Justin Furstenfeld is best known as the lead singer and songwriter for alt-rock band Blue October, but the open book he'll talk and sing about Wednesday night at Common Grounds has more to do with his life than his lyrics.
Furstenfeld, 43, will talk about his struggles with depression and substance addiction in “An Open Book: An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld,” a show that's closer to performance art than a musician with a guitar talking about his songs, he said.
"It's a one-man show, very calculated, written out and blocked," he explained in a recent phone interview from his family's home in Wimberly. "It's about vulnerability, recovery and redemption. It's my passion outside of Blue October."
The show, which he said draws on the theater training that he had while a student at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, continues what Furstenfeld became known for as Blue October's frontman and lead songwriter: emotional connection with fans who resonated with the issues he sang about.
The pressure of fame and attention, however, nudged Furstenfeld into a downward spiral of alcohol abuse and drug addiction that cost him his first marriage, led to an ugly custody battle over a daughter and threatened his career.
It came to a head seven years ago, sending him into rehab where he also found, as he puts it, "faith in a higher power." With support and a bit of tough love from friends and family, Furstenfeld found sobriety and a life full of color once drained by depression.
"Seven years ago I decided to try sobriety out and stop destroying my body with drugs and alcohol," he said. "I don't like to preach, but this is my experience of strength and hope, and in sharing it, maybe someone can catch a glimpse of the light . . . I've been given this one chance. It's my responsibility to keep that up."
There are, of course, the songs that Furstenfeld has written for Blue October and his own solo performances. "Open Book" will provide background and context for those, as well as a personal honesty about his experience that he hopes help those struggling with similar issues or have people in their lives dealing with depression or addiction. "It's the songs they know and love and how they were written, but on a deeper level. It's all pretty personal, all pretty rare."
Sobriety is a journey made day by day, he's learned, and the life that he's found sober, complete with supportive band, wife and children, is worth it. "I've been given a second chance and I want to share how to make sure your recovery tools are in the chest," he said.