by Dennis Dalman
Singer/storyteller Charlie Roth cast a campfire spell May 8 at the 10th annual Lemonade and Laughter concert in Sartell.
Like a friend/father/grandfather, Roth told stories and sang intimate songs that clearly captivated his full-capacity audience of nearly 300, most of them senior citizens. The afternoon concert took place at St. Francis Xavier Church’s community hall.
It was sponsored by Country Manor of Sartell, the Sartell Senior Connection and the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education District.
Roth lives in rural Benton County on a horse ranch with his wife, Beverly. He has been singing and writing songs as a member of a band for many years. A solo performer sometimes, he is also a member of the well-known local Celtic-themed band, Ring of Kerry. He is now working on his eighth CD, mostly in Texas, a state he loves for its musical influences.
Many of the self-penned songs he performed at his May 8 concert centered around his love of family – wife, children, grandchildren. Roth, like many folk performers who do verbal riffs before and even during songs, cordially invited his listeners into the down-home meaning of the lyrics/music.
One song he performed is called “My Chair.” It was written when he was living south of San Antonio, Texas and lonesome for his wife and family in Minnesota during a blizzard there. The melodic love song/ballad, a mixture of love and humor, is a meditation about his wife back home in her terry-cloth robe, stranded by the blizzard while Roth, so lonesome, is stuck in faraway south Texas. The song expresses how Roth wishes he were home with his wife, relaxing in a recliner chair he bought at a bargain years before. As in all of Roth’s songs, his heartfelt sentiment is always balanced by an astringent humor.
Roth also sang songs and shared heartfelt comments about his grandchildren and his mother, who died last October. His mother loved to sing – loudly – as in church. When she was dying, Roth and others gathered by her bedside and sang “The Red River Valley” to her.
Then Roth launched into his tribute, “That’s Where You’ll Be,” a moving but joyous song about how his mother’s presence is still with him, how she remains “an angel on his shoulders.”
The audience applauded Roth with gusto, obviously moved and entertained by his abilities to bring intimate human connections – not to mention lots of gentle humor – so alive in a big roomful of strangers.