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Catching up with Joe Firstman

Charlotte native and “Last Call with Carson Daly” band leader Joe Firstman takes a break from his TV gig for a hometown show. The Firstman Family Tour stops here Friday (Aug. 1). The 28-year-old piano-rocking songwriter spoke to Eye while on tour in South Dakota.

Courtney Devores

What do you miss most about Charlotte?

My crazy *** dad is still there. (When I'm home) I go straight to my brother's and see his kid. We hang out and go to the pool. (He) does a big barbecue for all the guys.

Having been gone for so long, what are your thoughts on all the changes here?

Charlotte is becoming very clean-cut. I just hope it's becoming clean-cut in the right way. You don't want a town to lose its soul.

The working-class element of Charlotte was its most soulful aspect … the public schools and the neighborhoods that are feeding those schools … that's where the soul is. If you just wipe out everything, you're just a bunch of people with no past.

Jewel put a song you'd written together on her new country album. Tell me about that.

This was four years ago when I was on tour with her. It was the first week of the tour – she's a big superstar, so I wasn't supposed to talk to her. I'm playing a song in my dressing room and she busts in with a glass of champagne and says, “What's that one?”

The song didn't have words yet, it was just a melody. We sang it that night on stage and she was making words up. The words she made up that night were the ones on the record. She texted me and said, “I'm putting our song on my record. A little mailbox money for you.”

What projects besides the Carson Daly gig do you have going now?

My main project has been sitting at the piano, and I've been surfing. I (also) recently bought a piece of land in Mexico near these three great waves.

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