In the film “Lemmy,” a wonderful biopic of Motörhead’s iconic frontman, Slash (of Guns’n’Roses fame) paints an abrupt picture of reverence when describing the film’s namesake. It goes something like this:
“I’ve known a lot of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ personalities, and the ones that I admire, and the ones that I’m drawn towards, are the guys that are… f***in’… the real deal. People who live, sleep, and breathe rock ‘n’ roll.”
Compare that to this quote from a guy who’s not in Motörhead or Guns’n’Roses, and doesn’t play rock ‘n’ roll so much as folk: Ellis Paul.
“I’ve got a car with over 475,000 miles on it, and it’s my third road vehicle,” Paul declares. “I’ve been doing 200 shows a year for over twenty years. There isn’t a town in the country where I won’t find a friend. I’m a nomad. And I’m gonna write and play until I’m gone.”
Real-deal? Well, if that doesn’t sound like the real-deal lifestyle of someone who puts the “true” in “troubadour,” than I don’t know what to tell you. While Ellis claims to live in Charlottesville, VA., it seems pretty clear to me that he lives on the road.
Ellis was rather inadvertently introduced to the guitar when a sports injury knocked him out of commission and he needed something else to do. He took to songwriting almost immediately, and was soon playing Boston-area gigs, and turning Boston-area heads. Over time his songwriting matured through a healthy twin-obsession with both Woody Guthrie and musical narrative, garnering a couple of local songwriting contest wins, releasing his first record, Say Something, in 1993. And somehow, when not on the road (and when is that again?) Paul finds the time to record, and at the time of this writing has released EIGHTEEN more albums—including two volumes of his childrens’ album series, The Hero in You—and culminating in his latest, Chasing Beauty. He’s also landed placements in some A-list Hollywood films, including some Farrelly brothers hits.
If you appreciate the earnestness of Cash and like your guitar served up with a side order of great story, you owe it to yourself to listen to Ellis Paul.