Growing up across the Hudson River in New Jersey, a young Charles Carrico dreamed of being a part of the emerging arts scene in New York's Greenwich Village. So, much to the chagrin of his parents, Charles would skip school and board the ferry to The City where he would spend his days buddying up with the Beat poets and folk musicians that defined the counter-culture of Lower Manhattan in the 1950s.
Over 50 years later—now better recognized by his musician's moniker "Daddy Chico"— Charles sets up on the corner of W 4th St. and 6th Ave. to share the soothing sounds of old standard jazz tunes with each passer-by. Drawn in by his classic patinated white-on-white Telecaster, I decided to dig deeper to learn about the transformation from Charles to Daddy Chico.
Charles grew up on Elvis and John Lee Hooker in the 50s, inspiring him to play rock n' roll music like the stars of that era. For a while, he continued down that path, playing in New York and Jersey, until one man changed everything. "I heard Wes Montgomery play and it really oriented me away from rock and blues to focus on jazz standard ... I don't play like Wes but he's such a big inspiration emotionally," Charles explained.
Sick of playing in rock bands and yearning for a higher-wage job, Charles began working as a visual artist. For 50 years, he worked in every facet of the art industry as an illustrator, designer, and even creating web apps for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. "I was programming to display digital music before the Internet or YouTube ... it was just for fun!" Charles then added with a cheeky grin, "but when the web really took off, I was in high-demand."
His career in art—especially his innovative approach to combining tech and creative work—allowed Charles to retire and spend his time doing what he loves: playing music on the streets. "I don't really care about impressing people but I want to get to the level where I can sit with the guys who can really play and be able to hold my own," he explained about playing in Jazz clubs. He prefers the streets however, sharing that "the street is great because I make a lot of friends out here. A lot of celebrities have stopped by and even people that I idolize as musicians." He shared stories of every type of fan: from Marlon Brando's ex-girlfriend to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, all connected by their admiration of Charles' playing.
Don't be fooled by his easy-going demeanor or infectious smile—Daddy Chico is serious about his craft. As we discussed his story and collectively admired musicians of past and present, a few loud-mouths started to make noise on the corner, directed at Charles. "Hey!" he yelled in their direction ..."We're doing business over here!"
If you are ever wandering around The Village, keep an eye (and ear!) out for Daddy Chico, and if you can't make it to The City, check out some of his work on YouTube!