SHERIDAN — Blues guitarist Michael Charles boasts eight Grammy elections, one step below a nomination, and Blues Hall of Fame induction honors. Whether performing for crowds of dozens or thousands, Charles said he plays with equal passion. He picks no favorites in regards to size of show but feels a particular buzz when playing in front of a cozy crowd.
On Jan. 17, the Hall-of-Famer will provide guests of the intimate Luminous Brewhouse with 35 years of original blues guitar pieces.
“Personally, I always get a huge buzz when I’m playing a small, local tavern because it just brings me back to where it all started for me,” Charles said. “It’s so real. You look up and the people are right there, right in front of you.”
His father’s guitar lived in the corner of Charles’ living room growing up. When the instrument was not in the hands of his father, Charles would take a turn tickling the strings.
“I don’t really remember not playing guitar,” Charles said. “That’s how it all started for me; there was no looking back.”
At the age of seven, his father threw him up onstage with a band playing for a family function. After the rush of playing with a band, he told his father that’s what he was going to do for the rest of his life. His father stared down at him and said, “Good for you.”
The two played together for fun, but Charles soon moved into a more professional role. Five decades and 10 tours later, Charles continues to play music globally. Throughout those years, Charles wrote original songs and remained inspired by his life experiences and those he meets along the way. His shows contain 95 percent of his original music and a few covers sprinkled into the set.
“You meet so many people on the road, and everyone has a story,” Charles said. “…It’s always good to write about things that you know about because the song becomes very real.”
Charles claims no storytelling skills, but instead uses his experiences to guide his hand through a new piece.
“The inspiration for my music is all about the way we live, the way we do the best we can while we’re on this planet,” Charles said.
Charles’ publicist and right-hand woman, Jane Rogers, creates his schedule — he goes where she directs and plays with passion.
Rogers said she bases other shows off the nucleus of the tour, which for this stint was the Mangy Moose Restaurant and Saloon in Jackson, Wyoming. Rogers starts wide, consulting Google Maps for possible routes to the nucleus from the artist’s home in Chicago, Illinois. A calculation of hours and miles start piecing together the tour.
Once she comes across a plausible city for Charles to appear, she digs in to researching venues. Searching through Sheridan, Luminous Brewhouse resulted in the best venue for the artist that Roseanne Tellez of WGN TV described as sounding like Eric Clapton.
Rogers collaborated with Luminous staff and settled on Jan. 17 for a concert date, starting at 7 p.m.