“If there ever was a reincarnation of Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Leadbelly…Parr is as close as you will ever get.” – Americana Highways
An easily confused and very shy individual, Charlie Parr has been traveling around singing his songs ever since leaving Austin, Minnesota in the 1980s in search of Spider John Koerner, whom he found about 100 miles north at the Viking Bar one Sunday night. The experience changed his life, made him more or less unemployable, and brings us to now: 13 recordings, 250 shows a year or more, 200,000 miles on a well broke in Kia and a nasty fear of heights. Resonator-fueled folk songs from Duluth, Minnesota.
Born and raised in Austin, Minnesota, Charlie Parr first grabbed a guitar at age 8. To date, he has never had a formal lesson but wows crowds with his incredible fingerpicking on his 12-string baritone resonator, guitar and banjo. All that locomotive melodic work is simply the scenery in the tales he’s spinning lyrically.
Early in his career, Parr was employed by the Salvation Army as an outreach worker. He spent his days tracking the homeless in Minneapolis, providing blankets and resources. But they offered him something greater in return. The experience completely rewired him and left him with a newfound respect for human resilience. And along the way, he collected stories from the folks he would meet. These characters continue to show up in Parr’s songs even today.
Throughout Charlie’s music, you can hear his sense of place. These are songs from the iron country. They are tales from the paper mill. You can hear the fisheries and the Boundary Waters. They are songs by someone who prizes quiet reflection over hustle and who shuns distraction for a long walk in the woods. “It’s one thing to be able to say that I’m not what I own or what I do,” says Parr, “but it still leaves behind the original question of what am I unanswered.”
LEARN MORE: http://www.charlieparr.com/
PHOTO: Shelly Mosman