As almost every road-warrior musician knows, being a professional performer isn’t all accolades, applause and easy money.
Sometimes the inevitable lumps of life can raise real bumps. In Paul Curreri’s case, the protrusion of insulted flesh was located in the middle of the singer/songwriter’s forehead.
“The biggest show I ever played in Charlottesville was for my first CD release show in 2002 at Starr Hill,” said Curreri, who makes his home in Charlottesville with his singer/songwriter wife, Devon Sproule. “Basically, I don’t know what happened.
“I think I had so much adrenaline throughout that day, worrying about if people were going to come, that by the time I got on stage it was like all the adrenaline left my body. I couldn’t remember any lyrics, people left and even my mother asked me if I was on drugs.
“I went backstage and put my head down on a desk so hard that it caused a big bump. I looked like a unicorn. The next morning I drove all the way to Staunton to get coffee. I just couldn’t be in Charlottesville.”
Curreri may have been downcast, but his debut album, “From Long Gones to Hawkmoth,” didn’t end up being his last record. Saturday evening at the Jefferson Theater, he will be performing with his band in celebration of the recent release of his sixth CD, “California.”
The band consists of Jonathan Mills on bass, Sam Wilson on guitar and Todd Wellons on drums. Special guest opener is award-winning songwriter Nathan Moore.
The gig also will serve as a comeback of sorts for Curreri, who was sidelined because of a throat injury for more than a year. The combination of quitting smoking and wanting to do well at another hometown show brought about the injury.
“I now know that what happens when you quit smoking is that your vocal cords expand in their newfound health,” Curreri said. “Hometown shows are really the only ones that make me nervous, because you can’t just get in the car and drive away.
“I was a little dismayed at how smooth my voice had become, so I spent the whole day of the show singing this very loud song by Lucinda Williams called ‘Fruits Of My Labor.’ The show went fine, but when I woke up the next day I couldn’t talk, and that lasted for nearly a month.
“I had to cancel the same American tour three times. Finally I realized I had to forget about trying to be on the road and just let my throat heal.”
Curreri said a remarkable mental transformation occurred in him a few weeks into his convalescence.
“After about two weeks I woke up and felt happier and lighter than I’ve felt in my whole adult life,” Curreri said. “I wasn’t having to do things like send out e-mails that weren’t answered, or politely complain when posters weren’t hung for an upcoming show.
“As soon as I stopped all the [performance promotion] stuff I just felt very peaceful. I was producing records for other folks, and eventually started making ‘California’ when I could sing well enough to do it in short bursts.
“I got back into playing again at the start of the year. Since then I’ve been doing my damndest to try and tow some of the good feelings along with me, and try not to get too wrapped up in everything again like I had been before.”
Curreri said he now realizes the injury could have gone one of two ways. He could have gotten angry and depressed, or he could have worked toward ridding himself of the angst he and outside forces were causing.
Taking the positive route reflects in many of the songs on the new CD, which is garnering a lot of praise. Uncut magazine gave “California” four stars, and MOJO described the album as “13 intimate, luminously produced tracks.”
Acoustic Guitar magazine called Curreri’s finger-style guitar work “dynamic,” and Bearded magazine called the artist’s new album “a record of understated warmth.” Not bad for a CD that he says came about by accident.
“I was on a streak of writing, and all the songs on ‘California’ were recorded in my home studio the same day they were written,” said Curreri, who was born in Seattle and grew up in Richmond. “When I showed a few friends some of the stuff I had been doing, they said they thought I had a record.
“It was very freeing not to have goals for the record and just let it happen.
“I just finished an instrumental recording for a soundtrack for an upcoming Discovery Channel program called ‘Green Horns.’
“I very much had a goal for that, which was to illustrate this idea of young farmers. In two weeks I’ll be in England to record a duet album with Dave Swarbrick. He’s a fiddle player who is kind of the patron saint of English folk music.”
After the recording sessions with Swarbrick, Curreri and his wife will launch a tour in the Netherlands. Of course, he has to get through Saturday’s hometown concert first.
With his more laid-back approach to the lumps and bumps that go along with his profession, Curreri said he’s not worried about the upcoming show.
“Maybe it’s the peace that has come into my life,” Curreri reasoned. “I’m just really excited that the Jefferson is into the idea of having me.
“I’m going to do my best.”
Paul Curreri celebrates the release of his sixth album, “California,” at the Jefferson Theater on Saturday Evening. Nathan Moore will open the show. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at jeffersontheater.com.