Gavin DeGraw brings Nashville influence to Vegas stage
Rootsy piano rocker Gavin DeGraw is a frequent Vegas visitor, an in-demand artist for corporate gigs on top of his own headlining cross-country jaunts. He’s back in town to play The Pearl at Palms on Aug. 24 with co-headliner Phillip Phillips, and it’s right where he wants to be.
“It’s going to be a more acoustic-style setup, not exactly unplugged but still a fun party set with me, my guitar player and my drummer, kind of like what early Elton (John) would do, banging on the piano and singing and doing my thing,” says the youthful, 41-year-old musician originally from South Fallsburg, N.Y. “There was a time in my career when I think I was trying to prove something, getting onstage and trying to do the pop thing and using (backing) tracks with the band. One day I saw a laptop on the stage and just thought to myself, ‘I never want to see that onstage again.’ Live music should be a real spur-of-the-moment thing. It’s one thing to make an album and use tricks like that, but we’re players and we want the room to play.”
DeGraw, still known best for his breakthrough hits “I Don’t Want to Be” and “Chariot,” has released six studio albums and is always working on new music; he says his current project will likely lean closer to the country market. But always at the core of his creativity is a pure dedication to songcraft.
“I find that the best stuff is the most personal stuff. That’s how you as an artist can connect with any audience,” DeGraw says. “These lyrics and songs have to tell them everything about me I can say, then it’s up to them to choose to listen, to relate, to come to my show or not.”
He stays close to his inspiration in Nashville, where he and his brother Joey, also a singer and songwriter, own and operate the massive Nashville Underground bar and live music venue.
“We’re excited about being part of a music culture there,” he says. “When you’re playing you feel like you can identify with other musicians and I just love being around that energy. It keeps me focused as a songwriter and keeps me feeling free as an artist. Those upcoming musicians are all in there, singing their hearts out and trying to make it big and it’s a beautiful thing.”
The Pearl at Palms, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24, starting at $45 plus tax and fee. 702.944.3200