The show that sticks out to me the most was when I saw Gavin James play at the High Watt in Nashville, Tennessee (no, I’m not partial to him because of his last name, and no, unfortunately, there is no relation). I was living in Nashville at the time, and had just turned 18 years old. I remember that because I was desperate to see so many of my favorite artists perform there, but the age limit kept me out. So, on May 20, 2017, I proudly showed my driver’s license, got as close to the stage as possible, and made my audience-member debut at the High Watt at Mercy Lounge. Gavin stepped out onto the magenta-purple lit stage with his Irish tweed cap, a guitar, and a presence that hushed the entire room immediately. As he began to play, his voice cut through the room with a purity and dexterity that felt like sunshine on an otherwise dark and rainy evening.
With his charismatic banter and captivating stories, I didn’t think twice about the fact that Gavin was playing without a band behind him. Instead of feeling like we were just watching him perform, it felt as though we were in conversation with him. Gavin was a true showman, making inside jokes with the audience that he would reintroduce at just the right time, even imitating the sound of a trumpet so accurately during his rendition of “What A Wonderful World,” that I was sure Louis Armstrong himself was going to come waltzing out from behind a curtain and say, “Gotcha!” I’ll never forget when Gavin asked us to form a circle, stepped off-stage and into the center of it, and sang with us as if we were a group of his closest friends. That’s how I felt when I left that night, like I had somehow made a new friend.
Emily James’ single “the list” is out now. The EP Wanted You to Know, part i is out February 26.