Charlie Parr The Keep, Guildford – ****

 

Reputation preceded this prolific singer-songwriter from Minnesota, famed for playing up to 300 gigs a year. Dressed in denim and moccasins, Parr shuffled to the stage with no discernible gap between warming up and beginning his set, but soon enough the audience were paying attention and Parr delivered a country blues guitar masterclass.

Touring to promote his new album Dog, tracks included HoBo, Dog and I Ain’t Dead Yet with older material such as Delia. Parr demonstrated his guitar virtuosity with a beautiful sounding 12-string guitar “borrowed from my good friend Lee” and trademark resonator guitar.

It was good to see a wide range of ages in the audience for this gig, a student standing next to a pensioner in the front row, and another twenty-something sporting a Bob Dylan 2017 tour T-shirt.

Parr’s strong guitar picking style is a wonder to behold and his singing ranges from country drawl to blues wailing. His lyrics range from the dark and depressing to the amusing “my friend wasn’t so bright, he was just drunk all the time” from Cheap Wine.

Finishing with two covers Parr announced that he was going to play Shenandoah by Bob Dylan, they both come from Duluth, Minnesota, “I’m trying to spread the word about him, he’s a local guy.

Parr ended with a vocal rendition of Ain’t No Grave, a traditional American gospel song made famous by Johnny Cash. Emotional, raw and passionate. For someone whose own website describes him as a very shy individual Parr comes alive in front of the microphone.

Review by Chaz Brooks

Purchase Dog here

Listen to Dog here

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