Part 3: "The Front Man" My Conversation With Charles Ries in Four Parts

Part of that “living” that Charles does so well is as the front man for the band, “Charles P. Ries and The Minktronics”.

An accomplished writer with both a novel and five published books of poetry to his name, Charles began doing public readings to aid in selling his book and his poetry. Kismet would eventually pair him with two other area musicians who were familiar with his work. The twist, however, was that both men had also grown up around mink farming.  

“Eventually, Kevin and I got together. We met up at The Capital Grill and started telling each other our “mink stories”…it was just a very fluid conversation that only mink farmers can have. Then Kevin introduced me to Mark. Both these guys were in bands since high school. They are bad writers, but really good musicians. I’m a really good writer, but I’m not a good musician.”

“You know, Leonard Cohen was a poet before he was a musician. Patti Smith was a poet before she was a musician. They were writers before they were musicans . You don’t like them because they are singers, you like them because they are story tellers.”

“So, they introduced me to their drummer and said, ‘We want to work behind you.’”

And in the tradition of such rich story tellers as Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, “Charles P. Ries and The Minktronics” is creating what Charles describes as “thematic music set to my narrative stories. It’s my poetry reformatted into a prose based experience…it’s theatrical.”

“I began to then re-write all of my narrative stuff because now I have this music behind it. It’s not cliché and it’s not covers. It’s story driven. It’s clever and meaningful. It’s shocking and it’s funny. I just want people to love it and find it interesting.”

 

As our conversation continues, Charles circles back to our initial conversation about being a connector for the people he serves. “This [being in the band] goes back to what we talked about, that if you pull the right people onto the platform, it’s going to work. It’s recognizing good design and what works.”

“What’s compelling me to stick with this is the design of this process – what’s happened is that the musicians and I will pick pieces of my writing and they’ll say ‘Well, let’s try these five songs and see if they work.’ We have the lyrics. We have the music. We’re just trying to put the two together and see where they fit.”

“Music is actually a language in its own right. But this is counter intuitive to me – to know when to shut up and let musicians play and for how long is not something a non-musician understands how to do. As I began to understand that paradigm, we began to work more as a team.”

“Kate, you see this in your company all the time. Good teams don’t just pop out of the womb. They aren’t just made…you have to find them. You have to grow together and find it together.”

Once again, Charles is so very right on.

Part 4 entitled, “Kindness”, in this series will be published Friday, June 22nd, 2018.

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