Berlin bound: Sproule and Curreri head for Europe
Over the past decade, folk musicians Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule have been key figures in the Charlottesville music scene, but after a late August farewell concert, the married couple will move to Berlin.
"It felt like a good career move, to not just grow careers, but to make money, which is hard when you're going back and forth," says Sproule, who grew up in Louisa and began busking on the downtown mall as a teen. Curreri moved here 11 years ago and quickly caught on as a singer-songwriter. Despite their history of U.S. success, Germany calls on September 6.
"There have been a fair numbers of years where our careers have just primarily existed overseas," says Curreri.
The increased success in Europe, and the UK in particular, stems from both artistic and business roots, as neither musician slides easily into a single genre.
"We have trouble with house concerts or folkie things [in the US]," says Sproule. "It's really fun to play over there where you can play the folk shows, but you can also play a little theater of 20-year-olds who are sitting on the floor and they're blogging about it the next day."
Curreri also says all that blogging has really helped.
"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."
Curreri and Sproule regularly manage to get on national radio when touring Europe, and both artists credit their UK-based label Tin Angel ("a close friend backed up by this army of 20-year-old webheads," Sproule says) with providing them strong support, a stark contrast to their US experience.
"We don't have a team," says Sproule. "It was becoming more and more difficult to justify driving to Madison, Wisconsin for $150."
But even that hadn't been enough to drive them overseas until now. Sproule says, "The reason for me that we're going is that there's so much going on for us over there right now, but if we don't make the most of it, who knows what will be happening in just a few years."
For now, they speak happily of European tours where they have a proper backing band and tour support. "You have a team," says Sproule, "that you are a valuable enough part of that it's worthwhile for everyone to work for those gigs."
"It's hard to get work in this business," she adds. And getting financial stability from the craft you love opens up whole worlds of possibilities elsewhere, musical and otherwise.
"That's not to be taken lightly," says Curreri. "That's the way I want to do it. I wouldn't be happy achieving those same goals being a middle school teacher."
Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule perform at the Jefferson Theater on 8/27. $15-$17, 8pm. Seriously, guys, this is it.