The Falconer

Charlie’s Mixtape


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The local indie acoustic band, Charlie’s Mixtape, is becoming more and more popular. Hailing from the Central campus of Shenandoah County, the band performed November 25 as well as the December 30 at Fort Valley Nursery Garden Café. Prior to their second gig at the Café, the band played at Central High School on December 13 to fundraise for the art and creative writing departments and successfully raised over $300. Charlie’s Mixtape has another upcoming concert planned for February at the Garden Café.

Many people have been curious as to when and how the band was formed. Central High School’s journalism, English, and creative writing teacher, Patrick McCarthy, explained that the band was formed this past spring. “Mackenzie Oliff’s older sister shared a video that Layla Baker and Mackenzie Oliff had made where they were singing, and when I heard it, I immediately thought that I wanted to play some music with them,” said McCarthy. “At that point, I talked to Mackenzie about just trying to do some music together, and it went from there.” He also added, “The original idea wasn’t to have a band,” he explained. “During lunch I would bring in my guitar and Layla would bring in her violin, Mackenzie would sing, and we would try some songs, and it just kind of spiraled from there.”

The interview with McCarthy continued. When asked how becoming a band has impacted him and his relationship with his students, McCarthy responded, “When I was in High School, this is just what I did, I played music. That’s what I was interested in; I played in several bands in high School. Since I’ve been teaching, I’ve periodically come across students who have had that similar interest, and I’ve had some opportunities to play music with other students in the past as well. I like having my students experience what it’s like to be a part of a group and create music together because I think it’s beneficial and a huge part of life. It’s something that I don’t typically get to share with my students because I’m not a music teacher.” He continued, “It’s fun, but I also just think it’s a valuable experience for everybody involved.” McCarthy further explained the enjoyment he gets performing music with his family; his nephew and son are a part of the band, along with his daughter and wife occasionally singing.

It is clear that Charlie’s Mixtape is receiving a positive reaction from their audience. “When I put this band together, I was just thinking this would be a great vehicle for the girls to share their talent,” said McCarthy.  “I liked it so much, and I  imagined that others would feel the same way.” McCarthy has hopes for the group to continue to play music for the rest of their lives and have the opportunity to continue to perform so that others can experience what he experienced when he first heard that video of Mackenzie and Layla.

Band member Mackenzie Oliff informed The Falconer of who the other members are and the part(s) they play in the band. “Layla and I sing, and Layla also plays the violin,” said Oliff. “Mr. McCarthy also sings and plays the acoustic guitar and sometimes he plays this electronic drum pad. His son, Stephen McCarthy, plays bass. Mr. McCarthy’s nephew, Isaac Sager, a freshman in college, plays the piano, and he’s really good. His daughter Peyton and Sharon also sing with us, and Peyton plays the ukulele.”  

She continued to explain the type of music Charlie’s Mixtape typically plays as well as how their past gigs have gone and their future plans for their band. “{…} We have been getting more into jazz songs, playing some Corinne Bailey Rae and Lake Street Dive. We’re trying to get some more popular upbeat stuff, but until now, we had been doing low key indie acoustic. We perform mostly covers, but lately we have also been singing original songs. Mr.McCarthy has written four songs with Layla’s help from the violin,” she explained.

Oliff began talking about their past gigs, “Our first gig, we opened for Brent Funkhouser’s band in July, which was a lot of fun. It was all about the music, so it was a really good first gig for us. Our second show was at the Brew House. We played for a fundraiser for the school, but it was more secluded and loud because it’s a restaurant, so people were talking. It wasn’t as nerve racking because I didn’t have to worry about messing up. We weren’t the focus of the event.” she added. “Right after Thanksgiving and Christmas, we played two shows at the Fort Valley Nursery. They were both really exciting, and this place felt more “us.” The atmosphere was really mellow, with all the Christmas lights, and they e-mailed me the next day asking us to come back and play again, so we must have done something right. We also performed at the school for an art and creative writing fundraiser, which went really well, and the money went to something that all of the band members, are extremely passionate about,” she expressed.

Oliff explained their future plans for the band, “Right now we’re just kind of living it up, and it feels good to stay local. We aren’t too worried about traveling that much or anything.” Oliff also stated her opinion about being in the band, “I didn’t think I could do something like this. I had really awful stage fright, and people just kinda knew that about me. They knew I could sing, but they also knew I refused to do it in front of people. For some reason with the band, singing feels lighter. Now I’m able to tell myself I can do it, which is hard to explain. I think that it’s better when I perform with them. This year is so different with the music; it just feels like waking up, I guess. Waking up and seeing that everything had always been this way; that I could always do it. It’s just the people involved that made this clear to me.”

Stephen French, a senior at Central High School that frequently attends the concerts, gave The Falconer his opinion of Charlie’s Mixtape. “I think that they do a really great job of interpreting the songs that they choose to cover. I also think that it is so cool that Mr. McCarthy is involved enough with his students that he is actually in a band with them, I think that adds a whole new aspect to it. I am definitely a fan,” French stated.

If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirt, contact a band member for an estimated cost and ordering details. You can also follow them on twitter @CharliesMtape for gig updates, follow ups, and pictures.

Charlie’s Mixtape has made a positive impact on others through their passion of playing music together. Their audiences have been inspired each time they perform. These concerts are definitely worth seeing, so keep an ear out for their upcoming shows.

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