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Progressive Rock Interviews

Charles Brown

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Charles Brown from 2015

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

I've been playing guitar since around ten years old. I spent the 80s and 90s playing in various bands that played around the Denver and Colorado area, and also did time on the road throughout South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona. Also during the 90s I went to the University of Colorado and studied Guitar and Audio Engineering. I even worked at the Aspen Music Festival as a recording engineer with International Classical artists.

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

I enjoy hiking and being in the mountains, so probably something that involves the outdoors
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
I'm influenced and inspired by many of the classic rock, and progressive musicians such as:  Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple/Rainbow, Pat Metheny, Pete Townshend, Marillion, and even classical guitar players like Christopher Parkening, and jazz and blues players like George Benson and Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
When I'm not doing solo projects, I'm involved with the Band YARROW ( They do blues and classic rock.  We're working on some more recording to put up at the web site, and some gigs here and there.  For my next CD, I think it will be more of a collection of various styles.  It will have a few progressive things, but also some heavier rock, and even a little jazz, and even something country and there might also be a funk thing!  It will be similar to my very first CD Mystics - kind of coming full circle!
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
It's instrumental, guitar based hard rock and progressive riffs, with guitar synth melodies, and acoustic and classical elements and textures. It definitely falls in the progressive rock genre, along the same lines as Rush, Dream Theater, etcetera.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
I'd like to do more work with people I've played with previously on my solo projects such as keyboardist Matt Bassano. He's an incredible progressive rock player, and the guys from YARROW help me out as well: Chris Crisman on drums, Bill Boerder on guitar, and Jerry Byers on slide guitar and percussion.

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

These days, because of downloading, musicians don't really make much money from CD and album sales, because people don't usually download a full CD, just a few songs they might like.  But, downloading can help get your music out to a larger number of people, so it can be kind of a good thing from that standpoint.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
It's kind of the same thing as downloading.  It can help get your music out to more people, but, there's not a lot of money you make from CDs and recorded works.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Let's see, Alice Cooper! Ha!  He's always been one of the "evil" guys in rock!  But, he always has a great band, and he does a great show!
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
It would probably be comprised of my favorite players:  Ritchie Blackmore, Pete Townshend, the guys from Dream Theater and Marillion.  It would be great to see Pat Metheny and George Benson play together!
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Again, it would be my favorites: Deep Purple, The Who. If they were still around, I would include The Outlaws (Southern rock band from the 70s) I saw them back in their hey day, and they were ultra high energy and great playing!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I just picked up a DVD of Deep Purple at the Wacken Festival in Germany from last year - really good! They're showing that us "older" guys can still deliver the goods!  I also have been listening to the most recent CD Pat Metheny did called "Kin.”  That one has great melodies and sound textures. And for a change of pace I was recently listening to the L.A. Guitar Quartet doing the Brandenburg Concertos by J.S.Bach.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I've been re-reading Into Thin Air about the Mount Everest disaster. I saw the movie Everest recently, so that inspired me to read the book again. I've also been reading one: Before This Decade is Out which is a collection of memoirs from people who worked in the Apollo space program.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I saw Savoy Brown recently (British Blues from the 60s and 70s). I've always liked their guitarist, Kim Simmonds. Also, not too far back I saw Jeff Beck and ZZ Top.  I also have tickets for The WHO, but that's been re-scheduled for March of this coming spring.

Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"

I dug out "Straight Outta Compton" by NWA the other day.  That movie just came out recently, so it was like a blast from the past!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
There's been way too many to remember just one!  Mostly just the usual things like breaking strings during a gig, or having my wireless system crap out in the middle of a song.  I have had the same thing happen as in the movie where weird radio stuff was getting picked up by the wireless system!

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Wow! There's so many to think about. One would be Neil Armstrong. It would be interesting to see what it was like to be the first human to set foot on another world beyond Earth, and the dangers they faced. Two. would be Les Paul. He invented multitrack recording, so it would be neat to discuss how music and recording technology have evolved over the years.  Three would be Ian Gillan of Deep Purple to lighten things up with his crazy sense of humour!  He could tell story after story of all the wild things he's seen and done over the years.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
I hope they might like Asian food: Chinese Dim Sum, Szechuan cuisine, and Thai food.

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Thanks for letting me share my music (which is available at and thanks for supporting independent musicians!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at
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