Charlie Parr to perform at Trollhaugen

Country blues musician Charlie Parr will perform at the Trollhaugen ski resort on Friday, Dec. 7.

Country blues musician Charlie Parr will perform at the Trollhaugen ski resort, 22322 100th Ave. in Dresser, WI beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7.

Slopes will be open until 3 a.m.

A Minnesotan who was born in Austin and began his career in Duluth, Parr plays resonator guitar, fretless open-back banjo, and 12-string guitar in the Piedmont blues style.

He is known for heartfelt and plaintive original folk blues and traditional spirituals.

A self-taught guitarist and banjo player, Parr grew up listening to his dad’s recordings of Charley Patton, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

His parents worked union jobs in a meat factory. “Every morning you’d hear the [factory] whistles blow. When I was a kid they had the stockyards and animals there,” Parr said.

Outside were soybean fields. “As a kid I thought it was boring, but now I go and visit my mom and I think it’s the most beautiful landscape there is.”

Today Parr averages three or four shows a week. “From Cleveland to Seattle and down to San Francisco is my area,” he says, though the focus is Minnesota and the Northern Plains.

He also tours regularly in Ireland and Australia. He’s had especially good fortune Down Under, where his “1922 Blues” was used behind a Vodafone mobile commercial and became a viral and radio success. Three of his songs are on the 2010 Australian western “Red Hill.”

On his last tour of that continent, he was guest DJ on a Melbourne radio station, playing songs from his own mix CD. “The newest thing on it was from the 1940s,” Parr said. “People were calling all morning to say how much they like the music.”

While traveling, he cooks home-prepared meals such as spicy lentil curry, black bean chili and mixed vegetables on the manifold of his van while he drives. “It’s a good heat source and it’s handy—25 miles will cook about anything you want,” he said.

His recordings include “Roustabout” (2008), “Jubilee” (2007), “Rooster” (2005), “King Earl”  (2004), “1922” (2002) and “Criminals and Sinners” (2001).

He has recorded in warehouses, garages, basements and storefronts, usually on vintage equipment, which gives his work the historic feel of field recordings.

He often works with audio engineer Tom Herbers of Third Ear Studios in Minneapolis.

His 2011 album of traditional songs, “Keep Your Hands on the Plow,” features Charlie’s wife Emily, old-time banjo/fiddle band Four Mile Portage, and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of the alternative rock band Low.

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