Chuck LeMonds

Country Soul

“In times like these, the music and songwriting of Chuck LeMonds has the effect of a soothing balsam for the soul, or maybe that of a plow turning over fresh soil in a field waiting to be planted in spring.” (Old Tree)

Chuck LeMonds


Being perfectly honest, there is not so much to say about the musician Chuck LeMonds.

In the music world, where superlatives and adjectives are readily pulled out and polished to a shine, to portray artists in a blinding light of achievement, there are only the facts and story that highlight Chucks work. No awards ceremonies or key to the city.

Since 1987, he has recorded 11 albums, his most current in 2019 being “Ghost in the Wishing Well”. That would be, altogether, 111 songs written and produced by Chuck LeMonds.

Since his first public appearance in 1978, he has performed throughout the United States, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic. He has worked with a long list of amazing musicians.

These are the facts, but not the story.

In times like these, the music and songwriting of Chuck LeMonds has the effect of a soothing balsam for the soul, or maybe that of a plow turning over fresh soil in a field waiting to be planted in spring. His newest album, and his 11th , is called “Ghost in the Wishing Well” and features mainly a trio with legendary Austrian upright bassist Peter Herbert and the world class slide player, Knut Hem from Oslo, Norway, on dobro and Weissenborn guitars and lapsteel.

Chuck’s music is a kind of Country Soul Gumbo of blues, folk, funk and country with poetic lyrics that call to be heard. But it is the stories, and poetic imagery in his songs that move the listener into a multi-cinematic realm. His love of abstract-expressionism shows up in his lyrics, but always anchored on a solid foundation … never letting the story line out of sight. His songs reflect a long intense life of traveling, living in foreign lands, loss, love and all the beauty found in an insanely unpredictable world.

Chuck LeMonds’ life and legacy as a musician is not one shaped by music lawyers in LA or Nashville, or even the hard to define ghost of a “music business”! They were never in town when he was passing through. The music and recordings he has produced over the past 35 years can not be easily measured by the music industry’s high level of standards and perfection, for it is exactly that, the many imperfections in Chuck LeMonds’ music that make it authentic and real, and above all, music that resonates the heart strings, and at the same time engages the critical minds of his listeners.

Born in 1959 along the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, Chuck LeMonds’, it seems, was pre-destined to a life of moving about.

His father, Sonny, spent 25 years travelling on freight trains around the US, doing seasonal work like picking fruit, and then moving on when it got cold in winter to find work in warmer places, eventually living in an old school bus painted green parked near the Mississippi River outside of Cape Girardeau, which Chuck eulogized in his 1994 song “If The Motor Was Working”. His father taught him and his brother the art of hopping freights at the tender age of 8. Chuck’s grandfather Author, after losing his coal company in St. Louis in 1929 during the Great Depression, worked as a card dealer in back rooms of gin houses and honky-tonks along the Mississippi, always packing a pistol. This story is also documented as a song “Full Deck of Cards” on the same recording. His grandpa Gangi, his mothers’ father, drove trains for the Frisco line in Missouri.

The women in the family seemed to be the glue that held it all together. Growing up, Chuck’s mother Marilyn was a passionate musician playing in her schools marching band in Chaffee, Missouri with her main instruments being clarinet, piano and her voice. She loved to sing jazz pop torch songs that were so popular at that time in the 50’s. Her dream to become a professional musician was put on hold at the age of 16 when her first child was born. She brought 7 children into the world and lived her music out by leading all 7 children and 4 step-children, in a very natural way, into the world of music and singing.

Chuck’s grandma Madelaine was a beautician, with grey-blue hair always perfectly done, and managed a large beauty shop on Grand and Gravious Rd., the busiest intersection in St. Louis. His grandma Addie Mae, his father’s mother, was on the other hand, a very proud women of humble back ground that raised 5 children mostly alone. She was half Cherokee Indian and told stories of whipper-snappers and bush-whackers, and surviving the depression in 1929 by picking through vegetables on a wagon under the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri left by the large restaurants trying to help the poor. She spoke in the language of the late 1800’s.

Chuck LeMonds’ main musical arteries and influences run from The Stanley Brothers, Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, and the many great Delta blues players, as well as seeing great story- teller singers like Utah Phillips, Claudia Schmidt.

If there is a thread that runs through Chuck LeMonds’ 59 years, it would most likely be one of moving into new and unknown worlds and cultures as observer, documenting through song, and then as active participant, carrying the observed out onto any stage he might be walking onto, and continually switching between these two poles. He grew up between the noise of urban excess St. Louis and Washington D.C. and the rural pastoral settings of Poolesville, Maryland, where he lived as a boy in the servants quarters of an old plantation, and later in the Appalachian Mountains near Front Royal, Virginia where he first heard Bluegrass music, and amongst lakes, rivers and dairy farms of Wisconsin where he first heard polka music, learned to milk cows, and survive –30 degree below cold winters.

Many musicians, and others who know Chuck, would willingly say he has paid his dues. Meaning he has been out travelling, carrying his musical message through his songs, to stages big and small, house concerts, festivals and live performances of all kinds for more than 30 years. This would include the many ups and downs of making a living from music over many years. Chuck LeMonds’ has and still does make music from his home near Graz, Austria where he moved in the early 1990’s, living amongst the rolling hills of east Styria, not far from the borders of Hungary and Slovenia, with a view of the Alps and vineyards.

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