Charlie Parr has found more success in his music career than he imagined. When most artists break out from small, intimate shows to playing festivals around the country, they might see that as elevating their music career to a new level. However, Parr’s ambitions aren’t driven by crowd size.
“Bigger’s not always better,” he said.
He’s flattered to be invited to play festivals, and that people want to hear his music. Small shows with intimate audiences help fuel his performances.
“Part of what I like about those tiny shows is the line between the audience is blurry or not even there,” he said. “There’s a different kind of energy.”
He said playing on a stage eight feet off the ground doesn’t give him the same energy.
“You can’t even see the people that well, let alone feel their energy,” he said. “You’re playing in a vacuum.”
Small venues give him an opportunity to meet and talk with people after — or even during — a show.
“We have something in common right off the bat,” he said. “We’re both there for the show.”
If that sounds like an invitation to go up to him after a show and chat, it is. Parr said that’s how he meets other musicians and discovers new music.
“Those conversations are valuable,” he said. “I’m looking for sustainability and meaningful experiences.”
Parr is currently touring on his most recent album, a self-titled, full-length release that came out in September from Red House Records. He has shows scheduled this month throughout the upper Midwest and a West Coast tour in December.
“It seems I would lose out on those intangible things I want if I only played bigger shows,” he said.
Based in Duluth, Parr plays Wednesday shows at the Cedar Lounge in Superior, WI when he’s not on tour.
He has family in Austin, so short trips to Southern Minnesota are almost as convenient as home shows. He didn’t mind when a matinee show at North Star Bar Nov. 17 was added to his tour schedule.
“I’m happy any time I get a chance to sit down and play in front of people,” he said.
Charlie Parr – one of Minnesota’s folk music heroes, a man who’s recorded more than 13 albums and who’s toured Ireland and Australia – is coming to Rochester.
That drive seems to spill over to studio time. Excluding singles, and 7-inch vinyl releases and compilations, Parr’s newest album is his 15th since 2002. His tour is a mix of small venues and somewhat larger shows, which suits him fine. He’ll leave the arena shows to other musicians.
“My trajectory has been reached,” he said. “As far as career-y stuff goes, this as good as it gets.”