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Charlie Mars is chasing a new kind of folk

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Charlie Mars would like to be a folk singer when he grows up.

Then again, he doesn't know why he isn't considered one now

"For some reason I don't get branded as a folk artist even though 80 percent of my touring is me up there with an acoustic guitar," says Mars, 40, the Mississippi-born singer-songwriter who plays on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at The Ark in Ann Arbor. "I think it's maybe because I make band records that sound a little more like a rock 'n' roll.

"But at the end of the day I view myself as nothing more than a troubadour, a folk artist who's hopefully living in 2015 and 1969."

Mars, in fact, predicts there's "a sea change coming" in the way folk music is both perceived and defined -- and that he's hoping to be part of.

"I know a lot of songwriters, they're the troubadours of today -- Todd Snider, Bob Schneider, Steve Poltz, Hayes Carll," Mars explains. "The 'Mighty Wind' days are over, you know? I like the guys that are a little subversive. I feel like there's a whole lot of storytellers who have a real modern slant to it, but it doesn't seem like there's a focus, a light shined out on that group of people as much as somebody who gets up there and sings about the wind blowingd through the (expletive) willow."

Mars wrapped up a Texas Trilogy of albums with last year's "The Money," and he says that what he's planning for his next release may actually be more folk-friendly, though probably not about rustling leaves.

"I see it being a more minimal effort than my last three, more acoustic-based with some percussion and very sparse instrumentation -- and very groove-y," predicts Mars, who expects to start recording later this year. "The less you do the more subtlety there is, and in the subtlety is complexity; when you don't have so many things on a track, everything matters.

"I've already got a good head start on the songs and I feel a pretty clear sense of direction. I'm really proud of (the Texas Trilogy), but I'm really looking forward to diving into this (new) stuff now."

Charlie Mars and Briar Rabbit

8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10

The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.

Tickets are $15.

Call 734-761-1818 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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