music matters

Charlie Mars returns to his "second home" for a winter residency at Saxon Pub

Charlie Mars returns to his "second home" for a winter residency at Saxon Pub

Austin Photo Set: News_Arden_Charlie Mars_Dec 2011_field
Austin Photo Set: News_Arden_Charlie Mars_Dec 2011_sunglasses
Austin Photo Set: News_Arden_Charlie Mars_Dec 2011_live

With his out-of-this-world surname, dual residency in Mississippi and New York and pop-infused songwriting style, it might surprise you to hear singer Charlie Mars regard Austin as a “second home.”

But Mars fell hard for our fair city when recording his fifth album, 2009’s Like A Bird, Like A Plane, at Jack Rock’s Hill Country studio. “I fell hard for the Mexican food, the vibe, and the people of Austin,” Mars says. “It’s a great mix of big city/small town… and [it] is so centered around being creative.”

Since then, Austin has become Mars’s go-to town for recording, initially thanks to friend and music comrade Bob Schneider. “We have a great thing going out at Jack Rock’s studio… and it’s hard not to when you are working with some of Austin’s finest musicians: J.J. Johnson, Dony Wynn, Billy Harvey, George Reiff and Dave Monsey,” says Mars.

So after raising a healthy chunk of change with a 2011 Kickstarter campaign, Mars says “It wasn’t a tough call to return there to record my latest record."

While recording this summer, Mars started a weekly residency at the Saxon Pub that ran the full month of August. This month, he is headed back to Austin to spend a little more time at the South Austin staple with a mini-Saxon residency, playing on Thursday, December 8 and Thursday, December 15. “I love the intimacy of the Saxon Pub and the lack of red tape that goes along with playing there,” he says. “My last residency there was really special.”

If you’ve seen him play before, even on a large stage like his 2010 performance at Austin City Limits Music Festival, you know that his sweet, laughable antics and soulful pop styling should fit in just fine behind the armored entry of one of Austin’s most intimate listening rooms. And though his songs tend to be catchier and more polished than other Saxon favorites, his tendency toward the Bob Schneider sound—heartfelt songs that are catchy in nature—means you can listen without feeling like a sell out.

During this residency, Mars will play songs new and old, with a little signature chatter mixed in. Among the chatter, expect to hear breakout songs like "Listen To The Darkside," "Meet Me At The Backdoor" and new tunes from his upcoming release, all recorded in Austin.

When he's not on stage at Saxon Pub this December, you might find Mars working on the bucket list below, a self-curated list of "Must Do's" in Austin (and one that we wholeheartedly agree with):

  • Barton Springs: Don’t skip that spot on a good day. Magic.
  • Sausage migas at Maudie’s... eat them almost every day.
  • Spend a little extra and stay at the St. Cecilia... amazing hotel... Liz Lambert rules the school.
  • Listen to KGSR while you’re cruisin'. Great radio station.
  • Ribs at Lambert’s. Holy cow!
  • Donn’s Depot: My favorite bar in Austin.
  • Uchi is so good. I always leave there broke and happy.
  • See a show outside at Threadgill’s on a nice evening. Can’t go wrong there.

Given this well-balanced list of outdoor activities, local fare and highly-regarded venues, it's easy to see why Mars now affectionately refers to Austin as a "second home."


Charlie Mars plays at Saxon Pub December 8 and December 15. Both shows start at 11 p.m.