Local Musician Prepares for Record Store Day

Record Store Day will impress even the pickiest music enthusiasts. Record stores in Broad Ripple, Irvington, and Fountain Square will celebrate 10 years of Record Store Day by offering special limited edition vinyl releases, special novelty items, and also live music performances.

NUVO award winning jazz guitarist Charlie Ballantine of The Charlie Ballantine Group will be one of the musicians playing at the event.

Charlie Ballantine performing. (Photo by Hapless Guitar Photography)

Charlie Ballantine performing. (Photo by Hapless Guitar Photography)

“As a guitarist, Ballantine commands with quiet certainty, as a composer he invites close attention,” said NUVO writer Rita Kohn in a review of Ballantine’s most recent album, Providence.

Ballantine sits earnestly at  Monon Coffee Co., tugging at his beard between sips of his Americano, and talks about his music. After being offered the opportunity to play at the all-new Square Cat Vinyl’s Record Store Day event, Ballantine began thinking of what he might play for this diverse audience. With influences that span from jazz, folk, rock and blues, he considers his genre to be “folk fusion.”

“I think everyone kind of assumes they’re going to hear some Nat King Cole style jazz,” he said, “but I like to think I have just as much Jimi Hendrix in my sound as I do Wes Montgomery or Miles Davis. It’s hard to explain because in my head it’s a culmination of thousands of things I’ve listened to.”

Entering the Indy jazz scene shortly after graduating from the Jacobs School’s jazz program, Ballantine credits his success to knowing local jazz giants such as The Tucker Brothers, a group fronted by guitarist Joel Tucker and bassist Nick Tucker. To meet fellow local talent, he also frequented the Chatterbox Jazz Club often in the beginning of his career, a venue where he now plays every second Friday.

With his self-proclaimed “crappy” music charts he writes out for himself for his live performances, Ballantine admits that he and his band don’t practice a lot before they perform shows, nor do they write out set lists. He believes largely in the improvisation element of jazz, and follows actress Tina Fey’s rule of improvisation: agree with everything, all the time. Using this rule, Ballantine finds it easy to follow other musicians effortlessly.

This is a rule that Ballantine followed closely while recording his new album Where Is My Mind, expected to drop in July. The album is named after a cover his band does of the Pixies’ song of the same name. Along with following the “agree with everything” mantra, Ballantine also began yearning for what he calls “unorthodox” song techniques, crediting artists like Sun Kil Moon.

“I started to notice that I got locked into four bar phrases, or two bar phrases. If you turn on the radio, you’ll hear a similar format,” he said. “So writing things in three bar phrases or six bar phrases was something I challenged myself to do on this album.”

Ballantine’s approach to writing a new song varies depending on the circumstances. He credits the inspiration for his recent work on his new album to listening to bands like The War on Drugs, and other non-jazz influences. He says it’s helped him to break out of certain familiar patterns and open up different avenues in songwriting.

Soon after Where Is My Mind is officially released, Ballantine and the band will embark on their semi-regional tour, with stops in Evansville, Cincinnati, South Bend, Chicago and Milwaukee. There will also be a few Indy dates on this list, much to Ballantine’s relief. After stopping in Washington D.C. during their last tour, Ballantine says that he much prefers keeping the tour closer to home.

“Being away from your house for like nine days in a row with no break is kind of a drag,” he said. “I prefer this, where we might have a date when we can play in Cincinnati and then drive to Indy to sleep, then continue with the tour the next night.”

At the Square Cat Vinyl show, Ballantine plans to play the hits from his already established catalogue for the first half of his hour set, and to play his newer music for the second half of the set.  However, he plans not to reveal too much of the newer album just yet. He wants to save some unheard songs for the official album release show, which is to be announced soon.

Excited for the big deals, Ballantine hopes to arrive early before his set to Square Cat Vinyl on April 22 to claim his big Record Store Day purchase – a limited supply Star Wars record player.