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Biography

     The Absolution Train is founded in 2006 by nineteen-year-old Connor Charlton.

     He has recently moved back to his Virginia homeland from Nashville, Tennessee where he was playing in his older brother Wes's rock band.

     Now working as a dockbuilder on the Rappahannock River, he begins to have visions of a shapeless and limitless musical destiny in his imagination.

     Initiating this unknown epic journey and potential life's work, he records demos on his 8-track that will eventually become the EP Virginia Wilderness: the birth of The Absolution Train. 

     He pens a letter to his friends Claiborne Dingledine, James Walter, and Thomas Ferro, suggesting they come with him to Austin, Texas to make music and live in a liberated way. 

     They agree.

     In May 2007, Connor, Clay, and Tom leave Virginia in Connor's and Clay's cars and travel to Alabama, where they stay a week, and then, with James now in tow, they continue on to Austin, landing in a trailer Connor has found for them on Craigslist. 

 

     In Austin, they busk on Sixth Street and The Drag, record demos on Connor's 8-track, and generally just eke out survival working whatever jobs they can. 

     They meet Virginia Pharr next door at the commune The Art Farm, where she is employed as a glassblower. She becomes a close friend and joins the tribe as washboard-percussionist on the street.

     Out at a club on Red River one night, James gets a CD of the Virginia Wilderness demos to Christopher Harold King, a local musician and producer.

     King gets in touch with Connor, and the two of them set up recording dates at King's house-studio in Round Rock.

     That autumn, between playing on the street, recording demos, and delivering pizzas, Connor records at King's house-studio, often deep into the night, often sleeping on King's floor.

     Wes, his brother, flies in from Nashville for a visit and contributes his spoken poem Foxholes to the track Visions / Waiting to Call the Right Witness

     Others variously drop by and contribute.

     The street band is reassembled in King's living room and captured with one room mic for the track Nowhere (Fill Up the Glass).

     Finally, just before Christmastime, tracks from the sessions are combined with 8-track demos to create the album The Absolution Train.

     As 2008 dawns, the first chapter of The Absolution Train odyssey runs its course, and the four initial pilgrims return east. 

     Then begins a long gestational, developmental, and evolutionary era for the project. 

     From 2008-2017, Connor lives and jobs around Virginia, playing and recording in the bands Potlikkor and Toano; all the while, he is experimenting with an as yet unseen but intensely sensed new direction for The Absolution Train. Its musical form now dormant, the work has reincarnated as writing. These embryonic years culminate in the birth of the project's first book The Frog Gods in 2014. The way forward is opened. 

     With the birth of the writing, the music returns alongside it, and Connor is moved to record the 2017 EP Souls in Richmond with friends Tucker Harris on vocals and Courtney Hastings on violins.

     The Absolution Train in its entire spirit is reactivated and is no longer dormant.

     After completing the books Fire Flowers and Radio-Sun, Connor relocates from Virginia to Los Angeles, California to be with girlfriend Lucie Auer, with whom he elopes in 2018. There, he finishes the album The Animal Journal - begun in Virginia - an album which will serve to consummate his conviction of what is most important for The Absolution Train. Sensing its voice coming through on the demos Beyond the Place, Lucie in Blue, Souls, and We'll Always Be Free, he now grasps profoundly that sketches, fragments, and demos - their own singular artistic documents - can possess immense and authentic inborn integrity and power; inspired by the approach of the 19th century's impressionist painters as well as the "action painting" of Jackson Pollock, Connor embraces a field-recording style utilizing laptop mic and iPhone voice memos to most freely and dynamically capture the fresh moments of music as they are born, composing them and mixing them onto the primal canvases of 8-track and Garageband.

 

     Connor and Lucie then move from Los Angeles to San Diego, where Connor records the single Swamplands and finishes the book Ghosts of Nashville.

 

     In 2019, the two move back to Austin, where Connor befriends poet Anastasia Holloway, reconnects with old friend percussionist Virginia Pharr, finishes the book Primal, and records the project's first experimental book album The Frog Gods

     Over Covid lockdown, now back in Virginia, Connor reconnects with old friend musician Shane Cooley. The two influence, inspire, and motivate each other to keep the flame alive through the dark times.

 

     In 2020, Connor reconnects with old friend Potlikkor drummer Jonathan Hudgins and old friend Toano musician Landon Clark, and the three of them journey to Michigan to record the album Detroit at musician and producer Scott Murphy's house-studio in Corktown. 

     The Covid lockdown era also yields the EPs November, Rock is Love, and The Long Summer; the singles Most Beautiful Animal, Barnburner, and Portrait of Shane Cooley; the book The Shrine; and the collection of lyric compositions Book of Beasts

 

     In 2022, Connor resumes jobbing - first as a cobbler's apprentice, then as a bartender; writes the book River Gods; records the single Nature and the EP Raw Songs; and finally moves back to California with Lucie in February 2023.

     In early 2024, Connor and Lucie complete work on the book album Cowman. Furthering the initial experiment of making the 2020 album The Frog Gods from the 2014 book of the same name, Connor realizes that the book album form - now the primary focus and forward direction for The Absolution Train - has become a three-dimensional experience composed of lyric novel (book) and sonic novel (album); the two designed to be experienced separately or together. 

     Absolution is the remission of sin.

     To sin is to miss the mark.

     The mark is the integrity of the moment.

     The integrity of the moment is nature.

     Nature is that which is of its own accord, self-ablaze.

     Absolution therefore is nature. It is liberation from missing the mark - whether missed by accident or on purpose; the slip or the lie.

     Absolution is being and becoming. It is a train.

     The Absolution Train is a record of a transmission.  

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