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Love in the dark: Abe Partridge brings the good word to WNC

An Alabama native, Abe Partridge has become a beloved folk singer-songwriter in the Americana/indie realms. An Alabama native, Abe Partridge has become a beloved folk singer-songwriter in the Americana/indie realms. Cathy Partridge photo.

A former Baptist preacher and military veteran, Abe Partridge is now regarded as one of the most unique and captivating singer-songwriters currently emerging from the Southeast. 

“When I was 35 years old, I started singing [songs] for people,” Partridge said. “My need [was] to satisfy a longing that I had in my whole spirit to try to bring some type of beauty into the world — that’s why I do what I do.”

Now 42, the Mobile, Alabama, native has lived a wild, weird and wondrous life, for good or ill. Leaving home at 17 to start theology school, Partridge eventually become minister through the Independent Fundamental Baptist denomination. 

But, upon leading his own congregation in Kentucky, the blood, sweat and tears of his calling began to falter, leaving Partridge and his young family destitute and pondering their next move. 

Not long after, Partridge joined the United States Air Force and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Between his religious background and now seeing the effects of war first-hand, Partridge began to craft songs to make sense of it all. 

“One of the most incredible things about my life is that [songs] are born inside my heart. And then other people hear them when they’re out of my heart, and it impacts them,” Partridge said. “That to me is one of the most beautiful experiences that I get to have in this life as an artist.”

If one gives the whirlwind melody “Abe Partridge’s 403rd Freakout” a spin, you’ll hear the absolute essence of Partridge — part slam poet of rhyme and reason, part existential crisis in search of purity and meaning, part preacher of the good word that is love to fellow humans. 

“Folk singers have always been important and vital. We’ve had folk singers for much longer than there’s been records,” Partridge said. “They’re a vital part of our culture, and they’ve always been at the forefront of progressive causes [and] social movements in our country — they’re heavily criticized in the process, but then lauded after the change takes place.”

Onstage, Partridge resides somewhere between renowned singer-songwriters Patterson Hood, John Prine and Tom Waits. It’s folk. It’s punk. It’s rock. Partridge’s mesmerizing presence and searing words pull people out of their day-to-day lives, out of the routine boredom and daily monotony — this sonic message of compassion and truth emerging from the ashes of sorrow and destruction. 

“I didn’t start writing music or making art to sell them to people or to do it publicly. I wrote songs for eight years and I painted for a decade before I ever did either one of those publicly,” Partridge said. “I did it primarily for myself, for my own sanity and as a means of my own salvation. I’ve always felt like you can’t never be anybody else. But, I can be the best version of myself — the artists I enjoy the most are the ones that are [the] most individual, unique and original in their approach.” 

On his latest album “Love in the Dark,” Partridge takes inventory of a world gone mad over the last few years, or more so a rollercoaster ride of a society we’ve come to view as “business as usual.” And, in typical Partridge sound and scope, the record is this careful balance of somber sentiments and optimistic musings — pushing ahead, together. 

“I don’t consume a lot of political media, but I do talk to a whole lot of people, and I don’t know very many people that are really happy about the current cultural and political climate in which we all reside,” Partridge said. “Seems to me like there’s a lot of fear and anger and hatred. If we have any hope as a society, it is going to be through art, love, beauty and hope — those types of things as opposed to just a bunch of tit-for-tat political bullshit.” 

Regardless of his travels across the country and around the globe, Partridge’s curiosity and restlessness continues to find deep creative inspiration from the inhabitants, geography and cultural landscape of his beloved Alabama. 

“Alabama is a heavy place — it’s just filled with stories and history,” Partridge said. “It’s got ghosts in it, if you believe in such things. And there’s a lot of darkness there. But, whenever there’s a lot of darkness in places, that’s where the light shines the best — there’s also a lot of beauty.” 

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Rising Americana/folk singer- songwriter Abe Partridge will hit 

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