It’s the early 2000’s and a screenplay writer is struggling with a classic case of writer’s block. To ease his mind, he turns to his new guitar. He’s never played before but decides that taking a break to learn a chord or two will help him unwind.
Each time he gets stuck, he goes back to the instrument. Learning the notes slowly becomes a form of meditation. Mastering one chord, then another, then a cover song, or four.
At an open mic night with friends, he plays a cover song for his first crowd. A local club booker takes him aside and offers up a business card, “You can have a gig here, but you have to bring 20 people.”
And so begins the music career of Joshua Radin, who at the age of 30 picked up a guitar for the very first time.
“A year after learning the g chord, I signed with a major label. It was surreal,” Radin shared.
Nearly a decade later, Radin has continued to play music. And while he currently calls LA home, it’s clear he has always had an affinity for New York. He lived Downtown for a decade, bouncing between the East and West Village. The first EP he ever released, “First between 3rd and 4th,” pays homage to one of those very apartments.
He’s composed music while wandering city sidewalks, and even met his manager while playing at The Living Room. But his favorite NY memory? Playing the Bowery Ballroom for the first time.
“It was maybe 12 years ago, I fell into this new career and I had all these fans. I just started touring and had no idea what I was doing. But that was my favorite place to go to concerts and all of a sudden instead of being in the crowd, I was on that stage. I remember in mind thinking it’s never gonna get better than this,” he said.
Radin has since amassed a loyal following of people who really connect with his music. And if you’ve ever had the chance to hear him play, you’d understand why. His acoustic melodies are beautiful, and his lyrics full of honesty, “I just wanted to write my truth,” he said of his music.
But aside from his raw lyrics, Radin’s shows are spectacular in their own right. His albums, while well produced as any, do no justice to his live talent and stage presence. Shows with large crowds, feel intimate, as he shares the origins and inspirations behind his music.
“I really want people to just feel like they’re in my living room,” Radin shared.
“There’s no specific set list, I’m getting on stage with a guitar and winging it,” Radin explained.
The casual format is freeing and has made each show of the tour its own spontaneous entity.
“I don’t often get to play in little bars, I’m usually in big theaters, so this tour has reminded me a lot of where I started, and it’s felt really good and nostalgic.”
“I still pinch myself, I’m getting paid to pursue my hobby, my meditative device. I don’t see how I could get luckier, and I don’t take it for granted.”
When asked if he was excited to be back in NY, he responded with enthusiasm.
“I still come back to New York, even when I’m not touring, to see friends and just hang out and fill my soul with the energy of NYC,” he said and added, “And also the pizza, I’m salivating just thinking about Prince Street Pizza.”
“New York really is my favorite city in the world to play, because it’s New York.”
And play he will.
You can catch Joshua Radin tonight at the Gramercy Theatre as part of Sirius XM’s Coffee House Tour. Tickets are available here.