Ellis Paul Continues to Impress
I last saw Ellis Paul perform about twenty years ago, so I was long overdue for another show. He has a residency of sorts at Club Passim around New Year’s Eve; I had an opening in my schedule and decided this was the perfect opportunity to see him again.
The show I attended, the night before New Year’s Eve, was the first of four shows comprising this year’s residency; I don’t know if all shows sold out, but my show did. Most of the audience was much more familiar with Ellis’ catalog than I; from the moment he took the stage, people were calling out for their favorite songs and clapping as soon as they recognized the first couple of notes. I was at a distinct disadvantage, but I thoroughly enjoyed the show regardless.
Ellis has been a fixture in the contemporary folk (also known as fast folk) scene for many years. He seems to have been born to entertain because he is clearly extremely comfortable being on stage. He connects to his audience through both his songs and his banter between songs. It was obvious to this writer that he loves what he does.
I cannot tell you every song on the set list, but a few that I particularly enjoyed were “Kick Out The Lights” and “Alice’s Champagne Palace”. I was as impressed now – and possibly more so – with his intelligent lyrics and his lively and lovely melodies as I was when I first heard Ellis all those years ago. He led the audience in several sing-alongs during the set.
His band this night included Radislav Lorkovic on keyboard and accordion as well as Christopher Williams on percussion. They are both terrific musicians who supported Ellis well. Radislav was fun to watch; his expressions ranged from deadpan to impish, and his piano-playing is impeccable.
Also singing with Ellis on several numbers at this show was Laurie McAllister of Red Molly. Laurie has a beautiful voice that melded well with Ellis. They have good chemistry and I would not be surprised to see them perform together on a regular basis (when Laurie is not busy with a Red Molly tour).
Toward the end of the set, they came out into the audience and performed a cappella! I don’t know if they do this at every show; if not, they should. Aside from the obvious (forcing an audience to be silent, which was easy at this show because we were already quiet), hearing music in its pure state makes me appreciate the quality even more.
Christopher Williams opened the show with a solo set. He was a member of Ellis’ band for many years, and returned to play some shows because the regular percussionist is recovering from some health problems. Christopher played percussion with Ellis, but his solo set was mostly performed on guitar.
He has a strong voice that augments his fine instrumentality. He also engaged the audience, many of whom were familiar with him from his days of playing in Ellis’ band. His last number was performed without an instrument; that may have been my favorite song of his set. He is performing a headlining show at Club Passim on January 29th, and it would be worth your while to check it out (I am already booked for another show, otherwise I would be there).
I plan to see Ellis again, but I will get to know his music better before then so I can sing along with the audience! Everyone had a great time – including a girl who appeared to be about 18 months old, bouncing with the music while standing on her father’s lap. You can’t start kids too young on a path of music appreciation!
Ticket courtesy of Club Passim and Callanan Klein; all opinions are my own.
Posted on January 3, 2015, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged boston, Christopher Williams, Club Passim, concert review, contemporary folk music, Ellis Paul, fast folk, folk music, Laurie McAllister, music, Radislav Lorkovic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.