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SoundCheck: Charlie Becker finds a musical path in nature

Charlie Becker
Courtesy of Charlie Becker

This month’s Studio Live will feature Reeds Spring singer/songwriter Charlie Becker Friday at noon here on KSMU. Charlie joined KSMU's Jess Balisle by phone to talk about nature, the pandemic, personal struggles and finding a steady gig.

Becker: Well, when it comes to the pandemic, I just really went inwards for self-reflection and I actually found a really great community of people who really just love nature. So, that’s kind of what I’m inspired by, is just the human experience and nature. When I was a kid, I was fully immersed in nature all the time. I basically lived in the woods. I would make little fairy houses and just kind of like live in a bush or whatever. But then as I got older, I moved to Springfield. And I was in the city and so I was really just being in the scene, I didn’t spend as much time in nature. But, I went through some rough times and I became a Master Gardener. And that actually really helped me to turn myself around and get a green thumb going again and just enjoy plants.

Balisle: Were you gigging regularly, like before the pandemic started?

Becker: Actually, what’s interesting about that is that I didn’t really have regular like, paying gigs. I did a lot of open mics and stuff and podcasts. Weird kind of things like that. But, once I stopped playing out, the pandemic hit, somehow word of mouth got around – people had heard about me. And some really awesome people I’ve been working with have given me a regular gig. So, a good friend, Rachel West, is a foraging expert and so she does educational nature hikes. And then she also is an amazing cook. And she will take things that we found out in nature and make an amazing meal and I’ll play music during the dinner services. So, we go out to Niangua and camp for a couple days and just do that and it’s really a great blessing to me.

Balisle: So, you kind of had the opposite experience where you got a steady gig during the pandemic.

Becker: Yeah. It’s crazy because it’s like out in the middle of nowhere and it’s a small group every time, like less than 20 people, usually.

Balisle: When the pandemic hit, did you think, like, ‘This is going to ruin my music career?’

Becker: Initially actually, I was kind of grateful. I love the Springfield musicians, but sometimes the music scene got me down quite a bit. I was trying to record some albums, or just anything, even a single and it had kept working out in a way that just wasn’t at all positive in my mindset. It was getting me down and I don’t know. It’s just, there’s a lot of alcohol and drug use sometimes in the scene and I was getting kind of caught up in that. And I didn’t like that. So for me, I just took a step when the pandemic started and really tried to work on myself, reflect and clean up my thoughts and actions. Several of my songs kind of deal with mental health and disassociation. I mean, I’ve got PTSD, so sometimes I just kind of feel out of body. And so, in that kind of state, when I write a song about it, it usually translates as like the mysteries of the cosmos. Like just how everything is all connected. So, I like to bring the mysteriousness of space or whatever into some lyrics.

Jessica Gray Balisle, a Springfield native, grew up listening to KSMU. When she's not wrangling operations and compliance issues, she co-hosts live music show Studio Live and produces arts and culture stories. Jessica plays bass in local band the Hook Knives. She and her husband Todd live with their two cats, Ellie and Jean-Ralphio, and way too many house plants.