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L.A. Beat

Australian bluesman Michael Charles brings the sounds of Chicago to Lethbridge

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To paraphrase renown Canadian bluesman Amos Garrett, Australian born bluesman Michael Charles makes his home in his shoes though his mailbox reads Chicago.Michael Charles plays Lethbridge, Jan 24. Photo submitted

 A serendipitous discussion between his management and Buddy Guy’s management lead to Charles coming to Chicago back in1990 to play in Buddy Guy’s Legends club, where he played with Guy and sat in with numerous other blues legends.
“There was really nothing to think about,” said Charles who brings his band ( drummer David Hart, bassist Steve Hart who have been with him for  the past eight years and new rhythm  guitarist Jeff Schonfield to the Slice, Jan. 24.
“It was for a week, then it turned into two weeks, then a month and then a year,” Charles continued, now well into his second decade as a Chicago resident, though he spends most of the year on the road.

He grew up in Victoria, Australia playing along with the radio hits of the day including Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin  and the many other musicians of the ’60s and ’70s who were influenced by the blues.

“So that’s why when I moved to Chicago and started playing with these guys ( James Cotton, Junior Walker and Buddy Guy, and many others), it was a natural progression to be influenced by what you hear on the radio, so it fit like a glove,” he said.

 He hasn’t seen Buddy Guy recently though.
“He started winning Grammys and things. But Buddy is such a friendly guy and is always busy. I’m always touring, so our paths haven’t crossed,” Charles continued.

He is also busy recording and experimenting.
“I’ve got about 25-26 releases,” he said adding he has been concentrating on CD singles.

“People are always asking where they can get a copy on things like my version of ‘After Midnight’ or Jeff Beck’s ‘Going Down.’ So many people have recorded that song, and I didn’t have any, so I decided to record them,” he continued. It goes back to 45 records,” he continued. His latest project is called “Under the Covers” which is a CD of some of his favourite singles.
 He has even dabbled in hip hop music with Chicago producer Majesty.


“We had some time so we decided to have some fun experimenting with it,” he said adding he discovered his roots were more in folk and blues music. However he is always willing to try something new.
“I just wanted to experiment with something different,” he said.

 He is no stranger to Canada as he has strong followings in Edmonton and Calgary. This will be his first visit to Lethbridge.
“I’ve driven through it many times,” he said.

“ I have a lot of friends in Edmonton and Calgary now,” he continued adding he is always looking for new places to play.
“ It just keeps growing,” Charles continued.

 He is proud to be part of the Chicago blues scene, though he doesn’t spend a lot f time there.
“Chicago is still the centre for the blues in the United States. So people come from all over the  the world to listen to Chicago blues music,” he said.
“It’s quite an honour to be part of this scene,” he continued.

In addition to APRA (Academy of Production and Recording Arts) , and as the U.S. counterpart, Charles also is a voting professional member in NARAS, the Grammy Award Association where he enjoyed the title of premier entertainer for two years at the Chicago Chapter of NARAS Grammy Association. Michael has been elected for a Grammy in the 42nd Grammy Award year, in the 43rd Grammy Award year. In 2005 he was the recipient of an award from the Grammy Award Association and NARAS commemorating his 10 year anniversary. And then once more, Charles was elected for a Grammy in the 50th Grammy Award Year and again in the 2010 52nd and 2011 in the 53rd Grammy Award year.
 Michael Charles and his band play the Slice, Thursday, Jan. 24. The show begins at approximately 9:30 p.m.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 January 2013 12:25 )  
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