Ladies and gentlemen, this may well be the first time we invite you for a show and at the same time urge you to protect your gut. At least the part where the butterflies reside. Slight of frame, blues-folk songwriter and singing guitar powerhouse Charlie is from Duluth, Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake on earth. While beautiful, it’s a tough, hardscrabble place to live and he still does and it says plenty about him and his art. (Bob Dylan grew up nearby and got out fast.)
«Dog» is his 14th album and working in on it proved therapeutic, it helped guide him out of some pretty nasty bouts of depression. In his songs he’s candid about it, the album lays bare his inner struggles. Mental illness and mortality through excruciating searching and dealing with the issues were seriously approached but with a forward looking and hopeful vibe. There are some raucous goings-on as well especially when the other musicians are joining in. «I was going to do it completely solo. I was going to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. These songs are hard to hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. So I called on some friends.» Joining him were old mainstays like the experimental folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser and Liz Draper, this time trading in her upright for an electrical bass. Hey, good company does it every time.
Doggone Ruby! (that’s the name of his dog). «I get along really well with this dog and we go on these long, crazy, chaotic walks. She wanted to go this way and I wanted to go that way. And I thought, maybe I should be the one getting walked. So I follow the dog.»
Charlie Parr (without dog) live at El Lokal. And you, you just follow your gut.