Two Folk Traditions
Ellis Paul and Brian Kennedy at Carleton Hall.
Thursday, August 5, 2004
About 10 years ago, Ellis Paul got a tattoo on his arm—not a proclamation of love for a lady friend after a night of debauchery, and not a drawing of a Disney character. It was a headshot of legendary folk musician Woody Guthrie.
For Paul, Guthrie’s face is a reminder of the sacrifices one must make for the sake of art and a constant reminder of why Paul does what he does. “He thought songs could make a difference,” Paul says. “People who listen to Britney Spears on the radio sometimes forget how powerful music can be as a medium to change the world.”
Since Paul started playing folk music 19 years ago, the literate folkie with a pop music sensibility has been able to properly pay tribute to his idol. In addition to appearing on a Guthrie tribute album called Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway, Paul was invited by Guthrie’s daughter Nora to perform at the festivities for Woody Guthrie’s induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
On Paul’s last album, a collaboration with fellow Boston singer/songwriter Vance Gilbert titled Side of the Road, he covers Guthrie along with other artists like Neil Young, Lucinda Williams and Van Morrison. While Paul polishes the rough edges off Williams’ “Side of the Road” and Young’s “Comes a Time” giving them an adult contemporary sound, Guthrie’s “This Morning I Am Born Again” is a fine tribute to the grandfather of folk music.
Joining Paul will be Brian Kennedy, a popular Irish singer/songwriter who has recorded original songs and traditional pieces, like “The Curragh of Kildare,” “Danny Boy” and “Carrickfergus.”