Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Music · TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE LOESEL
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TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE LOESEL

Patrick Ivory - November 22nd, 2010
Travels with Charlie :Singer/songwriter brings songs of the road back home
By Pat Ivory
It’s been a long trip for singer/songwriter Charlie Loesel, from playing next to the salad bar at Blondie’s roadhouse diner out on Chum’s Corner in Traverse City years ago, to releasing his own recording with session musicians from bands that backed Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Paul Simon.
Loesel, who now lives in Seattle, will make it a full circle with a homecoming performance as Sleder’s Tavern in TC on Sunday, November 28, at 4 p.m.
Loesel grew up in Traverse City and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in electrical engineering. After working a couple of years as a computer programmer in Chicago, he joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Africa.
When Loesel returned he got a job working as recording engineer for Sony Classical in New York City. It involved recording symphonies with people like Wynton Marsalis and Yo Yo Ma at the Lincoln Center.
“Being around some great musicians, I realized I wanted to set my compass for something in music,” Loesel says. “And it wasn’t being a recording engineer for 20 years. I really wanted to perform. I lived in West Africa with the Peace Corps with essentially nothing, and I was just as happy. I realized the most important thing to do is what I have passion for.”

HEADING HOME
When the recording job ended in New York City, Loesel then moved back to Traverse City and started taking lessons from local jazz pro Ron Getz. Loesel explored a wide variety of musical styles. In addition to his initial gig at Blondie’s, he played jazz at Windows Restaurant and Chateau Chantal. He also started a Celtic band called Smash the Windows and played in blues and rock bands at Lil’ Bo and Union Street Station.
Loesel had a clearer sense of direction after he attended a master class taught by guitarist extraordinaire Leo Kottke at Northwestern Michigan College.
“He played so wonderfully and was so damn funny,” Loesel recalls. “He wasn’t too sappy, he wasn’t asking too much of the audience. He was the first person I had seen doing a singer/songwriter thing that I wanted to emulate.”
After developing considerable chops on the guitar in a short period of time, Loesel began playing and moving all over the country in his Volkswagen Westfalia van. Over a six-year period he played over 150 shows a year. He spent a year in Virginia, and a few months in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,Austin and Nashville along the way. He eventually settled down in Seattle in 2002 where he is now married and has an eight-month-old son.
In Seattle, Loesel continued to perform regularly, but wanted to move beyond playing cover songs at bars and restaurants and began recording his own music.
“I’d like to play 80 to 100 concert shows a year,” Loesel says. “I began to see the key was to have a CD to promote.”

TEAM EFFORT
Through a friend from his days at Sony Classical, the recording process took Loesel back to New York City. There Loesel worked with producer Alan Zahn, who brought in several top-notch session players such as Larry Campbell of Bob Dylan’s band on Dobro and fiddle and Clifford Carter from James Taylor’s band on the B-3 organ to round out the sound.
The CD “Westfalia” includes songs written when Loesel was traveling across the country in the VW van that it is named after. The titles of the songs, “Jack Daniels and Johnny Cash,” “Nothing to Lose” and “Too Late to Die Young” might give the impression that is a country/folky recording. The sound though, with artfully arranged horns and keyboard fills is more akin to urban folk rockers such as Lyle Lovett and Ray LaMontagne.
Early on, Loesel remembers being on the road and imagining his triumphant return to his hometown. He now sounds more like an established performer in town to visit his family and play a show.
“The last two or three years there has been a more settled feel with the music,” Loesel says. “When I left town 12 years ago, I played cover songs and a few of my own. The show I’ll do at Sleder’s will be all my own material.”
 
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