Charlie Parr got his first guitar at the age of 7. It was a Gibson 12-string, but he played it so much it eventually broke in half.
Today, the 47-year-old Austin, Minn., native is an internationally known artist with a new album and upcoming tour.
Parr will perform at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Richard G. Hardy Performing Arts Center at Cambridge-Isanti High School, 430 NW Eighth Ave., as part of his latest tour promoting his newest album “Hollandale.” The instrumental record is Parr’s 12th studio album, which draws from early 20th century folk music.
He says that each song is an improvisation, meaning that he tuned the guitar in a certain way and started to play.
“I let the song go where it wanted to go,” Parr said. “I let go a lot of control that I usually have go into writing.”
It’s the first time Parr has recorded a fully instrumental record. The songs feature deep electric baritone guitar notes (played by Alan Sparhawk), twangy tackhead plucks and melodic 12-string riffs.
His two favorite pieces from the album are “Hollandale” and “Clear Lake” because they sound more like songs.
“I was the most focused,” Parr said, comparing it to a movie plot that is clear the entire film. The album itself was a bit of a catharsis for Parr.
He got into writing music as more of a personal journey.
“It’s like a diary, but then having someone say we’re going to publish that,” he said. His biggest fear is that people listening won’t understand the moment and will not like the song.
“It’s like giving someone a dollar,” Parr said. “Once you give it to them, it’s theirs. They take their own meaning from it. All you got to do is to give it.”
The first few songs he wrote were about his father. And when his father died, he turned to song writing to make him feel better.
“Hollandale” continues that thread by letting listeners into a different realm of Parr’s personal story. The latest album will be unique because each time he plays the song, it will sound different because of the improvisations.
Parr expects to play one or two tracks from his latest release, but tells fans he’ll also perform some of his older pieces with vocals.
Tickets for the Jan. 18 performance are available online at hardycenter.com or by calling 763-689-6189. Tickets are $15 each, or $25 for two.