Charlie Shafter

Charlie Shafter
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Sometimes you encounter a musical artist for a first time and find yourself experiencing a warm sense of déjà vu – not a feeling that you’ve heard it all before, but a feeling that you’ve reunited with a person you’ve known for ages, someone with whom you share a connection. That’s the vibe conjured up by Charlie Shafter, a young singer-songwriter with an old soul – and a knack for forging a connection with just about anyone who crosses paths with his songs.

On his self-titled debut album, the 26-year-old Shafter weaves ten richly-toned tales that recall iconic writers such as Townes Van Zandt and Elliott Smith, songs that range into acoustic blues and the grittier side of country-rock on a panoramic trek through blue-highway Americana. Shafter doesn’t write songs that grab you by the lapel and shake you into listening; they’re more likely to throw an arm around you and whisper their way into your consciousness. 

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a songwriter,” he says. “When I was a little kid, I’d listen to my parents’ records and they were mostly singer-songwriter type things. Those really made me appreciate what a good song was all about and made me want to do that – to write songs people would really be moved by.”

He succeeds in a big way on his debut. Buoyed by his affably gritty vocals and his warm, enveloping guitar tone, songs like “Sea Wall” and “Actor” wash over the listener, leaving a strong, sensual imprint long after their last notes resound. He takes a more direct approach on other tracks, like the gently finger-picked “Drunk on Desire” – which underscores the song’s hopeful plea for love – and a little bit of lustfulness on the side – with its playful melody.

On the other end of the sonic spectrum, “Dog on a Chain”(co-written with Ray Wylie Hubbard, who also lent his production talents to the project) finds Shafter mining the deeper end of both his vocal and emotive range in order to drive home the dark tones of the slide-and-organ laced bluesiness. That tune, a travelogue of cultural touchstones and sonic landmarks, finds him weaving down the dirt roads of memory, creating a picture that’s at once vivid and surreal.

“I hardly ever write an entire song about one thing,” he says. “I know what it all means, but when you look at it, it’s more like a collage than a picture. I can be writing a love song, but then throw in something that’s actually about my grandfather. I guess I like to let people fill in the blanks themselves – sometimes I can’t even do that for a couple years after I write a song.”

Shafter has had some time to fill in those blanks. While he’s lived in Texas for several years, Shafter actually cut his musical teeth in his home state of Illinois, first in cover bands specializing in standard fare like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, then gradually pushing the envelope by exploring the corners of his record collection – artists like Leon Russell and Tom Waits (both of which can be heard lurking in the corners of Shafter’s own compositions). He also came to appreciate the sounds of the Lone Star State – particularly smart, hard-scrabble artists like Hubbard, who’s emerged as something of a mentor.

“I moved down here after high school because my brother in law had a band down here and it was the only place I’d ever heard of where you could actually make a living playing the music you wanted to play,” he says. “I never wrote a song about Texas or being a Texan and I probably never will –– but it’s had a profound effect, for sure. Just seeing these guys and how much they know about music, all kinds of music, not just the stuff you might think at first glance, that’s been really inspiring.”

That inspiration can be heard throughout the disc. Yes, you can feel the rich earth of the hill country rising up through some of its darker grooves, but there’s also a sense of light-heartedness that comes with the troubadour’s territory – like “Big Debut,” which calls to mind “Big Rock Candy Mountain” in its jaunty delivery of a message that’s deeper than one might think at first listen. Each of the album’s ten tracks, in fact, reveals new facets with repeated spins – something that can probably be attributed to Shafter’s stated desire to make a mark more than a paycheck.

“Most of the songs come out of a struggle, really. I think anything hard to do is indicative of something that will last,” he says. “I don’t necessarily see my songs as something that will make money, but I see them as steps on a road that will last, potentially, my entire life. I want to write songs that I will be happy playing when I am 60, not songs I’ll look at it five years and say ‘what was I thinking?’”

Date Venue City State Note
No Tour Dates Available
09/11/2008 - Charlie Shafter and The Gnomes to be at Rockin’ S - Read More
08/23/2008 - Texas ‘folk rock’ band to perform tonight - Read More
07/06/2007 - Charlie Shafter brings folksy sounds to San Angelo - Read More
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Average Rating : 4.9              Total Reviews: 33

Charlie Shafter   12/22/2020            
Rene' West
Music that is Alive and comforts the Soul! Charlie Shafter has a sound that reverberates your senses. This Awesome Band brings back Old times with modern acoustics giving you a CD you can listen to over and over again. His Music.. is The perfect gift for anyone.
Charlie Shafter   09/18/2012            
Lyrics beyone belief. This is an album. Paints pictures with words! Phenonomally well done.
Charlie Shafter   02/21/2011            
saw them a Wet Willie's last weekend. They sound great live too! Just Solid. Can't wait to see what Ray Wilie is going to do with them.
Charlie Shafter   02/24/2010            
Anything on the live cd? I noticed that their site is down also...
Charlie Shafter   06/07/2009            
17th & Chicago is an awesome cd all the way through....very talented band and they put on a great live show!
Charlie Shafter   05/31/2009            
definitley in the top 5 best bands in texas... great songwriting, catchy tunes, and old souls... awesome...
Charlie Shafter   05/02/2009            
Do yourself a favor and don't leave this website without buying this album. What a fresh breath! Kind of expected more songs of the likes of Big city baby, which is awesome in it's own right, but was pleasantly surprised to get some real good soul soothing tunes in there! Very good Music!
Charlie Shafter   04/30/2009            
clay wilson
im fn obsessed with these guys, if really enjoy independent music get your butt out there and get this one. so much soul and truth in what they are doing...
Charlie Shafter   04/11/2009            
I was with the wheelchair lady out in Gruene Tx and we got to see the Charlie Shaftner Band. This band is fantastic! Go see them if you get a chance! You won't be disappointed, they do a great live show.
Charlie Shafter   04/11/2009            
Val ( The lady in the wheelchair un Gruene)
I sat upfriont waitng for Leon Russel to begin and Charlie and his band was the opening act. It didn;t take me long to realize that I enjoyed them ever so much then the legend I went to see play. I see great things for these young men. They play in a style that is seems beyond their years. It's hard to think they are from outside Texas. The bass player reminds me of an Austin"ite". The drummer really gets into his drums. The lead singer is someone I would just like to put in a box and keep all mine forever, he has a wonderful voice. The lead guitarist was awesome! All in all I would classify them a 5 star band!
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