Paul Curreri

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Paul Curreri
Paul Curreri 3.jpg
The Roundhouse, London, March 06, 2008
Image by David Jones
Background information
Birth name Paul Curreri
Born (1976-01-18) January 18, 1976 (age 38)
Origin Seattle, Washington, United States
Genres Folk, Blues
Occupation(s) vocalist, Guitarist, Musician
Years active 2000 - present
Labels City Salvage Records
Tin Angel Records
Associated acts Matt Curreri, Devon Sproule, Kelly Joe Phelps
Website Official Website
Members Paul Curreri (lead)
Euan Rodger (drums)
Joe Carvell (bass)

Paul Curreri, an American musician and songwriter who performs mainly in the folk and blues music styles, was born in Seattle, WA in 1976 and raised in Richmond, Virginia. His brother Matthew Curreri is also a performing musician. Paul married songwriter/guitarist Devon Sproule in May 2005 and resided with her for several years in Charlottesville, Virginia. They often appear and tour together, performing duets—most famously for Valentine's Day.[1] He and his wife moved to Berlin, Germany in September 2011 [2] and now reside in Austin, Texas.

History[edit]

Paul Curreri was born January 28, 1976 in Seattle, Washington. He was raised in Richmond, Virginia, where he first put bands together and performed as a musician. He was high-school buddies with fellow musician Drew Gibson, who now lives in Washington, DC, "from ages 13 to 18, playing in bands together, writing songs and encouraging each other."[3] Though he grew up playing music, telling band members in high school that "he saw things in colour," he ended up enrolling at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to pursue painting and film. While his experiences at art school helped develop his ability to observe and record the visual world, his true passion again rose to the surface.

By the time Curreri graduated from RISD he'd composed "more than 200 songs"[3] on guitar and piano. Turning down a job at MTV, he set out on a life as a musician. Following a spot at New York's Knitting Factory in 2001, he received several tour invites from Kelly Joe Phelps. Over the next four years, the two would play over 100 concerts together.[4]

"I hadn't quite moved yet to Charlottesville and was working a catering gig that night, and some people asked if I wanted to go hear Devon Sproule," says Curreri . . "They said, 'Have you ever heard her? She's kind of good.' So they dragged me, and I walk in and I thought, 'My goodness, she's kind of cute' ... something propelled me onto that stage, and I think it was more than whiskey."

NPR interview[5]

Paul now makes his home in Charlottesville with songwriter/guitarist Devon Sproule; the two were married in May 2005.[3] They met while Devon was performing at a show in Charlottesville when Curreri leapt on stage. Today they perform with each other, known especially for their duets. Curreri also contributes electric guitar to his wife's back-up bands.

Recordings[edit]

Two early demos, referred to simply as "the red one" and "the blue one," containing early versions of well-known songs like "Bees" and "Senseless As A Cuckoo" (as well as unreleased ballads), have become semi-legendary. Independent Brooklyn-based label City Salvage Records released Curreri's first album, From Long Gones to Hawkmoth in April 2002. In June 2003, City Salvage Records released Curreri's second album, Songs for Devon Sproule dedicated to his future wife. Recorded by Kelly Joe Phelps, in the same studio he had recorded his own Roll Away The Stone and Shine Eyed Mister Zen albums, over the space of just two evenings, Songs for Devon Sproule captured Curreri at his simplest, and proved to be his most popular record to date. The album found Curreri accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, creating a sound similar to his concert performances. However, Phelps did play guitar on "Beneath A Crozet Trestle Bridge."

The resulting effort was an album of primarily original material nourished by, but not slavish to, the country blues and folk traditions which lie at the heart of Curreri's musical influence.

The Spirit Of The Staircase, Curreri's 2004 release saw the return of Jeff Romano, who produced and performed on 2002's From Long Gones To Hawkmoth. The title of the record comes from a French expression l'esprit d'escalier, the things you think to say after you are already out the door. His first live album, Are You Going To Paul Curreri, was released in 2006. Recorded at Charlottesville's (now-defunct) Gravity Lounge in late January, it was backed by two Charlottesville, Virginia musicians – Randall Pharr (bass), and Spencer Lathrop (drums).

Curreri's fifth album, The Velvet Rut, was released in the UK on Tin Angel Records in June 2007. It was released in the States in October 2007, again on Brooklyn's City Salvage Records. Uncut Magazine gave it four stars, while Mojo gave it five stars. The Velvet Rut features a mass of sound surrounding eloquent guitar work with Curreri playing all the accompanying instruments himself.

His sixth album, California, was released in November 2009 by Tin Angel Records in the United Kingdom, and in April 2010 through Hi-Ya in the United States. The "Hometown Release Concert" for the album was held August 7, 2010 at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia.[6] Sam Wilson performed on guitar, Jonathan Mills on bass, and Todd Wellons on drums—with Nathan Moore opening.

Performance[edit]

Curreri began performing in rock bands while still in middle school. In interviews, he has given credit to his parents. First, they spent "a minor fortune, which they didn't have" to buy him a sequencing keyboard for Christmas ("There was nothing under the tree for me. I didn't know what was going on. But we were raised to be polite, so I was trying to enjoy my brother's and sister's gifts. Eventually, my parents shifted where they were standing to reveal this incredible keyboard -- an Ensoniq VFX-sd, complete with Peavey amp. I burst into tears.") And second, they opted to ignore Paul's grandmother's advice that joining a rock band would likely lead to "sex and drugs." Early "hilarious" band names included The End, P.A. Loyalties, Cross-eyed Grandma, and Sun 21. "Yeah, I've rocked my fair share of Jewish community centers," he said in 2007.

Following college, after appearing at New York's Knitting Factory in 2001, he was invited to tour from Kelly Joe Phelps and would appear with him over 150 times in coming years.[4] After moving to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2001, and meeting his future wife Devon Sproule on stage, the now-defunct Gravity Lounge became something of a home venue for both. Curreri gave the first official concert at that venue. Many times over the years he and his wife performed together there, receiving particular acclaim for their Valentine's Day duets.[1] They both tour and perform in the UK extensively, where they have developed a considerable following.

Throat injury[edit]

In July 2008, Curreri suffered a major throat injury, which caused him to cancel the majority of his remaining concerts for the year. As he describes it:

"Basically I quit smoking, and it turns out that you can damage your vocal chords right after that pretty easily because they expand in their newfound health."[5]

In the interim, he produced approximately ten records, including the debut album for the English trio Don't Move!, a soundtrack for a Discovery Channel documentary on young farmers called "Greenhorns", and his wife, Devon Sproule's third official album, Don't Hurry For Heaven. Additionally, he slowly assembled his sixth album, California, which was released 2009 in the UK, and 2010 in the US. He also arranged and performed an instrumental version of "We Three Kings" for Our Christmas Present (2008) to support Our Community Place in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

With Devon Sproule
The Roundhouse in London
March 6, 2008

He could often be seen riding his vintage 1976 Honda CB750 motorcycle through the Virginia countryside, a bike which he said played an "enormous role" in his life during the injury; however, when he returned to playing music regularly in 2010, he sold the bike citing fears that it was only a matter of time before he crashed.[citation needed] In a recent interview, Curreri called the injury "a gift," saying, "I'm looking to expand my perspective. I'm looking to find what I didn't have time to find before. I'm looking to appreciate."

Return[edit]

2009 also saw Curreri & Sproule travel to Kenya to collaborate with Kenyan legends Joseph Kamaru & Ochieng Nelly. He also did a few tours in Europe as Devon Sproule's guitar player. 2010 has seen a return to touring for Paul. He performed with his wife at the award ceremony for the ASCAP Foundation Sammy Cahn Award for songwriting she received in June 2010 (see video).[7]

Move to Berlin[edit]

In September 2011 Curreri and Sproule moved to Berlin, Germany after years of traveling to Europe to perform. "There have been a fair numbers of years where our careers have just primarily existed overseas," says Curreri. "The territories are so much smaller," he says, "and the access to national media is much easier. Because the territories are smaller, it's easier word-of-mouth-wise."[2] He also released his eighth album, The Big Shitty, which was recorded in Berlin at Tricone Studios in January 2011. His regular English rhythm section—Euan Rodger on drums, and Joe Carvell on bass—provided the backing, with Curreri filling in the remaining instruments. Devon Sproule also played clarinet on one track.

Currently[edit]

While recording his ninth album on Fishers Island, NY, Paul reinjured his vocal cords. He is supposedly now in Hawaii.

Style and sound[edit]

Paul Curreri performs mainly in the folk and blues music styles. Known best for his solo acoustic performances, he also contributes electric guitar stylings to his wife's band, and has fielded his own band at times. He is renowned for intricate guitar work, and often plays all accompanying instruments himself on his recordings. Since the release in 2002 of his debut CD, Long Gones to Hawkmoth, as the Washington Post states: "he's been collecting critical praise ever since for his bluesy Americana tunes and wild-eyed tales."[3] Other media reflections on his style and sound include . .

" . . Curreri reminds me of guitar master, Rene Lawrence, with a crazy intricate, crashing, dancing fingerpicking that simply makes sense in context with his themes . . The Velvet Rut comes on edgy and dirty, moves into rootsy, bluesy places, feels a little Appalachian at times, and maybe a bit like folk, but it doesn't make a commitment to any of them . . Acoustic, electric, electronica, distorted, fragile, in your face all thrown into the mix for a delightful listen."[8]

—Christy Claxton, Stave Magazine

"Gentle in thought, perceptive in lyric and melodic in finely tuned fretwork . . Curreri's finger-picking style is lilting and fluid, and there's a languid tension throughout that's created by a strong and sure dynamic sense. The flicking and scampering of his fingers weave an aural magic that complements his elusive and playful vocal style perfectly."[9]

He and his wife perform live duets regularly, especially for Valentine's Day.[1] In addition to the music, he's an original humorist known for telling engaging comic stories between songs.[1]

Discography[edit]

Compilations[edit]

Distinctions, honors, and awards[edit]

  • His fifth album, The Velvet Rut (2007), received five stars from Mojo and Uncut Magazine gave it four stars.
  • He was voted BEST LOCAL SOLO MUSICIAN 2001[10] in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia in the C-Ville Weekly "BEST OF 2001" issue.
  • Danny Schmidt's "Two Guitars" on Man of Many Moons (2011) takes the form of a letter back to Curreri, lamenting "the state of their common 'careers' (having quit their day-jobs to become full-time artists)."[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Live Review: Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri at the Boardwalk, Sheffield" by Allan Wilkinson, February 13, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Berlin bound: Sproule and Curreri head for Europe" by Justin Cober-Lake, August 22, 2011 in The Hook: MUSIC FEATURES.
  3. ^ a b c d Live! Paul Curreri, Drew Gibson and Devon Sproule June 27, 2007 at Jammin Java, Vienna—June 21, 2007 in The Washington Post
  4. ^ a b Official Website
  5. ^ a b "Paul Curreri And Devon Sproule: A Couple Of Solo Artists" interviewed by Liane Hansen, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, April 4, 2010.
  6. ^ "Buzz-California dreams: Paul Curreri inspired, inquisitive on newest album" by Stephanie Garcia, July 27, 2010, in The Hook.
  7. ^ "Watch Devon Sproule: Live at ASCAP" June 04, 2010.
  8. ^ The Velvet Rut review by Christy Claxton, 2/13/07 in Stave Magazine
  9. ^ 9x Magazine
  10. ^ http://www.c-ville.com/ C-Ville Weekly
  11. ^ "Danny Schmidt - Man of Many Moons (Red House)" NetRhythms.co.uk; The Latest Album, DVD & Book Reviews - MARCH 2011.

External links[edit]

Reviews, articles, interviews[edit]