Event on 2017-08-12 20:00:00

Paul Thorns new album Too Blessed To Be Stressed stakes out new territory for the popular roots-rock songwriter and performer. In the past, Ive told stories that were mostly inspired by my own life, the former prizefighter and literal son of a preacher man offers. This time, Ive written 10 songs that express more universal truths, and Ive done it with a purpose: to make people feel good.Which explains numbers like the acoustic-electric charmer Rob You of Your Joy, where Thorns warm peaches-and-molasses singing dispenses advice on avoiding the pitfalls of life. The title track borrows its tag from a familiar saying among the members of the African-American Baptist churches Thorn frequented in his childhood. Id ask, How you doin, sister? And what Id often hear back was, Im too blessed to be stressed. In the hands of Thorn and his faithful band, whove been together 20 years, the tune applies its own funky balm, interlacing a percolating drum and keyboard rhythm with the slinky guitar lines beneath his playful banter.Thorns trademark humor is abundant throughout the album, which will be released August 19, 2014 on Perpetual Obscurity/Thirty Tigers. Backslide on Friday is a warm-spirited poke at personal foibles. I promised myself not to write about me, but I did on Backslide, Thorn relates. The chipper pop tune is a confession about procrastination, sweetened by Bill Hinds slide guitar and Thorns gently arching melody. But, Thorn protests, I know Im not the only one who says hes gonna diet and just eat Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on Sundays, and then ends up eating it every day!Mediocrity Is King takes a wider swipe, at our cultures hyper-drive addiction to celebrity artifice and rampant consumerism. But like Everything Is Gonna Be All Right, a rocking celebration of the simple joys of life, its done with Thorns unflagging belief in the inherent goodness of the human heart.I dont think I could have written anthemic songs like this if I hadnt made my last album, Thorn says of 2012s What the Hell Is Goin On? Like 2010s autobiographical Pimps & Preachers, it was among its years most played CDs on Americana radio and contributed to Thorns rapidly growing fan base. And Thorn followed that airplay success with his current AAA-radio hit version of Doctor My Eyes from April 2014s Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne. The latter also features Grammy winners Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, the Indigo Girls, Lucinda Williams, Keb Mo, Ben Harper and Don Henley.What the Hell Is Goin On? was also Thorns first set of songs written by other artists, borrowed from the catalogs of Allen Toussaint, Buddy and Julie Miller, and Rick Danko, among others.I lived with those songs and studied them before I recorded that album, and that changed me and made me grow as a songwriter, Thorn relates. Lindsey Buckinghams Dont Let Me Down Again especially got me thinking. It was a rock anthem with a sing-along hook, and I fell in love with it and the idea of big vocal hooks. So every song on Too Blessed To Be Stressed has a big vocal hook in it. And it works! Weve been playing these songs in concert, and by the time the chorus comes along for the second time people are singing along. Ive never seen that happen with my unreleased songs before, and I love it.It helps that those big vocal hooks on Too Blessed To Be Stressed are being reinforced by the sound of Thorns flexible and dynamic band, as they have been doing for years in concert. During their two decades in the club, theater and festival trenches, the four-piece and their frontman have garnered a reputation for shows that ricochet from humor to poignancy to knock-out rock n roll. Guitarist Bill Hinds is the perfect, edgy foil for Thorns warm, laconic salt o the earth delivery a veritable living library of glowing tones, sultry slide and sonic invention. Keyboardist Michael Dr. Love Graham displays a gift for melody that reinforces Thorns hooks while creating his own impact, and helps expand the groups rhythmic force. Meanwhile drummer Jeffrey Perkins and bassist Ralph Friedrichsen are a force, propelling every tune with just the right amount of up-tempo power or deep-in-the-groove restraint.These guys really bring my songs to life, says Thorn. A lot of albums sound like theyre made by a singer with bored studio musicians. My albums sound theyre played by a real blood-and-guts band because thats what we are. And when we get up on stage, people hear and see that.Thorns earlier catalog is cherished by his many fans thanks to his down-home perspective, vivid-yet-plainspoken language and colorful characters. It helps that Thorn is a colorful and distinctly Southern personality himself. He was raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the land of cotton and catfish. And churches.My father was a preacher, so I went with him to churches that white people attended and churches that black people attended, Thorn says. The white people sang gospel like it was country music, and the black people sang it like it was rhythm and blues. But both black and white people attended my fathers church, and thats how I learned to sing mixing those styles.His performances were generally limited to the pews until sixth grade. Im dyslexic, and got held back in sixth grade, Thorn relates. I didnt have to face the embarrassment, because my family moved and I ended up in a new school. There was a talent show, and I sang Three Times a Lady by Lionel Ritchie with my acoustic guitar, and suddenly I went from being a social outcast to the most desired boy on the playground. The feeling I got from that adulation stuck with me and propelled me to where I am today.At age 17, Thorn met songwriter Billy Maddox, who became his friend and mentor. It would take several detours working in a furniture factory, boxing, jumping out of airplanes until Thorn committed to the singer-songwriters life. But through it all he and Maddox remained friends, and Maddox became Thorns songwriting partner and co-producer.Nonetheless, Thorn possessed the ability to charm audiences right from the start. Not only with his music, but with the stories he tells from the stage. Showmanship is a dying art that I learned from watching Dean Martin on TV when I was a kid, Thorn explains. He could tell little jokes and then deliver a serious song, then make you laugh again. And he would look into the camera like he was looking right at you through the TV. Thats what I want to do make people feel like Im talking directly to them.Thats really Thorns mission for Too Blessed To Be Stressed, which can be heard as a running conversation about life between Thorn and listeners a conversation leavened with gentles insights, small inspirations and plenty of cheer.I wrote these songs hoping they might put people in a positive mindset and encourage them to count their own blessings, like I count mine, Thorn observes. Theres no higher goal I could set for myself than to help other people find some happiness and gratitude in their lives.

at The Neighborhood Theatre
511 E 36th Street
Charlotte, United States

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