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L.A. Beat

Michael Charles plays marathon set of all kinds of blues

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Chicago  via Melbourne blues musician Michael Charles  came with in three minutes of breaking the longest uninterrupted set of music at the Slice, playing for close to three straight hours, Thursday, April 12.

 If he didn’t break longest uninterrupted set, he probably broke the record for longest uninterrupted set for the fewest people, because the turnout was dismal.


Michael Charles playing the Slice, May 12. Photo by Richard Amery

 That may be understandable due to NHL playoffs, a sold out Corb Lund show at the Owl a down the street and the Covid, luckily it didn’t seem to bother  Charles, and his new trio, drummer Ryder Ollie and bassist Luke Gill, plucking a fretless bass while alternating sitting and standing due to a back injury.


 Charles started by playing a couple songs on his own acoustically including a pretty version of “Key To The Highway,” after which his band joined him.Charles, who has played with numerous blues legends including Buddy Guy and is part of the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, mostly focused on his own music. The underlying theme was time slipping away and growing up playing guitar, which was the common thread through several of his originals.

 The small but enthusiastic audience cheered on Charles and his band.


 After a few wah wah soaked solos on his acoustic, he soon switched to  one of three different Stratocasters.

 He had a strong Rory Gallagher sound on the electric.


Michael Charles playing the Slice, May 12. Photo by Richard Amery

 The music ranged from straight ahead classic blues, more psychedelic experimental jams and big riffed rockers.  Charles played a lot of tasteful, yet restrained guitar, embracing a variety of different musical styles.

 A couple of the highlights was a laid back jam on JJ Cale’s “After Midnight” and another on “ The Thrill Is Gone.”


 A couple of original highlights included the heartfelt. “ The Tune (The Chords My Daddy Taught Me) and “ MC Shuffle” as well as “ Hey Lady, one of several big, beefy rockers.


 Charles, who has been playing professionally since the ’80s, has a couple of excellent new projects out including a box set “19 plus” featuring music he recorded during the pandemic plus the soundtrack to  a documentary about his life, which he released in 2019. Most of his set came from the documentary soundtrack.


 He didn’t  say much to the audience, other than to  introduce everyone to his band midway through the marathon set after playing another highlight “Nobody’s Fool.”

 “ Blues With Soul” felt like Chris Isaak’s ’90s hit “ Wicked Game.” That jam featured a groovy fretless bass solo.


After that, he switched to the third Strat, a  battered blue axe to play some vintage Otis Rush.”  


 The band took a quick breather while Charles switched to  the acoustic again.They returned for “Before You Accuse Me.” and launched into another long jam on  “MC Shuffle,” one of my favourites.

 The show became an endurance test. It started late so a few people there left before it began and by the end, most of the audience left  as midnight dawned.


 The trio closed off with some  classics  including “ Every Day I Have the Blues” and a soulful version of “ The Sky Is Crying,” which ended the show a scant three minutes before  breaking the record. There was no encore for the remaining patrons and staff who had started to drown out the band with their chattering.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 13 May 2022 15:14 )  
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