Katie and Lori had a chance to get out for a night- without kids, without husbands. Not that they don’t love their husbands and kids…. but you know, a night out always does a mama some good! Needless to say, they jumped at the chance and headed down to see Charlie Mars perform live at Threadgill’s in downtown Austin. Read below for their take on the music, the show, and the venue.
GIVEAWAY: We have a copy of Charlie Mars’ Like a Bird, Like a Plane CD to giveaway to one lucky reader! Leave a comment here by Saturday, July 10, 2010. There are no geographic restrictions. The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 48 hours.
I think I have a new musical obsession- his name is Charlie Mars. When Livemom was contacted about possibly doing a review, I did not immediately recognize his name so I started looking around online. It wasn’t long before I realized I had heard him before- I just didn’t know it. KGSR regularly plays “Listen to the Darkside” which is probably his best known song off the new album. I listened to a couple more songs online, and intrigued, headed out with Lori to the show at Threadgill’s.
Let me start by saying that if you have never been to a show at Threadgill’s downtown,you should go. The outdoor area is like a little oasis just off Riverside in downtown Austin. The crowd was not huge and much more diverse than I expected; there was a good spread of young and old, hippie and yuppie. So I grabbed a beer and found a spot to stand where I could see (Threadgill’s, you need more seating out there!).
I was captivated from the get-go. Don’t get me wrong, Charlie is captivating in his own right, but it was the music that got me. I hate going to a show only to find that whoever is up there playing does not sound anything like the album you have been listening to. I have spent many concerts wishing I was home with the album playing instead. I was happy to find that Charlie sounds so very good in concert. What you hear on the album is what you get and it is good.
So let’s talk about his “it”. Something about him reminds me of David Gray- a little less depressing, with a little jazz and groove thrown in. I also love the organ which you don’t hear often. My overall impression of this album is incredibly sensual and romantic. Just listening to it makes me feel sexy. There is some lighter fare like “What Are You Looking For?” and “The Only One”, but the meat of the album evokes images of dancing in the candle lit dark with your lover. It is in-the-mood music ladies! Try listening to “Meet Me By the Backdoor” and tell me you don’t end it with a resounding “Yes!”. There is a great acoustic version from when he was at the KGSR studios which you should definitely check out here. Another great one is “Banging On Your Door”. Maybe I am a hopeless romantic- I really believe that everyone should be so decimated and heartbroken by love at least once and this song captures that so well.
I ended up downloading the entire album from iTunes. You can also buy it on his website, where you can listen to a couple of tunes while you look around. If you get a chance to see Charlie live, do it! Lucky for you, he is playing at Blues on the Green in Zilker Park August 4th (It’s FREE!!). He will also be playing Friday at ACL in October. He has made a fan out of me and I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to see Charlie Mars at Threadgill’s along with my friend and fellow LiveMom contributor, Katie. I know Katie reasonably well since we run in some of the same circles, but I did not know anything about her taste in music or what music meant to her. I knew nothing about Charlie Mars, but the idea of getting OUT and getting to hang out with someone whose company I enjoy…well, it was a no brainer. It turns out that I learned a lot about both Katie and Charlie Mars.
It turns out that Katie and I have exact opposite approaches to music and that music means very different things to us. I think it is accurate to say that she feels music whereas music is typically not much more than background noise for me. In discussing music with Katie, I realized that she is very in tune with an artist’s investment in his or her music: does the artist write his/her own songs, play instruments, and give a good live show (you know…sound good without being synthesized). I typically could not care less about an artist’s roots, education, production, or song-writing ability. I usually listen to music only to distract myself from something else: exercising, taking a long drive, cleaning the house, and so on. There are always exceptions to this for me – the songs that speak to my soul or the artists whose voice conjure up strong feelings for me – but these are just that…exceptions. I am known to blast top 40 music simply for the catchy beat and it’s only after I hear my four-year-old belting out some of the lines from this “music” that I realize how truly horrible my taste (or lack thereof) is.
All that said, I truly enjoyed Charlie Mars. I found that each song he sung was palpable, and his sound varied from song to song. He did not seem to have a recipe he was following; he seemed to put something different into each song. He interacted well with the audience, took the time to introduce his bandmates, and just plain gave a great show. I am a consumate people watcher, and watching the crowd at the Charlie Mars show was one of my favorite parts of the evening. The audience ranged in age from younger boomers to just-barely-college-aged people of all sorts. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was there on a first date, who was trying to get a date, and who was there simply to enjoy the show. It was a very warm and humid night, but the setup at Threadgill’s was perfect. Despite it being a full house, the atmostphere did not feel crowded or pushy and even with all those people on a hot Texas night, it was still really comfortable. I found Charlie Mars’ music to be both relaxing and thought-provoking, and his albums will be some of my first music purchases in many, many years. I think I will thoroughly enjoy listening to what he has to say on a long road trip, and I am eager to see him live again when he is back in Austin in August.