FEATURED ARTIST – Michael Charles
Interview by Dennis M. Kelly
Dennis: Good day Michael, thank you so much for your time for this today. How are you?
Michael: I’m doing great Dennis!! Thank you for having me. Appreciate the support!
Dennis: I see by your Instagram page that you were recently at the Glen Campbell Museum, how was that?
Michael: It was fabulous. I could have spent several more hours there. It was so well done with class around every corner. So much history and visuals on one of our greatest guitarists and musicians of all time!
Dennis: You’ve got quite an impressive past, and aside from your own great talents, you’ve performed with quite a number of legends as well. When you were traveling back and forth from Australia to America, how did you end up deciding to move to Chicago? What was the deciding factor in that decision?
Michael: It seemed I had taken my career as far as I wanted to in Australia and always had the urge to test the waters in America.
Dennis: You’ve got a sister and daughter back home in Australia, how were they with that decision when you decided to leave?
Michael: Of course, to say that they were not sad would not be telling the truth, but they are both extremely supportive and they both knew this was something I needed to do.
Dennis: Judging by all the opportunities that presented themselves to you once you moved here, it seems that it was the right thing to do. Did you have much trouble acclimating to American life?
Michael: Not really. I had a lot of support and friendships in the beginning and once I found representation in America it was full speed ahead.
Dennis: That is good! You’ve been playing guitar since you were five years old, and your dad was your initial influence, what are some non-musical influences that keep you picking up your guitar and playing?
Michael: Wow…interesting question! I guess I would say that I look up to and am influenced by anyone in any field who is driven and has the passion, whether they are a mechanic, a chef, or as far as that goes, in any line of work, but just has that desire, that persistence, and just never gives up on doing their best and doing what they have decided to do on this earth.
Dennis: With your extensive touring that you’ve done over the years, are there any places you have yet to perform that you’d like to?
Michael: There are many places and we are constantly trying to open up new doors, but I would like to tour Europe someday.
Dennis: What are some of your own songs that you’re the most proud of and why?
Michael: This is a hard one, and not to sound arrogant, but I am proud of all my recordings. If I was not proud of them, they wouldn’t be available to hear.
Dennis: Completely understandable. What are some characteristics of a well-written Blues song?
Michael: That the words and the melody just have to come from your insides.
Dennis: When did you build your Chicago recording studio and do you ever have other artists record there?
Michael: I have from time to time. But with my schedule of touring, I am lucky to get in there for myself, let alone bring other artists in, but have done so from time to time.
Dennis: How much time per year would you say you spend on the road? How do you manage to stay healthy during those times?
Michael: I am on the road approximately 150 days. I stay healthy by my diet and a pretty rigid exercise routine. And just as important, I maintain my stamina by what I don’t do. Drugs, smoking and alcohol are not part of my life. This is must, to do 3 and 4 hour straight concerts night after night.
Dennis: In addition to guitar, you also play keyboards, bass and drums; have you written any songs based on any of those instruments?
Michael: No, I usually write all my songs on an acoustic guitar or behind the keyboards and then it goes into production along with all the other instruments.
Dennis: How many guitars do you currently own?
Michael: oooh! I really couldn’t answer that unless I walked through my house and studio and added them all up. Let’s just say a “fair few”.
Dennis: When considering a new guitar, what qualities do you think most about before buying it?
Michael: How it feels in my hands and up against my body and the tonality.
Dennis: You have many music videos out there, do you ever get involved in the directorial side of them?
Michael: I have done my share of directing and truly enjoy that side of it.
Dennis: What have been some of the bigger challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
Michael: To be believed in. Overcoming this? Work hard at doing exactly what you said you were going to do.
Dennis: What makes a GREAT guitar player?
Michael: Other than the gift of talent, a key element I see running through the “greats” is that they don’t think they’re great!! So, they are constantly striving to be the best they can be. That is what makes them great! Ya just can’t let that ego get in the way.
Dennis: Who are some young artists that you’ve seen that you think will keep the Blues going on strong for decades to come?
Michael: Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, Gary Clark Jr., Samantha Fish, Quinn Sullivan are few off the top of my head.
Dennis: What advice would you offer to aspiring Rock and Blues artists?
Michael: Above all else……….never give up no matter what!
Dennis: Do you personally communicate with your fans through social media? If so, which platform do you prefer?
Michael: Absolutely. It is must nowadays and I truly enjoy it. I only wish I had more time, but I do and try to personally reply to everyone that I can. Instagram is my first choice but they are all good in their own way.
Dennis: You’ve got quite a lot of concert dates this year going through November, do you have anything additional planned?
Michael: Yes… talking to my agent, it is just the start. I believe there are plans to tour again in New York, Australia, Montana and out west, and possibly returning to Florida this year and everywhere else in between.
Dennis: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Michael: Just that I will continue to write, sing, and play my music as long as God allows me to do so.
Dennis: Thank you so much for your time Michael, I really appreciate it!
Michael: Dennis, it was my pleasure and thank you for the in depth questions and the opportunity to reach your readers.
Dennis: It is absolutely my pleasure Michael. Have a great day!
Michael Charles’ musical pilgrimage began over six decades ago in his homeland Melbourne, Victoria Australia.
While enjoying a successful musical crusade of touring, recording, and numerous television and radio appearances in his homeland, Michael received an invitation from Buddy Guy’s management to appear at the infamous Legends in Chicago, Illinois USA. Graciously accepting the honor, Michael Charles traveled the twelve thousand five hundred miles and took the stage with Mr. Buddy Guy. After numerous trips back and forth, Michael made the monumental and life changing decision to make America his new home. Charles worked the whole Chicago blues circuit performing with Mr. Buddy Guy, Phil Guy, James Cotton, Eddy Clearwater, Junior Wells, George Baze, as well as touring with blues legend, Jimmy Dawkins.
Through the next thirty years, and now a nine times Grammy elected artist, Michael Charles enjoyed being featured in numerous television and radio broadcasts and several music magazines, along with gracing countless stages and pages including Chicago Blues Fest, Philadelphia Jazz and Blues Fest, Windy City Live Television, WGN TV, JBTV, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, and The College Music Journal.
In October of 2015 Michael Charles received the extreme honor of an induction into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Michael has received endorsements from Vertex and LR Baggs and in Canada from Godin / Seagull Guitars. Michael Charles’ discography is comprised of thirty-seven releases including a double CD thirty year anthology.
In 2016 Australian film producer started work on a documentary chronicling the musical career of Michael Charles. The Documentary was released in March of 2018 and the DVD in 2019. “Soundtracked”, the CD soundtrack to the documentary was also released in 2019. In 2020 Moonlight Label released “The Early Years” , a CD of the complete 45 r.p.m. singles released 1984-1988 by Michael Charles in Australia before he moved to the U.S.A. in 1990. Also, in 2020 “19”, the downloadable album of all the Alone and Acoustic songs recorded during the pandemic became available. In August of 2021 and partially sponsored by the Illinois Arts Council Association a 2 CD and 1 DVD Box set chronologizing the entire pandemic experience from the recording studio was released and 2022 saw the singles of “Key To The Highway” and Charles’ new original song “Silenced”.
At this time Michael Charles is traveling his sixteenth consecutive international tour “No Detours” 2023, which will once again take him to the far corners of the USA, Canada, and Australia. The 2023 tour promises a multitude of concerts and publicity appearances as MC performs a whole new list of cities, festivals, and music venues and revisits some favorites from the last fifteen tours.
As always and with all Michael Charles’s performances and recordings, his guitar is kept forefront and is the driving force behind his music.
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