Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011
Mississippi bluesman Paul Thorn brings his authentic vibe to Lafayette. By David Egan
Paul Thorn is a rare and exceptional singer-songwriter who draws from a colorful palette of redneck preachers, pimps, trailer parks, firework stands and even ass-whippings on national television, while turning wickedly clever phrases and exploring fresh harmonic landscapes.
Once a boxer rated in the top 30, he fought Roberto Duran, lost, and shared an ambulance ride with Duran to the hospital, having landed a few licks of his own. Apparently, Duran didn’t knock the wits out of Paul Thorn, but rather jolted a perpetual brainstorm that would fuel him through nine albums of quality material, hungrily consumed by roots music fans nationwide and beyond.
Born in Tupelo, Miss., the son of a preacher man and the nephew of a pimp, Thorn explores the good, the bad and the in-between. He can amuse and disarm us with these crazy, country cousin tales of burning down the trailer park and shooting down the pink flamingos in the yard. But at the same time, he deals perceptively with very real and complex adult emotions. And then he’ll turn around and hit you with something so incredibly poignant and soul searching that suddenly you realize this man is much wiser than his over-the-top bumpkin accent suggests.
Listening to a double handful of Paul Thorn’s CDs, I can hear influences from across the entire spectrum of American music — from Hank Williams to Al Green — with a heavy dose of Deep South, Muscle Shoals soul. The harmonic progressions are sometimes astoundingly beautiful, constantly going where my ears don’t expect them to go. Gritty funk, romantic ballads and even sophisticated bossa novas group together well, aligned by Thorn’s visions, vocals and melodic sense.
Thorn is a strong, confident performer full of insightful stories, humor and charisma — so much so that the likes of Delbert McClinton and Elvin Bishop have been prone to jump on stage with him, apparently as drawn to him as his amorous fans.
Just short of deadline for this story, I spoke with Paul for a few minutes on the phone. Okay, maybe the bumpkin level gets cranked up a bit when he’s on a microphone, speaking to a full house during a high-energy show. Part of our visit went something like this:
EGAN: Your chord progressions are sometimes very sophisticated. Did you spend time listening to cats like Jobim and Gilberto, or did that bossa nova song just come to you intuitively?
THORN: To be honest, I don’t know who those people are. I just like melodies, and I like to sit with my guitar and find new melodies and rhythms and progressions.
EGAN: Any advice for developing songwriters who are trying to find their own voice, and find their way into the business?
THORN: There is no sure way into the business, but I would tell them, just be real. Don’t follow trends. Dig deep and be you.
We started talking about TV evangelists. Paul said he likes to watch them, the worse the better. But we’re quick to agree: Jimmy Swaggart plays some real fine piano.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
In this letter to the editor, LaPESC chairman Stephen Bartley looks to the Nov. 4 elections as Lafayette's best chance to rally around a 'Common Vision' for our public education system.
Three bedroom Rayne traditional or two bedroom cottage on the Teche
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
The romper gets all dressed up
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Authorities said that a Chevron Corp. subsidiary was still releasing natural gas Sunday from a pipeline off the Louisiana coast where a Saturday incident killed a maintenance worker.
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Baja braces for Hurricane Odile; what a Scottish "yes" means; Mideast complexities and more national and international news for Monday, September 15, 2014.
Meet the WWMB Class of 2014, extraordinary women guiding our exceptional community
Software development center represents third such project in Hub City this year.
Elizabeth Abdalla and Abform are poised for a new era of growth.
Lafayette’s most highly regarded attorneys were honored by their own at the Hall of Fame Banquet sponsored by the Lafayette Bar Association.
Collaboration and relationships give you the help you want — and the help you need.
A look at recent promotions, hirings and recognitions from Acadiana's business community.
Who doesn’t like grilled cheese?
There has been much progress in the 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed, but there is still work to be done.
The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims decreased to 1,961 from the previous week's total of 2,237. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,190 claims.
Lafayette’s Ruffino’s on the River has taken its place among our many establishments worthy of note and, in this case, The James Beard Foundation.
If you didn’t know Alison, Sheriff Mike Neustrom’s 42-year-old daughter who died Wednesday after battling cancer for a year, you missed out on something really special.
Three bedroom cottage or two bedroom traditional
Martini contest underway
IberiaBank joins with Dwight Andrus Insurance as presenting co-sponsor for Scott’s 2015 forecast for the state and the Acadiana region.
It’s time to embrace a new regional model for economic development.