The Blue Light Chronicles: Charlie Shafter Band
The Charlie Shafter band are almost considered locals here in Lubbock even though they're originally from Minnesota. Shafter started playing at The Blue Light when he was as young as 16 and continues to love playing here in Lubbock especially at The Blue Light. I had the chance to catch up and chat with Charlie at The Blue Light before his show, Sept. 17. We talked about who his biggest influences in life and music, what he enjoys doing when he's not on stage or on tour, and even the secret behind his bass players eccentric name.
Where did the Gnomes part come from?
It kind of doesn’t exist anymore. They told me I needed to have a band name. Now, the band name changes every two weeks or so. I think it’s the junior shape shifters right now
Really? Where did that come from?
I don’t know; you’ll have to ask them. I have my name and they just make up whatever.
How long have you been playing with this group?
With this current lineup we haven’t been playing together very long at all, maybe two months, but with the bass, drummer and guitar player I’ve been playing with for about a year.
You list your bass player as “Starfire,” is that his real name?
Well I don’t think I can divulge that information. That is his real name now.
He’s got to have a real name.
He does have a real name, but I think Starfire has become his “new” real name. His full real name is actually, Starfire on the Mountain.
How does playing here in Texas differ or compare to playing back home or up north in general?
You can make a living… sort of. [Ha-ha] You have a better shot of it. Texas has its own scene and it’s very well taken care of. I guess as far as the community and fans. The fans are more consistent.
Do you enjoy coming to play here in Lubbock and at The Blue Light?
I love playing here at the Blue Light. This is where I first started playing in Texas, here and Amarillo. My first gig at The Blue light, I was 15 or 16 years old, and now I’m 26 so I’ve been playing here almost ten years.
Is the Blue Light your favorite venue to play at in Lubbock?
Oh yea, by far!
Are all your songs written from experience?
Sort of. I mean, I just sit down with the guitar and I start playing and it just comes. I don’t know where it comes from. It comes from somewhere, but I don’t struggle to write.
Who does the writing?
Starfire writes a little bit himself, but the stuff we play on set are mostly my tunes.
Who are your biggest influences in life?
My parents. Really, just people that are close to me. A lot of people say they have big influences in life from people they’ve never met and I think that’s kind of absurd. So really, for me, it’s just my friends and family.
Who are your biggest influences in music?
Bob Dylan definitely, since I was a little kid. Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Townes Van Zandt.
Who are your biggest influences in Texas country?
The people who started Texas Country or, what has become of Texas Country: Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, The Flatlanders and Joe Ely. I love all those guys, so I gravitate towards those more than anything else
When is your new album coming out?
It should be coming out around January.
What’s the name of it?
I don’t know yet. That’s still one of the things I have to figure out. It might just be self-titled.
Is it like the kind of music you’ve released so far?
It’s different. It’s more laid back and not as rocking as we used to do. I guess I’m getting older.
When you have a break in between gigs, what do you enjoy doing?
I like bowling; I like to sit at home and do nothing or drink some red wine. I don’t like to go to the bars when I’m not playing because that’s my job to play in bars.
Who’s the comedian in the band?
Oh everybody. Besides me, that’s not my biggest strength in the group, but I think that everybody is really funny and we all get along. We have a lot of fun.
So the only bio I could find on y’all said something about how you were “ant farmers” and started the band because of the deep connection you all had with the 1980‘s. What’s that about?
It’s bullsh*t. People kept telling me I needed to make a bio so I made this completely fake one and now it continues to come back and bite me in the ass.
So none of the bio online is true?
None of it’s true! It was more for entertainment
Where has been your favorite venue to play at?
Some of my most memorable shows have been here at The Blue Light. A lot of them actually because it’s just one of the coolest places I’ve played. The Granada was cool; I opened up for Flatlanders once there. I’ve opened up for Leon Russell which was really cool because I’ve been listening to him since I was born. I just opened up for Chris Isaac a little while back and that was a lot of fun. There are a lot of memorable shows, but some of the best ones are the ones you don’t remember very well, and a lot of those have happened here at Blue Light [Ha-ha].
When do you come back to Lubbock next?
I think we’re doing the festival here sometime. I don’t know when that is, but I don’t even know where I am next week. I know that I’m going to Florida on vacation in a couple weeks. I’ll be there but not in working capacity [Ha-ha].