Even Australians get the blues!
Michael Charles, a 2015 Blues Hall of Fame inductee from Australia, will be performing two nights of music at The Akropol Next Door Cocktail Lounge on March 10 and 11.
Charles is currently on an extensive North American trip during his The All I Really Know Tour 2017. Swift Current will be the final two shows of a 15-date tour across Saskatchewan and Alberta. Following Saturday’s show in Swift Current, he will head to a performance at the House of Blues in Chicago and over the next few months will be primarily on stage for a series of shows in Florida.
It is a hectic touring regiment for the Melbourne, Australia performer who broke into the blues in Chicago thanks to an invitation from Buddy Guy’s management. However, after a three decade recording career and having released 33 albums of original material, Charles would not have it any other way.
“Things just keep going. It’s just constant. So I do forget what day it is, sometimes I forget what town we’re in,” Charles said during a phone interview at the start of his prairie tour.
However, he does not mind the rigours of touring because of the reward of performing live. While there is a side of entertainment that is all business, studio recording and working in an office with management, agents and assistants, he looks forward to setting up his equipment on stage and playing the music he loves.
“That side of it is all business. But as soon as I get into travelling mode…right now I’m just in musician mode. I just leave all that behind, leave that to the people in the office and my agents, and I just go where I’m supposed to be and do what I’m supposed to be doing. I enjoy playing so much that I guess the right answer is, no, it doesn’t feel like a business. It’s just something that I love doing. I thank God every day that I’m able to make a living out of something that I’ve got a passion for.”
He recalls growing up listening to classic rock groups like the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, John Fogerty, Elvis Presley.
“They’re all blues-based musicians, and that’s what I was fed. So I would pick up my guitar and try and learn these songs as a kid. So I was learning the blues without really knowing I was learning the blues.”
He was given his first Stratocaster at the age of 13 or 14, at the same time he was discovering blues legends like BB King, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Freddy King, and other great blues men. These blues greats influenced many of the classic rock artists of the 70s, but Charles began to find his own sound as a musician.
“I just started doing my own thing,” he admits. “I never tried to mimic their sound. I always liked experimenting with having my own sound. To this very day, I’ve got my own tone, I’ve got my own way of playing.”
“I don’t really try to sound or play like any of my heroes that I grew up with anymore.”
“I’ve come up with my own style and I’ve just kind of stuck with it. And it’s kind of great, because when I do listen to people that inspired me to be a guitar player, I really truly enjoy listening to them. I just sit down and listen and enjoy what they’re doing. And then when I get on stage and do my thing, I just do my thing.”
Charles notes he performs a wide selection of his original material from his three decades of recording and performing during his live shows.
“What I’ve tried to do is put a show together of the songs that through the years that I know people like hearing, or songs that people are familiar with from my music. And then obviously there’s always new audiences, and new towns that I play in, so I try to pick the cream of the crop off the songs that are on my album.”
As a seasoned performer, he also experiments with some other material in order to get a handle on the audience.
“That’s the beauty about travelling on the road. You get to play in these huge venues. You get to play in these smaller corner bar venues,” he said. “I just love it because it’s an adventure. But at the end of the day it all falls on the people listening to what you’re doing. They’re the ones that make it happen for you because if they’re enjoying what you’re doing, then the night is always a huge success.”