Thanksgiving in Radium Hot Springs, at least for music lovers, is set to be particularly appetizing this year, because once the pumpkin pie is polished off, a hearty helping of Australian-tinged Chicago blues is on offer at the Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery.

If Australian Chicago blues sounds like a unique Thanksgiving digestif, that’s because legendary bluesman Michael Charles is pretty unique too.

Charles was born in Australia and his affable accent was unmistakably ‘down under’ when the Pioneer spoke with him on the phone. But once the music starts, the accent disappears and the tunes are pure Chicago blues, with ragged, growling vocals and plenty of electrical distortion. 

Charles made a name as musician in his home country for more than a decade, then turned an invitation to come to the U.S. from the famous Buddy Guy, into a 30-year-and-counting stay in Chicago, where he has absorbed the Windy City sound so thoroughly he was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame several years back.

He had been a semi-regular visiting performer in the Columbia Valley, before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled his spring 2020 shows in Radium (and indeed all his touring).

 Once restrictions lifted earlier this year, Charles was back on the road, and a pair of performances in Radium were among the first on his agenda. They were such a smash success that he’s swinging back through the valley this fall, with shows landing square on the Thanksgiving weekend: Sunday, Oct. 9 and Monday, Oct. 10.

Charles learned to play guitar quite young, at age four or five, inspired by his dad, who always had a guitar lying around the house. He also learned to play by listening to Elvis and the Beatles on the radio. When Charles discovered that the tunes of those famous musicians were based on the blues, he was curious and learned more about the genre and then was hooked.

He told the Pioneer he very much looks forward to his Radium shows because the audience at the Horsethief is always fantastic, and because the Columbia Valley is such a beautiful place to visit.

Charles is known to give concert goers a real bang for their buck, with his shows often running three hours without even so much as an intermission. The Thanksgiving concerts at the Horsethief start at at 7 p.m. Call the Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery at (250) 347-6400 for more details.

In the meantime, visit Charles’ YouTube channel to get a taste of his tunes, particularly the delicate-yet-forceful acoustic and electric interplay on his latest single, Silenced.