Local bass player Charlie Henry is still finding plenty of musical things to do, even though the uninvited guest that’s refusing to leave is still staining the industry.
He’s been playing sporadic solo shows at the few local venues offering live music, preparing for the release of “Soul Fashioned,” the latest from PJ Moon and The Swappers where he plays bass. He’s also looking forward to getting into the studio later this year to record High Country Hustle’s sophomore effort, on which he also plays bass. And he’s also still promoting “DANK,” his solo effort recorded under the name “Chuck Hank” that he dropped in late 2019, while currently writing and preparing to record the next Chuck Hank release. As part of one rock band, one bluegrass band and the musician behind a solo record that leans toward jazz and another solo effort in preproduction, he’s a musician keeping things diverse, a life long metal dude whose music career began with the trumpet.
“I started playing trumpet in the middle school band. I definitely always wanted to play trumpet, but a lot of changes happen around that age and I started listening to a lot of metal,” Henry said. “I just love System Of A Down, and they didn’t have a trumpet player, so I decided to move to bass and guitar. I still love metal, but I’m also into all this Latin jazz and horn lines.”
Those jazz interests are all over “DANK,” a record where loose-groove jazz rubs elbows with electric folk. It’s the kind of record that would appease the festival crowd, while the instrumental tracks have all the flair of the indie-groove stuff of pro-skateboarders-turned-musicians Ray Barbee or Tommy Guerrero; it’s loose, cool and, at times, undefinable.
“File under jazz,” Henry said. “I think each of the songs could be defined by a genre or two now, but it doesn’t fall under anything. There are some songs that are folk and folk jazz, I think that’s a genre that hasn’t been explored enough. Like David Grisman Quintet from the bluegrass side of things explores jazz connections; Pat Metheny on the jazz side explores a lot of folk connections as well, and I just really love the combination.”
Recorded locally at Scooters Place, it’s a record loaded with musical ideas that Henry assigned to all of his co-musicians, many of whom he plays with in The Swappers and High Country Hustle. It’s both organic and laid-back with a structured core.
“We stuck to a pretty serious road map. The studio is an amazing place where something will happen that you don’t expect and it becomes part of the song because it was written in the studio with all these creative juices flowing,” he said. “I recorded a lot of versions as demos for every one of the songs, which is also a great way to develop your writing in general, but also to send out to people to say, ‘Hey man, here’s this recording, you’re going to be playing the melodies from this time stamp to this time stamp, and your solo is here.’ And so we kind of went from there, and from there was a jumping-off point to just what was created. So, it was less like a blank canvas, and more like a paint by numbers, but you could use any color you wanted.”
Moving forward, Henry is continuing to crank through all of his musical projects as a solo dude and band member, as most musicians are either waiting for a return to the norm or working at defining the new norm with the realization that many of us, whether players, producers or the scene-supporting public, need music.
“It’s really what I want to spend all my time doing,” he said. “You know, I’ve got my day job, but I spend all my other time going to band practice or learning songs from my bandmates. It’s really where all of my extra time goes.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.