Charlie Mars / Beach Town

The story of Beach Town begins in a “happy place.”

I used to listen to these relaxation tapes when I first got out of rehab, and the voice on these tapes would say...”close your eyes and think about a happy place...and let your mind go there.” I always wound up seeing myself on the sands along the emerald waters of the Florida Gulf Coast.

My grandpa and namesake - Charlie Mars - had a condo down in Destin, Fl, when I was a kid and it’s where my family spent endless summer days. I bought my first skateboard at Islanders surf shop. We ate donuts at the Donut Hole. I kissed my first girl playing spin the bottle with some girls from Dothan, Alabama. Those are sweet memories. That’s my happy place.

Awhile back I was holed up at a friend’s beach house in Old Seagrove, Fl, just down the beach from the sands of my Destin youth, when I got a call from Jimmy Buffett. He was calling to say that a friend of mine who was a friend of his had played him a song I’d written and recorded on my phone only a few days before...and he had a proposition for me. The song was “Beach Town.”

He was calling to ask if I would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway musical he was putting together, about a very Jimmy Buffett-like character named Tully, a struggling singer/songwriter who falls in love, has ups and downs, and finally catches a break. I was thinking, I got this, Jimmy Buffett. I AM your Tully. Did I mention Tully’s last name was Mars?

I was living the part at the time. I was in love. She wanted a plan, a “Dream Kitchen,” a foundation. I was struggling to find a plan. The only thing I could come up with besides what I was doing was writing songs in Nashville on Music Row. One of my friends moved to Nashville, wrote a hit song, made a million bucks, and lived happily ever after. I’d been doing it for the better part of two years hoping for that elusive hit song that would make everything ok. I spent my days writing, my nights playing the Bluebird Cafe, and my fingers crossed. Maybe this Buffett thing is my big break, I thought.

I think I sang pretty good at the audition, but my acting chops...not so good. I didn’t get the part. Big country stars weren’t recording my songs. She grew weary (for good reason) and we lost each other. I wound up back at the beach with a big batch of songs and I started to carve out the material that would tell the story of my life over the last few years.

Beach Town is the story of that ride, a story I chronicled with Music Row writers all over Nashville and down at the beach. The dream of a better life for me and my girl - “Dream Kitchen.” The East Nashville friends I worked into the songs...Benji Davis...“Benji Don’t Wanna Stay.” Self-destruction and the determination to change - “Last Rodeo.” The girl who got away - “She Ain’t Coming Back” and “Mountain Girl.” The call of Mother Nature, the ocean, the sun...with no distractions...and the fun and healing it can bring...“Beach Town.”

The album was recorded in Austin, Texas with producer Dwight A. Baker and a wonderful cast of musicians. JJ. Johnson from Austin (drums, percussion), George Reiff from Austin (bass), John Ginty from New Jersey (B3, keyboards), Jason Mowery from Nashville (dobro, banjo), Will Van Horn from Houston (pedal steel), and Clint Wells from Nashville (guitar) bring it home...with appearances by Robert Ellis (“Beach Town”), Martie Maguire (“Only In A Country Song”), and Preston Wait.

It falls in a place where country meets the sand. It’s a happy place. Beach Town.



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