Arts & Events » Arts and Culture

music: Baring Soul

Charlottesville guitarist Paul Curreri creates an acoustic extension of his soul. And people are listening.

Free and soaring, Curreri's original folk- and country-blues-based songs sing in the face of darkness and carefree abandon, and his new CD, "From Long Gones to Hawkmoth," showcases a young player entering a bright musical future. On June 27 he brings his acoustic blues to Ashland Coffee & Tea.

The Richmond-raised guitarist has always explored diverse artistic pathways. But two years ago, new musical vistas opened when he heard blues man Skip James' spine-tingling moan for the first time. Curreri was playing guitar and writing songs, but something new was now in play.

"I started happening more upon, and staying with, country-blues artists," the 26-year-old recalled. "The guitar was sort of waking up … [and] I started getting all right on it."

There are many who will agree with that modest assessment as Curreri has in the past two years emerged from a confident but non-career type content to practice hours on end in solitude to the guy who rightly elbowed his way into the Charlottesville music scene.

In recent months, he's caught the attention of Kelly Joe Phelps who flew him to the West Coast to open his shows. Curreri has also found performing homes and met his picking heroes from Minnesota and Wisconsin to New York City and Boston. He and artist friend Andy Friedman of the New Yorker also frequently tour as a team discussing their respective creative processes.

Curreri's formal artistic efforts were first fostered at the Rhode Island School of Design. He quickly discovered the guitar was his calling but instead pursued a film degree that left him "miserable." Regardless of his dissatisfaction, his graduation project — acted, written and directed by Curreri for $17 — caught the attention of MTV. But when offered a job, Curreri promptly turned it down.

"I didn't really think that decision through," he says with a smile.

Stints in New York and Knoxville followed. Curreri recalls he went through "15 jobs in eight months, and four of those months I was unemployed." Eventually, he moved to Charlottesville. Curreri had been honing his estimable singing, writing and playing talents and was ready to make a career move. Not surprisingly, he soon found a niche in Charlottesville's music scene and beyond.

Though his songs of love and freedom are exceptional, Paul insists he is not a writer in a publishing-house sense.

"I don't really consider myself much of a 'songwriter.' It has to make me feel better… feel I exist and feel I have some purpose," Curreri explains.

"Lord knows, I'm not trying to write riddles. … I want it to speak but it has to speak to me. … I just work really, really hard at it. Christ, I couldn't have asked for a better year and a half here. The audiences have been so kind … and loyal." S

Paul Curreri appears with artist Andy Friedman at Ashland Coffee & Tea, Thursday, June 27, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available at the shop or online ( Call 798-1702 for information.

Add a comment