Q&A with Ellis Paul

What was the first concert you attended?  Doc Severson from the Tonight Show in third grade with my Dad.  Ted Nugent in high school.

Where and when was the first show you played?  I think my first paid gig was opening for Roger McGuinn from the Birds. It was a good start. I opened for him at the Old Vienna Kaffehaus in Westboro, that was important in launching numerous careers that are still in bloom. Dar Williams, Patty Griffin, Martin Sexton to name a few.

What is your most memorable or off-the-wall touring experience?  Many, many, many.  I remember driving up the cliffs in Big Sur behind the promoters truck after a gig, in dense fog, pavement turning to dusty gravel. We emerged from the fog to the most beautiful scenery I've ever been thrown in front of, midnight, full moon. I'm looking down at a white bed of fog that lies atop the Pacific Ocean. The girls are lit by the moon and draped in soft yellows and shadows. A mountain lion howls. I was stunned by the beauty.  In the morning I wake and look out the window and there is a pool that runs along the very edge of the cliff looking out above the Pacific. There are three gorgeous women, completely nude, sunbathing around the pool. I knew then that I had found my calling.

Which of your songs is your favorite and why?  "Maria's Beautiful Mess" has been the leading candidate here, it's has both a quiet finger licking part and a rocking yelling stunning part, the lyrics are among my best as is the arrangement. You can't help but feel proud when you're in this one. I've got a few I will never stop playing.  

If you could open for any artists in the next year, who would it be?  Neil Young, I just love him.  I would include Joni Mitchell in this, if she could recover and play.  

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  An artist of any kind, writer, painter, musician.  I knew this from the third grade.  

Cat person, dog person, or both?  I am equally a dog and cat person. I don't play favorites. A great animal with personality is as good a companion as any human being. 

Books or movies?  I treat all art like a moment in which to disappear. Lots of my ideas were born from watching a movie, and many ideas were born from reading books and poetry. I always write things down as I hear them in my head. Interacting with other people's art is a way to inform your own. What would the Beatles be without Dylan? The Stones, the Beach Boys.  

Check out Ellis Paul at Jammin' Java on October 30th!