There are probably thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people in Nashville who identify as “singer-songwriters,” regardless of how active they actually are in the music scene. But there aren’t many like Camden West, who has a degreed classical guitar background, but has recorded and performed both original and cover material as a folk/pop/rock artist in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, as well as nationwide and overseas.
For the past several years, since his days studying music at the University of Arizona in Tucson, West has been a part-time resident of Nashville, with Music City serving as home base for the eastern side of the Mississippi as he travels to cities like Atlanta and New York to perform. He spends a substantial amount of time co-writing with Nashville writers and performing at the Bluebird, Alley Taps and several other venues, and most recently played a round at the Commodore with Alayna Carroll, Nate Cornell, and longtime Nashville favorite Donna DeSopo.
“I write with a few different people in Nashville,” he said, as he warmed up in a coffee shop on a chilly day in Las Vegas, where he was spending the holidays with family and preparing to log some studio time for his next original release. “I have a cool group of people there I write with, and I always meet great new people there. Nashville is just a good town to be around the industry, to see what’s happening next. You just never know. It’s an important place to be. It is music, it lives and breathes music, and I just enjoy the friendships I make there.”
While West’s ultimate goal is to gain recognition as an original artist, he’s got to make a living, so he plays occasional cover gigs as well, mainly performing acoustic solo, though he also has been known to tear it up electrically with a Gibson Les Paul and with a full band. “I try to read the room [when selecting material],” he said, “but I play a lot of classic rock and some top 40, and try to throw in some original songs. I love classic rock, I’m a big Beatles fan, a big Rolling Stones fan. The Beatles’ music, well, the Beatles are the basis for everything we listen to today.” His own songs run the gamut, from his power-poppish latest single release “Blood on the Table,” to the dark and pulsating, quasi-techno “VI Feet Under,” both delivered with a highly-developed tenor that makes West a vocalist who can effectively deliver his own material, and isn’t limited to strictly shopping his songs for others to cover.
When he’s home in Vegas, West is known for hosting an event at his house that he calls “Game of Tones,” where singer-songwriters perform and discuss their material for a small group of people, who in turn donate to a pot that is donated to a charitable organization. “I really like doing it because it gives [the artists] a chance to talk about what inspires them,” he said, “and I also really like the idea of doing it for a charity.”
You can follow West on the usual streaming sites and at camdenwest.com, and if you happen to be in Las Vegas on Christmas Day, you can see him perform at the Red Rock Casino.