Charlie Parr kicks off outdoor performances at 2nd Street Stage
By Nick Longworth
On Thursday June 26 the first outdoor installment of the 2nd Street Stage weekly concert series officially went underway with musical guest Charlie Parr.
Hailing from Austin, MN, Parr started his musical career in Duluth, playing his unique style of folk and bluegrass on his guitars and banjo.
Today Parr spends his time residing between the two towns when he’s not on the road.
Having played Terrapin Station in Nevis last year, Parr said Brian (Skinness, Terrapin Station’s founder) called him and invited him to come play again.
The offer was something that Parr was immediately interested in.
“Everybody’s always good to me around here. It looks like it might clear up too, I see some blue. I’m really happy that I get to do this,” Parr said.
In jeans, a t-shirt and sandals on the sidewalk before the show, Parr said he doesn’t play most of his shows with a set list. Rather, he prefers to let the performance play itself out.
“I just play whatever I feel like playing. There are certain songs that I cycle through and I play a lot; a lot of sets will include the same songs just because that’s what I do. But I don’t think about it too much. I just start playing,” Parr said.
“When I was first starting out, I would try a little more to do a set list. But then when you get on stage, things change. You see people that act in a certain way, and they want to hear a certain kind of thing; they provide you with a lot of feedback that you maybe weren’t expecting. I ended up fighting with my set list anyways, so I thought ‘why bother writing one? I’ll just get up there and see what we want to do.’ It’s kind of a collective – you and the audience. You get to create something together instead of having to tell them what they’re going to hear all the time.”
The crowd was ample in numbers, nearly doubling in size over the first week to hear what would come of Parr’s one man performance.
“I’m just really lucky to be able to get to do this. Any time you get to sit down and play the guitar is a really, really important time for me. I play no matter what. I’ll play when no one wants to hear me anymore; I’ll still be sitting in the kitchen playing all the time,” Parr said.
“Every opportunity to perform I take as extremely important for me. I try not to take it for granted. I don’t take advantage of it, and I treat it with respect. People are spending their time too. I’m spending my time, but they’re spending their time as well to be here and to listen to music, so I try to regard that as being important.”
Parr performed to an appreciative crowd for two hours, from 6 to 8 p.m.
People came and went as they pleased, setting up their lawn chairs on the street, enjoying refreshments from the beer garden or getting their face painted or caricature drawn.
Parr’s performance was as enthusiastic as it musically sound and inspiring.
One would never guess that people have advised him to take a break from it all.
“My hands kill. I’ve got a little bit of arthritis and repetitive stress syndrome. I was never given any lessons, but I started trying to learn the guitar when I was seven and I was just obsessed. I’m still obsessed. All the time if I get a minute to sit around and no one is bothering me, I’ll play the guitar,” Parr said.
“I’ve had a lot of people say ‘you need to take a break.’ But I’ve got shows, and all I want to do is play. I’ve sat down over the last three years and re-learned guitar parts to accommodate the way I play now, but I don’t really think that way. I think about living in the moment. I think about living day to day. Today’s big goal was to play some music, get to be outside, and hopefully some people come out.”
Despite the well-worn hands of his, Parr is not going to be one to slow down now; he has many plans on the horizon.
“I have a bunch of plans. I’ve got a lot of touring across the U.S. that will take me through to January. Then I will start with overseas again next year because I took this past year off from being out of the country. I will go back to Australia and Europe,” Parr said.
“I’ve also a couple different collaborations, and a lot of other stuff to think about and look forward to. I’m as satisfied as can be. I don’t have any notions about world domination or anything. As long as I feel that I am making music that I want to have around in the world, then I’m doing what I want to do.”