Minnesota roots musician Charlie Parr is dedicated to the blues and folk traditions of an earlier era. Raised on the music of Charley Patton, Lead Belly, Rev. Gary Davis, and Woody Guthrie, Parr's blue-collar upbringing in the city of Austin, Minnesota (home of Hormel Foods and SPAM) and its rural surroundings are reflected in his life and musical styles. He began his career in Duluth on the western shore of Lake Superior, where he recorded his 2002 debut, Criminals & Sinners. Over the next decade, he would continue to use Duluth as his home base, touring regionally and nationally, recording his unique albums in unusual spaces (warehouses, garages, living rooms, storefronts), often employing vintage or lo-fi techniques to capture his mix of traditional blues, folk, and spirituals along with his own powerful songs.
In 2008, his song "1922 Blues," from his second album 1922, was used in a Vodafone commercial in Australia and New Zealand and became a surprise success. He has since enjoyed a number of successful tours and releases in Australia, where in 2010 three of his songs were used in the Australian western film Red Hill. With throaty voice, National steel guitar, and banjo, he has been compared to Dave Van Ronk, Dock Boggs, and even Tom Waits. Usually a solo performer, his 2011 release of all-traditional tunes also featured several guests, like his wife, Emily Parr, on vocals and members of the indie group Low. With over a dozen records to his credit, both self-released and on small national and international labels, Parr signed with Grammy-winning folk label Red House Records (Greg Brown, John Gorka, Loudon Wainwright III) to release 2015's Stumpjumper. Produced by Megafaun's Phil Cook in North Carolina, Stumpjumper marked the first time Parr had recorded a solo record with a full backing band. He quickly followed up with an EP titled I Ain't Dead Yet, which Red House released in the spring of 2016. In June 2017, Parr released the title track from his next full-length outing, Dog, which arrived later that September. ~ Timothy Monger