Over the breadth of history, love has presented itself in a variety of ways. Paul Curreri's introduction into the life of Devon Sproule, however, may be completely unique.
At the now-defunct Traxx in the couple's hometown of Charlottesville, Sproule was winding down her show with a final Johnny Cash song when a stranger bounded up to the front of the room, leapt on stage and drunkenly announced he was going to sing.
“He had really boozy breath,” Sproule recalls of her future husband's introduction. “I wanted to go with the flow though, so I let him sing the chorus.”
The two finished out the song and began a friendship that ultimately turned into a relationship two years later. Things might have been so different, if only Traxx had employed those large no-necked bouncers that line the stages at some venues.
Not that they would have deterred Curreri, who admits “Perhaps there was a little alcoholic fuel in the engines.”
However, as is often the case with love, his inspiration for the impromptu stage assault/sing along was simple: “She was pretty and I knew the song.”
At first he dismisses the “fate” label, but that's before Curreri stops to think about it and examine the cosmic complexities of their first meeting.
“Come to think of it,” Curreri says. “There have been other times I've been at shows with pretty women singing songs that I know and I didn't jump on stage then. Huh … ” Fate intervenes via kismet karaoke.
Though the relationship blossomed and the two were eventually joined in matrimony, the artists maintained their solo performing careers. It is only recently that the two have begun performing together regularly, as they will do when they hit Jammin' Java on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
“We did our first sort of official shows together on the west coast and we got along really well,” Sproule says. “Neither of us liked that we didn't get to play as long each night, but it was good. And it helped that our friend gave us a GPS system. I don't know how much more frustrating it would have been [had we gotten lost.]”
While they perform individually, Sproule credits Curreri with influencing her signature vintage sound, attributing it to his extensive collection of blues and jazz albums.
“I really like that American Songbook style of writing, but hanging out with Paul has really opened me up to more descriptive writing,” Sproule says.
In fact, Sproule refers to her latest album, Keep Your Silver Shined, as her “getting married album.”
“I say that because I wrote and recorded it during the three years I was engaged and getting married, so the songs on there take me back to that time,” Sproule says. “And they needed something catchy for the press release.”
The rootsy tunes are filled with sounds that seem completely at home in the shadow of an eastern American mountain range, with acoustic guitars, blending with banjos and an upright bass and amplified by the Appalachians. Add in Sproule's sassy southern sweet tea twang and the album practically transforms any mp3 player into a long-armed phonograph with a wobbly turntable.
“The whole Keep Your Silver Shined idea was to take an old style of jazz and give it your own twist,” Sproule says.
Curreri is also flaunting his latest finished product, a happy accident of sorts titled The Velvet Rut that was released in November.
“I pace around the house playing a lot of guitar, especially if Devon's out of the house,” Curreri says. “I would be playing something again and again and realize that it stuck. That happened about 30 times in three months and started wondering if there might be an album in there.”
The finished product is a stripped down, acoustic guitar-heavy album that's best served with low lighting, a thin veil of cigarette smoke and a hand-washed glass half full of whiskey. It's those kinds of accoutrement that will help you appreciate the intricate guitar work and Curreri's bluesy crooning on tracks like “Why I Turned My Light Off.”
The Dec. 11 show starts at 8 p.m. and will end with a series of duets by the couple. No word as to whether they'll close with Johnny Cash.
• For more on Devon Sproule, visit www.devonspoule.com. For more on Paul Curreri, visit www.paulcurreri.com.