Maine has been blessed with a plethora of world-class singer-songwriters. Names like David Mallett and Don Campbell are known nationally as well as many others, but there’s another name that also packs an emotional and musical punch: Ellis Paul. Born and raised in Presque Isle, he’s gone on to win numerous awards as well as critical acclaim for close to a quarter century now with a string of albums, the latest of which is “Chasing Beauty.”

I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing this soft-spoken gentle man many times over his career, and a few weeks ago I was able to touch bases with Paul once again as he prepares to head back to Maine for a show at Johnson Hall in Gardiner on Friday, Sept. 16.

Reached at his home in Charlottesville, Virgina, the singer-songwriter was more than happy to chat about the show, his craft and his latest CD.

Q: When did “Chasing Beauty” come out?

Paul: We’re over a year-and-a-half on that. In fact, it’ll be two years in September.

Q: Are you working on something new?

Paul: I am. I’m starting the process of doing another fundraising campaign, and I should have something out next year.

Q: Have you got all the songs written?

Paul: No, I’m still in the process of writing. I’ve got about six songs, and I probably need to get another 14 or so. I like to have at least 20 ideas going in.

Q: That way you can probably pick and choose the ones that seem to work the best?

Paul: Right, yeah.

Q: Does songwriting come easy to you?

Paul: It does. Getting a great song is a different story, but the actual songwriting, getting ideas down and that kind of thing is pretty easy.

Q: Do you spend a lot of time on the road touring?

Paul: I do, yeah. I’m pretty much on the road every weekend, out for three or four days.

Q: This interview is to support your performance at Johnson Hall in Gardiner. I assume you’ve played that venue before.

Paul: I have once before, yeah.

Q: Are you going to be doing any other shows in Maine around that time?

Paul: Not really. I have a show up in Fort Kent sometime around the Gardiner show. There’s a folk festival up in Fort Kent that I play.

Q: Do you get back into The County often?

Paul: Not often. Every couple of years I’ll go up and do something in Presque Isle usually associated with the University, but I travel to Portland and up along the coast quite a lot.

Q: You know, as I listened to “Chasing Beauty,” what kind of amazes me — and this probably reflects back to you talking about your craft — is how effortless the lyrics work. Your songs never sound forced. It’s very natural.

Paul: Thank you for that.

Q: I mean, next to Bill Morrissey you are one of my favorite singer-songwriters. You share his skill of taking mere words and putting them together in such a way that they have emotional impact.

Paul: Thank you. Well, I’m in good company then since he’s one of my favorites as well. The impact of his songwriting was huge on me because there’s something about that conversational poetry where it sounds like it could come out of a spoken conversation but still manages to be profound and poetic. I always hold my art up to Bill’s and ask myself, “What would Bill say about this line?” or “How would he look at me in this situation?” He’s a good mentor even in the afterlife. He is missed.

Q: You’ve been doing this for quite some time now, haven’t you.

Paul: Next year is my 25th year and we’ve been gathering videos, especially in the South where my videographer lives, and he’s been traveling with me a little bit, and we’re hoping to do another documentary next year in conjunction with the 25th anniversary.

Q: You said “another documentary.” When did the first one come out?

Paul: Fifteen years ago I put out a DVD. It was a travel movie.

Q: Now you still do your shows solo, or are you traveling with a band?

Paul: No, I’m solo. Or just with one or two other guys, but for the most part just me.

Q: On “Chasing Beauty” you have other musicians backing you. Are there some songs that you don’t perform solo?

Paul: Well, I do the ones that I feel I can effectively present to the audience, but I’ve changed the arrangements specifically for just acoustic guitar. It’s a bit of a deconstruction of the songs, but I think effectively it works because the songs were born out of that place.

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

Paul: I think just stressing that I’m a Mainer, you know, just traveling around the world sort of representing the state in some sense would be a good thing. I really feel rooted in Maine, and I feel like that’s really the identity that I carry around the country.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years 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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