If you attended the Mississippi Craft Show last year, you were probably fortunate enough to hear the enchanting sounds of Chas Evans as he played for us live throughout the weekend.
Chas, a Mississippi native, is a guitarist specializing in finger style guitar. Chas is also a composer and has written several pieces featuring the classical guitar which were inspired by his life in Mississippi.
Originally from the small town of Chunky, he currently resides in Brandon with his wife Laura, and their two children, Katie and Chas Michael.
At the tender age of 9, Chas found a curiosity for the guitar. “I come from a very musical family, everyone plays something. I took to the instrument very well and began playing in my Grandfather’s bluegrass band “The Melody Messengers”, he said.
His interest never wavered and Chas went on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Music Performance/Guitar.
To Chas, music is a form of self expression. “My music makes me unique. It is a reflection of who I am, and it is very fulfilling to be able to share myself through music.”, He said. Although he is careful not to put a label on it, he does describe his musical style as a cross between classical, bluegrass and folk music. “I use the music I grew up with as a base for many of my compositions.”, Chas remarks.
When asked how long it takes for him to write a new piece of music, Chas commented that it depended entirely on the complexity of the piece. Citing his piece titled “Father Of Rivers”, Chas commented, “I started writing that back when I was in college at Southern Miss. I started writing the end first. The last lick you hear in the song is the first thing I wrote. The piece just came to me over time. Additionally, Chas has a piece for a 12 string guitar he has been working on for several years, “I’m hoping to finish it someday,” he quipped, with fingers crossed.
When asked if he could pick a personal favorite from his own compositions, Chas explained, “My personal favorite would definitely have to be “Father Of Rivers”. For sure, the piece I have poured all of my life experiences into as well as some complex and challenging music.”
Since the move from a structured environment in college to the creative setting he now enjoys, Chas has been able to take what he has learned and use it to develop his own musical path, unrestricted. “During college, my curriculum dictated that I focus on learning the instrument and specific pieces of music. Having mastered those styles, I now enjoy using that knowledge to structure my own, locally inspired pieces of music”.
Chas believes that originality, along with experimentation with new sounds and progressions is the key element to creating good musical composition. Inspiration comes from a variety of places, but for Chas, the most challenging part about his work is trying to retain those new ideas that frequently strike without warning. “I have to keep a notepad, pencil, cell phone and a guitar nearby just in case I need to play and record an idea for later use.” he remarked.
The best part about his work, (other than his favorite Esteve guitar, straight from Madrid, Spain), is simply the art itself. “At the end of the day I enjoy writing things for others to enjoy, as well as myself. Performers love to entertain, and I do enjoy the thrill of a good performance.”.
As for current projects or goals, Chas is currently focusing on his new website, www.musicformylyrics.com, which is a music composition service for lyricists who can not write music. “People from all over the world send me lyrics which I put to music. I then create and record a quality demo for them to use to pitch their songs to major artists.”
Chas is a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard and proudly served in Operation Noble Eagle in Washington, D.C. and Operation New Dawn in Baghdad, Iraq.
He performs extensively in the Jackson area and beyond at a variety of musical settings including clubs, restaurants, weddings and other private events, regional arts festivals and more. Chas recently released his debut CD “Mississippi Sounds”.
The original compositions on Mississippi Sounds are influenced by his home state, Mississippi. Having grown up listening to southern Gospel Hymns at church, as well as his Grandfather’s Bluegrass Band, the flavor of Mississippi is evident in his music. Listen closely and you will hear the essence of the Magnolia state; the lazy Autumn days, the sunrise in the Delta, and of course, the long, hot summer nights.
So, what would Chas be if he could not pursue a musical career? Not surprisingly, he believes he would just be a starving artist. “I cannot run from the music in my blood.” And for that, we should all be very grateful.
By Miranda Jordan
Taken from Magnolia State of Mind 2013 edition. The official magazine of the Mississippi Craft Show. www.magnoliastateofmind.com
About the Mississippi Craft Show
Mississippi Craft Show – August. The state’s only 100% Mississippi Handmade art and craft show. Featuring handworks from Mississippi craftsmen. www.mscraftshow.com
Handmade USA Show – March. The same quality handworks you expect at the August show from Mississippi craftsmen and also from across the region. All 100% handmade in the USA. www.handmadeusashow.com