Paul Curreri (born January 28, 1976), an American guitarist, pianist, songwriter, and music producer born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He performs mainly in the folk and blues music styles. He married songwriter-guitarist Devon Sproule in May 2005 and lived with her in Charlottesville, Virginia. They have appeared and toured together, performing duets – most famously for Valentine’s Day. He now produces his wife’s tracks, providing supporting instrumentation.
Michael Paul Curreri, Jr. was born January 28, 1976 in Seattle, Washington. When he was 13, his family moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he first put bands together and performed as a musician. He was friends with fellow musician Drew Gibson and “from ages 13 to 18” they played “in bands together, writing songs and encouraging each other.” In 1995 he enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to pursue painting.
He met artist Andy Friedman at RISD, who had dropped out of the Pratt Institute the previous year. Together they used “the umbrella of art school to learn and act out creatively,” as Friedman explained. Switching from painting to filmmaking, Curreri then ignored his coursework to write songs. He and his new friend delved into “country blues originators and inventors, from Mississippi John Hurt to John Hartford.” Friedman said of his older-brother role in the relationship, “I liked that I pointed him the way of the country blues and drinking,” he said. “All the good stuff, you know?” By the time Curreri graduated from RISD he had composed “more than 200 songs” on guitar and piano.
Moving to Williamsburg, Brooklyn after graduation, Curreri and Friedman lived in a “lopsided apartment with mice and layers of peeling linoleum.” They worked at mailroom jobs. Curreri would take the Martin guitar his parents had given him to open mic nights, drawing numbers to play. “Maybe you’re drunk, maybe not,” Curreri later said. “Maybe you’re a featured artist. Next thing you know, you’re drawing a number again.”
Following a spot at New York City’s Knitting Factory in 2001, he received several tour invitations from Kelly Joe Phelps. Over the next four years, the two would play over 100 concerts together. After a year in New York City, he moved with a girlfriend to Knoxville, Tennessee. There he “burned through a dozen jobs.” Curreri then moved back to Richmond and on to Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I hadn’t quite moved yet to Charlottesville and was working a catering gig that night, and some people asked if I wanted to go hear Devon Sproule. They said, ‘Have you ever heard her? She’s kind of good.’ So they dragged me, and I walk in and I thought, ‘My goodness, she’s kind of cute’ … something propelled me onto that stage, and I think it was more than whiskey.”