MUSIC BOX: From SLC to NYC

By on November 22, 2016

Folk-blues songwriter Charles Ellsworth and an electronic double bill at the Tavern.

Pondering the human spirit while crisscrossing the country is a way of life for Charles Ellsworth.

Pondering the human spirit while crisscrossing the country is a way of life for Charles Ellsworth.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – There are songs that live in dark alleys, with pain-stricken lyrics of human struggle laid over minor tonality. This kind of vulnerability and openness presents the listener with the topside of a rock, evoking an eagerness to find what’s under that rock. With a broken-in baritone voice and simplistic acoustic guitar as his foundation, singer-songwriter and folk-blues act Charles Ellsworth digs at this phenomenon with a raw clarity.

“When I’m working on a song I try to take the simplest approach to capturing what I felt in the moment of inspiration,” Ellsworth explained. “Once I feel I’ve successfully broken it down to its simplest form, I can try to dress it up a bit. That’s most likely why I start writing most of my music on just an acoustic guitar and then bring in other instrumentation.”

Ellsworth’s recently released EP, Wildcat Chuck Charles, was recorded earlier this year in Salt Lake City, his former base before moving to Brooklyn, New York. The four tracks are dark in timbre, downtempo yet luster in their ease. Pondering of the human spirit while crisscrossing the country is not just subject matter for Ellsworth, but a lifestyle he’s committed his adult life to.

“I think that spending as much time on the road as I have, you are forced to learn to let things happen and accept your lack of control,” Ellsworth said. “It’s a life centered around movement and how to properly approach that constant state of change. It’s the same when I’m at home in Brooklyn. My roommates and I joke about how living in NYC—you have to learn that you aren’t stuck in traffic, you are traffic. It’s all a sort of exercise in being present in the moment. The people I’ve met on the road, as well as the places I’ve visited most certainly influence what I write. There is no lack in characters or scenes with which to tell stories, and being a stranger passing through allows a kind of freedom to distort the reality or creatively fill in the gaps.”

Ellsworth has released four albums since 2011’s The Shepherd Lane Sessions, and is currently offering a download of his entire catalog for only $10 via CharlesEllsworthMusic.com. In early 2017, he’ll be releasing a new album and plans to be on the road for most of the year including his first string of international dates. For Ellsworth’s upcoming Town Square Tavern show, he’ll have a band in tow and will also play a handful of tunes solo. The difference between the two is substantial.

“Usually if I’m playing with a band we will have practiced and structured out the set a lot more. I find being prepared only helps when an opportunity of improvisation comes up,” he said. “You can’t over practice when it comes to getting multiple musicians on the same page. My solo shows are usually a little more free form. I’ll have a list of the songs that I want to play and a general idea of what I want to say, but I kind of feel out the crowd more. It keeps things interesting for me when I’ve been playing every night for several weeks or months.”

Charles Ellsworth plays 10 p.m. Tuesday, November 29 at Town Square Tavern. Free. 733-3886.

Alex Medellin of Denver -based Late Night Radio.

Alex Medellin of Denver-based Late Night Radio.

Electronic emotion

If you can’t sleep at night and you love to shake it until you have a chance to break it, Denver electronic/funk/soul duo Late Night Radio has the cure. Led by the prolific production of Alex Medellin and supported by drummer Tyler Crawford Unland, Medellin is guided by the mantra “emotion over energy” and settled in Colorado after coming up in Texas and California.

Opening the show is New Jersey-based Flamingosis (aka Aaron Velasquez), which refers to a freestyle frisbee move that his father invented. The electronic producer and beatboxer gathered influences from other beat making luminaries like Flying Lotus, J Dilla and Madlib.

Late Night Radio and Flamingosis, 10 p.m. Saturday at Town Square Tavern. $10. 733-3886. PJH

Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

161123music_planetpicks

161123music_planetpicks-2WEDnesday

Karaoke (Virginian)

FRIday

Bo Elledge (Town Square Tavern), Vince & Mindi Swing (Silver Dollar)

SATurday

Tram Jam (JHMR), TiLTED (The Rose), Late Night Radio with Flamingosis (Town Square Tavern)

SUNday

Stagecoach Band (Stagecoach)

TUESday

One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar), Open Mic (Virginian)

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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