Home is where the heart is
Singer- songwriter Pat Hull finds his place in Chico
Even before he sang a note, when Pat Hull rolled up on his bike to a recent gig, guitar slung over his shoulder, dirty blond hair framing a wide smile and perfect set of white teeth, it was apparent this was a young man with charisma.
Good news for him, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter who just moved to Chico last August has a lot of talent as well. Hull’s lilting, ultra-tenor voice grabs the listener first. Couple that with sunny strumming and insightful, catchy lyrics, and we’ve got a winner. In just nine months, Hull has quickly gone from Chico newbie to a regular performer at venues like Has Beans and Café Coda, and will release his first album, Yes, May 10.
Hull’s musical path began to take shape about five years ago in his small Connecticut hometown of Branford, when his older brother Cameron gave Pat some guitar lessons.
“It consumed my life,” Hull said. “Once I learned some basic chords it took off for me. I practiced four or five hours a day. I didn’t even consider it practice. It was a passion.”
Hull’s next step in life was majoring in communication studies at Marist College in upstate New York. His coursework has helped him develop song lyrics.
“I write about things in my life that at face value seem to have no meaning, but in the end [they do],” he said. “An idea will just hit me and it will branch out in phrases that represent that idea. Communication studies come in, and I think about tendencies of myself and other people and that idea will disburse into various musical phrasings.”
Some of those phrasings include “Things that I do are ways to waste the time without you” from “I Can’t Share"; “The sun went out and in and out again like a memory I tried to hold” from “Tractor"; and “I made love and lost it the same night” from “Young Minds.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Marist, Hull contacted his uncle, who lives in Chico. Soon, Hull arrived in town, entered graduate school and became a teaching assistant at Chico State. He quickly became immersed in the local music scene.
“I’m ambitious,” Hull said. “I love to play and didn’t waste any time. My cousin gave me a bike and I went out passing out my CDs to clubs—Café Coda was first—and telling them I’d like to book gigs. It snowballed into all these places to play.”
Just a month after coming to Chico, he recorded his first CD, Live in Chico, from one of his performances at Has Beans.
Eight months later Hull took home the CAMMIES Critics’ Choice Award for Best Male Vocalist, and is poised to celebrate the release of his new record, the first project from the newly formed ReCrux Records. Some are solo tracks. Others get the band treatment, with Mark Robertson on bass, mandolin and guitar, Bob Reynolds on percussion and Nathan Coy on trumpet and French horn. The project was largely engineered in Hull’s living room, with a MacBook Pro and audio rack unit interface providing the technical power.
Ty Gorton, co-director of Chico’s Crux Artist Collective (and CN&R editorial designer), said going with Hull for ReCrux’s debut effort was an easy choice.
“He was kind of the inspiration for it,” Gorton said. “If Pat Hull didn’t exist I don’t know if this would’ve come about. This is the one who I want to work with, who will get it done and make the sacrifices.”
Things have continued to fall into place for Hull, whose laid-back, sensitive and buoyant songs personify his character. And he seems to have found a home in Chico.
“I know it’s overstated when people say everyone’s so nice here, but it’s true,” he said. “There seems to be some element of the character of the people here that I love. I’m maintaining a nice circle of friends and it’s nice being around [this part of] my family and reconnecting.”