Though his roots and home remain in New York City, singer/songwriter Joey DeGraw has had a long love affair with Nashville, one that he’ll renew Friday night when he appears at 3rd and Lindsley along with Tony Lucca and Andrew Hoover.
“One of the first really big shows I did after my first disc came out was at the Exit/In, and the people there were so warm and supportive,” DeGraw said. “I’ve always loved coming to Nashville ever since then. There’s not a better city anywhere in the world for a songwriter, and it’s a great place to play as well.”
Like many others in his field, DeGraw has experienced the periodic ups and downs of the music world, having been writing and performing since childhood, and written more than 50 tunes before graduating from high school. His 2005 debut release Midnight Audio managed to sell more than 40,000 copies despite lacking both label support and a national distribution pact. It was a showcase for his thoughtful, moving lyrics and strong, urgent lead vocals.
Such performers as Chris Whitley have previously raved about DeGraw’s sizable skills, and he’s worked with top producers like Steve Greenwell (Joss Stone) and Jim Caruana (Beyonce) in the past, and also collaborated with Stone, the Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron and Mountain’s Leslie West. But many music fans know his name for another reason. He’s the older brother of Gavin DeGraw, and they’ve previously toured and worked together, though now each one’s pursuing their own career path. Joey DeGraw shares a passion for music with his brother, but their approaches are quite different.
“Gavin is very much into soul music, people like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, who I also admire a lot,” Joey said. “But my inspiration was always more in the storytelling and melodic end than in the real animated vocal style end. I tend to put my emphasis into really letting you hear the lyrics and developing things, and he’s very much into that bombastic presentation. I still put a lot of emotion into the song, but not to the degree that you hear in soul, which really has the energetic, gospel-influenced feeling.”
DeGraw’s new CD Say Something Strong, which will be released in August, mixes some numbers from his previous release with new and explosive works, among them the singles “Another Mistake” and “Miracle of Mind.”
“When I did Midnight Audio I was still really kind of feeling my way around,” DeGraw said. “Steve (Greenwell) said let’s do a couple of these songs because I don’t think the old disc really does them justice. Then there was other material that I’ve been constantly writing and we put all of it together and I think the results are a really great CD.”
After getting plenty of favorable response from various club and festival appearances, working as a guitarist and vocalist with Gavin, and enjoying success during an international tour as a headliner, Joey DeGraw is confident that Say Something Strong will help him take the next stop in terms of his career. But even if it doesn’t, he’s still committed to making music that emphasizes integrity and quality.
“Since I never really got into the business expecting to be a big hit artist or any of that stuff, I don’t worry about anything beyond just making the best music possible,” DeGraw concluded. “For me the greatest thrill is being able to get up and perform in front of people, write songs and travel places."
What: Singer/songwriter Joey DeGraw in concert along with Tony Lucca and Andrew Hoover
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: 3rd and Lindsley, 818 Third Ave. S.