Appearances can be deceiving. Stephen Currence does not look anything like a vagabond musician. His guy-next-door good looks with the disarming dimples conceal one of the area’s best vocal talents.
Years ago Currence played at Open Mic Night at Eduardo’s Station, which was home base for many local musicians in its heyday. Originally from Deltona, he’s come a long way since his first paid gig at Tom & Jerry’s bar in Winter Park in 2001. Currence began playing gigs in downtown Mount Dora in 2008 at a small laundromat-turned-burger joint, Chew Chew Express, that sat next to the town's train tracks.
In those early Mount Dora gigs, it was obvious that patrons loved him and his music. In addition to the dozens of regular customers he would draw into ‘Chew Chew,’ there were always more people lingering across the street to take in his velvety voice and acoustic guitar. Back then, Currence often sang with his eyes closed, so no one knew if he was aware of his growing throng of admirers.
Over the years, Currence has grown steadily as an artist. Fast forward nine years and his vocal authenticity, a hybrid of sorts between Ed Sheeran and James Taylor, draws people in from the sidewalk into whatever local venue he plays.
As Currence's confidence has grown, he now sings with his eyes open at least part of the time as if unafraid of the reactions he will see. If you dare flash a smile in his direction, you will always get a smile with a dimple back.
Currence is now writing songs for a original EP. The first track, “Let Me Down,” is emotional and impressive, and leaves the listener anxious to hear more of his originals.
Currence’s vocal talent is matched by his kindness and the sincere humility he wears on his sleeve which clearly resonates on stage. He has spent his professional life helping those less fortunate, whether they are disabled or disadvantaged. Now he squeezes in songwriting and performing between his day job in agency relations at Second Harvest Food Bank and caring for his two sons, Jayden, 13, and Declan, 10.
Mount Dora Buzz recently sat down with Currence in between sets at a downtown Mount Dora gig to learn a little more:
MDB: How do you describe your music style?
SC: (Thinks for awhile) I choose songs I care about and can commit to emotionally. I play songs I love.
MDB: What came first: guitar or singing?
SC: Guitar. I was eleven. Singing didn’t come until much later. My dad was a Dobro player in a bluegrass band and opened for Willie Nelson before he was famous.
MDB: The amount of serious talent in this area is extraordinary. Why do you think the area has such insanely talented musicians?
SC: First, there is an audience that appreciates it and businesses that need it. There are so many opportunities to play that it allows younger people to learn their craft.
MDB: What artist’s voice do you covet?
SC: Paul McCartney and Jason Mraz
MDB: What two artists would you like to hang out in a cabin with?
SC: Paul McCartney and John Lennon
MDB: What’s your dream performance venue?
SC: Wembley Stadium (London)
MDB: Your dimples make you look so young and innocent. People would never guess you have a fun and twisted sense of humor. What else do those dimples hide?
SC: I have a limitless supply of bad jokes and I love history.
MDB: You’re a very hands-on single dad. Finish this sentence. “I’ll consider myself a successful dad if…”
SC: As long as they know I love them and I’m proud of them. I tell them all the time. If nothing comes of my music, they give my life purpose.
MDB: 3 words to describe yourself?
SC: (Ponders for a minute) Calm, emotional and caring.
MDB: 3 words your kids would use?
SC: (Laughs) Not funny, listener, dumb jokes and sometimes too stressed.
MDB: Who are your 3 favorite artists?
SC: Beatles, James Taylor and Ryan Adams
MDB: What’s your biggest fear?
SC: Messing up a song.
MDB: What’s your guilty pleasure?
SC: Star Trek.
MDB: Tell me a secret about yourself? One that now a lot of people will know.
SC: (Laughing) I like to watch old 1970’s documentaries for no reason. I watch them like others watch wrestling.
MDB: Celebrity crush?
SC: Lady Gaga
MDB: It's time for the speed round of “Would you Rather...”
Stairway to Heaven or Hotel CA? SC: Hotel California
Boxers or briefs? SC: Boxers
SuperBowl or Tony awards? SC: Tony Awards
Tahoe or Okeechobee? SC: Tahoe
Rollercoaster or carousel? SC: Rollercoaster
Spiders or snakes?: SC: Spiders
Skydive or bellyflop? SC: Bellyflop
Brie or American cheese? SC: Brie. I sound like a jerk (laughs)
Stout or Lager? SC: Lager
Chill or OCD? SC: Right in the middle
Lady Gaga or Madonna? SC: Lady Gaga
Chipotle or Chick-fil-A? SC: Chipotle
Hug or handshake? SC: Hug
Voice or Idol? SC: Voice
London or Lima? SC: London
Burger or hummus? SC: Burger
Canine or feline? SC: Canine
RayBans or gas station shades? SC: RayBans
You can catch Stephen Currence playing at various bars and restaurants in Mount Dora, Tavares & Winter Garden. Check out the Local Live Music Guide for venues.
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