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Playing with Buddy Guy opens the doors for Michael Charles

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Chicago based , Melbourne, Australia born bluesman Michael Charles makes a long awaited return to the Slice, Thursday, May 12.

 

The “humble guy” has a lot to be proud of. Buddy Guy himself took him under his wing years ago, after Charles had already made a name for himself in Australia, and has since received multiple Grammy elections (the level below nominations) and has even been inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of fame. He has been in Chicago since the mid ’80s and has released 37 records over the past 38 years. He last played Lethbridge in January 2013.

 

“ It’s a nice pat on the back but really all it does is make me  want to practice more.  I’m probably the only member of the Chicago blues hall of fame who wasn’t born in Chicago, though I’ve been living there for 30 years now. It really is an honour because Chicago is the centre for the blues,” said Charles from Chicago at the end  of an amiable interview. “I’m a pretty humble guy. All it really does is make me practice my heart out and show that I deserve it,” he said, remembering his first visit to Chicago.

“ Buddy Guy me invited me to Chicago to play with him at his club Legends for two weeks an I had the opportunity to play with people like Buddy Guy and Junior Wells and Eddie Clearwater and (Buddy Guy’s younger brother) Phil Guy. So a lot of it was being in the right place at the right time and some hard work on top of that,” he said.

Michael Charles plays the Slice, May 12. Photo submitted

“And when I flew back to Australia after the two weeks, I looked around and said ‘this is old grass’ I’ve done pretty much everything I can do in Australia, and pretty much immediately bought a ticket back to the United States,” he said.

“ Playing with Buddy opened up a lot of doors in a lot of other places like Canada,” Charles continued.

 

“ I stayed for  another six months and pretty much never went back to Australia,” he said, adding he did return for  a documentary about his life called “Michael Charles from A to Z,” which was released in 2016.

“It was basically from me as a baby. I got to go back and reunite with the engineers and producer who helped make my first recordings and videos,” he said.

“I went back to the original studio to record the soundtrack for the movie.”

 He released the recordings digitally as “19” and released them as a box set with a DVD as “19 plus.”

 That is a completely different project than the DVD included in the documentary set.

He has been touring non- stop since moving to Chicago, but Covid put a stop to that, so he recorded  videos and new music from his home studio and released them in a box set called “19 plus.”

“ Not because of Covid, but because I had  19 songs,” he said.

 

 He just released a new single “ Silenced.”

“ I’m blessed to have a home studio. For the first three months I was wondering what to do and just started playing.

 

 “I just rolled camera and  played whatever songs came to mind. Most of them are band song I’d never played on my own,” he said, adding the videos and eventually a recording of the  songs resonated with fans on social media.

 The first part of the project is all acoustic.

 

“The later, when we though Covid was over the first time, I invited the band in to play. And when it wasn’t over they couldn’t come in anymore,” he said, noting the band eventually went their separate ways during Covid.

“We’re all still really good friends, there as no animosity. Over time people just lost interest,” he said.

He is really happy with the new trio, drummer Ryder Ollie and bassist Luke Gill, who will be joining him on  the Canadian tour, which stops in at  the  The Slice, May 12.

 

“ You really have to like each other when you’re on tour.  They become like brothers. you’re travelling together and sharing hotel rooms together and  you have nobody else to talk to. So if you don’t like each other, it’s not going to work,” he said.“ I fell really blessed I found these guys,“ he enthused, adding he is excited to tour again. He has been playing with Ollie for four months and Gill joined him for a tour of the New York area couple weeks ago.

 This Canadian tour was cancelled at least twice because of Covid.

“ There was a point where I was hoping people would come out. And when I started touring again, the crowd was waiting for me. I feel really blessed. So so far, so good,” Charles said.

 He has  a lot of material to choose from for the show.

 

“I like to play to the audience. There are songs they want to hear.The audience keeps me alive. There will be a lot of blues and some rock. And there will be a few acoustic songs,” he said.

 Michael Charles and his band play the Slice, May 12 at 8:30 p.m.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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Last Updated ( Friday, 13 May 2022 14:18 )  
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