Charlie Parr among friends at Sheldon Theatre

Minnesota artist returns to Red Wing for third annual Big Turn Music Festival

Charlie Parr entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the Sheldon Theatre on day one of Big Turn Music Fest.

Draped in an old orange and grey flannel and patched carpenter jeans, his signature circular wire-rimmed glasses, barefoot and stepping on his jeans, regional legend Charlie Parr took the stage at the Sheldon Theatre at 9 p.m. on night one of Red Wing’s third annual Big Turn Music Festival.

His appearance seemed passively sparring with the opulence of the ornate old theatre. His matter-of-fact appearance is typical of his career, defiantly himself. As his bio in the festival’s logbook stated, “Parr has a new record with only his name on it, and it isn’t shiny and perfect and commercial and catchy. It’s him. It’s pure Charlie Parr and maybe that’s enough.”

The biography continues by adding that Parr never moved to the big music metropolises of Nashville or Los Angeles because “the cold grey north of Minnesota” is his home.

His defiant dedication to being himself paired with his intricate picking and multi-layered storytelling featuring characters people wouldn’t give a second thought to. Parr’s music identifies with the struggling and the dissatisfied, the taken advantage of and the invisible and that is what makes an impression on your mind that never quite goes away.

Parr thanked the audience for coming to watch him play and charmed them with his stories of slamming the hatchback on his head before the show (which did leave a noticeable bump on his forehead) in between songs. “I obviously have no concept of how much real estate I have above my eyes,” joked Parr.

Later he commented on the weather being colder up in his home of Duluth, MN, by saying it was so cold that all of the snow around his back porch is yellow because his dog won’t go any farther when he let him outside. The audience laughed at the relatable tale and again after Parr chuckled and admitted, “I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Probably wasn’t in the best taste.”

Adding to his quirks is how he kept time by only tapping his big toe on the stage and adjusted his pedals with his toes.

Parr’s set was no longer than the other performers, meaning he only played for about an hour. As time flew by, Parr burned through hits like “Cheap Wine,” “1922 Blues” and “Falcon,” leaving fans cheering and screeching with uncontainable excitement. Noticeably absent from his set was his fan-favorite “Rocky Racoon” Beatles cover.

Many in the audience seemed sad to see Parr go after such a short set, but thankful for the time they were able to spend with the musician. With a final shout of “We love you Charlie” the audience filed out of the theatre and into the refreshing night air of downtown Red Wing and on to their next adventure.

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