Many people play roots music, but few modern musicians live those roots like Minnesota’s Charlie Parr. Recording since the earliest days of the 21st century, Parr’s heartfelt and plaintive original folk blues and traditional spirituals don’t strive for authenticity: They are authentic. It’s the music of a self-taught guitarist and banjo player who grew up without a TV but with his dad’s recordings of America’s musical founding fathers, including Charley Patton and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. With his long hair, fathertime beard, thrift-store workingman’s flannel and jeans, and emphatic, throaty voice, Parr looks and sounds like he would have fit right into Harry Smith’s “Anthology of American Folk Music.”
In July 2015, armed with his 12-string and resonator guitars, Parr stopped by the studios at Beehive Productions in Saranac Lake, New York, to record a few songs and talk to us about about his formative years living and playing music in the legendary West Bank of Minneapolis, Minnesota, making his way to Duluth where he now calls home, and about his Red House Records debut, ‘Stumpjumper’.