Northwestern grad Joshua Radin's songs help him connect with fans for Chicago tour stop
Singer-songwriter Joshua Radin is thrilled to be getting back to what he loves -- touring.
"Imagine you missed your favorite thing for two years and you weren't allowed to do it. And all of the sudden the doors open," he said. "So now it's back, and it's hard to describe in words. Every night I'm like a kid in a candy store."
After two years playing livestream concerts during the pandemic, when he also released his latest full-length album, "The Ghost and the Wall," Radin is back out on tour with three concerts of heartfelt songs and stories at Chicago's City Winery next week.
The intimate nature of the venue embraces Radin's desire to make solid connections with his fans.
"It's something that I still work on after 17 years of touring. The people that come to see me play, they demand a certain authenticity," he said. "They know what I write about, what I talk about is just who I am. I'm the same offstage as I am on, and I think that's what they relate to. There's no character I'm forming on stage. It's not like a David Bowie becomes a Ziggy Stardust or something. I just am who I am, and I've tried to make sure that by the end of the concert, when people are walking out of the venue, they feel like they know me even better."
Authenticity is the key word for a songwriter whose music springs from a place of such eloquent and sometimes heart-wrenching honesty. Since his 2006 debut album, "We Were Here," Radin's indie-folk forte -- which has captured fans around the globe in large part because of his first song "Winter" appearing on the sitcom "Scrubs" -- has been catharsis: exploring, exposing and eventually understanding. He's not afraid to dig deep into heavier topics, albeit through beautifully soft and weightless vocals that never seem to touch the ground.
"Usually when I write an album, it's to figure out something about myself, and it's usually something I don't find that I love about myself. I want to figure out why there's something going on in my head that's negative, something I want to fix," he explained. "The record I made before this was called 'Here, Right Now,' and I had so much anxiety about the future and what comes next that I was having a really difficult time just kind of being in the moment, being present and enjoying the life I've crafted for myself. So I wrote a record about it and figured if I sang songs every night about being in the moment, that it would reinforce that idea. And it did. It really helped."
Radin said artistic expression has been a key facet of his continued growth. The Ohio native studied painting and drawing at Evanston's Northwestern University before working at a gallery in downtown Chicago and teaching art to middle school students for a few years.
Even though his visual expression took a back seat to screenwriting, and eventually songwriting when he moved to New York City and then L.A. a few years after college, he still revels in the importance of that emotional release.
"I feel like I'm getting something out," he said. "It's something that got stuck inside my head, and if I don't get it out, it festers and becomes something ugly. Emotions need to come out, especially for creative people, no matter what medium you choose."
His 2021 release "The Ghost and the Wall," as well as last month's acoustic EP of the same title, sees Radin addressing his lifelong fears of intimacy, breaking down his walls and letting people in. And through his songs, listeners might recognize their own struggles and start to fix them -- as he's trying to do.
But for now, touring is the best kind of healing.
"You get to wake up every day in a different city and have a purpose and feel like you're making people feel something," he said. "Having this connection with human beings. That's why I do what I do."
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Joshua Radin's "You're My Home" tour with Azure Ray
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, March 22-24 (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Where: City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago, (312) 733-9463, citywinery.com