Australian-born blues artist Michael Charles will return to Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern on Saturday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. for a non-stop set and the company of good friends.
Charles is originally from Melbourne, Australia. He enjoyed a successful musical career from one side to the other of his native land, touring, recording, and making numerous television and radio appearances.
Now 66, he’s been based in Chicago, Illinois for 30-odd years and is an American citizen. He was invited out all those years ago to perform at Buddy Guy’s iconic blues club Legends.
“I came here originally for a two-week tour,” Charles said. “I was invited out by the legendary Buddy Guy and his management. When my management asked me what I thought about the invitation to go to Chicago, you know, via Buddy Guy, and play his club, I kind of just said, ‘Well, there’s nothing to think about. Let’s go.’”
Charles worked the Chicago blues circuit, performing with Buddy Guy, Phil Guy, James Cotton, Eddy Clearwater, Junior Wells, and George Baze, and toured with Jimmy Dawkins.
“I thought, man, I’ve done everything I wanted to do in Australia. I had a good career, I’d played just about all over the country and had successful records and all that kind of stuff,” Charles said.
Charles also started touring in Canada. He’s been in and out of the country for about 15 years, and has built up a beautiful fan base, he said. He’s played in big cities like Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Ottawa, but he likes the small towns too.
His latest tour starts April 26 in New York. From there he goes to BC and Alberta. He’s making three stops in Saskatchewan — May 18 and 19 at Bud’s on Broadway in Saskatoon, May 20 at PumpJacks Saloon & Steak House in Weyburn, and Moose Jaw will be Charles’ final Canadian stop on the 21st.
He knows and likes the owners and patrons at Bobby’s Place.
“That the venue that I always go back to, they treat me so respectfully, and vice versa,” Charles said. “Like I say, you become friends with people and when you go to a place you know… you have the opportunity to sit down after you’ve set up and soundchecked, and to sit down and talk with them and sometimes share a meal… you become friends, and that’s all part of the business too.”
Charles has released 38 albums over his career — he has a lot of material to choose from for his sets. He explained that when an album is being recorded in the studio, it can be hard to tell which songs will sound good live. When he puts his sets together, he chooses the songs that come out best acoustically, and perhaps changes others that sound great on a recording, but need adjustment for a live event. It’s two different experiences, he said.
He plays nonstop, he said, three or four hours of music without a break.
“Yeah, once I fire up…” he said wryly. “I remember the first time I played at the Rose and Crown in Banff, my watch for some reason didn’t change with the timezone we came from, and I think I played close to five hours.”
The venue eventually started flashing its lights to try and get him off the stage.
In 2015, Charles was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, and his work has been Grammy elected 10 times. This will be his fifteenth consecutive international tour.
Catch Michael Charles for free at Bobby’s Place on May 21 for a night of contagious energy, contemporary blues, and soulful ballads.