The Paul Poulton Project has been back on the road - featuring Karine Graham on bass and backing vocals, and Denise J Thompson on drums and backing vocals. The band have had a little break but they picked things up where they left off - artful rhythms, inventive playing and an uplifting spiritual message. The Hull and Sheffield concerts went superbly. Good audiences too, that's always helpful to any performer.
Paul has been performed solo (accompanied by his acoustic guitar) in a series of smaller venues. Paul said, “All the gigs went well and I made some new friends along the way. In one particular town the local people from the area were exclaiming "You're playing in ......... ? That's a rough pub" But it turned out to be a very friendly pub, with people from the audience offering to buy me a beer as I sang quite a bunch of songs from my repertoire. I said "I don't drink beer," So they were lining up the diet cokes, Ha!
People seem worried about the new "gig economy" - instead of a regular wage, workers get paid for the "gigs" they do. In the UK it's estimated that five million people are employed in this capacity. But Paul doesn’t seem to worry: “I've been in the gig economy since 1980, it's worked out okay for me,” he said.
I had two rewarding outings the first week of September. I sang at the “Live Lounge” in Rugeley, the same day we were remembering Diana’s death 20 years on. I sang some sad songs which I’ve written, I thought people might get fed-up with them and want me to get off the stage but the reverse happened. One song I sang was “I Can’t Stand The Sadness” from the ‘Words’ album. The lyrics to the chorus are
“Couples, break up, there’s a family shake up
And nobody knows where the love goes
When madness rips apart some tender heart
And the players get sent back to the start”
I was also booked to sing and talk at Bloxwich Community Church last August. I always have a good time there, I can’t ever remember a bad one. Most gigs turn out good. I must have done thousands of bookings over the years and only three or four turned out poor. So if you’ve ever seen me live it was one of the poor ones you came to, okay?
Almost good gigs all round September. I did a couple of things at Velmore Centre in Chandlers Ford, including a sunny afternoon concert. The sun was pouring through the large bay-window area where I was performing and it seemed appropriate to start off with Ray Davies’s feel-good song “Sunny Afternoon”. Everyone seemed to have a good time - chilled out, fun and blessed.
I also sang, once again at the Live Lounge, Staffs, which is becoming a very popular venue, it was packed out and the people seem to like me playing and singing there. (That's nice of them!)
At the gig in Sudbury last night a very rare occurrence took place, I turned up to sing and was informed by the proprietor that he had got the date wrong, ha! We had a nice meal instead though.
I travelled to Sudbury, (long way) and I sang a bunch of sad songs there. (It's just the way I was feeling, so I inflicted my feelings on the audience, I kind of felt sorry for them, but not enough to change my choice of songs.) Anyway the proprietor seemed happy afterwards and the audience gave me their full support too.
I was interviewed by Cross Rhythms radio presenter Emily Parker about the book I wrote called "Genesis for Ordinary People".
Emily has kindly transcribed the interview and it can now be read on the Cross Rhythms web site. The interview raised some interesting points about the early days of civilisation. (Click on the picture to the right to open a new window and read it.)
I was at the West Brom Elim recently and had a quite amazing concert there - just me and my acoustic guitar. Dad came along with me too, and as I was selling my albums dad sold one of his. Ha!
I also sang at a church in Dudley the following Sunday. Do you know Raj? He's a rapper - a good one too, anyway he's the pastor of church now. Didn't MC Hammer do something like that?
I was asked to sing at an event in January called "Faith in the Workplace." The organiser wanted me to sing an appropriate song. So I looked through all the songs I had written and realised I didn't have a song that was about work. I was about to decline the offer when I thought I suppose I could write a song.
No sooner had the thought entered my mind than I was off and the song almost wrote itself - Nice chords in the turnaround too.
Inspiration is sometimes an illusive bird but when it flies close by grab it with both hands. Otherwise we could end up like the man who buried his talent in the ground. Not good!
When I sang the song at the event John Marshall, the compare said I had summed up what the event was about in four minutes.
Four Minutes, thirty six seconds actually, but...
The song is on spotify and all the other usual musical sites.
Do you remember when Paul McCartney got his new band (Wings) together after the breakup of the Beatles? Paul wanted to get out and do some gigs so the band piled into a vehicle and went from town to town without any pre-organised venues to go to but hastily arranged the gig when they got to the town or by a phone call the day before.
Well, a short whirlwind tour of venues occurred for me at the end of March and beginning of April. Mostly down the south of England.
After performing in a packed pub in Leighton Buzzard a guy come up to me and asked where I was from. Imagine our surprise when we realized that we lived on the same estate as boys, (a journey of over two hours away) and went to the same school (and swam in the same ice-cold [outdoor] swimming pool at the school) and were born in the same hospital. What are the chances? Strange but true. I wish I’d had have more time to talk to him but the next venues were in Cornwall.
At Bodmin the hastily arranged performance went well. I sang lead, Jeannie sang harmonies – then a Bodmin Blues band hit the stage. There was a dog in the audience; the dog's owner told me that his pet liked the blues and occasionally joined in with the music with some doggie singing. At St Austell we sang for well over an hour to some friendly Cornish people who made us feel very welcome.
I enjoy playing in situations that are spontaneous and where the people may never have heard my music before. Not everyone will be reached by the music but there always seems to be some that are.
A new album of songs called Heaven - 11 cover songs that have an air of 50s and 60s music about them but enough groove and ideas to let the listener know that these are present arrangements of past songs that speak of the future.
Chris played keyboard and some bass. Chris Smith first toured as a part of the Project in the early 1990s and although Chris doesn’t tour with them these days he’s always there on recordings.
Nic Burrows played drums on all 11 tracks. Paul first met Nic at a music festival at Aintree racecourse where they were performing, they immediately became friends and Nic was soon playing live with Paul and has continued to play on many of Paul’s recorded songs.
Jeannie began her musical career at the age of 22 when she became a member of the hard-working band The Reapers. Gentle Giant's Kerry Minnear also joined The Reapers during the 80s and they toured extensively. Band members were Jeannie Lowe, Kerry Minnear, Rob Newey, Tony Mettrick and Derek Bond. Jeannie added depth to the musical soundscape of the Reapers with her lush and emotive harmonies. On 'Heaven' Jeannie sang harmonies on all tracks and lead vocals on "I Say A Little Prayer" and "Midnight In Harlem".
‘Heaven’ is Paul’s fifteenth album. He played guitars, bass, percussion and some organ. He sang lead and harmonies.
Also available on CD
"Heaven" is my fifteenth album and came to be recorded almost by accident. Looking back, I can now see a providential hand involved, but at the time I didn't.
My mother died recently and I sang and spoke at the funeral. One of the songs that my band and I sang was “I’ll Fly Away”. People said they were moved and told me they had never been to a funeral service like it. So, in an effort to capture the rich atmosphere of the celebration of my mother’s life I thought I ought to record one or two of the songs we sang that day. I paid a visit to the famous Raindance studio to record one song and found Chris Smith there, whose keyboard work is now renowned. Nic Burrows was also there; his solid playing on drums is to be heard on many recordings world-wide. My wife Jeannie was with us too and she is well known for her emotive and lush harmonies in the extensive work she did with Don Double’s touring band The Reapers. So the stage was set—11 songs were soon in the bag.
“I’ll Fly Away” is an old song and we felt we ought to keep that theme and give all the songs an air of 50s and 60s music but with enough groove and ideas to let the listener know that these are present arrangements of past songs that speak of the future.
Jeannie’s mother had died about seven years ago so the theme of heaven was close to her heart too. In the songs we remember that heaven and earth both contain members of the same family. “For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Eph 3:14-15). The first song is “Milky White Way”, a song recorded by Elvis in 1960 that mentions meeting our mothers who have gone on before. When Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was “gathered to his people”, a phrase that speaks of reuniting with family members. Elvis was very close to his mother so I’m not surprised that he recorded the song not too long after his own mother’s death.
“I Believe In The Man In The Sky” is another song on Heaven which Elvis also recorded. While we were recording our version the engineer said, “Isn’t this idea of the man in sky debatable?” But I thought not because Jesus, the man, ascended into heaven where he sits at God’s right hand, so we do, in fact, believe in the man in the sky.
The penultimate song is called “Grand Time” an infectious Caribbean song that never seems to fail to get people excited and smiling when we perform it live.
We shall have a grand time, up in heaven
We shall have a grand time up in heaven have a grand time
Walking with the angels, singing glory hallelujah
We shall have a grand time up in heaven have a grand time.
We understand that the life we now live is temporary, the Bible describes it as a tent. So our true permanent home still awaits us. "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" (2 Cor 5:1).
Music has the ability to open people's hearts and I pray that God will use the music on Heaven to speak to people, encourage them and challenge them. All the songs can be heard free on Spotify, youtube, amazon etc. There is also a CD available too.
Halfway through the Yorkshire mini-tour Noel (music agent) took me to see an excellent guitar shop. I started to play one of the guitars, and unknown to me the manager was listening in an adjoining office. After a while the manager came out of the office and walked directly towards me. I thought he may say “Okay you’ve played the guitars for long enough now are you going to buy one?” But instead he asked if I would be willing to play a rather nice acoustic guitar that had recently arrived in the shop. He enjoyed my playing and said “It’s nice to hear the guitar played well, please carry on.”
The story ran across my mind of a poor young boy who once played guitar in the workshop of renowned guitar-maker Manuel Ramírez. The young player treated Manuel, and anyone else in the workshop, to a delightful recital. The effect was such that Manuel was so impressed by what he had heard that he gave the expensive guitar as a gift to the as yet unknown Andrés Segovia. So I set about playing my best tunes and sang too, Jeannie joined in with her backing vocals. Another worker brought coffee out to keep us going and we played for quite a while. Eventually we stopped and had a lovely chat with the owner but, alas, no guitar was given me. But the impromptu gig was fun. By the way if you want to see that very guitar that was given to Segovia you can find it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The dates in Yorkshire all went well. We played at the Barn, a lovely venue in Leeds that has a music night once a month for the local community, all of whom buy tickets to attend. I stayed at the Barn sometime after the gig talking to local people about music and about faith in God. There were several other concerts and not a bad one among them. The Costa venue in Shipley was lovely. The audience let us know – in no uncertain terms - that they wanted an encore. The Huddersfield gig was lovely too and the Doncaster concert at St Peter’s.
I am back in Yorkshire soon for a Gospel Music Evening in Rawcliff, then it’s off to Norwich and Suffolk for more dates - all D.V. of course.
Making friends is a happy byproduct of gigs. Recently I played in a Sports Bar in Warwickshire. The audience was made up of approx 75% males and 25% females – mostly blokes out for a night with their mates - lots of laughs and loud exchanges of opinions. I performed the first set with Jeannie singing harmonies. We had three song requests from the audience, we couldn’t sing them all but we did manage to sing one song that we knew well enough to perform.
In the interval we spoke with a few of the men, who were very friendly towards us, a couple of them opened up about some of the problems they faced. One guy ran a small business that wasn’t performing well causing him serious concern. So he and I discussed ways of improving the quality of production. We ended up saying that planning meetings - that included the whole workforce - would be a good way forward. He said, “Yes, I’m going to implement that, good idea.” It was then time for the second set, I thought we performed pretty well that night.
Among the gigs was also a performance at Fife St club, which has some history attached to it - I was told that comedian Larry Grayson did his first gig on the club’s stage. The stage had a sign saying “Children are not allowed to play on the stage.” But, guess what? They made an exception and let us play! Two 45 minute sets, friendly audience too, it was a good night.
May and June are busy with gigs, radio talks, writing a few articles and a couple of churches have asked us to lead worship on a regular basis.
The current line-up for the band is Paul ‘n’ Jeannie, so I guess at the moment the band is a duo. Not that the sound is compromised. We work hard in soundcheck, obtaining a big guitar sound. Jason (cool sound-engineer) asked me yesterday what I wanted from the soundcheck and I said make me sound like Jimmy Page, and he did. He’s good! I’ve had some complimentary comments about my guitar playing lately. The groove, fatness and dynamics are all there, I enjoy playing solo guitar. We’ve been doing two bookings some days, but we try to make room for a quality soundcheck.
The days have been busy. We headed south for the Cornwall St Mawgan Festival. We made the front page of the Mawgan Messenger Newspaper. It’s the Big Time now. No more shopping at Tesco!