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Tony Lucca + Derik Hultquist in Spring Lake

Tony Lucca is a West Michigan favorite and returns to Seven Steps Up for a special co-bill with Derik Hultquist.

To multiple generations of emerging and established artists, Nashville is nirvana, a music mecca, a fulcrum for serious songwriters who don’t just make music for a living, but for whom music is life. For years now, Tony Lucca has had the energy and spirit of Music City coursing through his veins, a seemingly life-sustaining flow of inspiration that in part served as the lifeblood for the writing, recording and producing of his current self-titled album, the eighth full-length studio set in his notable canon. “When you go into a writing session, you gotta know who you’re writing for… and then you dig in,” says Lucca, who at this stage in his career has become a seasoned songsmith. “I learned a lot right off the bat, because again, doors were flying open for me that would of otherwise stayed shut.”

Tony Lucca has seen more than his fair share of changes in the musical landscape since the release of his 1997 debut, So Satisfied. It would be easy for a far less determined and dedicated artist to be so dissatisfied with, as Pink Floyd dubbed it back in 1975, “the machine,” so as to throw up their hands in defeat. Instead, Lucca has surveyed the landscape and sees a blank canvas, an opportunity to use a wide new palette of colors to paint more musical portraits, while still displaying his past masterpieces in different frames. That is the sign of a true artist.

He was cast by Justin Timberlake to play “the cool guy” in Timberlake’s directorial debut.

He finished third on The Voice in 2012, won a record deal in the process, and received more press coverage than any contestant on the show that season… or any season, for that matter.

He made a record with Adam Levine, then toured with Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

He was cast on the hit show “Parenthood” playing himself as a rock singer, and performed an original song.

He even starred in an Aaron Spelling prime-time drama and dated Keri Russell for years, winding up in countless gossip mags.

Derik Hultquist grew up just south of Knoxville in Alcoa, Tennessee, a small town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. He taught himself to play guitar on his dad’s old instrument––“It was just the worst guitar,” Hultquist characteristically deadpans in his East Tennessee drawl. “When I first started playing, you could only make a couple of chords on it. So I had to just write my own songs from the get-go.”

The remark is signature Hultquist: part self-deprecating wit, part sincere observation about the power of working with what you’ve got.

“I didn’t find my singing voice until my early 20s,” Hultquist says. “Before that, I would just sing like everybody, whoever I was trying to imitate.” It’s easy to imagine him playing the chameleon, channeling neo-soul singers and post-punk heroes before relaxing into himself. “Now my voice comes out of the songs I write. That’s the best way I know to explain it,” he says. “I just try to find the most earnest way I can to sing.” Honesty sounds good on him: Hultquist’s mellow tenor is easy but plush, forgoing flash in favor of subtlety. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy the occasional surprise attack, carried out via moody escalations and gravelly, provocative whispers.

Southern Iron flirts with psychedelic and roots rock without committing, carving out its own robust pop soundscape. Hultquist wrote all but one of the album’s songs alone, and the result captures a songwriter wholly comfortable with his calling, more drawn to evocation than linear narrative. “I’m very interested in what a song can do,” he says. “Often, I think a song hasn’t achieved its full potential. I’m trying to find that balance between creating a song that’s important and compelling to listen to.”

“We really cannot think of a better concert than an acoustic concert with Tony Lucca and Derik Hultquist. We love it when Tony returns to the venue on his tours and we’ve met many new artists. Derik opened here for another artist. They’ll put on a killer concert in our intimate venue and we are thrilled to have them both bac on our stage!” says venue co-owner, Michelle Hanks.

WHERE: Seven Steps Up Live Music & Event Venue, 116 S. Jackson, Spring Lake, Mi.
WHEN: Tuesday, September 26, 7:30pm
COST: $27 Reserved Seats. $37 Reserved Table Seats.