Paul Thorn Band looks forward to reconnecting with Steamboat Springs fans
If you go:
What: The Paul Thorn Band at Strings
When: 7 p.m. Jan. 6
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
Singer-songwriter Paul Thorn rubs elbows with the kings and queens of the music industry. He’s opened for, played alongside and worked with greats including Sting, Toby Keith, Jeff Beck and Texas country music icons Randy Rogers and Jerry Jeff Walker.
But the brightest highlight of the job for Thorn, he’ll tell you, is his fans.
“The people making an effort to come see me play — without them making the sacrifice of getting a babysitter or traveling or anything like that to get there, I have no one to play for,” he said. “Your fans — that’s your support group. I’m very blessed to have fans that come out every year.”
Thorn and his four-piece band, The Paul Thorn Band, play at Strings Jan. 6 and throughout Music Fest, which he’s appeared at several times before. Thorn is looking forward to returning to Steamboat Springs and to revisiting the fans and friends he’s made here. After each show, you’ll find him mingling in the audience.
Before Thorn was a professional musician, he was the son of a preacher in Tupelo, Mississippi — the birthplace of Elvis. With his father, Thorn attended both Pentecostal services that were largely white and those that were largely African-American, where he learned how to sing in shades of country and rhythm and blues.
For a while, Thorn worked as a professional boxer and in a furniture factory and formed his band in the mid-1990s. All the original members are still together: Bill Hinds on electric, acoustic and slide guitars and vocals; Dr. Love on piano, organ and synthesizer; Ralph Friedrichsen on bass guitar and vocals; and Jerry Perkins on drums and percussion.
Thorn’s music can be described as warm and personal, feel-good and occasionally funky, and with storytelling throughout. The Paul Thorn Band has become part of the Texas music scene, not because any of the members have Texas roots, but because successful Texas musicians happened to hear the band play, enjoyed the band’s sound and went out of their way to promote the group.
“They invited me to become part of it (the Texas scene) even though I’m part of a different tribe, so to speak,” Thorn said. “I opened for them, and when they like you, they help you. They helped me build my audience by letting me get in front of their audience.”
When not on tour, Thorn is revisiting his roots of church music for new content to cover for a new album.
“It’s old-school, hymnal-type gospel,” he said. “The usual suspects of classic gospel — ‘Amazing Grace,’ ‘I’ll Fly Away’ — they’ve been done to death. There’s only so many ways you can skin a cat.”
So he and his band scoured the web for early-1900s gospel songs from African-American churches.
“A lot of these songs we found are great, but there’s probably less than 1 percent of the whole world that’s ever even heard of them,” Thorn said. “There’s so many jewels in the ground; you just gotta dig them up.”
The band expects the album to be released by the end of the year.
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