the night around other people for fear of having a seizure while he was sleeping.
“I didn’t want my friends to see that I ever had a seizure. I was almost embarrassed,” Seth said.
Despite the medication, the seizures continued to occur annually. Tony and Jill Craig desperately sought answers from doctors. At the age of 13, Seth had his fifth seizure. His parents were waiting at Valley Children’s Hospital when the doctor treating Seth pulled them aside and asked Tony if he made music.
The question caught Tony off guard and even irritated 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 condition.
“She started explaining to me how music can reconnect the pathways that are misfiring,” Tony said.
Tony now recalls that moment was the night everything changed for his family, this time for the better.
From the moment Seth was born, music has been a part of his life. When Tony took Seth to some 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 while he played the guitar. When Tony’s band had a gig, Seth was there to help set up for the gig.
However, Seth said he really had no interest in making music like his father did.
“I didn’t want to do music at all, mostly because that was what my dad did and I wanted to do something different,” Seth said. “I really had no interest in any of this.”
But around the time of his fifth bout, some of Seth’s friends formed a band and asked him to play bass. Seth couldn’t play an instrument, so he hesitated.
The answer quickly became clear to him. After being educated by the doctor on the potential benefits of music, Tony went to the Guitar Center and bought Seth a bass to play in the band.
“I brought the bass home and said, ‘You’ve got to learn how to read music and you’ve got to learn some theoretical concepts or I won’t let you play,'” Tony called.
Seth hasn’t had a seizure since. Both father and son agree that music saved Seth’s life.
“To be honest, music was the first thing I ever really did [uses] like 110% of my brain, and it still does,” Seth said. “If I hadn’t had epilepsy, I probably wouldn’t have made music. I don’t think I would have connected to that as well as I did.”
Seth, who graduated with a Bachelors in Business from Fresno State in 2019, made the transition from playing bass to singing and songwriting. After his teenage years being part of two different bands, Seth wanted more after falling short of his goal of releasing a record.
He took matters into his own hands when he began performing as a solo artist under the stage name Charlie Steady, which Seth says came from people who compared him to “Peanuts” protagonist Charlie Brown for his calm and steady demeanor.
Now, the same boy who described himself as shy and introverted and once isolated for his own safety is dropping music on streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and BandCamp while also performing to crowds as small as 10 people and up up to 2,000 people.
Tony also used his experience with Seth to help other people as an instructor at Guitar Center, where he sometimes worked with people who had similar issues with epilepsy, autism, or blindness.
“I was amazed that after a month or two of classes, people would come up to me and say that a student had improved in those other areas of their life,” Tony said. “After teaching at Guitar Center for three and a half years, I’ve really changed my mind about the power it has on a spiritual component.”
Seth achieved his goal of releasing a record in 2018 with the release of “Tenderfoot,” an album about a young, inexperienced person trying to figure out who they are. He recently released four singles to promote his second album, Magpie. His next single “Once Upon a Time I Fell in Love” with B-side “Out of Control Pathos” will be released on May 13th via streaming platforms.
“For me, what started as a child as an aid against epilepsy has become an integral part of my life and a way for me to express myself creatively and to communicate with others,” he said. “Sometimes good things can come out of difficult life events.”