Red Deer musician Charlie Jacobson is gearing up for a particularly busy few days during the holidays, as he performs New Year’s Eve at the Springbrook multiplex and New Year’s Day and Jan. 2nd at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.
Jacobson, an accomplished musician and songwriter, serves up tunes that span a number of genres from blues and funk to rock and R&B.
At 23, he is equally competent entertaining as a solo singer songwriter at a house concert or folk festival, or fronting his blues-rock band.
Jacobson was exposed early to diverse styles as a child, attending folk festivals, rock shows, musical theatre, community classical, jazz and bluegrass concerts and sleeping above rehearsals of his parents’ rhythm and blues and folk bands.
Over the last few years, he has played hundreds of shows across the Canadian prairies and back and forth over the Rockies. With his guitar and suitcase drums always packed in the car, his nomadic lifestyle takes him to shows ranging from music festivals, house concerts, large blues clubs to community halls and theatres.
You might see him fronting the four-piece Charlie Jacobson Band or recreating that full sound on his own, playing his suitcase drums with his heels, ripping on the guitar, singing and dancing.
Jacobson released his solo debut EP Live from the Chop Bin in 2013. He just released his first full length project self-titled album The Charlie Jacobson Band earlier this year.
Meanwhile, his success at such a young age isn’t surprising given the fact he comes from talented stock to be sure. As mentioned, his parents – Bruce Jacobson and Teresa Neuman – are both musicians as well.
“This is really a family business, so I’ve been performing onstage since I was about four or five years old,” he said during a recent chat from Nelson, B.C. “So really, I’ve been breathing music since I was a baby,” he said.
“Ever since I was born, they’ve been rehearsing and writing and working around the house as musicians,” he added of his folks. “And as a child, I always felt I was a musician,” he notes with a laugh. Over the years as a youth, he studied piano and guitar – largely self-taught and taught by his parents as well. He also started taking fiddle lessons at age seven.
“I started playing music for about four to five hours a day – really early on in my life,” he explains, adding that he wasn’t much into reading or playing video games. It was pretty much all about the music – even during those formative years.
“I basically just plunked away at musical instruments all around the house.”
Into his teens, he gravitated towards rock artists, and he realized at the time there was plenty of versatility in terms of the kinds of music he could explore. “Finally, guitar became – in the end – a main tool for expressing myself.”
He also stated singing at some point in there, too, although he had been singing since he was a kid in the family band.
But an emphasis on vocals surfaced as he started forming bands with his friends in high school.
“We would always be getting together and we could never find a singer it seemed,” he said. “More specifically, we couldn’t find a singer that we could deal with being around,” he added with a laugh.
“I realized that I wasn’t the greatest singer in the he world, but I had been singing my whole life. So I just decided to step up,” he said of those teen years. And as his skills grew, he became increasingly fascinated with the blues genre. But during those years he was also pretty fascinated by sports, with an eye on professional hockey.
Music would come after, perhaps.
But playing and practice took its toll.
“By the time I was 18, my body was so banged up by sports that I didn’t have a choice – and I’ve been a full-time musician since.”
Meanwhile, Charlie has been cutting his teeth as the guitarist for some of Canada’s most well-respected blues acts including Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne, Russell Jackson and Donald Ray Johnson.
“Kenny has been a big influence on me in the last couple of years – he first hired me to perform with him for a weekend at Fratters and the Calgary Blues Festival,” he said, adding future collaborations are also in the works including Charlie playing on Wayne’s next recording.
“So he’s been a huge influence on me – I’ve studied not only his music but also the way he presents himself. And how he treats people – he’s a real ‘people’ person,” he said.
”I find that all of the musicians I look up to are very respectful, and it shines through in their music.”
For more information about his coming dates, find Charlie on facebook or visit www.charliejacobson.com.