MEET THE BAND: Charles Hill Jr. (vocals, guitar)
FOR THE LOVE OF A BYGONE ERA: Hill grew up in Lorain but, since his grandparents came from Kentucky, he listened to plenty of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and George Jones. He played drums in a punk rock band before beginning to write songs that sound like they're from that bygone era of early country music. His debut, 2014's Shootin' Man, is a terrific collection of tunes that sound like they came out of a different decade.
AN OLD SCHOOL APPROACH: After recording Shootin' Man in a conventional studio, Hill wanted to mix things up for his next recording, so he hooked up with local musician and mastering engineer Clint Holley. "We recorded in Clint's living room," says Hill. "We just wanted to test his equipment out." Holley recorded straight to lacquer with no overdubs, multi-tracking or mixing. "It was nerve-wracking," says Hill. "I was recording solo into a diaphragm condenser mic, playing Clint's 1930s Gibson. You could feel the history when you picked it up. Clint was brushing acetate dust off the lacquer as I was playing. You can't rewind on that shit." The resulting recordings of "Little Buddy" and "If I Could Only Fly" will be released in a limited edition of 25 hand-made pressings on Wax Mage Records with additional copies to follow on Stow House Records. Hill plans to test out more new songs as he plays regionally this fall. Once the songs have been sufficiently road-tested, he'll re-assemble his band to record the followup to Shootin' Man. "I've been working on the new tunes and tooling around with them as a trio and getting the arrangements together," he says. "I'll throw in more guitars and drums when we get to the studio."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: An acoustic ballad, "Little Buddy" features Hill's supple vocals as he sings the lullaby about his niece." "She was born that July and I had written that song after her first Christmas," he explains, adding that he originally intended to write the tune about the late Ken Janssen, the local musician who passed away in 2015.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: charleshilljr.bandcamp.com
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: Charles Hill Jr. performs with Clint Holley and the Luckey Ones at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, at Survival Kit. — Jeff Niesel