Steering his career in new direction

With his career at a crossroads, Matt Palka is taking the road to Nashville.

A man of diverse talents, Palka already has published one novel (“Moment in the Sun”) and has another one in the can. He’s also written and directed a film (“Americana Bohemia”) based on his peripatetic lifestyle.

But he’s foremost a song- writer and musician, so he’s heading to Music City.

The northwest Ohio native has made Youngstown his home base for the better part of the past decade. But it’s been a gypsy lifestyle.

Living in Nashville will provide stability and let him focus on music.

Palka says the decision comes after an assessment of where he’s been and where he’s headed.

He was trying to do too much, and spreading himself thin. “I realized that yes, I can do anything, but I don’t have to do everything,” he said.

More important is the realization that he’s going to devote the rest of his life to his art. That has taken the deadline pressure off his career.

“I am now the tortoise, not the hare,” as he put it. “I’m in no hurry anymore.” It’s the type of inner peace that is necessary for an artist to thrive.

Palka will play one last gig in Youngstown on Friday night at the Lemon Grove Cafe. He’ll perform as part of the opening reception for artist Chris Yambar’s 25-year retrospective exhibition.

The next morning, he’ll take off for Nashville.

Once there, Palka will perform as much as possible, while maintaining a base of operations in a city that revolves around music. Although the former clubhouse manager of the Toledo Mudhens adopted Youngstown, he never really had a home here. He was often on the road, racking up miles to promote his work or on a day job.

The lifestyle was fun, but he now craves settling in one place.

From his new digs, Palka also will polish up his second novel and then begin the third in the trilogy of Riley Holiday, a character based on himself.

The second novel “has a chance of saying something larger than me,” said Palka. “It sheds light on the search for community in these distracting days of technology.”

He also has retained an agent in Los Angeles to help him promote his new album, “Gypsy,” which was released this year.

To raise money to make the record, Palka had to part with his prized Ford Mustang.

“Gypsy” already has drawn interest for song placements from some television outlets.

In due time, Palka will go back to the studio; he already has written enough material for two more albums.

Although he knows it’s time to leave, Palka said he’ll always be tied to the city that took him in.

“The community in Youngstown has helped me,” he said. “I’ll miss it, and I will always come back.”

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