I was at the Grand Canyon. It was a hot sunny day in May.
Looking down into that magnificent vast ancient bowl, I saw those specks of
people with their cargo shorts and panama hats, their walking staffs and
backpacks and canteens. Braving the heat and the sun, the
fools. Going down there, in that heat. I watched from the
safety of the rim.
“What inspires those people to go down there?” I asked my friend.
“Some people just have to go down and be in it,” he mumbled.
is my Grand Canyon. Years ago I realized I had to leave the rim, go
down there, and just be in it. I’m a fool... so sue me. I
haven’t died, yet.
Anyway, here at this website is just my little collection of arrowheads and stones, with perhaps an occasional sparkle amid the humble artifacts I’ve collected from life. Part of me hopes something in the pile might turn out to be worth something. Whatever the case, I'm having fun. It's pretty awesome down here. I know there’s more to see, more to find. So, I’m staying.
I’ll be sure to share anything else of value I may find.
Charles Klamut was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 4, 1973. Before dissing poor old Waukegan, know that it was the hometown of famous sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury and comedian Jack Benny. It also is home of the Amstutz expressway, the ill-fated supposed connecting highway between Milwaukee and Chicago along Lake Michigan (construction cancelled, alas, after two miles). In addition to being a weed-infested drag strip for teenagers, the Amstutz has been the setting for many famous movie car chase scenes including the one from the Blues Brothers. So there.
After a mostly pleasant but uneventful childhood, and about halfway into a benignly clueless and mostly miserable adolescence, Charles saw his dream of being a major league baseball player come down in flames with the realization that he was actually a scrawny dweeb who sucked at baseball. After many lonely epic air guitar sessions to Zeppelin and the Stones in his room, he began to cling to the hope that his athletic failures were proof of a different destiny... that of rock star. He was sufficiently inspired to actually try playing the real thing, and since he proved reasonably dexterous at video games, he figured, what the hey.
His first guitar was an old plywood Stella from Woolworth played by his dad in yesteryear. He dug it out of the crawl space and discovered it was actually a twelve-string. He compensated for the extra six rattling tuning knobs by wrapping them in duct tape. This particular guitar required vise grips to play a D chord. It required an actual vise to play an F (a maneuver which, by the way, can really interfere in the vibe of a song...)
An avid Dylan fan, the first song he can remember learning was “The Times They Are a’Changing.” Playing those four chords and singing those magical words was a pleasure and a high greater than anything he had ever imagined possible. Music had a shamanistic power, and being able to participate in it from the inside was a thrill beyond words.
About a year later he wrote his first song by accident, a horrible love song about some pretty thing who in all likelihood never even knew he existed. Then he wrote a protest song about the evils of the Man and his corporate shenanigans. The material was based on stories he heard from his father, a labor union organizer, about the typical abuses of the impersonal forces of 1980s corporate America. He even played the latter song for his senior Fine Arts class, who were surprised to see him contributing something beyond the usual strange and/or vulgar jokes he was mostly known for.
Later on his musical interests expanded to include great guitar players like Hendrix plus melodic virtuoso players like Joe Satriani and, especially, Eric Johnson. Hearing “Cliffs of Dover” as an 18 year-old was an epiphanic turning point in his musical life, when he decided he wanted to be a great guitar player at all costs. However, he remained fascinated by the lyrics of the great songwriters and struggled to reconcile the two genres.
After graduating from Waukegan East High School, he somehow ended up at a conservative Catholic bible college. There he stumbled into the study of the humanities and he was surprised to find out he actually had a brain. He began to be exposed to great classic authors and was amazed to find that school could actually be interesting. He also had something of a spirutual awakening and began to suspect he may even have a soul.
Very long story short... his life then took a strange turn when he decided to follow a perceived call to the priesthood. Ordained in 1999, he spent many years working with young people as a high school teacher and chaplain. He loved working with teenagers. Two of his proudest accomplishments during his time as high school chaplain/teacher were the introduction of two new courses to the curriculum, a class on Films, and a class on J R R Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings, his private passion and near-obsession.
“Fr” Charles Klamut has also worked in parish ministry as associate pastor of St Philomena's and later, as pastor of St Mark's in Peoria, Illinois. As of June 2011, he works in campus ministry as chaplain at St John's Catholic Newman Center at the Universtiy of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
He has tried to stay as active in music as possible. His unique connections with the beautiful but also heartbreaking lives of other people have given him a sensitivity to the human experience which adds a distinctive perspective to his music.
His guitar-based songs attempt to incorporate lyrical themes of alienation, longing, and taking life seriously, along with music that tries to be non-cliched and engaging. He loves and listens continually to lots of music. Current favorites (which may or may not come out as influences) include Sufjan Stevens, Gillian Welch, Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, Bon Iver, The National, Arcade Fire, The Avett Brothers, Ani DiFranco, Mumford & Sons, Aimee Mann, Sigur Ros, The Black Keys, U2, Wilco, Radiohead, Belle & Sebastian, She & Him, Laura Veirs, and many others.
He currently writes and performs music locally with Jessamyn Luong, a singer-songwriter from Peoria.