Best Blues Artist
Charlie Parr is the real deal. A Duluthian through and through, he's about as unpretentious as they come. Climbing up on stage dressed in a flannel shirt, carpenter's pants, and work boots, he wields his steel-stringed guitar like it's an extension of his body, effortlessly gliding over the frets with a slide and letting it reverberate before trading it for a banjo or a 12-string. Sometimes when he plays he's accompanied by an unassuming young lad who looks like he's been plucked straight from the ore mines on the Iron Range, who clangs on train spikes and steel bars while Parr sings and strums. And while Parr's guitar playing is technically complex and seemlingly effortless, it's his voice—a blues howl with a soft side, which can climb up from a sweet moan into a loud bellow at a moment's notice—that accentuates the stark, sad nature of his songs, painting vivid portraits through lyrics about loneliness, the devil, and making things right with the Lord.