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Charlie Parr captivated a sold-out Turf Club with country blues

Intricate guitar playing and lyrical honesty were on display as the Minnesota native showcased his expansive songbook Sunday.

presspic2 byNateRyan highres
presspic2 byNateRyan highres

Charlie Parr charmed a sold-out Turf Club with his fingerpicking folk guitar, genuine lyrical narratives and stories about shoveling snow Sunday.

After setting up his own gear on stage, Parr made no introduction to start his set; his playing was the only introduction he needed.

But before taking the stage, Parr’s opener and friend, Chicago Farmer, started off the acoustic night.

Photo courtesy Chicago Farmer

In his politic-heavy “Two Sides of the Story,” Farmer accounted the trouble within Ferguson, Missouri. His throaty, wobbling vibrato brought the folk performance seemingly right onto the streets, marching in protest.

“Dirtiest Uniforms” continued this storytelling, following the “underdog” tales of a hardworking baseball player, teacher and even a musician – himself.

Parr followed suit with ease through his own lyrical and instrumental picture painting.

The Minnesota native started out his set with the fast picking of “Mastodon.” The stage’s simple lighting and clear sound showcased the melodies and quick style that his folk, country blues and bluegrass music all have to offer.

Moving right along, Parr started into a song from his 2017 release, Dog. The tempo changes, twang and hypnotic riffs of “Boiling Down Silas” – almost reminiscent of a stripped-down Fleetwood Mac – had every foot in the room tapping along.

Whether he was creating a full, complex sound with his 12-string guitar or his resonator steel guitar, his playing made it seem as if more than one musician was playing. Even as he picked moving bass lines, the solo riffs still shined flawlessly.

One clear highlight was the chilling “Cheap Wine.” His folksy, rough vibrato highlighted the emotional words he sang about a reflective wine shop owner. The narrated imagery was as sharp as his playing – from the character arranging the bottle labels to clearing the snow from the entryway sidewalk.

In fact, shoveling snow became a recurring theme of the night.

Parr’s banter in-between songs circled around his experiences with the winter activity, discussing his Duluth home and neighbors with an endearing dry humor.

The stories made an already intimate and local show even more so, and Parr had the room’s full attention with a humble, familiar stage presence – a testament to the 42 years he’s been playing.

Photo courtesy Charlie Parr

Continuing on, the picking of “Lowdown” was the epitome of Parr’s deftness, sounding as if there was a guitar battle on stage, note for note. The shimmering “I Ain’t Dead Yet” vocally brought out both resounding high notes and conversational mutterings into the microphone.

Nearing the end of his set, 2011’s “Jubilee” and “Falcon” from his Stumpjumper album had hands clapping along to the beat. The occasional crowd “yee-haw” gave way to a country vibe throughout the evening, but Parr’s skillful Piedmont blues playing style featured an ability that crossed genres.

The end of the night saw Chicago Farmer join Parr back on stage, and the duo performed a few tunes together. Singing covers of Neil Young and Woodie Guthrie, it was a seamless way to end a night that put the spotlight on talented, local folk music.

Set to play yet another sold-out Turf Club show Sunday before touring around Europe, Charlie Parr continues to showcase why he will remain a local folk staple for years to come.

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