An RV sat lonely at the far end of the wide-open, Wal-Mart parking lot on a Sunday morning. As the blue-haired ladies drove their sedans past to make their donut run before church, they saw a pleasantly round dog being pushed out the RV’s window. Then a man in his thirties with a beard fell out of the window after the dog.
“My door broke on the RV for a while and the only way out was to climb through the window,” Nate Currin explained, “but I fixed that pretty quick. My dog, Max, tours with me.”
Having spent three years traveling the country in his RV, Nate is a troubadour and pilgrim who is no stranger to the great American road. Blending traditional country styles with modern folk music, Nate’s songs reflect his life’s journey between love lost and a faith re-gained.
Having grown up the son of a Baptist preacher, Nate left his faith at the age of 19. He traveled the world, and by his late twenties, he struggled to overcome some serious issues with drugs and alcohol. The struggle brought him back to his faith which, he says, plays a big part in his songwriting.
“I really attempt to show the dirty—the gritty side—of my faith. I struggle with doubt, and I struggle with unbelief. I attempt to show that through my music.”
Having played with Jars of Clay and Blues Traveler, any fans of serious songwriters such as Owen Temple, Cory Branan or Adam Duritz of Counting Crows should definitely check out Currin’s music. He is currently touring in support of his April 15 release, The Madman and the Poet
In his twenties, Nate was traveling through the British Isles with a friend. While hiking and camping in Whales, they came across a mountain named Cadair Idris. According to local legend, a traveler who spent the night on its slopes would return either a madman or a poet. Shortly after camping atop the mountain, Nate Currin began to write his first songs.
On the vinyl edition of The Madman and the Poet
, there is a “madman” side, which features country infused songs like “Ballad of a Horse Thief” and “Birmingham.” A second side features the mellow, “poet” side of Currin’s songwriting. It begins with the title track and ends with a softly reverent tune, entitled, “Let Grace Fall Down on Me.”
Having already played several sold out shows on this tour, the award-winning Georgia native looks forward to continuing his tour through the Deep South and playing through the summer on a series of West Coast dates.
“The Deep South plays the largest role in my music from a stylistic standpoint,” Currin said.
Listening to songs off the new album like, “Midnight Train,” which has a Southern gothic sound not unlike the ever popular Chris Stapleton, it isn’t hard to notice that Nate’s Southern roots run strong. The music video on Youtube for “Midnight Train” is wrought with Spanish moss, trains, and alligators —some of the finer things the Deep South has to offer.
On the flip side, the Southern songwriter has been influenced by his travels outside of the South. He spent some time living and working in San Francisco, which is known for its circuit of mellow acoustic songwriters.
“Two years out in San Francisco was really more of a time about rest and rejuvenation. I did some writing out there, but I was primarily working on The Pilgrim
album, which I had a vision for already,” Currin explained.
His 2013 release, The Pilgrim
, was another concept album based on The Pilgrim’s Progress
, which is a religious text written by John Bunyan in 1678 that has been referenced by authors from C.S. Lewis to Mark Twain. The Pilgrim
is a mellow album that seems to be the touchstone work of Currin’s return to his faith after spending about a decade experimenting with drugs as the prodigal son. It has a somewhat Lutheran sound, although it is not intended to speak exclusively to a religious audience.
“I’ve always shied away from the Christian music label. You get pigeon-holed so fast with it. There’s so much more to write about than one faith, one point-of-view, or one world view," Currin said.
The 2013 album is the sort of spirit quest concept album that brings to mind author Joseph Campbell’s book, Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The call to adventure occurs on the third track entitled, “Two Friends and a Map” in which the pilgrim must leave behind his friends and ultimately his pack.
“It was really symbolic of all that baggage I was carrying around for all those years. Being able to let all that go was a huge thing for me.”
Nate Currin 8:00 PM on Saturday, June 4 at the Center for Southern Folklore.