For Jeff LeBlanc, much has changed over the last decade. But his love of getting on stage, guitar in hand, has remained the same.
Next year will mark 10 years of making music — a departure from the career as a middle school teacher he once envisioned — and this Saturday night will mark his return to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center stage, a venue he packed out last year.
Before his homecoming concert, the Center Moriches native caught up with the Sag Harbor Express and talked all things music, inspiration and what it took him to get here.
How are you feeling about your upcoming show in Westhampton Beach?
To say I’m excited is an understatement. Ever since I was asked to return to the PAC, I’ve been gabbing about it to everyone I talk to. I just love having the opportunity to present my songs on that stage. I’m very humbled to play there.
What can audiences expect from your set list?
I have a pretty good idea of the set list, but I’ve been trying to let things evolve naturally in the rehearsals and see which songs work best. The band I’m bringing is world class and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. I’ll be throwing in a few special covers but the evening will be primarily focused on my original material.
What is inspiring your songwriting these days?
2019 will mark 10 years of releasing music. Life and love are two themes that are hard to escape, but it’s finding new ways to explore them. Things are certainly different from 22 to 32. My plan moving forward is to release one single at a time, trying new sounds along the way.
What are your earliest musical memories?
Music was always on the house when I was a kid, and a very diverse collection. Rock, jazz, classical. I loved it all. I really believe this helped launch my love for it.
Why did you veer away from academia and toward music?
I always enjoyed school and, honestly, music was a hobby that became a job. After I finished my degree, I thought I’d give it a shot for a little and see what happens. Fast-forward 10 years later, and here we are.
The only thing I wished for in this job is consistency. No matter how much success you achieve, the unknowns can certainly weigh on you.
What is your favorite memory of either performing, or being in the studio, that still resonates with you?
There are really too many to count. Playing at the Ryman in Nashville has to be up there. I think about making my first record sometimes and how exciting a time that was. Playing in Toronto with Tori Kelly was once in a lifetime. Also can’t forget the first time playing the Westhampton PAC! That’s why it’s so special for me to return.
Any advice you would give to burgeoning musicians?
I’m asked this question often when I perform on college campuses. I really believe that playing live is the centerpiece to almost every successful music career. Take every opportunity you can get when first starting out. Practice daily, hone your skills and don’t be afraid to be persistent in reaching out. Consider yourself a small business and not just an artist.
Jeff LeBlanc will play a concert on Saturday, October 6, at 8 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Tickets are $33. For more information, call (631) 288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.