Country singers Esten, Carmack bring ‘Nashville’ to Park City
Park City Institute will present Nashville Cafe as the final St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights summer concert of the season at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, at City Park. Tickets range are $49 and $89. They can be purchased by visiting www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.
Singer-songwriter and actor Charles Esten, known for his role as guitarist and record label owner Deacon Claybourne on the CMT country music drama “Nashville,” is in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Esten, who will close the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Summer Concerts on Sunday with his “Nashville” co-star Chris Carmack, landed the world record for releasing a song for the most consecutive weeks as a single musical act.
Through his #EverySingleFriday campaign, Esten released a song weekly from July 16, 2016, through July 21, 2017. And he said “Nashville,” which ran from 2012 to 2018, inspired him to do it.
“I thought about how people would see me once a week on the show,” he said. “Then I thought, why not release a single every week?”
The decision opened Esten’s floodgates of creativity.
“I found the upcoming Friday deadlines stopped the ‘analysis paralysis,’” he said. “I didn’t think about what I was going to write about. I just wrote with my friend Steve Mandel, who also produced some of the songs.”
Throughout the campaign, Esten began releasing the singles as nine-song albums.
“When I got to the year mark, I felt it was time to stop,” Esten said. “I decided 54 (songs) would be a good number, because that would mean six CDs.”
Esten’s fans will get to hear some of those songs during the Big Stars concert, he said.
“Chris will go on first and I will go on afterwards, and it’s very likely that we will overlap with a few songs,” he said. “We will definitely play some ‘Nashville’ songs, and then we’ll play some of our own songs. And we’ll do that in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.”
Esten said the concert is made for “Nashville” fans.
“With ‘Nashville,’ there is not just the connection of watching the drama, there is also the connection point with the music,” he said. “On top of that there is the connection we form when we play the music live for the fans. They will hear me singing Deacon’s songs, and they will also see me playing his guitar.”
Esten said he enjoyed playing Claybourne, that the quality of the songs he was able to perform as the character on the show was a main reason why.
“I’ll be happy to sing these songs for the rest of my life,” he said.
For the past few years, Esten has been able to play these songs for people who are in hospitals and hospices around the country through an organization called Musicians on Call.
“We go around playing for and meeting people who are experiencing some of their toughest times,” he said. “So when I play these song — “A Life That’s Good’ or ‘Sanctuary’ — I am so grateful that they can some kind of solace and hope.”
Esten believes Working with charities is part of his responsibility as a performer. In addition to working with EasterSeals and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Esten is the national chairman for the annual Light the Night Walk, a fundraiser benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
“The Light the Night is especially personal and important to our family because our daughter Addie was diagnosed with leukemia when she was two and a half,” Esten said. “We remember that moment as being very dark and we felt so alone.”
New about their daughter traveled quickly and friends began to rally around the family.
“All of a sudden people came alongside of us and gave their prayers, well wishes, physical help and their love and light,” Esten said. “I think that’s the symbolism of Light the Night. When you’re walking a Light the Night walk in a city and you see 5,000 people holding lanterns, it’s the opposite of dark.”
When he donates his time and efforts with charities, Esten believes he receives more than he gives.
“It’s something that we as a family want to do,” he said.
The road to Esten’s charity work and acting was paved by music.
“Music is the earliest thing I can remember,” he said. “I sang a lot in the car, and I wrote songs that ripped off songs that already existed.”
When he was a third grader at Maury Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, Esten entered a contest to write the school song.
“We had to take a Disney song and change the lyrics,” he said. “So instead of ‘It’s a Small World After All,’ I came up with ‘It’s a great school after all.’”
Esten’s song won the contest.
“It’s kind of crazy because every day after we said the Pledge of Allegiance, we went into singing ‘Maury Is a Great School,’” he said. “It was just a cool feeling hearing people sing a song that you wrote.”
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