Adam Wagner channels musical ideas through ‘Chucky Waggs’

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Adam Wagner channels musical ideas through ‘Chucky Waggs’

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

The valleys of Arkansas preserve a regional style of delta blues with history, food and atmosphere adding to its distinction.

Charles Adam Wagner, known on-stage as “Chucky Waggs,” blends the influences he grabbed from growing up in Carbondale with Arkansas’ specific blues.

Wagner and his band The Company of Raggs perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at Tres Hombres. 

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“My sound is kind of a modern singer/songwriter approach to the early, rough around the edges styles of blues, country, jugband, jazz and hillbilly music with a punk-rock mentality,” Wagner said.

Wagner started his musical journey when he was 13 years old, playing in local punk bands until he hit the road almost 12 years ago, he said. 

He said his professional musical career began with Joe McCamish of the Whistle Pigs, when the two would walk into dive bars along the road and perform under the band name “The Broke Strang Band.” 

Wagner went solo when he moved to Eureka Springs, Ark., performing as “Chucky Waggs,” with a varying back-up band.

“To this day I’ve kept with that approach and often have completely a different line-up on stage at any given show, which, I feel, keeps a certain chaotic element and ever-changing style,” he said. 

His first release, appropriately named “Company of Raggs,” is a compilation of tunes recorded by Carbondale musician Taylor Sprehe in Sprehe’s apartment.

“It was never intended to be made into an album, it was just friends getting together, drinking, messing with songs, instruments and recording equipment,” he said.

Wagner’s second and most recent release, “Low Road Ramble,” was a more thought-out project where Wagner wrote the songs in one year’s time, wrote each individual part and had a concept of the album’s sound before recording, he said.

“I wanted it to sound close to what I had been doing live,” he said. “It was still recorded in a garage though. The only big difference in listening to them is the quality, and that ‘Low Road’ was more of a start to finish album.”

When it comes to lyrical writing, Wagner is influenced by various thoughts and ideas as they pop up in his head, he said.

“I write all the time,” he said. “Then, it’s a matter of either everything falling into place or agonizing over words, phrases and sentiments until, hopefully, I’m satisfied that something … came out as good as its going to at the time.” 

The group is excited to be back in southern Illinois, especially Wagner because the music scene has influenced him since he was a teenager, he said.

One of his favorite venues is the Old Feed Store in Cobden because of the energy and the venue’s rowdy, yet intimate atmosphere, he said. 

“It never feels like I’m hitting the road when I play [southern Illinois],” he said. “It’s more like I’m going to hang out with my friends and family and we might as well play some songs.”

Wagner said he hopes people feel good at his shows and that they are able to escape from whatever had been worrying them during the day.

“I would like folks to leave a show, at the very most, feeling that they were entertained, affected or could relate to some of the songs,” he said.

Chase Myers can be reached at [email protected]

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