Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Charlie Mars

charliemarsSuccess in the music world is a tricky matter. It takes more than just pure talent. It likewise takes more than mere business savvy. Ask Arkansan singer Charlie Mars and he’ll tell you it’s most assuredly a combination of the two combined with a crucial third factor – the willingness to endure the grind.

charliemars

Charlie Mars (Photo: Nigel Parry)

Success in the music world is a tricky matter. It takes more than just pure talent. It likewise takes more than mere business savvy. Ask Arkansan singer Charlie Mars and he’ll tell you it’s most assuredly a combination of the two combined with a crucial third factor – the willingness to endure the grind.

It’s that trinity that Mars has made his focus, and through which he’s made himself a success several times over in a career that started in 1996. Of course, the, uh, business plan that scored him a record deal with V2 wasn’t exactly laid out at Harvard Business School.

Down at a Gulf Coast casino, a big night at the table secured him his month’s rent and enough cash to finance the eponymous 2004 album that earned him the aforementioned record deal.

“I started winning at blackjack until I had enough that I decided to take some of it and start betting big,” Mars says. “And I just didn’t lose. I ended up with about $30,000. That was fortuitous to say the least.”

But while fortune and a, well, fortune, may have given Mars the big boost that got him signed, it’s his work ethic that’s sustained him through his 15 years as an artist.

Before signing on with V2, he built a grassroots following that made him a southern college staple, recording three albums between ’96 and ’99 before substance abuse troubles derailed him. Even after straightening himself out, earning the V2 deal and then watching it evaporate with the label’s demise, Mars has made it work for himself by spending some 125 days a year on the road touring and connecting with audiences nationwide.

“I’ve had a touring presence for 15 years,” Mars says. “I’ve never sat around and waited for people to come to me. I always felt that for me to move forward, I had to constantly be taking it to the people.”

Those touring tendencies will bring him to Vienna’s Jammin’ Java Feb. 25, with Griffin House for a solo acoustic show, a format in which Mars says best connects him with the crowd.

“I tend to talk a lot more,” Mars says. “I love acoustic shows because there are no rules. It’s very liberating, playing by yourself.”

Such shows also present a stripped-down version of his constantly evolving songbook. In June 2009, Mars released his latest work, Like a Bird, Like a Plane, an album that garnered praise for its live-recorded feel and carefully crafted tunes inspired by classic rock and then sexed up for the modern era.

Mars will be looking to continue those stylings with his next release, which he says is about 80 percent complete.

“It’s going to be a little more of an up record,” Mars says. “I feel like I really established a new sound for myself on my last record and I want to expound on that – spare instrument arrangements, live recording and heavily based on percussion and groove.”

With no label backing, he’s looking to Kickstarter, the artist-financing website, for help securing the money.

“I’m just drafting the copy for it now. I’m trying to raise $20,000, so I’ll let you know how it goes in about four weeks,” Mars says, perhaps a little skeptical. “I hope that it works. I feel like I’m throwing a party and whenever I do that I always worry no one will show up.”

Based on the sweat he’s put into developing his core following, it’s a good bet the play will pay off. And besides, it’s a better bet than blackjack.

 

  • For more information on Charlie Mars, visit www.charliemars.com.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*