88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Griffin House, Charlie Mars

Fri, 03/04/2011 -
8:00pm to 11:00pm
Shank Hall
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Griffin House was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio. His father worked in a tire shop and his mother helped place children with foster families. In high school, the athletically-gifted House landed a role in a musical and was surprised to learn that he had a natural talent for singing. House bought his first guitar for $100 from a friend, turned down a golf scholarship to Ohio University and instead went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and started to teach himself how to play the guitar and write songs.

House began writing and recording and issued his first independent release, Upland, in 2003. His music attracted attention from Nettwerk, a Vancouver-based management company and record label, and House partnered with the label's American branch to issue Lost & Found in 2004. In August 2004, on CBS Sunday Morning, music journalist Bill Flanagan (MTV/VH1) raved about Lost and Found, putting the newcomer on his short list of the best emerging songwriters in the U.S. "I bought House's CD after a show in New York City," said Flanagan, "and this never happens: I took it home and must have listened to it 20 times that weekend. I was knocked out."

Several self-released albums followed, and in 2008 House released Flying Upside Down, produced by Jeff Trott and featuring Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. House has released the majority of his records on his imprint label, Evening Records. House has toured extensively, opening for artists such as Ron Sexsmith, Patti Scialfa, Josh Ritter, John Mellencamp, and Mat Kearney. Since 2007 House has been a national headliner.

Mars who grew up in Laurel, Miss., is a skilled guitarist and songwriter. Based in Brooklyn he now calls New York home and his music has matured as a result. He had what he describes as a conversion when he was 15 or 16, listening to "Thriller" and "Slippery When Wet". "The first time I remember hearing something that I thought 'What is this?' was the first Violent Femmes record," he recalls. "I took the tape to the store in the mall and I said, 'Give me everything that sounds like this.'"

His songs come to him intuitively and spontaneously, he claims. "Very rarely will I sit down with a pen and paper and write lyrics. Ninety percent of the time it comes out of me when I'm sitting there with a guitar; otherwise it doesn't happen. I don't have to write it down; the stuff that's any good I remember, and the crap I just forget. I'm a firm believer in the hypothesis that the good shit sticks."

Charlie pulls his own best stuff from deep inside him and fashions it into a work of art, seductive and moving. As remarkable as his self-titled album is, the suspicion is that this well runs deep. His compelling playing and lyrics weave sumptuous soundscapes of yearning and rebirth. Soulful, deep and evolving as a remarkable musician, Charlie Mars is a spellbinding performer.

Griffin House, Charlie Mars