CHARLES BROWN
Various Tracks
(Bongo Boy Records)

 

One of the finest, though lesser known recording guitarists in the world today, Charles Brown has long been on the musical radar among guitar instrumental fans. Although his repertoire of album releases goes back to the early 2000’s, Charles recent solo albums, Explorer Of Life (2017) and Wind Of The Eastern Sea (2016) both captured the imagination of instrumental fans partial to both rock and heavy metal guitar. Several new recordings by Charles have also found their way onto recent various artist collections from the New Jersey based Bongo Boy Records. Underscoring the album's greatness, the title track from Explorer Of Life is another featured song on the Bongo Boy collection called Raw & Reckless Rock Bands Volume Two. Looking back on that track, Charles tells mwe3.com, “Explorer Of Life” is a combination of guitar synth, along with acoustic and electric guitars. Although I’m primarily a guitarist, I’ve dabbled on drums through the years. I have a Roland electronic kit but it has some great sounding natural and rosewood drum patches. The hardest part of that song was the altered meters. I believe Steve Espinosa did mainly keyboard pads, but we did his parts through trading files back and forth, and then putting those parts into Pro Tools. I really like how “Explorer Of Life” came out, and would like to do more music in that type of progressive vein.” Although most of the other artists on the above mentioned various Bongo Boy compilations are rock vocals, it’s to the label’s credit that they stretch the envelope to bring the art of Charles’ instrumental music to the further attention of heavy rock audiences. The exception here is the Bongo Boy compilation Escape The Mind: New Age Compilation Volume 1, which features a collection of purely instrumental meditative and sometimes jazzy tracks, with one of the tracks featuring Charles’ “Maroon Highlands”, which unlike the more recent tracks, goes all the way back to his Mystics album from 2000. As Charles states in the following discussion of his Bongo Boy albums, he’s quite eager to get back on track and release new music, while also casting an eye back on his earlier music, which clearly deserves a wider audience. www.bongoboyrecords.com

 





mwe3.com presents a new interview with
CHARLES BROWN
The Bongo Boy Tracks Interview


mwe3
: How did you meet up with Monique at Bongo Boy and how many compilation albums have you worked on with Bongo Boy? Did you have a set parameter as to what kind of music you would contribute to their various multi-artist compilations? Were the tracks newly recorded or previously released on various solo albums?

Charles Brown: I came across Monique and Bongo Boy on Facebook. They were taking submissions for an open genre compilation album, so I submitted my track “Explorer Of Life”, title track from my CD of the same name). I’ve been involved on 3 or 4 of their other compilations. All the Bongo Boy tracks are new except "Maroon Highlands" and "Explorer of Life".

mwe3: One of your early classics, “Maroon Highlands” is reintroduced on the 2017 CD release of Escape The Mind, which is essentially a New Age type acoustic track. What instruments and guitars are you playing on “Maroon Highlands” and did you set out to create a kind of peaceful New Age type instrumental? That Bongo Boy collection has some other cool artists on it as well.

Charles Brown: Yes, “Maroon Highlands” is in a New Age type vein. It’s done with acoustic guitar in open D tuning, with guitar synth pads and textures. There are some really good artists on that release. I like all of it.

mwe3: Track 10 from the Emidio’s Rock Den Vol.1, your song “Ride Or Die” is close to being a heavy metal track, yet it retains your prog-instrumental kind of sound. How does that track fit into the Emidio’s Vol. 1 CD sampler on Bongo Boy? It almost sounds like a commercial for Harley Davidson. (lol) Is that why you connected it to the “Ride Or Die” idea? Do you have any other favorite artists on that 15 cut sampler album?

Charles Brown: The phrase “Ride or Die” is from the Fast & Furious movies. I wanted to do kind of a Judas Priest ultra heavy riff, but I used my main Strat for the solo to get kind of a Ritchie Blackmore / Yngwie Malmsteen staccato effect. That release has some great stuff also. One of the standouts is Angeles. They’re really good, and they’ve even opened for some big name metal and hard rock acts.

mwe3: I was glad Bongo Boy selected your track “Explorer Of Life” for their 2017 Raw & Reckless Rock Bands Vol. 2 CD. The track was the title track for your 2017 CD Explorer Of Life and it is still one of your best tracks. How many guitars are you playing on that? Your guitar work and drumming is amazing. Was it difficult playing the other instruments, especially the drums, on that track and tell us about working with keyboardist Steve Espinosa on that track and album as well. Is that the style you’re planning on further exploring on further tracks and future albums?

Charles Brown: “Explorer Of Life” is a combination of guitar synth, along with acoustic and electric guitars. Although I’m primarily a guitarist, I’ve dabbled on drums through the years. I have a Roland electronic kit but it has some great sounding natural and rosewood drum patches. The hardest part of that song was the altered meters. I believe Steve Espinosa did mainly keyboard pads, but we did his parts through trading files back and forth, and then putting those parts into Pro Tools. I really like how “Explorer Of Life” came out, and would like to do more music in that type of progressive vein.

mwe3: Your track on the 2019 CD release of Emidio’s Rock Den Vol. 2 is “Rock Solid”. Is that another heavy metal style track? You do that style quite well and are you planning to include it on another future album release? It sounds very current and it’s one of your best tracks.

Charles Brown: I had been listening to a lot of Robin Trower when I came up with that one. It has kind of a Trower / Hendrix groove. The guitar tracks are pretty straight ahead just using Marshall amps, but there is an acoustic section in the middle that was influenced by Pat Metheny. I would most likely consider featuring this on any future releases.

mwe3: I hardly hear you playing instrumental style blues but on “Dustin’ My Broom”, you do it well on Backroom Blues Volume 6 released by Bongo Boy in 2018. Does that track allow you to pay tribute to your blues and rock influences like Peter Green and Richie Blackmore, for example? Slide guitar too and there’s some tight soloing on it so it’s definitely you!

Charles Brown: “Dustin’ My Broom” is a pretty straight ahead boogie type riff in the style of Savoy Brown or ZZ Top. I put an intro to it that features slide guitar in Open E tuning, somewhat reminiscent of Elmore James or Muddy Waters. The soloing definitely gets some Ritchie Blackmore type stuff thrown in!

mwe3: The Bongo Boy Christmas album Let’s Have A Rockin’ Christmas, from 2017, features your cover of the perennial favorite “Greensleeves”. Was that track released before on one of your early albums? Now I can’t remember when you first recorded and when it came out. Was it rerecorded for Bongo Boy’s Christmas collection and can you give us some history on your recording that track? Sounds you have some bells on that track.

Charles Brown: “Greensleeves” has never appeared on any of my other CDs. It was done as part of a Christmas compilation album I did with some people I knew when I was part of Comcast. When Bongo Boy was looking for submissions on their Christmas album, I decided to submit “Greensleeves”. It features classical guitar and guitar synth. My keyboard partner, Steve Espinosa added the bells.

mwe3: So now with your contributions to these six different Bongo Boy albums, you must be itching to get another solo album out at some point or perhaps that best-of Charles Brown collection we spoke about a couple years back. Is there any other recent news on your music in 2019?

Charles Brown: Maybe I might be able to try to get another solo release out at some point… maybe a combination of favorites from past releases and some new material. Currently, I’m involved with The Substitutes, which is a Who tribute band in Denver. I’m covering the acoustic guitar parts on Quadrophenia, as well as various other acoustic parts in the more well-known Who songs. They have shows through the rest of the summer and into the fall, so there’s not much time right now to work on my own stuff, but hopefully I can get something done at some point!



 

 
   
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