Charlie Smith

Charlie believes that through musical expression we can explore the beautiful, playful and sometimes heartbreaking emotions of the human spirit. He has met many incredible people through music and he sees his musical enlightenment as a never-ending process. He is amazed by music's power to break through language barriers and to express ideas that words never could. He reveres the musical history that came before him and desires to make his mark as an innovator.


Charlie Smith was introduced to music at an early age by his grandmother and started taking classical piano lessons at age six. He picked up the guitar while attending St. Paul Central High, where he joined the jazz band, performed in musicals and studied audio recording.

Charlie attended Grinnell College in Iowa, where he earned a bachelor's degree in music in 2007. There, he studied jazz theory under bassist Gabriel Espinosa. He played piano in the college's jazz band, Latin band and gospel choir in addition to many student bands.

One of his favorite memories of playing music in college was jamming with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra in his living room after their concert on campus that evening.

In 2006, Charlie lived in Milan, Italy, for five months and took classes in jazz composition and opera while studying jazz piano under Lorenzo de Finti.

Charlie is a devoted performer and teacher in the Twin Cities. He has played over 200 shows with a number of bands since 2007. He has been featured on local radio stations Radio K, the Current, MPR and KFAI, and in local publications City Pages and Since 2008 Charlie has taught piano, guitar and voice lessons in the Twin Cities to students of all ages. In May of 2011 Charlie began teaching at the Linden Hills House of Music.

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Military Special

Charlie joined Military Special shortly after moving to Minneapolis in 2007, playing keyboards and producing electronic beats for the dance-rock sextet. The band earned its share of accolades in its three years, including a well-received show at the 2010 SXSW Music Festival in Austin and a sold-out sendoff at 7th Street Entry. Charlie co-wrote and released three albums with Military Special, and recorded and co-produced the band's final EP "Rights."


Early in 2011, Charlie formed psych-dance group UMAMI with Military Special guitarist Peter Blomgren, vocalist Angelo Pennachio (formerly of The Guystorm) and bassist Tim Bass. In UMAMI, Charlie plays keyboards and produces beats and samples. The band has been featured on Radio K's "Off the Record" and was voted 9th best new local band in City Pages' 2011 Picked to Click poll.

Calico Queen

In October of 2010, Charlie began collaborating with singer-songwriter Lucy Michelle. They formed the duo Lucy and Charlie to perform their favorite cover songs after a 2010 performance at the Fitzgerald Theater for Minnesota Public Radio. In November of 2011 the two added bassist Adam Thein and drummer Colin Stumbras of City on the Make. Charlie played piano with Lucy and The Velvet Lapelles through February of 2011 and toured with the band to New Orleans.


Charlie performs and DJs under the moniker Carlo Marx.

Charlie has been featured as a guest performer with rock group City on the Make and blues band Javier and the Innocent Sons.

In August of 2011, Charlie played keyboards in a live hip-hop band fronted by MC Jason Anxious.

In fall of 2010, Charlie collaborated with Somali pop star Ahmed Ali Egal and performed with him in an East African community outreach concert at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Charlie studied blues and jazz piano with Twin Cities music legend Cornbread Harris.

In the summer and fall of 2010, Charlie played piano with rockabilly cabaret band Moustache Jim and the Straight Razors.

In 2009 Charlie played piano in jazz trio Metal Spirit with bassist Jesse Schuster and drummer Colin Hacklander.