For many years, a man from northern Maine has entertained people across the country and around the world with his contemporary folk music and insightful, passionate lyrics.

Ellis Paul hails from a potato-farming family and started his music career in Boston’s new folk scene where he’s received 13 Boston Music Awards (second only to Aerosmith). He has a new family album out on his own Black Wolf Records label called “The Hero In You” and will come back to his home state for three shows next weekend. To that end, a call was placed to chat about the gigs as well as the CD that’s just been released.

Q: Where am I calling today?

Paul: This is Charlottesville, Va. . . . this is my new home.

Q: You’ve got a couple of shows coming up next month, don’t you?

Paul: I have a kids’ show coming up in Rockland at the Strand on Saturday, March 31, and I’m playing Slates in April for a couple of dates.

Q: That’s right, a rare Sunday night show and on Monday night as well, on April 1 and 2. Have you ever done that at Slates before?

Paul: I haven’t, I’ve always just done one show, so this is a first — but it gives me a chance to be in Maine for a while.

Q: Will the new album be the focus of those Hallowell gigs?

Paul: No, those are adult shows so I’ll touch on it. I’ll do two or three songs from it but for the most part it’s going to be just a standard adult show.

Q: Speaking of that new CD, I have to give you a shout-out because “The Hero In You” is amazing. Over the years I’ve heard so many kids’ and family albums and this one is really one of the best because it not only entertains it teaches American history, as well.

Paul: Well, I’m really proud of it. Hopefully it’s going to have a good run. We’re thinking of pushing it to my adult audiences just because the songs seem to go beyond kids’ music.

Q: Do songs about Benjamin Franklin or Nellie Bly or Thomas Edison present different challenges from the songs you usually write or is a song just a song no matter what the subject matter.

Paul: Well, they’re a little bit different because I’m writing specifically for the audience rather than for myself, and I’m trying to be historical and slightly inspirational at the same time. It’s like assignment writing. But it was fun and I feel like they’re artful as anything I’ve ever done, and because they’re educational the pressure’s off in that way.

Q: Will the Slates shows be solo performances or will you have some backing musicians?

Paul: I think it’s going to be solo.

Q: The intimacy of Slates would be very conducive to what you do, I would think.

Paul: Yeah, it’s the perfect place for me to play. I love the people who run it and the food’s always great. I love the town and my sister has a little shop in town, too.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Paul: Well, I’d just make it clear that kids’ music is not just for kids — even if you don’t have a kid, I think you can enjoy it — that’s the main thing. There’s a lot of value in these songs, regardless of what age you are.

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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