Charlie Parr at Buffalo Records, Kearney, Nebraska
Armed with my records and a sharpie I piled into my car with my daughters, Caitlin and Elizabeth, and made the 1.3 mile journey to one of my favorite places, Buffalo Records in Kearney, NE to hear one of my favorite artists, Charlie Parr. “I hope he plays “Cheap Wine”, said Elizabeth. She had gone with me the year before to hear Parr play the World Theatre in Kearney and loved it.
Arriving at the store, I chatted with the proprietors, Rex and Bryce, and then headed back to meet Charlie and get my records signed. Charlie has a gentle and self-effacing manner and is very easy to talk to. We discussed his next stop in Casper, WY for a couple minutes and then I joined my daughters to watch the opening singer, Mr. Smith, sing a few songs.
Finally, it was time for Charlie to set up. He pointed to the monitors. “Can you turn those things off? I don’t want to hear this stuff.” Then he plugged in his acoustic guitar and began to play the way only he can play. Heads began to bob and feet to tap.
About three songs in Charlie introduced his next song as “my favorite song from my least favorite record in my favorite series of records.” The series he referred to was Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music and the song was “Old Dog Blue” by Jim Jackson recorded in 1928.
One thing I love about Charlie is his propensity for storytelling between songs. One story was about being a speaker at a workshop in Illinois. “The other speakers all knew about keys and spoke in numbers. You should play that in 5. I had no idea what that meant. I’m 50 years old. If I haven’t learned that stuff by now I’m not going to.” Then he added, “Their guitars were very shiny, but mine has a bear on the back.” He turned over his Mule resonator guitar (also very shiny) to show us the bear painted on the back.
He also said he couldn’t wait to get to Ft. Collins to visit the thrift store where he gets his pants. “I hope that guy that wears my size has been there lately. This is my only pair and he breaks them in for me.”
Finally, I was brave enough to pipe up. “Cheap Wine”. And another person said “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”. “Mmmm,” said Charlie. And sure enough, after the next song he played “Cheap Wine” to the delight of my daughter. Later he played “Daniel” too.
Some of my favorite songs played that night were “Falcon”, “Remember Me If I Forget”, “Cheap Wine”, “Never Gonna See My Home Again”, “True Friends”, “Jaybird”, and the obligatory murder ballad “Delia”.
Another great show from Charlie. I hope he keeps coming back to Kearney. Buffalo Records was a great small venue making it easy to meet and interact with the artist playing. As Charlie said, “The first place I look for in a new town is the record store. They can tell me where to go next.”