Those tastebuds aren’t the only ones in for a treat when Great Burger Battle returns to Shorefront Park Aug. 14. Singer/songwriter Jeff LeBlanc will entertain guests with his signature blend of smooth pop. It’s part of a whirlwind year for the Center Moriches native, whose new album Vision has a timeless warmth that feels like catching up with an old friend over a cup of coffee—or a classic burger. LeBlanc will give fans a sneak peek at his Burger Battle set during a Facebook Live video Aug. 11 at 4pm. First, I spoke with him about his music, inspiration and his favorite burgers.
How did you get started in music?
I’m not really sure! I always loved music growing up but it wasn’t until I took a few independent study classes in high school where I discovered a love for creating. Shortly after that I picked up a guitar and started playing shows in college and hey, one thing led to another.
I read you were going to be a middle school history teacher. What made you decide to go into music professionally instead?
It’s still kind of a crazy decision when you think about it. I guess it was a little bit of internal rebellion. So many of us want to chase our dreams and we usually end up taking the safe play. I was performing so often that my hobby essentially turned into a job.
Who are your earliest musical influences?
I recall dancing around to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” music video featuring Chevy Chase. I was really into R&B and hip-hop when I was a teenager, which helped shape the music I make today. Third Eye Blind was one of the first bands I really loved. I also grew up in a golden age of pop singer-songwriters-artists. John Mayer, Howie Day, Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, Mat Kearney and Jason Mraz were all really important to me.
Who are you listening to these days and why should we love them too?
I’m all over the place! Dawes is great. I’ve been revisiting D’Angelo’s Voodoo record lately. I still can’t put Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience album down. I’ve also been really into the “chill house” and “deep house” genres this summer, which is a new area of listening for me. The “discovery weekly” playlist on Spotify strangely knows my tastes before I do.
What inspired your new album, Vision?
It’s a summation of a guy who was about to turn 30 (I’m 30 now). Love, breaking up, searching, life, worrying about the future and all that good stuff. I had a lot to say and I’m really proud of how it all turned out.
What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
I love each of the songs in their own way. They’re all my children. <laughs> But “Stumbled” felt like a new direction for me and I never get tired of that groove.
You’re performing at Great Burger Battle. What can fans expect?
I can’t wait! Burgers and music down by the water, how can you beat that? I’m playing a solo set that afternoon, so I’m envisioning a pretty laid back vibe, which I’m excited about.
What’s your favorite place to get a burger and why?
I love LT Burger in Sag Harbor. The “Mexican” burger there is a knockout. The vibe of that town is also really special and you can people watch for hours. Boom Burger in Westhampton Beach is a cool little hangout as well.
What are your favorite burger toppings?
I’m usually pretty straight forward with my burgers—just give me cheese—but I’m a sucker for some crispy onions and barbecue sauce. Avocado is always a nice surprise too.
Where else can we see you?
I’ll be playing a headline show at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett on Monday, August 8th.