Paul Charles is a singer-guitarist who specializes in Piedmont-style country blues and traditional folk music. Paul’s repertoire includes a wide range of folk material from the 1920s to the 1960s, as well as original tunes written in traditional styles.
The music of Mississippi John Hurt was a huge influence on Paul’s music. Hurt’s heavily syncopated guitar work and lilting vocal delivery – deceptively complicated despite the simple form – became the cornerstone of Paul’s musical taste from an early age. The old masters – Woody Guthrie, Rev. Gary Davis, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Frank Stokes, Papa Charlie Jackson, Skip James, Leroy Carr, Brownie McGhee, Big Bill Broonzy, The Carter Family, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, The Mississippi Sheiks – were all admired and studied. And then there were the folk revivalists of the sixties – Dave Van Ronk, Paul Geremia, Roy Book Binder, Chris Smither, Rory Block, Tom Rush, Eric Von Schmidt, Mark Spoelstra, etc. Absorbing from both masters and revivalists, Paul immersed himself in the huge array of traditional songs from the early 1900s. This was fertile ground, and one that could lead in a thousand directions. But Paul has always come back to Mississippi John Hurt as his touchstone, and his spirit sits on Paul’s shoulder during every song he performs.
A Paul Charles show includes his interpretations of many songs that reflect the rural roots of our American culture, and which originally gave rise to the term “folk music” itself. This music reflects a period in our nation’s history that was perhaps more authentic – more in touch with the rhythms and sensibilities of common people involved in day-to-day activity.
Folk music is not manufactured, not pristine nor polished. It is not made to satisfy a commercial interest, or fatten the wallets of the corporate types. Rather, folk music is people’s music, made for the joy of the playing and singing. It is front porch music, made by friends for no other purpose than itself and the bonds of shared community that it creates. The bones and rough edges of folk music’s structure are readily apparent, supporting and coaxing the full expression of humanity’s common endeavor. Folk songs deal with joy and sorrow, with triumph and tragedy, loneliness and fulfillment, and oftentimes, the reassurance of finding deep meaning among life’s simple pleasures.
Whether the form is acoustic blues, a folk ballad, a ragtime frolic or a jug band tune, Paul Charles plays real music, made for the last 100 years by and for real people.