Thoughts From Charlie Booty


Sharing an experience can create lifetime bonds between people and most all my close friendships were developed from experiences in and around musical events. The AMRF production, The Motor City Boogie Festival, is one of those exceptional events where fans and performers can become friends by sharing their love of this wonderful music, which is what it is all about.

Piano blues-boogie woogie can mean different things to each of us.  For me, this music is exhilarating, exciting, emotional and inspirational.  It also has tremendous therapeutic power.  On more than one occasion, during stressful and traumatic events of my life, being able to find comfort and peace from regular music sessions has preserved my balance in life.  Of course, such benefit is derived from devotion and dedication to the music.  Even without therapeutic benefit, piano blues-boogie woogie is a great lifetime adventure.  There is a seemingly endless variety of piano styles and ideas that flow from each performer and each player has a different story to tell.

Over roughly 58 years of playing piano, many people have asked me about learning to play blues-boogie piano.  I have shied away from actually doing long-term teaching though I have tried to start newcomers with simple advice and encouraged those who were already on speaking terms with the piano and notes.  One of the first requirements, in my opinion, is a deep, sincere love and appreciation of the music and it is best not to have on blinders that exclude all but one or two styles from the scope of appreciation.  I have met fans who only wanted to learn the industrial strength boogie woogie piano and, while that is all well and good, it is not wise to try to start out at the top of any profession.  I recommend a lot of listening to recordings of as many early pioneers as possible, primarily to get a good feel for the range of expression and ideas that brought all of us together.  Next, and even more important, is to listen to, and watch, live performances at every chance, on a one-on-one basis where possible.  I have learned a lot by being close enough to a piano to see what the player is doing and how certain things that intrigue me are done.  Of course, for any beginning blues-boogie player, the main thing is to start out very simple and work up to more industrial strength boogie as the control, coordination and finger technique develop.  The hardest part, and this is what many beginners try to by-pass, is practice, practice, practice!  Even the pro's have to stay in shape with practice.

With the Motor City Boogie Festival, the AMRF provides a great way for fans to get their yearly "piano blues-boogie fix", as well as inspiring future players, by presenting the best piano blues-woogie players from around the world.      

-Charlie Booty (Boogie Beat, Summer 2003)


Charlie Booty has worked diligently to promote boogie woogie to a world-wide audience. He has several full-length CDs produced on his private Piano Joys label.  He also has collaborated on discs with artists like Charlie Castner and Ben Conroy.  Another effort is his “Rent Party Echoes: CD series, featuring freewheeling piano solos and duets recorded at Dallas-Fort Worth piano parties.  It is our pleasure and distinct honor to have had Charlie perform for the past 3 consecutive Boogie Woogie Festivals and to contribute his personal insights for our debut newsletter. – The Editor

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