By RENEE CHANGNON/For The News-Gazette
For many country music hopefuls, relocating to Nashville is often the first step in trying to break into the music industry.
And while some find themselves chasing their dreams to no luck, singer David Nail has found his way after years of hard work and determination led him to record hit songs like "Red Light" and "Let it Rain."
A Midwestern boy from Missouri, Nail grew up with a complete admiration for his father and in turn a love of sports and music, which have remained constants in his life.
"I think any son kind of follows their dad around and I think is immediately kind of interested in whatever it is their father is interested in," he said. "For me, sports and music were things I was extremely fascinated by and pretty much were the only two things with the exception of maybe girls in junior high that I was ever really interested in. Even now, in my early 30s, it's still pretty much music and sports."
His father was a band director for more than 30 years and always had music playing, yet when Nail faced a fork in the road in terms of deciding which path to pursue, baseball or music, he said his dad was a little surprised at his decision.
"The ironic thing is, you would think of my father being a band instructor, when I decided to make the sports thing Plan B and make music the priority that he would've been extremely thrilled but I definitely think he was expecting and maybe slightly hoping for me to pursue the sports thing until that door completely closed," Nail said.
After his first stint in Nashville was unsuccessful, he went to college for a year before realizing he wanted to give music another shot. While many people like to think of Nail as the definition of not giving up on one's dreams, he emphasizes that he had a realistic outlook on the industry and always wanted to make sure that he was not wasting his time if the talent was lacking.
"If there's one thing I am proud of myself for, I wasn't so naive at thinking I'm going to keep doing this no matter what and eventually this door will break down," he said.
Having a close-knit group of people he could always rely on to tell him the truth, Nail continued to push forward but always worried what may happen if his big break never happened.
"My biggest fear I think when I moved to Nashville was I didn't want to wake up at 35 and still be singing in a bar or still be chasing that initial star and have missed out on 15 years of my life," Nail said.
While Nail is happy about where his career has gone in the past few years, he said hearing his music on the radio or being recognized is something no one teaches you how to handle.
"I moved to Nashville 12 years ago, but I guess I've only been doing this technically for four years now, so I don't think it's something you ever get used to," Nail said.
Although he appreciates his fans and the response he gets, he still finds it a little strange when hearing others sing his music outside of a concert.
"I'm a very private person which can be somewhat difficult in this business. You are in the public eye. Recently, we had a day off in Chicago and I went down to a bar in Wrigleyville and it was a big country bar and 'Red Light' came on and it was all these kids screaming and singing it at the top of their lungs," Nail said.
"I have not heard that song — I play it every night, but I haven't heard the recording — and it was just an odd moment. Within about 30 minutes, I think words started to get around, and it's very endearing and flattering, but I enjoy just being the guy in the bar."
While adjusting to fame is something he still is working on, keeping up with his fans and communicating with them through Twitter has become a welcome pastime he thought he would never pick up but now he often tweets about both his passions, anything and everything sports related and updates from the road and his music career.
"What's very funny about that is it took about four months for my management to convince me to get on Twitter, and I remember my initial thoughts were, 'Who in the world is going to care that I'm in Syracuse, N.Y., eating eggs?'" Nail said.
His recently released three-song EP titled "1979" is a vocal and piano based album that showcases Nail's musical talents at the core. Belting two of his own songs, and throwing in his own version of Adele's wildly popular song "Someone Like You," what originally started as just three videos for YouTube has expanded due to demand from fans for the songs to be released.
"We've done a lot of acoustic shows over the last few years. You kind of fall in love with that way of performing," Nail said.
As the Arcola Broom Corn Festival approaches, Nail said he is eager to throw a great show, as someone special will be in the crowd to root him and the band on.
"The girl who cuts my hair, Lyndsay Buckley, has cut my hair for the past three years and has become one of my favorite people in Nashville. She is from Mattoon. She has been talking about this date for months now," Nail said.
Those wanting to see Nail perform live should make their way to Arcola for his 2 p.m. Sunday performance.
"I just recently went in there and told (Buckley) we are going to have something special planned and that it is going to be the mecca of all nights," Nail said.
If you go
Who: David Nail
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9
Where: Arcola Broom Corn Festival (Oak Street Stage)