Minnesotan Charlie Parr is a blues country bard and together with his voice, his instruments are the acoustic Mule resonator guitar, a fretless open-back banjo and a 12-string guitar which he often plays in the Piedmont style. Often quite up-tempo but his slower songs keep you awake just the same. (A fret is a piece near and across the neck of the guitar, «lifting» the strings, if it’s not there you gotta pick the ropes. The Piedmont style is how the blues is mostly played in the Southeastern part of the U.S., and it’s the finger-picking approach to alternating bass and melody lines, creating a jaunty swing).
Soulful storyteller Charlie’s a free spirit if there ever was so it’s startling to hear that on occasion, he’s had to confront the curse of 21st-century living: depression. His sense of wit has won out over those pow-wow’s with the abyss, perhaps his prolific output of 16 albums since 2002 is one indication. He’s a fine observer and raconteur about humanity and its foibles, there’s a DVD (Meet Charlie Parr) and a compilation titled «Too Much Liquor, Not Enough Gasoline» and if he gifts you «Cheap Wine» tonight, he’ll also gift you goosebumps. His current cd/vinyl is «Dog» featuring songs like «I Ain’t Dead Yet» and «Hobo» which contains the refrain «Won’t somebody tell me what I’m doing here, won’t somebody tell me where I’m going?» Charlie, we’re with you.
Kentuckian, debonair showman JD Wilkes, now a Nashville boogie man, is an Americana roots musician, singer-songwriter, organ, and piano player and he’s a sought-after master on the harmonica, including by the likes of Merle Haggard. JD’s the only original member left of the experimental rockabilly Shack Shakers. The band of which Robert Plant, with whom he toured, and Jeff Beck said «They’re fucking great» and «They’re like a cross between the Yardbirds and the Sex Pistols». In no small measure due to the fact that charismatic, irascible JD quite regularly lets it all hang out on stage. No quiet contemplations here, the genres he attacks and conquers in his trademark sardonic ways are swamp blues, southern gothic, rockabilly hillbilly, gypsy jazz and rock, situating him somewhere in the vicinity of The Blasters and Jerry Lee Lewis. His long list of recordings, 25 titles in all, is topped by his recent solo effort, «Fire Dream», which incl. the song «Walk Between The Raindrops» and it features a wet dream on the album cover. An accomplished cartoonist, he’s also established himself a literary powerhouse with his book «The Vine That Ate The South». Lo and behold, JD was named Colonel of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, an honor granted exclusively to the state’s VIPs.
Charlie Parr & JD Wilkes, live at El Lokal. Diversity is what brings it all together here.