Charlie Parr offers raw and soulful tunes from the American Midwest

Charlie Parr. Picture by Jason-Rosewarne
Charlie Parr. Picture by Jason-Rosewarne

Charlie Parr will headline Bleach in Brighton on August 14 on the back of his first full-band album.

Spokesman James Wallace said: “Songwriter/guitarist Charlie has joined the roster of Red House Records for his latest studio album, Stumpjumper, (out August 5).

“Long a part of the vibrant Duluth music scene, Charlie travelled to North Carolina to record the album with fellow musician Phil Cook. As well as being the first album Charlie has recorded outside of his native Minnesota, it’s the first to feature a full band.

“Percussive and raw, the 11 songs on Stumpjumper, ten originals and his version of the venerable murder ballad, Delia, could be lost field recordings from another era.

“His blistering picking – he switches between acoustic guitar, dobro and banjo – and cut-through-the-crowd vocals resonate with a conviction that runs deep and true. It’s the music of a self-taught guitarist and banjo player who grew up listening to his dad’s recordings of America’s musical founding fathers, including Charley Patton and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

“Parr’s inspiration is drawn from the alternately-fertile and frozen soil of Minnesota; his songs exude a Midwestern sensibility and humility. Parr grew up in the Hormel meatpacking city of Austin, where most of the world’s favourite tinned meat, Spam, is still manufactured. The combination of growing up with both of his parents working proud union jobs in an industrial meat factory and his largely rural environment had a broad impact on Parr.”

Charlie himself explains: “Every morning you’d hear the factory whistles blow. When I was a kid they had the stockyards and animals there, so you were surrounded by this atmosphere. Out the back door were soybean fields, as far as the eye could see. As a kid I thought it was kind of boring, but now I go and visit my mom and I think it’s the most beautiful landscape there is.”

The songs are inspired by family members, the Bible, overheard conversations and places in his life.

The title track finds Charlie tapping into his childhood. “Songs aren’t normally very autobiographical for me. They’re more like stories, but this one is different. I can see a 1966 International Harvester pickup truck with no hood and four snow tires, breaking field road land-speed records on my way to my job in a filling station.”

‘Empty Out Your Pockets’ is a song Parr describes as “another angry hymn.”

“All of the ones I’ve written so far seem to rely on God being a kind of big brother who shows up one day after you’ve been getting your a** kicked all over town by bullies and he takes care of business. I know, it’s juvenile, but take a close look at a lot of legitimate hymns – ‘when I die I’m gonna tell God what you did to me’ comes to mind.”

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