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Jessica and Josh Craft: Celebrating Five Years of Rock To The Future.

July 9, 2015

JoshCraftJessicaCraftOnlineAs part of our partnership with Philly Beer Scene magazine, we’re documenting Philly’s relationships between music and beer. For the most recent issue of Philly Beer Scene, G.W. Miller III caught up with Josh and Jessica Craft, the beer-loving team behind the free music education program called Rock To The Future.

Josh Craft’s band, The Bee Team, was performing at The Khyber about 7 or 8 years ago when he met Jessica McKay.

“We hit it off,” Josh recalls.

But he left the club with the phone number of Jessica’s roommate, Sarah Paul, who had dragged Jessica out that night.

Sarah and Jessica ran a house venue called 719 House and Josh reached out to Sarah to do a performance there. A few weeks later, as Josh arrived at 719 to do the show, he found Jessica banging on the drums.

“This girl is amazing,” he remembers saying to himself.

He soon found himself giving Jessica guitar lessons in exchange for cooking lessons. They began dating, started a band together (Conversations With Enemies, now simply called Conversations) and then launched a nonprofit after school music program for underserved Philadelphia teens called Rock to The Future.

In 2012, they got married.

Rock to The Future recently celebrated its five-year anniversary.

The program was launched thanks to a $15,000 grant Jessica received from Women for Social Innovation. She quit her job in the finance world to be the executive director of the Fishtown-based organization, which aims to inspire creativity, build better social skills and improve students’ academic performance at no cost to the students or their families.

Josh, who had been teaching music for several years, served as the program director.

Neither took a salary for the first year or so. To make ends meet, Josh and Jessica worked in catering. Josh kept doing private music lessons on the side. Jessica did promo work with Monster Energy drink, among other jobs.

“We were juggling three different lives,” Josh says.

They did whatever they could that didn’t interfere with the hours between 3 and 6, when their students took lessons.

In 2010, they served 13 students. Now, they annually have more than 300 students in after school programs, summer camps and mobile workshops at locations throughout Philadelphia. Rock to The Future has a full-time staff of four, plus three part-timers and a lot of volunteers.

Their students have performed at events around the city and even at a Sixers’ game. Every year, the student bands record an album with Mad Dragon Records, part of Drexel University’s Music Industry program.

Josh and Jessica are with the students at every step along the way.

“It’s inspiring working with kids,” Jessica says. “As much as we’re doing it to impact the kids’ lives, it really inspires us.”

In March, Josh and Jessica’s band released its debut album as Conversations (their last full album as Conversations With Enemies was in 2012). It’s nine songs of witty, summer-sounding indie rock with hints of Weezer and The Beach Boys, for whom Conversations opened last year.

When the two aren’t finding a moment to relax at Bottle Bar East, they also perform together as a two-piece act called Which Craft.

“We just kind of do everything together,” Jessica says with a laugh.

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