It’s almost fitting, in a playfully stereotypical way, that an Irishman would begin his journey to success in a pub. But realistically, that’s where many singer/songwriters get their start; playing music they have invested greatly in for patrons whose guards on their emotions lower as pint glasses dry up.
Dublin’s Gavin James began his pub playing career right as he finished school, performing seven nights a week, after years of busking along Grafton Street in Dublin, refining his singing voice.
“I started off doing pub gigs when I was seventeen,” says James, who made Sam Cooke and Frank Sinatra covers a major part of his performances. “It was really fun… that kind of taught me how to talk to the crowd.”
James’s time on the streets and in the pubs of Dublin put him in the same circle as some well-known musicians. Playing open mics at Doyles Bar, famously known as Ruby Sessions, James became acquainted with fellow Irishman Hozier and English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, the latter of which reached out to record labels to let them know they’re missing out on a serious talent by not signing James.
“How cool was that?” remarks James on Sheeran’s call to bring him attention. “Ed Sheeran tweeting that was pretty mad.” James would soon sign with Believe Recordings in France before joining Capitol Records in the United States and Sony in Europe.
James made his US television debut in April when he performed “The Book of Love” on Dancing With The Stars during Chris Soules and Witney Carson’s Rumba.
The performance went well, despite a small hiccup on his behalf.
“I think I came in a little early on the guitar,” he says.
“The Book of Love” has been a big hit for James, who first heard Peter Gabriel‘s cover of the song on the season eight finale of Scrubs. The original, which James later heard and fell in love with, comes from The Magnetic Fields’ 1999 album 69 Love Songs, a three-volume concept album consisting of 69 love songs all written by frontman Stephin Merritt.
“The Book of Love” and Gavin James are this week’s Fresh First artist and you can tune into Fresh 102.7 every Friday at 8:30PM with Christine Richie for an exclusive interview and song premiere for the Fresh First artist series. Check out past Fresh First artist interviews HERE.