We are fortunate, here at the Brisbane Jazz Club.
Across four nights every week, we get to experience and enjoy a wide range of musical genres, styles and performances. And we love them all.
However, it is not often that we get to hear a voice quite like the one we are hearing tonight.
Ladies. Gentlemen. Blues fans, one and all. Please put your hands together for Mr. Barry Charles and his Band.
There’s Barry. Seated at centre stage. With his guitar and his harmonica. Ready to tell his stories in song. Stories of, and from his life.
Unmissable, isn’t he? Shoulder-length, straight, straggly hair. Crazy, wild-eyed look. And smiling, idiosyncratic style.
And around him are Parris Macleod on keys, Peter Wells on guitar, Brendan Scully on double and electric bass, and Duncan Macqueen on drums. Their dreamy, silky skills provide a striking contrast to, and perfect background for Barry’s deep and dirty Blues voice.
All set against a backdrop of the beautiful, CBD-lit Brisbane River, which drifts past our picture windows, on its journey to the sea.
And oh, how good and engaging is Barry’s multi-octave voice?
I imagine that anyone who has ever reviewed one of Barry’s gigs, has faced the challenge of trying to describe it.
Well, there’s love. There’s pain. There’s a skinful of booze. And other things. In that voice.
And it has all been lived. All been experienced. All personal.
This is a voice that reaches you. Touches you. Moves you. There is Sincerity. Sensitivity. Emotion. In every phrase. Of every song.
And, as if that isn’t enough, Barry’s delivery includes a rare, mysterious element; one which is injected frequently, via the deep-throated sounds of Overtone Singing, aka Throat Singing. This deep, unmistakable sound is commonly associated with the Tuva people of southern Siberia, or the chants of Tibetan Buddhist Monks.
So, Barry first charms us with his soulful, bluesy voice; rich with echoes of his personal favourite performers. And with that voice, tonight, he gives us songs such as Taj Mahal’s ‘The Strut’ and ‘She Caught The Katy’, Duke Robillard’s ‘You Mean Everything To Me’, Ernie Johnson’s ‘I’m In The Mood For The Blues’, B.B. King’s ‘Sweet Little Angel’, Ray Charles’ ‘Georgia On My Mind’, Tony Joe White’s ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’, Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Help Me’, Jimmy Reed’s ‘Bright Lights. Big City’, Keb Mo’s ‘Tell Everybody I Know’, and Howling Wolf’s ‘Spoonful’.
And just one original, ‘Night Train’.
Then, in between those songs, Barry regularly hits the Tom Waits button. And that is when the gravel-gargling, Tuvan/Tibetan chanting style kicks in. Wow!!
Tom Waits is an obvious favourite of Barry’s, and tonight, we are treated to a great selection of Tom tunes.
There is ‘Shore Leave’, ‘Grapefruit Moon’, ‘Jersey Girl’ and ‘Tom Traubert Blues’, with its Waltzing Matilda reference.
There is ‘Heart Attack and Vine’, which Barry dedicated to his sister, a long-time New York resident.
And there is ‘Jockey Full of Bourbon’, which featured Barry’s smile-raising, pseudo-Spanish scatting.
What a great night!!
And of course, at the end of a night which has included the deep and mystical warble of a Tibetan Buddhist chant, you might expect to hear the sound of one hand clapping.
But, oh no. Not tonight. This grateful and enthusiastic audience is a-whooping, a-hollering and a-clapping with every hand in the house!!
Barry has performed all over the world, but with a bit of luck, you may have to go no further than Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to catch him. Wherever you can get to a Barry Charles and his Band gig…please do. You will not regret it!!
Brisbane Jazz Club