Trail Mix – Wes Charlton

The spotlight found Virginia-born singer/songwriter Wes Charlton early.

Barely a twenty-something, Charlton’s debut solo record, 2005’s American Bittersweet, led to licensing agreements with film and television companies and his music spread to the masses. A move to Nashville followed and Charlton made his mark in the Music City before Virginia called him back home.

Now a dad – Wes and his wife have three kids – Charlton returns with third long player, Morning Stars. Charlton extends his streak of well crafted Americana rock and roll on this latest collection of songs.

I am not surprised that Charlton’s songcraft resonates with me. I have spent the morning preparing this post and digging into his early catalog, cruising through both American Bittersweet and his second record, World On Fire, and his writing distinctly reminds me of so many of Charlton’s contemporaries that played the Eastern Virginia college circuit between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

I always appreciate an artist that brings to mind my younger days.

I recently caught up with Wes to chat about the new record, the morning stars, and raising kids up right in a musical household.

BRO – Considering the title of the record, are you a stargazer?

WC – I live in rural Virginia, so there’s less light pollution and stars are bright. This also creates a sense of yearning for home, as well as a way to find your way back to what really matters.

BRO – Which transition brought more trepidation – Virginia to Nashville or vice versa?

WC – I don’t think there was any trepidation either time. I loved, and still love, Nashville and consider it a second home. Virginia, though, will always be part of me.

BRO – We are featuring “Comeback Kid” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?

WC – This is a song that sort of wrote itself and the story just kind of came to me. In short, it’s about two childhood friends growing up together and them one of them disappears, leaving the other friend wondering where he went and what he’s doing. The missing friend then returns as a suicide bomber.

BRO – I know you are a father of three. How do you go about sharing music – yours and that of others – with your kids?

WC – My house is littered with instruments, both regular and “kids” instruments. My oldest daughter, five year old Nora, has already started writing songs with me. I think she’s the better lyricist. It’s just in the air in our house. I also try out new songs on them. If they dance or bop their heads, I know I’m on to something. A while ago, they were really into The Wiggles, specifically a song called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Preschool” that sounded just like The Ramones’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” I tried to slip “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” on the car stereo, but they didn’t go for it.

BRO – For better or worse, got a kids’ song that you can’t get our of your head?

WC – Rock ‘n’ Roll Preschool.”

Listeners beware . . . . . That Wiggles’ tune is a legit ear worm. Share with your children at your own peril!

Late September and October find Wes Charlton on the road with shows in NYC and around Virginia and Tennessee. For more information on Morning Stars or when Wes will take to a stage near you, please check out his website.

In the meantime, be sure to check out “Comeback Kid,” along with brand new tracks from Sammy Brue, Mandy Barnett, and Benjamin Jason Douglas on this month’s Trail Mix.