Passionate Songs | Music | Weekly styling

Chuck Ragan’s earliest musical memory is of sitting on the floor in front of his grandparents as they played music. Paw Paw played the accordion and Maw Maw banged a tambourine as they sang Cajun and French tunes for the family.

In high school, he listened to what he calls “a weird mix” of music: Minor Threat, Sex Pistols, Metallica, Midnight Oil, Doug Kershaw and Social Distortion. When he was 19, Ragan helped found the Gainesville band Hot Water Music, with Chris Wollard, Jason Black and George Rebelo, later Chris Cresswell.

Being part of the ’90s punk scene had its upsides and downsides, he explains.

“The highlight was that it felt very free and dangerous, not to mention connecting with like-minded people,” Ragan says. “The weak point was that it certainly wasn’t as accepted in social circles or schools or society as it ended up being a few years later. So there was a realization that you would be looked down upon , mocked, beaten or harassed.

When Hot Water Music disbanded in 2005, Ragan’s music took on an acoustic folk-inspired direction and it is this sound that he will bring to Final Gravity Brewing on February 24 for a solo show. “I was playing acoustic long before the band and had been writing and playing that way throughout the band,” he says, admitting he never did much of it because the band was so busy. . After the band regrouped and then broke up for a second time, Ragan focused on carpentry and attempted to leave the music business behind.

The funny thing is that he continued to write. He would come home after work and play to relax.

“I had just got married to my sweet Jill and we were living in Los Angeles,” he recalled. “One night she suggested that I record some of this material before I lose the songs, which often happens if they are not documented.”

Mitchell Townsend, a friend from Orange County, approached Ragan and told him that when he was ready he would record the songs in a makeshift studio set up in the laundry room of his house. This is where “The Blueprint Sessions” were created. Ragan reunited with Joe Sib and met Bill Armstrong and signed with Side One Dummy Records.

Ragan performs solo acoustically in Richmond the night before performing with reunited Hot Water Music and the mainstays of Richmond Avail in North Carolina. Musically, Ragan doesn’t see the two shows as that different. “I put a lot of energy [into] both, so the main difference is just being alone,” he says. “Having stripped everything, there’s not much to hide behind. It still rattles the bones a bit, but that’s what I like about it.

While Final Gravity hosts a bluegrass jam on the first Tuesday of every month and occasionally hosts acoustic bands, music is not a usual thing. When a friend asked Ragan if he would do a show in Richmond while he was in the area on tour, he suggested Final Gravity Brewing as a good choice for his acoustic solo. “I thought it would be a nice change from the more bluegrass stuff we usually have,” says brewery owner Tony Ammendolia. “And maybe a few new people would discover Final Gravity.”

With so many influences growing – gospel, cajun, punk, rock – Ragan’s music doesn’t fit neatly into any genre.

“You will always have those who play shy and soft, or those who breathe fire and play hard. Aggressive and out of control or focused and classy like everyone else,” he explains.

His music has been described as American, country, folk punk, singer-songwriter, and acoustic storyteller, but he doesn’t get caught up in or attached to any of the labels. “Tome, [they’re] just songs that I’m passionate about and sometimes I have a band, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m pretty good, sometimes I can be really bad. But I know that as long as I’m up there doing it, I believe it.

Another thing he knows for sure about playing and touring at nearly 50 is what a rare opportunity it is. Many musicians he considers far more talented in their ability to play and write songs are struggling or have given up.

“I feel very lucky to be able to pick up a guitar and travel out of town or out of the country, and have people care to meet me halfway,” Ragan says, adding that it’s a blessing that he don’t take for granted. “I’m not going to lie, I’m tired. I’ve done more than I ever dreamed of doing in music, but now I have a young son and a wife at home who need me there, so it’s very hard to leave the home. That said, I am grateful that these opportunities are there to help support my family and my livelihood.

That’s exactly what he’ll do in Final Gravity, and, he misses his family, playing at a Richmond beer hall has its perks, namely “cold beer and friends.”

Chuck Ragan performs solo at Final Gravity Brewing Thursday, February 24 at 9 p.m., 6118 Lakeside Avenue, finalgravitybrewing.com