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Charles Maring – Interview

Charles Maring – Interview

Steely Dan, Painting, and Human Connection

Americana singer-songwriter Charles Maring is interviewed about heartache in his life, influences, other artistic endeavors, and much more.

What first got you into music?

My dad played acoustic guitar when I was a kid. That was my first inkling into what it meant to actually play music. He taught me a some chords and we would jam a little here and there. It’s a fond memory, which has translated itself into one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written appropriately titled “My Old Man’s Guitar.” After losing him to cancer many years ago one of my prized possessions was to have that guitar. It wasn’t anything special, some kind of 70’s Martin knockoff by a company called Sigma. But, it has its own sound, and as the song goes “sometimes I pick it up.” When I do I feel his DNA in the wood, and it takes me back through a whole lifetime of memories.

Who are some of your influences?

I’m influenced by everything, and having lived, or spent a great deal of time in so many parts of the country I’m open minded in my songwriting. I’m influenced a lot by places and people and I consider everything and everyone a friend of mine. As far as music is concerned I listen to everything, but usually I’m turning on something rock, folk, reggae, or country. For a strange variety of reasons these classic bands or artists have a place in my heart. Bind Melon, Bob Marley, Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Widespread Panic, Neil Young, Sting, The Black Crowes, CSN, Peter Gabriel… Currently I’m exploring both old country, and new reggae for whatever reason. Sounds like Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson… On the flip side it’s Protoje, Chronix, Kabaka Pyramid.

Talk about your creative process as an artist in general, not just music

I am a full time visual artist, and always have been. I paint, take pictures, produce films, create video animation, and I write original music. I won’t go into detail here, but it’s been quite a ride, and an illustrious career doing my own thing as well as learning lessons by trial and error. For me the creative process is often very much the same regardless of genre, and that is to feel with an open mind and open heart as much as possible. As an example, I don’t set out to paint a specific thought, person, or object, just as I don’t write for genre. I move the paint around all while listening for what moves me.

The universe delivers something familiar from out of nowhere. Suddenly, in the contrast of the colors of paint I moved around I notice an eye that is so perfect that I couldn’t have thought it up if I wanted to. Then, I work backwards from there. I allow the space between my thoughts to guide me. All I need is a certain note to ring true to my head, and my heart will find a way to tell the rest of the story. Whether painting, or writing music, listening to the universe with an open mind always leads me towards something far better than when I force it.

Do you have a favorite song you’ve written and why?

Well, yes an no. My favorite song keeps changing. When you spend time with a work of art, or a song, sometimes the meanings evolve or change based on your life circumstances. Right now I’m just loving “Savannah Sky”, which is my latest release on Spotify, Apple Music, etc… A little back story… I moved to Savannah in Jan 2020 due to the shutdowns in the Northeast. I landed here completely by accident in search of writing another chapter in my book of life. This little gem by the sea has a lot going for it, and I am still infatuated with it. The song is storytelling and paints a picture of the feeling I still get here.

I try to write timeless songs that pull from different eras using only classic instruments. So, to my own surprise this one actually ended with somewhat of an 80’s vibe going on. Living an entirely different life in a whole new city, and with no local friends I had to I write and record all the parts myself here in my downtown loft. So, for better or worse, this is all me. LOL

Open mics are great, and I’d argue better talent in Savannah than a lot of other cities I’ve been to

How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?

I’m still figuring the Savannah music scene out, but I got started simply hitting open mics. The Wormhole on Mondays, which I still try to frequent is a good place to start and meet other folks. Molly McPherson’s, on Tuesdays I believe, has a killer blues band to sit in with, or go solo. Coach’s used to do Thursdays on the big outdoor stage, which was a great time. Open mics are great, and I’d argue better talent in Savannah than a lot of other cities I’ve been to.

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If you could play anywhere in Savannah, any location, no matter how weird, where would it be and why?

That’s a hard question as I haven’t experienced enough of Savannah to know. I will say that I’ve learned that I like playing in situations where people come to listen to music vs. just a loud bar scene. I’m an artist, and a storyteller in every sense of the word. I create for the human connection, and the intimacy of that connection far surpasses the number of people I play to. I’m open minded for sure but for me it’s not about the lights and show, but rather feeling of being amongst old souls who get what I’m trying to say.

Name a Savannah artist you’d love to collaborate with?

Being new to the Savannah scene I don’t really know any other artists that I’d have that synergy with as of yet. In the Northeast I was heading up a 5 piece original rock band. We were playing out regularly up until the pandemic shredded any and all opportunities to play out, and my life changed. I’d love to start a band again as long as it can be open to what flows rather than a specific genre. Also, it would have to be original music as I’m in it for the creative process more than anything else. I’m highly motivated to write, record, and release new music regardless of the following. That passion to just “do the work” has always paid off in the long run.

I’m am quite surprised though that with SCAD, plus all the charm of this city, that this isn’t the hottest scene for artists of all kinds in the entire country

What are some of your favorite local places to play?

I’ve got a solid 2 hour set of originals, and about an hour of covers to work with as a solo acoustic singer songwriter kind of act. I did a three hour set at Starland Yard this summer, which was a lot of fun. I have been playing at Coffee Bluff Marina for a couple of hours on an occasional Saturday afternoon. Quite a lovely spot, and kind regulars that listen. Also I recently played for the Savannah Folk Music Society, which was a real treat as folks there come to listen closely. Truth be told, I’m still trying to figure out what opportunities are out there in this city of trees, but so far I’ve enjoyed these spots.

What are your thoughts on the state of the Savannah music scene?

Savannah has so much potential! That potential is the reason I chose to stay here as an artist. As far as I can tell there isn’t much a of music scene here, yet there is a massive amount of talent. Most of the musicians I meet say “you have to play covers to play out here.” Yet, I’m finding opportunities, and I’m optimistic that there are many more to come.

I’m am quite surprised though that with SCAD, plus all the charm of this city, that this isn’t the hottest scene for artists of all kinds in the entire country. The culture of the city has to line up with the actually reality of how amazing Savannah really is.. The venues need to embrace, and heavily promote, original art and music as well as the city government itself. Doing so would draw even more talent, bring in creative conferences, and have a huge financial impact. There is no reason Savannah shouldn’t be be as prolific of an art and music scenes as Austin or Nashville. The potential is is staring us all in the face. I’m happy to participate with anyone who is optimistic, and has ideas on how to bring that change.

What is next for you?

Right now, when I’m not physically writing songs, painting, or on a filmmaking project I’m focusing my efforts on networking and meeting others. Social media is great in it’s own way, but as mentioned earlier it’s the human connection that is vital to my existence as a a creative professional and artist. So if you see me out on the town, playing a show, or just doing my own thing certainly say hello. I’m just a man trying to find my way, and celebrating the human experience we all share through art and music. I love meeting new people.

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