Folk collective Fire Chief Charlie first came to my attention around 2011. At that time, they were based in Chicago, and had recently self released an album called “Town”, from which I’ve spun the song “Animals”.
As is the case with most groups that refer to themselves as a “collective,” the lineup of this one has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Frontman Jonah Malarsky moved to Los Angeles to be with his girlfriend, Jamie Devitt, who has since become a main member of Fire Chief Charlie. Devitt stays busy alternating between multiple instruments (piano, shruti box, harmonica, tambourine, ankle bells, tom drum…), and has become known for contributing hilarious gangstarap mashups on ukulele to their live sets.
Now based in Eagle Rock, Fire Chief Charlie continues to self release singles. Here’s their latest, titled “Bones”, on which Malarsky’s sister Katia joins him for vocals:
Check them out live, and you’re likely to walk away with a piece of homemade art (see below). As if creating music doesn’t keep them busy enough, Devitt and Malarsky are constantly making popsiclestick puppets, placemats, show flyers and other items that they fashion from elaborate constructionpaper cutouts featuring the cast of cartoon characters who have come to represent Fire Chief Charlie.