Guitarist Michael Charles brings practiced act to Steamboat
October 21, 2009
Blues musician Michael Charles can’t think of a time when there wasn’t a guitar in his hands.
“To be quite honest, I don’t remember not playing,” the Australian-born musician said during a phone interview. “It’s like asking someone if they remember their first steps walking. There was always music around the house. It’s been my life, and I’ve never looked back.”
So far, that life has included 23 recordings, appearances at some of the country’s most prominent blues festivals and stage credits with the likes of Buddy Guy. Charles stops in Steamboat on Thursday as part of his Recall 2009 Tour. He plays at 10 p.m. at Old Town Pub.
Charles broke into the U.S. blues scene with an invitation to play at Guy’s Chicago nightclub about 20 years ago. Already established in Australia, he’d been hoping to make it to this country, “to bring my music to the U.S. and see how it felt to people here and see how I could fit in musically,” he said. When Guy’s management invited him to come on a two-week tour, Charles jumped at the chance to play in the same area as one of his biggest influences, he said.
After his two weeks stateside, Charles went back to Australia. He then decided to try things out here for a while. A few weeks turned into a few months, a few months turned into a few years, and Charles has stayed.
The touring musician credits a diverse musical education for his taste in blues-tinted songs that are driven by guitar licks but supported by Charles’ lyrics.
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“My dad … he was more into the country and bluegrass; he really liked that kind of music. And also, I remember as a kid, he used to love listening to Roy Orbison records. So his taste in music obviously rubbed off on me, but I kind of took it in another direction,” Charles said. He also credits the music he listened to growing up.
“I was playing blues without really knowing I was playing blues. As I got older, I would hear on the radio the Beatles when they first came out, and Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis and all those cats, and they’re all heavily blues-influenced musicians. So everything I liked was blues-influenced, and blues was just there, I was very into it,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I really moved to the States when I realized how much of a blues player I was. I was just kind of doing my thing,” he said.
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