Local musician finds re-recorded songs rewarding

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Sep. 27, 2013
Vernon musician Charles Godfrey
Vernon musician Charles Godfrey has found new life for some of his old songs. Courtesy photo.

Like many musicians, Charles Godfrey played in bands when he was younger, and even recorded a couple of CDs, and then life, jobs, and family took priority, leaving the guitar mostly shelved for years.

The native upstate New Yorker and decade-long Vernon resident began playing acoustic guitar at age 15, and played many styles of music (including heavy metal and electronic pop) when he was younger. He was in a fairly popular band called Crunchy Frog in the 1990s, before drifting back to playing solo acoustic sets at coffee houses.

He had recorded a series of demos at a studio in Argyle, N.Y., and shared them with friends and some smaller record companies. The tapes didn't result in a recording contract (as most don't) and Godfrey moved on. “Then life went on, and they kind of faded away,” he said.

Sometime in 2012, he had purchased some recording software and was experimenting with it. Needing material to play with, he resurrected some of the old demo tunes. “I had always imagined additional instrument parts when I wrote those songs, but up until now, it wasn't really practical to follow that vision through,” he said.

The result was that he found he had something close to a new album on his hands, so he wrote a few more songs to add. “I said, 'Okay, I've got an album worth of material here. Now, what the hell do I do with it?'” he said.

He found that through Amazon.com, he could essentially self-publish his album. Individual songs may be purchased online (as mp3s) or the entire album can be bought on disc.

“I've had some sold, and it's still getting out there,” he said. “This is a pretty interesting way to go about distribution. It's been great to be able to point people to it. To communicate that and have something to share with folks has been great.”

Describing his music, Godfrey said others compare him to Jim Croce or Gordon Lightfoot, which are his influence, but he said for him it boils down to his coffeehouse experiences. “It was so intense,” he said. “Don McLean had played there. They had one mic on the stage, so someone gets up there with their guitar and the one mic, and they do their songs. To me, that was incredible.”

“I'm proud of these songs, because they are very story-oriented, and have a positive message,” he said. “There is a broad range, and they are 20 years old, which is interesting.”

Godfrey said one of the songs refers to the economy, which wasn't good at the time. “The economy still isn't really great, so it's kind of cyclical how it came back,” he said.

Playing the songs with added parts was also something of a dream come true. “In my head, I'd always heard string sections, bass parts, and things like that,” he said. “When the software came along, I was able to piece these things together, like I'd had in my head for 20 years.”

Godfrey is performing in an upcoming benefit concert for his high school in New York. While forming a band and playing out wouldn't be practical for his schedule, he said he would welcome the chance to play at local events. Another future album is also a possibility.

“I think there's more to come, for sure,” he said. “I'm not going to stop writing.”

To hear Godfrey's “Rosewood and Steel” album, visit www.amazon.com/Rosewood-Steel-Charlie-Godfrey/dp/B00E01022Q.

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