Take 5 With: Charles Esten

Charles Esten, best known for his role as Deacon Claybourne on the hit series Nashville, returns to his hometown of Alexandria, Virginia on November 26 and 27, 2016, for two nights of performances at legendary music hall The Birchmere. We had a chance to chat with Charles about what it was like growing up in Alexandria, what fans can expect during his shows at The Birchmere, and much more. Here are our five takeaways from Charles Esten:

1. What it was like growing up in Alexandria

“It was a wonderful place to grow up, and I still feel that way today.” When his family moved to Nashville to film his TV series, Esten said it “was like coming home to a place I had never been before. A lot of that comes from growing up in Virginia, having missed green space and seasons. It feels like home to me because I love Alexandria so much. I’m always reminded of that when I’m away.”

2. What it’s like playing at The Birchmere

“The Birchmere is such a highly regarded venue in the country music industry. When I talk to touring musicians and tell them I’m from Alexandria, they always ask me about The Birchmere.” Of the crowds, Esten said, “It’s always an honor to get to come back and play in my hometown. They could be the least interested because they grew up with you and know you so well, but there’s so much kindness, caring and support from these people I’ve known most of my life; it blows me away.” And as for what fans can expect during the two shows, Esten told us, “I will play some of the same songs, but not many. I’m going to do my best so those who want to come to both shows will have something different.”

3. What he does while he’s in town

“I’m a real traditions guy. Having kids myself, part of the tradition for us is coming back to Alexandria and getting to see everybody. When you have kids you tend to want to show them D.C. and Old Town. We get around and see all the tourist sites. When you live there you don’t always take advantage of everything but when you go away and come back you rediscover those things.”

4. What inspires him

“For me, I’m inspired by music; lifted by music. Music has always been in my head and heart. I’ve been making up songs since I was a kid. When I was in 3rd grade, there was a contest at Maury Elementary to take a Disney song and change the words to it and write a school song. I changed ‘It’s a small world’ to ‘Maury is a great school, yea!’ I remember that feeling of, ‘Wow, this didn’t exist until I thought of it in my head, figured it out, wrote it down, and now all these people are not only singing it, but shouting it.’ I continued writing songs. Music is almost like a love from my younger days that I sort of stepped away from and now she’s back again in my life in a big way. I don’t think I’ll say goodbye again.”

5. What drove his career path

“When I was little, my father asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said ‘a clown.’ He asked, ‘Why?’ and I said because ‘I wanted to make people laugh.’ That continued as I got older thanks to the lead of a couple friends from Alexandria who were in clown school…we were clowns as kids, and we even performed at a children’s festival at Wolf Trap.” Then, in college Esten said, “If you would ask me what I majored in, technically economics but really it was being in a band. Standing at that microphone and doing improv while my buddies tuned their guitars and got plugged in helped me later when I stood on stage. What’s interesting is when I look back I think that what I was really saying is that I wanted them to feel happy. Later, I just wanted them to feel. As an actor, I am very fortunate that right now in the job I do I get to do these scenes and these episodes that make people laugh, cry, get angry, worried, and then also play good music.”

 

 

 

You can catch Charles Esten at The Birchmere on November 26 and 27, download his new #EverySingleFriday singles or watch Nashville return on CMT on January 5, 2017.

 

 

Header Image Credit: Charles Esten