MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Hot off recording his latest record, singer-songwriter and folk musician Ellis Paul came to Maplewood on Fridat to perform an acoustic solo set at Highland Place, featuring his romantic folk-pop style.
During his over-20-year career, Mr. Paul has been called "the undisputed king of hyper-literate, Boston-style folk music." His music has been featured in the Farrelly brothers films, Me, Myself & Irene; Shallow Hal; and Hall Pass.
He has won numerous awards, including an unheard of 15 Boston Music Awards, and will be inducted into the Maine Music Awards Hall of Fame this year along with the legendary Don McLean. His new album, Chasing Beauty, is his 20th record, and his second record to be funded fully by his fans. His first 18 albums were with Rounder Records, well-known for their specialization in American Roots music.
Mr. Paul answered some questions via email.
When and why did you start playing?
I started in college; I was 20. College was a creative place for me: I was studying and also running on the track team. My DNA needed an outlet.
Do you have a formal music education?
Trumpet since the third grade. So I could make noise and read music if it was a single melody line.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles and Stones, John Prine, Johnny Cash, James Taylor.
What's the appeal of playing in a small venue like Highland Place?
Connecting conversationally. You can actually make eye contact and talk to everyone in a small place. Playing in a theater is less intimate and less casual.
Who do you think is underrated on the music scene today? Who should we look out for?
Everyone is underrated. I can think of some overrated stars of the American Idol and Voice series. It's hard to be heard massively these days, and for the most part, we all are beneath the radar.
What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player? Any guilty musical pleasures?
Guilty as charged. The Bee Gees, that one may surprise people. I love Barry Gibb melodies. AC/DC--what's not to like? But for the most part, it's great lyricists--U2, Carole King, Paul Simon, The Police. I like good pop rock country. It just has to say something important or worth the hearing.