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HOMETOWN ENTERTAINMENT: Singer-actor Charles Esten talks about Virginia roots ahead of concert at Smith Mountain Lake

Fans also know Esten from his starring roles on “Nashville” and currently “Outer Banks”
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:54 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ)- If you’re a fan of the popular Netflix show, “Outer Banks,” you know Charles Esten as the villanous Ward Cameron. Or, you might remember him as the country crooner Deacon Claybourne on TV’s “Nashville.”

Before he took to the stage across the US and overseas as a singer-songwriter, Esten spent most of his childhood in Alexandria, Virginia. He’s also no stranger to our hometowns in Southwest Virginia.

“I also got some southern Virginia roots through my grandfather, who was raised in Buchanan and grew up in that Roanoke area, so it’s really nice to be going there,” says Esten.

Esten’s performing this weekend at The Coves Amphitheater at Smith Mountain Lake, but he’s performed in our area before. He performed at The Harvester in Rocky Mount in 2018. Esten is also a prolific songwriter, who holds a Guinness World Record.

“I went online and promised to put out a brand new single every single Friday until that didn’t make sense anymore. I figured there’d be about 20 of them. 54 weeks later I finished my “Every single Friday” project, and a year after that I was on the “Today” show and the Guinness people showed up with a big plaque and said that was indeed a world record. Nobody had ever 54 singles in 54 weeks,” he says.

Esten says playing the unlucky-in-love singer Deacon on TV’s “Nashville” had a big influence on his own music. Even though he and his character were very different.

“I’m a very blessed guy, I have a wonderful wife and kids, so I have all those things that Deacon was trying to get. You can write sad, deep, meaningful songs from happy places, but there’s something about walking in his boots that definitely influenced the tone, the tenor of the songs I sang,” says Esten.

On the current Netflix hit, “Outer Banks,” Esten plays bad guy Ward Cameron.

And he’s loving every minute of it.

“It’s been a great time, and it’s been an incredible journey, these two seasons, watching it blow up. As anybody who’s been on a car ride knows, it’s not just where you go, it’s who’s in the car with you. And all these young actors that are in the car with me on this journey, they’re just fantastic,” says Esten.

And no spoilers here, but Esten explains why he thinks the show is so appealing.

“It’s all about the gold that they’re chasing. But in the end, the goal is really that group of friends that’s all together in this beautiful place. I think that’s what people relate to,” says Esten.

He says the show also provided a much-needed escape during a difficult time.

“It all came through during lockdown. A lot of people told me, thanks for this. This was a whole lot of fun in a time that wasn’t a whole lot of fun,” says Esten.

You can tell Esten’s having plenty of fun.

Onscreen, or onstage, his ride continues.

If you’d like to see Esten perform Saturday, August 14 at The Coves Amphitheater in Union Hall, here’s a link to buy tickets.

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