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Charlie Schmidt

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Charlie Schmidt was a contemporary of his friend and mentor, the late John Fahey, and his own personal universe collided with the master of the acoustic steel string in a very interesting and bemusing manner. Schmidt befriended Fahey as a young man, after meeting him backstage at a performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981. Ever the iconoclast, Fahey vigorously encouraged Schmidt to follow his own musical path and discover his own voice. It came to pass, in the early 1990’s, that Fahey was requested to re-record his second album Vol. II: Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes for re-release. As a ruse, Fahey had Schmidt record all of the songs ostensibly as Fahey himself! In order to be compensated, four new “bonus” tracks were included, which happened to be Charlie Schmidt originals. The project was shelved; fast-forward to 2004, three years after Fahey’s death, and the release of The Best of Fahey Vol. II on Fantasy. Included were three titles billed as previously unreleased, newly uncovered Fahey gems. Lo and behold these are actually Schmidt’s performances, and one of the pieces is a Schmidt composition that Fahey admired (“Hyattsville Anti-Inertia Dance”). Bewildering to be sure, but the point is clear: Charlie Schmidt is a fantastic talent of the steel string guitar, and the time is nigh for the world to hear and experience this very well-kept secret.

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