ELLIS PAUL

Ellis Paul perfroming at Cafe Eleven 5/13/16

May 13, 2016

8pm

with special guest Donny Brazile

The Original Cafe Eleven

 St. Augustine Beach, FL

$20adv / $25door

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Ellis Paul's songwriting credentials are unassailable. They are as genuine as the fifteen Boston Music Awards he has earned, as indelible as the tattoo of Woody Guthrie that adorns his arm, and as authentic as the musical roots he draws upon with every note he plays. He emerged out of the Boston music scene during a time when contemporary folk was beginning to come into the mainstream. Now, with 20+ years of playing 150 to 200 shows annually, 19 record releases, a documentary film, a book of poems/short stories, an award winning children's book project, as well as songs featured on Hollywood soundtracks, he makes Boston’s music scene proud.

 

 


Donny Brazile

   

Some men are born to be messengers. Some do it with oratory while others do it with song. Donny Brazile has a gift for both.

As a skinny long-haired kid with a thirst for knowledge and a gift of gab growing up in a small community, not particularly tolerant of what that package represented, Donny picked up his guitar at the young age of 16 and went off to LA to put the thoughts swirling around in his head to music. Meeting up with three like-minded guys, they formed a band like so many other kids their age. But the band wasn’t like all other teenage bands. They were talented musicians and songwriters and soon their sound was attracting the attention of some big name stars and agents. They opened for the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls and Jane’s Addiction and were on the precipice of making it big. But that big break never materialized. They had a special sound, but perhaps it was not quite special enough. So after giving LA ten years of his life, Donny found himself seeking a different message and a different mode of expressing it. He went back to school in the midwest, earned his BA and MA and eventually found himself in front of a college classroom of students in Tennessee, most of whom seeking that piece of paper that provides entrée into the adult world. But a few were actually seeking the gratification that learning itself can provide. Donny’s message of questioning both society’s norms and one’s own values resonated well with those students. That, combined with his well-honed skills as an entertainer, made him an award winning professor.

But music was never far from his mind. He had experienced life and the lyrics of his songs chronicled the lessons he learned from living. The sound reflected a blend of the places he lived, combining the driving rhythms of LA with a hint of Nashville funk and the heartfelt lyrics of country.

He longed to return to his Florida roots, the sunshine and the surf. But most of all, he longed to return to music.

So here he is with his array of instruments, expressive voice, extensive list of cover and original music, and of course, his ever present gift of gab; the consummate entertainer. But underlying it all is his desire to convey a message. Whether combining his music with his poetry in his over 100 original songs, or his ability to convey the feeling that others express in their music as he covers over 400 other tunes, Donny is a messenger.

Let me close this brief biography by relating a recent incident I witnessed. Donny and I were sitting in a bar listening to a musician friend when a patron asked the troubadour to play the Styx song “Come Sail Away.” The musician did not know the song well and struggled with both the music and lyrics. Donny started to help him out, calling out chords and lyrics. Eventually, from the table at which we sat (and with his friend’s permission), Donny took over the song. And in an uncharacteristically bold voice, sang out the lyrics:

I look to the sea,
Reflections in the waves spark my memory,
Some happy, some sad,
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had,
We lived happily forever, so the story goes,
But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold
But we'll try best that we can to carry on

The feeling with which he sang those words conveyed exactly the frustration and glorification of the pursuit of one’s goals, that I believe the songwriter intended. Donny had the whole bar mesmerized as people stopped their conversation, came up close and sailed away with the moment.

That is Donny Brazile.

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