Known best for his role as Deacon Claybourne on the hit television show NASHVILLE, musician, songwriter, actor and philanthropist Charles Esten has developed his career across a number of mediums. Following a series of sold out dates in January, he will be undertaking his biggest headline UK tour to date culminating at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Check out what he has to say below…
You made your theatre debut in Buddy in London’s West End and now you have a UK tour of your own coming up. How do you feel?
I can hardly believe it. I’m thrilled. Buddy didn’t just start my theatre career. It started everything.
Does it feel like a second home when you come back to the UK?
It really does. We became Anglophiles. The entire British experience is very special to us. Buddy – for those who didn’t get to see it – was a real phenomenon. There’s something about Buddy Holly’s music. People would get up and be applauding and dancing and clapping.
Have you had a chance to hang out in any of the other cities you’re playing like Glasgow?
It was real fun for me to get to visit a number of cities with the Nashville tour and on my own – me with a guitar and piano. I loved the intimacy of doing that but it was always my intention to return with a band. And this is the band you would have seen at the Nashville show, led by my friend Colin Linden. He’s an incredible guitar player. The best thing I can say about him is he’s the voice of Deacon Claybourne’s guitar. When you heard Deacon sing, you heard me, but when you heard Deacon play, you heard Colin.
Are there any British traditions you enjoy?
Breakfast. I love breakfast here (in the US) – and there (in the UK). I love the little differences, whether it’s the sausages or the tomato.
What can we expect from the shows?
There’s going to be a proper mix. I will definitely be playing some Nashville songs. I will also be playing some of my songs that people, who have become fans of mine have heard before from my Every Single Friday project, where I released 54 singles in 54 weeks.
That must have been a lot of work that project.
It really was. There was a lot that went into it and certainly a wonderful team people who helped me including my producers and my wife. For me, I’ve been a singer/songwriter all my life. I decided to start putting out singles and see how long I could do it. I figured it would be about 20. 54 songs later I finished. I found out about a year later that the people at the Guinness book said it was a world record.
What did they give you to commemorate the achievement?
They gave me a plaque that certifies that indeed is a record. I got the Guinness World Records book with my name in it too.
What else do you have planned for the tour?
All the new stuff. I’ve been writing for two years and I might put out an album in the autumn. Finally I always love a great cover. There’s something about being in the UK that inspires me cover wise. The music that came from the UK, I think you know how incredibly influential it was in the States. I’ve covered Elvis Costello, David Bowie, The Beatles and so many British artists.
Which current acts are you a fan of?
I’m real fortunate a lot of these have become friends in Nashville and I’m inspired by the work they put out. Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osbourne, Striking Matches plus The Adelaides, who will be supporting me on this tour and did on the last.
What do you think of The Shires?
I know them well and they’re another one who really lift that torch of country music up high in the UK and are receiving their due for it. I’m a big fan.
Ed Sheeran wrote a song for their latest album. Would you like to hear him release a country track of his own?
Anything Ed Sheeran is playing or singing helps the song and the people around. I heard he was a Nashville fan and I believe he knows Sam Palladio, who played Gunner, and is a fan of Lennon and Maisy (Stella). I think he is fantastic. I know what draws him to country – him and that guitar starting off with not much else. The genres are all becoming more blurred now. Using an acoustic guitar, that’s country. He has a country heart it seems to me from what I’ve heard and seen.
What did you think of Lennon Stella working with Liam Payne on Polaroid?
Those six seasons that we spent together working, I was such a fan of her and her sister and their family as people. The talent, charisma and joy that comes out of her… She is special. Her voice is special, not only vocally but what she has to say and write. I think the sky is limit with her. I’m thrilled about her working with Liam Payne and know how much it means to her.
What have you got coming up on the acting side?
I’m in South Carolina shooting a new Netflix show called Outer Banks. I’m real excited. There’s a lot of young actors. It’s kind of a thriller and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Are there any British TV shows you’d like to act in?
There are so many. Colin Salmon, who was on Prime Suspect, was a friend of mine. That was our first taste of excellence of British television – and of course Monty Python before that. More recently we’re fans of The Crown and Outlander. Also Ricky Gervais’ After Life is very special. It’s unusual to combine something that can be so dark and have such joy and humour in it. It’s really a feat.
How does it feel to headline the Royal Albert Hall after performing there as part of the Nashville tour?
It’s a career highlight. This time I get to have my own band. I will be in the moment and I hope everybody else comes along and you guys will be in the moment with me.