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Australian blues artist celebrates 30 years of music, performs in Woodstock Square

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 3:22 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
Blues artist Michael Charles will perform at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Woodstock Square.

When Michael Charles takes the stage, he brings three decades worth of blues music.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Charles spent his younger years touring, recording and making numerous television and radio appearances in his homeland. Blues icon Buddy Guy took notice and invited him to his classic blues club Legends in Chicago.

He soon was working the Chicago blues circuit, performing with blues legends Phil Guy, James Cotton Eddy Clearwater, Junior Wells, George Baze and Jimmy Dawkins.

“When I came out to the States, it was a huge buzz to be able to share the stage with one of your heroes,” Charles said.

Celebrating the 30-year anniversary of that career, Charles will bring his Three Hundred Sixty Tour to the Woodstock Square. He’ll perform at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 as part of Music on the Square.

Through the years, he said, he’s progressed along with blues music. He’s written his own music and toured the United States, Canada and Australia.

“I think the blues has grown a lot,” he said. “When I started listening to the blues, it was pretty much heavily influenced by guys like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. ...

“We’re all heavily influenced by these guys still, but it has changed a lot. You can share it with a lot of other genres now. You don’t have to keep playing the traditional blues people think of like ‘Sweet Home Chicago.’”

When Charles started out, learning to play guitar at age 5, he said he was “too rocky to be traditional blues and too bluesy to be traditional rock.”

Along with the influence of his father and blues legends, he listened to The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater and other artists.

At first, his rock side made it tough to find work. So he ended up playing more traditional blues. Over time, he said, either he or the audience became more comfortable and he was able to combine his interests.

“In the early days, you learn from your heroes. You try to play what they play,” he said. “As time progresses, and as a songwriter, you start doing your own thing.”

His latest album, a two-CD set called “Three Hundred Sixty,” is an anthology of 360 months worth of recordings beginning with his very first solo recording in 1984 to his latest release in 2014. It contains alternate takes, rough mixes, live recordings, pictures and narratives.

A six-time Grammy elected artist, he never set out to succeed in the United States.

A few months, then a few years passed, he said.

“It just became home,” he said.

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