Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Charlie Parr at Sessions Music Hall 12/11/2019 / Review

By C. FRANCIS O’LEARY // Folk/Blues musician Charlie Parr educates Eugene on all things folksy, including “women wearing no shoes, carriages carrying bodies back and forth and Leadbelly”

The Sessions Music Hall in Eugene was crowded with knit beanies, flannel shirts and white people with dreadlocks last night as the crunchiest people in town piled in to see Folk/Blues musician Charlie Parr on his first of three nights in Oregon this week. The Minnesota based musician is in the midst of a 43-show tour in support of his most recent album, Charlie Parr, which was released in September.

The eponymous album, like many of his other albums, is a collection of vignettes about characters a lot of people know and a few people are. The songs cover a range of topics. The aptly titled “On Stealing a Sailboat” is the autobiographical story of Parr going for a walk with a friend and ending up getting involved in a heist. Parr’s hit “Cheap Wine,” originally released in 2005, is about a bitter liquor store owner who wishes to escape their present and past.

Fans of Parr’s work will be familiar with several other songs on the album as well. The rereleases are a product of Parr’s continual dissatisfaction with the finality of recording. “Songs never feel like they’re completely done. You have to rewrite them every time you play them,” he said.

Parr was accompanied by four others on the album, but for this tour it’s just him and his instruments on the stage. The lack of bandmates doesn’t mean the music was lacking I nuance, though. Parr’s mastery of the guitar, both 6- and 12-strings, was evident in each song. The way he indulged in his playing gave the impression that anyone else on stage would have been pushed to the periphery.

By the time Parr reached his last song, the audience was rapt. For the encore, he set down his guitar and started stomping rhythmically on the stage. As the crowed joined in, either clapping, stomping or beating on their chests, Parr launched into a cover of brother Claude Ely’s classic “Ain’t No Grave.”

Parr will play two more shows this week in Oregon: Tonight, he’ll be performing at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. Tomorrow, you can catch him in Bend at the Volcanic Theater Pub.


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