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Shelburne Sixth-Grader Charlie Schramm Pens and Performs Original Tunes 

click to enlarge Charlie Schramm - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Charlie Schramm

When musician Charlie Schramm was 2 years old, he attended a Grateful Dead festival at Lake Dunmore with his parents, Erika and Mike. Erika recalled watching young Charlie, perched on Mike's shoulders and "mesmerized by the music." Much to his parents' surprise, he stayed awake for the third set, which didn't end until the middle of the night. It was then, Mike said, that he began to understand the "laser focus" Charlie has for music.

Now a Shelburne sixth grader, Charlie picked up his first guitar at age 5 and took his first lesson at 6. He was the only child in a class full of adults. "Like a sponge, he absorbed the styles and incorporated the different guitar techniques into his own interpretation," recalled the teacher of that class, Sallie Mack. "After a couple years of lessons, I basically had to kick him out because there really wasn't anything more that I could teach him."

When Charlie was 8, he had his first public gig at Shelburne Vineyard, as part of its First Thursday Concert Series. He performed during intermission, playing "Photograph," by Ed Sheeran, "Someone Like You," by Adele and "Let it Go," by James Bay. During the second song, his guitar string broke, leaving him without an instrument. The can-do musician graciously accepted a full-size guitar from another performer and finished out his set. "It was too big for me, but I made it work," Charlie recalled with a laugh. His grit paid off; the music coordinator asked him back to perform as a headliner two years later.

Through his three years of performing, Charlie has a considerable list of Shelburne venues under his belt: Village Wine and Coffee, Palmer's Sugarhouse, Fisher Brothers Farm, the Shelburne Farmers Market, and Pierson Library. Early on, he just played covers. But when he decided to enter Advance Music Center's Singer/Songwriter Contest in 2018, he had to write his own songs. He penned his first original piece, "Out of Water," a song about how interacting with the natural world makes him feel at home. He entered the contest again in 2019 and this time was one of three finalists.

In March, he finished his 12th original composition. His indie style is inspired by "all things Vermont" and his passions for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, fishing and biking. He names Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran and Noah Kahan as musicians he looks up to. Recently, he has moved on to teaching himself how to record, mix and layer his original works in the basement studio he built using his own money. It's outfitted with a mixing board, amplifier, audio interface, laptop, microphones, drums, harmonicas, guitars and even an old Victrola record player. There's a sign propped on the record player that reads: "Do more of what makes you awesome."

Learning about layering and timing is "so much trial and error, patience, and sometimes walking away for a while to regroup," said Charlie. He advises other young musicians to "keep at it and don't take no for an answer."

While Charlie dreams of playing at Madison Square Garden in New York City one day, for now, he's enjoying being "the local guy who plays around town for neighbors and friends and family. Making people happy is the best part."

And locals, like Village Wine and Coffee owner Kevin Clayton, are glad to oblige. "It is an absolute joy to have Charlie at the shop," Clayton said. "He is meant to be playing guitar, singing and entertaining people." 

Charlie will livestream a performance via Facebook Live on Friday, April 10, from 7 to 8 p.m. The video will be available for viewing after the live event.

Excerpt from "Beautiful Trap," by Charlie Schramm

I fell into this trap of music.
Beautiful trap of music...
I put my hand on the fret board
And wonder how did I get here.
Playing by the campfire,
Playing in the basement.
Playing on the big stage,
Playing on the pavement.
Strumming away the hours of the day.

Music comes flowing in every direction,
Music comes to me at every intersection,
Music guide the way.
Playing at the highs,
Playing at the lows.
Playing as my life quickly grows.
Music spark the flame.

I look back to my first lesson.
I was 6 at the time of that blessing.
Quickly learn the skills.
Feel the power in my fingers.
Feel that satisfaction start to linger.
It's the love that builds and builds.

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