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THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 2007
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Nashville singer-songwriter Paul Burch, backed by the band WPA Ballclub, will perform at The Brick Deli & Tavern on Saturday night. He is known for his modern country sound with a touch of everything else, and his albums include 'Blue Notes,' 'East to West,' 'Fool for Love' and 'Last of My Kind.'
Courtesy photo
Nashville singer-songwriter Paul Burch, backed by the band WPA Ballclub, will perform at The Brick Deli & Tavern on Saturday night. He is known for his modern country sound with a touch of everything else, and his albums include "Blue Notes," "East to West," "Fool for Love" and "Last of My Kind."

'Cutting edge' country at The Brick

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

Paul Burch’s sound ranges from edgy honky-tonk to cutting-edge country, and you can hear it all in Decatur on Saturday night.

The Nashville songwriter and singer, backed by the WPA Ballclub band, will play The Brick Deli & Tavern.

'East to West' is Paul Burch's most recent album, recorded at British Grove Studios in London and in Nashville.
credit
"East to West" is Paul Burch's most recent album, recorded at British Grove Studios in London and in Nashville.
Opening for them at 9 p.m. will be the Limestone County Social Club, with Chris Slaton, Jay Sims, John Hubbard and Patrick Chesnut making their first appearance together at The Brick.

“Paul Burch is a fantastic songwriter, producer and singer, and he and his wife own a restaurant in East Nashville, The Red Wagon,” said Chesnut.

“He was music consultant for a PBS documentary on ‘The Appalachians,’ and he wrote an album to accompany Tony Earley’s novel, ‘Jim the Boy.’ Tony is on the English faculty at Vanderbilt, and Paul used to work answering phones in the English department and playing at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge at night.”

There’s a $5 cover charge, and you can secure your space with an advance ticket from etix.com.

‘East to West’

Burch’s most recent album, “East to West,” was recorded live at British Grove Studios in London and in Nashville and is filled with spirited storytelling.

His 2003 work, “Fool for Love,” was his fifth album and his first for Bloodshot Records. It features 12 Burch compositions on love in modern life put to the beat of the midnight honky-tonk sound that is his trademark.

Burch said, “I tried to make a record like the one I’ve always wanted to find by accident — one with songs that were wise, strange, and sure when I’m unwise and unsure myself. The music one might hear in a dream that you try in vain to remember in the morning.”

‘Blue Notes,’ racetrack

Other albums include “Blue Notes,” about the renewing power of love and compromise, and “Wire to Wire,” a song cycle composed of stories about characters winning, losing, killing and loving around a Southern racetrack.

His debut album, “Pan American Flash,” was voted in the top five country CD’s of the ’90s by Amazon.com. Billboard’s Chet Flippo said it established Burch “as a leader in marrying country’s roots tradition with a modern sensibility.”

Burch attributes that to his background. He was raised outside Washington, D.C., in rural Virginia and Maryland and said the D.C. music scene in the 1970s was “fantastic. Any night of the week you could hear jazz, R&D and bluegrass. My family took me to everything: John Prine, Gram Parsons with Emmylou. Linda Ronstadt and Les McCann used to come out to the farm we rented, Joe Boussard was on the radio playing Charlie Patton records. I saw John Fahey play in tiny coffee houses. It was magic.”

Burch started as a drummer and then went to guitar and piano. After graduating from Purdue University, he formed his first band, Atomic Clock.

Tootsie’s ‘residency’

After arriving in Nashville in the early 1990s, he began a “residency” at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway, the old hangout for Opry performers. Nashville old-timers noted his edgy new take on honky-tonk music.

“Honky-tonk music was the first time rural musicians tried to fuse personal experience with the craft of professional songwriting. The result was this brief period that produced a very poignant combination of fact and fiction, dark and light, knowingness and fear,” said Burch. “Strangely, every musician I’ve ever met from all backgrounds at some point find themselves there.”

He has made multiple year-end “best of” lists, contributed to recordings by others, and had his songs in films by Walt Disney, HBO, BBC and David Cronenberg’s “History of Violence.”

The Burch album “Last of My Kind” was inspired by the characters in the New York Times bestseller “Jim the Boy.” Burch said the author, Earley, who is his neighbor in Nashville, asked if he would play some old time country music for his reading at the Southern Festival of Books.

“I offered instead to write songs based on his characters. ... My own grandfather was dying as I wrote these songs, so what started out as pure writing became something more personal,” Burch said.

“Pan-American Flash,” his first album, was recorded after a chance meeting by the WPA Ballclub and a record executive during a 2 a.m. music fest in the alley near the Ryman Auditorium and Tootsie’s.

‘Cutting edge of country’

The Washington Post called Burch “one of the most promising singer-songwriters on the cutting edge of country,” while Newsday said, “The future of country music might look a lot like Paul Burch.”

Other reviewers lauded his “folk ballad style” and “white country soul at its finest.”

Chesnut likes this quote from www.mundanesounds: “Listening to the music of Paul Burch is like taking a small step back in time without ever having to leave the comforts of the present.”

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