An interview with bassist Charles Mack
by Tina Ayres
Charles Mack is the former bassist for Grammy Award winner James Cotton and Lucky Peterson. His work has spanned a wide array for genres. He has shared the stage with such acts as Inflatable Soule, Cypress Hill, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Johnson, and Kenny Neal, just to name a few. The can currently be found performing with Charles Mack Band featuring Eric Robert (Keyboard), Joel Tipke (Guitar), and Jarvis Oliver (drums)
Guitar Digest: At what age did you first discover your love of music? Can you remember what the exact moment was like when you first realized how powerful music can be?
Charles Mack: As a child, I would listen to my family play blues, I had no idea what they were doing, I just knew the notes, along with their singing relaxed me. I was around 5 years old when I first noticed it, even though I heard it when I was younger, I just didn’t know what it was until age 5. Music has a way of making changes in the spirit. I used to cry a lot, but my mother would play jazz and I would immediately stop crying and fall asleep. The feeling I had when I was 5, from what I remember, music was like a warm blanket on a cold night, wrapped tightly, embracing every element of your being. I had a feeling of pure happiness, enjoyment, and fulfillment.
GD: What are some of your very first memories pertaining to music?
CM: The very first memories pertaining to music were of being around family, a room filled with guitarists and singers. When I was younger, my father, aunt and uncle would get together and play music, playing blues. I was amazed at how happy it made them feel. I had never seen my dad smile so much. My aunt played slide guitar, my dad and uncle were straight blues, finger pickin’ (rhythm and solo). The happiness that would come out of my family from playing music was incredible! The feeling that they were getting, I wanted to feel. This is by far, the best experience I have had as a child regarding an incredible feeling/experience pertaining to music.
GD: Who were some of your earliest influences? Do you happen to remember what your very first favorite song was?
CM: My earliest influences were, Bach, Miles Davis, Coltrane, BB King, Muddy Waters, The Supremes, The Dells, Earth Wind and Fire, Ron Carter, Charlie Parker, R Vaughn Williams, Copeland and Big Momma Thorton. I was a weird kid and I listened to everything. My first song I ever heard was a Luis Jordan song, my mother would play his music quite often around the house. Run Joe, 5 Guys named Moe ; the list goes on and on.