LOCK HAVEN - Kevin Schlereth is getting ready to bring his show to Avenue 209 Coffee House, 209 Bellefonte Ave., at 7 p.m. April 30.
Schlereth is no stranger to Avenue 209, and is quick to recommend the hot chocolate.
"I have played at Avenue 209 before. It was pretty fun!," he said. "I was a little surprised by the number of foreign exchange students at the show. Who knew Lock Haven was a hotbed for international schooling? I really love the emphasis on art at Avenue 209 and the staff are excellent people."
Kevin Schlereth will perform at 7 p.m. April 30 at Avenue 209 Coffee House, 209 Bellefonte Ave., Lock Haven. For more information about Schlereth, visit www.kevinschlereth.com.
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Schlereth said he did not grow up in a musical environment.
"I never had any instruments nor did I even receive any lessons," he said. "The closest I got to music as a child was the occasional house party that my parents would bring me to where a band of friends would play classic rock. My five-year-old ears couldn't get enough Ted Nugent covers."
Maybe his childhood experiences at house shows gave way to his choice of venue.
"I play mainly at houses," Schlereth said. "I love the feel of a house show. The intimacy is unmatched anywhere."
Schlereth taught himself to play guitar as well.
"I had no idea how to play or tune, so it was pretty miserable for a bit," he said. "I basically plugged along, picking out melody lines on single strings until I decided I could write a song."
Schlereth said his creative process always is changing, but like many artists, he has a few constant themes.
"Generally, I don't set out to write a song," he said. "Instead, I pick up the guitar and noodle around for a bit, stumble upon something that catches my ear, and build on it from there. If I am feeling lyrically uninspired at the time, I make up nonsense lyrics to establish some melodies that could work in the song. I rarely am able to write lyrics and then create music for those lyrics. So, if the words come first, there is a real chance that they will be exiled to a notebook forever."
He also has a mission in his music.
"I have a desire to use music to both share my faith in Jesus as well as continue to work out that faith," he said. "I am inspired by the story of the history of the world as told in the Bible. It seems incredibly relevant, especially for professing Christians, that people understand the consistent history of people failing to believe God's promises. My songs often reflect on this, both in its resonance with our lives and dissonance with our words."
Schlereth, who tours with his family, including his wife and two kids, has a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Missouri, but stays permanently on tour throughout the United States.
"You might be surprised to hear that we also travel in a Toyota Corolla," Schlereth said.
His touring has brought him to many interesting places, including a trip to Mexico that did not go as planned.
"Traveling through El Paso on our way to Roswell, N.M., several years back, a friend and I decided we wanted to drop into Mexico, just to say we had been there," he said. "Getting in was easy. Being in Mexico was hard though. We couldn't find anything to do and within ten minutes, had gone the wrong way down two one-way streets. It was time to leave."
Leaving Mexico proved to be harder than he thought. The guys were stopped and questioned by Border Patrol about why they were there and about the amount of money they were carrying.
"About an hour and a half later, after the dogs 'definitely smelled something' and we 'couldn't be very good Christians if we were playing in bars,' we made it back into the U.S. - home sweet home."
Schlereth noted that his shows have a very intimate feel and he encourages crowd participation. "Expect a whirlwind of emotion and don't be surprised to be asked to join in the performance," he said. "My songs will challenge you to think about the way you live, but not in a way that comes across as top-down or judging. If the heavy stuff gets to be too much, I can always throw in a sing-a-long number to help lighten the mood a bit."
Schlereth also appreciates his audience.
"I know every night of the week, people have their choice upon how to spend their time," he said. "I find it very touching the fact that some people choose to come see me. I mean, come on, this is a world that has Netflix."
For more information, find him on Facebook or visit www.kevinschlereth.com.