Paul Cowley (Bluesman) – Cancelled

Thu 22nd February, 2024
8:00 pm - 10:30 pm (Doors: 7:30pm)
Paul Cowley (Bluesman) - Cancelled

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The Mississippi River doesn’t run past Paul Cowley’s granite barn in the rolling French countryside, but his acoustic country blues flow deeply there just the same.

When Paul says his love of one of the most basic and beautiful of all blues styles grew out of his life in Birmingham, he’s talking England, not Alabama.

The blues came late. In his early 40s, with his jazz-guitarist uncle’s steel-string guitar, inspired by Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Coffee House Blues” album. “It was like flipping a switch,” he says, on hearing Hopkins’ music, and the hard-wiring that had been part of his early trade as a builder now carried the musical currents of the Delta.

The fact that Paul had never been to Mississippi, Chicago, or any of the traditional sources of this unique music, didn’t matter. The blues came calling.

Initially, Paul took that guitar, some short-lived guitar lessons from his teenage years, plugged in his new blues influences, and became his own country bluesman — a singer, songwriter and storyteller with a flair for turning the long and winding road of his life into carefully crafted musical adventures.

“It was a revelation to me and the beginning of an enduring passion for acoustic blues and particularly country blues,” Paul says. “I like songwriters and storytellers rather than flash technical players.” That puts some of the giants of country blues in the past century among his influences: Players like Hopkins, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell, and others. In Birmingham, Paul sharpened his musical skills, and was instrumental in forming the The Sutton Blues Collective. The club booked acoustic blues performers such as Guy Davis, Doug MacLeod, Steve James, Del Ray, Mary Flower, Watermelon Slim and many more over a ten year period.

The blues highway beckoned, and after about ten years of music in Birmingham, Paul carried his century-old American country blues from England to another country, moving to southern Brittany, in France.

Of course, the country he picked is part of his story. He left Birmingham for a rural setting in Brittany, where he records in his granite barn – acoustic and country in the same space.

“It has a great natural sound perfect for the low production value approach that I like.” It’s where he has recorded his last four albums and provides a home base for his travels in France, England & Belgium. “I tour all year round all over France and generally do two tours a year in the UK. It is a constant adventure and voyage of discovery.”

He’s been busy creating his music in that “natural” studio. His last two albums – “Just What I Know” and “Long Time Comin’” – made “albums of the year” on Gary Burnett’s highly knowledgeable and readable blog, Down at the Crossroads. And “Just What I Know” from 2018 made Burnett’s “20 Best Acoustic Blues Albums” of the decade from 2010 to 2019, taking its place among some of the best. There’s a new album in the works.

The title song from Paul’s most recent album, “Long Time Comin’,” celebrates both a conclusion and a beginning. It “references my musical journey that started more than two decades ago,” he says. “When I started tentatively all those years ago, I had no idea of the path I had embarked upon. It’s a wonderful adventure, hopefully one that will continue for years to come.

One line from that song succinctly sums up Paul Cowley’s continuing musical journey: “I got my mojo, I found my voice, I’m singin’ the blues, It’s the natural choice!….”

“Good songs, endearing vocals & acoustic guitar that sings”

“A singer & guitarist with an unusually authentic feel for country blues”

“Blues – soaked guitar & vocal work with a sophisticated urban lyricism”

“Tasteful acoustic & slide guitar”

“Informed by country blues but not dictated by a need to imitate it”

“I guess most people will not be aware of Paul Cowley, an English musician living in France. This 2018 album “Just What I Know” ought to out him on the map. Very fine album.”

“Paul understands the beating musical legacy of the blues”

“Unmistakeably rooted in the blues”

“There is something really special about Cowley’s guitar playing & ability to turn dour subjects into something quite beautiful”