Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Day After Ellis Paul Day

July 9th, 2010 was Ellis Paul in the city of Boston. The day after Ellis Paul Day, Ellis did three concerts, including a family show, at Club Passim.

Friday, July 9th, 2010 was officially declared Ellis Paul Day by the mayor of Boston. To celebrate, Ellis Paul performed the first two concerts of a five-show run at Club Passim. On July 10th, the day after Ellis Paul Day, Ellis performed another three concerts at Passim.

Family Show

The first show Ellis Paul performed on July 10th was a family show at 3:30 p.m. Club Passim was full of umbrellas, as there was an insane downpour just before the show. Don Conoscenti once again joined Ellis on stage, playing guitar and performing backing vocals. Of the five shows, this was the only show not to feature an entire album with the songs played in order. Instead, Ellis Paul chose certain tracks from his children's record, The Dragonfly Races, but also supplemented those with several cover songs.

He opened the show with "The Cat Came Back," a song he performed with End Construction approximately twenty years ago. The set did feature many songs from The Dragonfly Races, including "Wabi Sabi," "Road Trip," "Because It's There," "Abiola" and the title track. He also performed an extended version of Tom Paxton's "Going To The Zoo," asking audience members to pick an animal and to do their best imitation of the sound of that animal. One audience member was asked on stage to do his impression of a monkey into the microphone.

Ellis Paul also did an excellent version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." The encore was an acappella version of "The Little Red Rose."

Sweet Mistakes

For the first set of the 7 p.m. show, Ellis Paul performed the songs from his 2001 release Sweet Mistakes. This album includes some beautiful songs, such as "New Orleans" and "The Art Of Distance." Ellis spoke a bit about certain songs. For example, he said that on the album version of "Seventeen Septembers," he hit a cardboard box with a mallet for a drum.

While introducing the song "Roll Away Bed," Ellis said that that song was responsible for a lot of the hits on his website because people were actually searching for a roll away bed. "Ellis Paul's Roll Away Beds," he joked.

He recited his poem, "The 20th Century Is Over," along with some guitar accompaniment by Don Conoscenti. He laughed at his own line, "Reaganism, communism, reaganism, communism," and said, "I should have read this first."

The Speed Of Trees

The album featured in the second set was his 2002 release, The Speed Of Trees, one of Ellis Paul's best CDs. This album includes such gems as "Maria's Beautiful Mess," "Give In, Give Up" and "If You Break Down."

There are two songs that appeared on both Sweet Mistakes and The Speed Of Trees: "Sweet Mistakes" and "Roll Away Bed." Audience members wondered between sets if he'd perform both songs a second time. He did not.

He ended the show with a version of "The Speed Of Trees" that led directly into "Let It Be" (which is not on the album). But "Let It Be" was played to the tune of "The Speed Of Trees." This led back into "The Speed Of Trees," and then briefly once again back into "Let It Be." This show ended at 9:27 p.m.

American Jukebox Fables

The first set of the 10 p.m. show (which started only ten minutes late) featured Ellis Paul's 2005 release, American Jukebox Fables. For the first song, "Blacktop Train," Flynn joined Ellis on guitar and backing vocals, and Adam Ezra played harmonica. It was a great, energetic start to the final concert of this five-show run.

Before "Alice's Champagne Palace," Ellis Paul held up one of the commemorative mugs that were made for the occasion. The mugs celebrated the 20-year mark for Ellis Paul's career, and have the lines "Raise to the future, Drink to the past" printed on them (lines from his song, "Sweet Mistakes"). The mugs were sold at the venue for only ten dollars.

Someone stood at one of the windows of Passim and mooned the audience, leading Ellis to sing a line from "Bad Moon Rising." A little later two other people were at that same window, just sitting there and listening. Ellis motioned for them to come in, and of course they happily did.

The Day After Everything Changed

For the final set of music in this incredible run of shows, Ellis Paul played his most recent album in its entirety - 2010's The Day After Everything Changed. He was much more confident while performing these songs, because of course they're fresher. Adam Ezra joined him for the second set, playing guitar and performing backing vocals.

Ellis Paul played keyboard on several songs during this set, including "Hurricane Angel," "Heaven's Wherever You Are" and the incredibly beautiful "Once Upon A Summertime."

The set (and the show) ended with "Nothing Left To Take," which Ellis performed solo. It was the perfect ending to an amazing series of concerts. The show ended at 12:53 a.m.

Old Songs To Be Heard Again

For fans who missed these shows, there is some good news. Ellis Paul is planning to re-introduce many of the earlier songs to his set lists beginning next year. So there will be plenty of chances to see him perform many of these great songs again.

(Note: I originally posted this on July 29, 2010 on another site.)

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