Minnesota folk-blues artist Charlie Parr has shared his song “Cheap Wine” from his upcoming eponymous new album, out August 30 on Red House Records. Premiered by American Songwriter, “Cheap Wine” is a haunting tale involving a bitter liquor store owner who hates his customers as much as the job; he’s also got a dark secret.
Long an audience favourite, this new version of “Cheap Wine” was recorded at Pachyderm Studio in Canon Falls, MN and appears on CHARLIE PARR, a stunning collection of new songs and new studio versions of classic songs from throughout Parr’s long career. He also covers songs by the late Grant Hart of Husker Du (‘Twenty-five Forty-one’) and US folk legend Spider John Koerner (‘Running Jumping Standing Still’).
The album features Parr’s trademark resonator guitar and 12-string, aided by co-producer Liz Draper on bass, longtime collaborator Mikkel Beckmen on percussion, Jeff Mitchell on electric guitar, accordion, organ, backing vocals, and Dave Hundrieser on harmonica. CHARLIE PARR is an honest and raw recording of Parr reflecting on himself and his career up to this point. It’s a musical reckoning that came after a freak accident less than a year ago that forced him to relearn how to play guitar, causing him to take stock of the songs he’s written over his lifetime and see them through new eyes.
The accident on August 3, 2018 could have put an end to Parr’s career. Only a month earlier he had made his first appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, bookending a summer of touring and career highpoints. Then, while skateboarding with his daughter along Lake Superior, he hit pavement. His right shoulder was busted into pieces and his ability to play guitar on stage again was suddenly in question. But, when playing the guitar is intertwined with who you are, not playing really isn’t an option.
He underwent surgery that left him with a metal plate and eight pins holding his reconstructed shoulder together. Within days, as soon as he could tabletop his guitar across his lap, Parr was playing again. Three weeks later he made a pain-filled return to the stage with an appearance on the Live from Big Top Chautauquaradio show.
By the time Parr hit the road again, he was reinvigorated to play music in a way he had not been for some time. He started digging out songs from early in his career.
“I can revisit any of them I want and meditate on what it was like to be seven years old again, curious about the guitar, obsessed with music and hoarding bike parts,” he says. “I can relive all the joyful times I had with my friends and family. I can grieve all over again my Dad’s passing; I can feel my stomach turn at the mountains of regret that I’ve amassed and the people I’ve hurt when I’ve been too self-absorbed to take better care of my actions, but I can’t change it.
“Songs are a different kind of history though, they’re not subject to the rules of time, they never died and they never will, and they grow and evolve right along with the rest of me.” Parr had never really stopped playing those songs completely and, along the way, they had matured along with him. He wanted a chance to record them again to capture what they had become.
“I recorded some of those songs almost 20 years ago and, when I think about what my mind was like at that time, it’s not what it is now,” he explains. “In a way, I’ve been re-writing them over and over again for the past two decades.”
Parr is now back on his grueling international tour schedule, mended and reinvigorated, covering the entire country alone in his car, occasionally cooking his vegan meals on his car manifold. It’s a lonely existence that leaves a lot of time for reflection and reminiscing. CHARLIE PARR is the first album — and there are 13 others — that Parr he felt like putting his name on. It’s a bit of the new, a bit of the old, and a bit of what’s motivated and moved him. Most importantly, it’s an audio tour of his life and career to date and a celebration of more songs and stories to come.
For more information go to www.charlieparr.com
01. Love Is An Unraveling Bird’s Nest
02. To A Scrapyard Bus Stop
03. On Stealing A Sailboat
04. Asa Jones’ Blues
05. Running Jumping Standing Still
06. Mag Wheels
07. Annie Melton
09. Twenty-Five Forty-One
11. Cheap Wine
AUG 28 Glasgow – Centre for Contemporary Arts
AUG 29 York – The Crescent Community Venue
AUG 30 Salisbury – End of the Road festival
AUG 31 Abergavenny – The Art Shop & Chapel
SEP 2 Newcastle Upon Tyne – The Cluny
SEP 3 Chester – St Mary’s Creative Space
SEP 4 London – The Lexington
SEP 5 Lewes – Lewes Con Club