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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2014

MISSISSIPPI-BRED SINGER PAUL THORN
CRAFTS AN ORIGINAL SET OF ROCK ANTHEMS FOR HIS NEW ALBUM,
TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED,
OUT AUGUST 19 ON PERPETUAL OBSCURITY/THIRTY TIGERS

Heralded songwriter follows up his most successful release to date
— plus his AAA radio airplay-winning contribution to the
Jackson Browne tribute disc —
with 10 feel-good numbers that already have audiences singing along

MONROE COUNTY, Miss. — Paul Thorn’s new album Too Blessed To Be Stressed stakes out new territory for the popular roots-rock songwriter and performer. “In the past, I’ve told stories that were mostly inspired by my own life,” the former prizefighter and literal son of a preacher man offers. “This time, I’ve written 10 songs that express more universal truths, and I’ve done it with a purpose: to make people feel good.”

Which explains numbers like the acoustic-electric charmer “Rob You of Your Joy,” where Thorn’s warm peaches-and-molasses singing dispenses advice on avoiding the pitfalls of life. And then there is the title track which borrows its tag from a familiar saying among the members of the African-American Baptist churches Thorn frequented in his childhood. “I’d ask, ‘How you doin’, sister?’ And what I’d often hear back was, ‘I’m too blessed to be stressed.’” In the hands of Thorn and his faithful band, who’ve been together 20 years, the tune applies its own funky balm, interlacing a percolating drum and keyboard rhythm with the slinky guitar lines beneath his playful banter. Thorn’s trademark humor is abundant throughout the album, which will be released August 19, 2014 on Perpetual Obscurity/Thirty Tigers. “Backslide on Friday” is a warm-spirited poke at personal foibles. “I promised myself not to write about me, but I did on ‘Backslide,’” Thorn relates. The chipper pop tune is a confession about procrastination, sweetened by Bill Hinds’ slide guitar and Thorn’s gently arching melody. “But,” Thorn protests, “I know I’m not the only one who says he’s gonna diet and just eat Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on Sundays, and then ends up eating it every day!”

“Mediocrity Is King” takes a wider swipe, at our culture’s hyper-drive addiction to celebrity artifice and rampant consumerism. But like “Everything Is Gonna Be All Right,” a rocking celebration of the simple joys of life, it’s done with Thorn’s unflagging belief in the inherent goodness of the human heart.

“I don’t think I could have written anthemic songs like this if I hadn’t made my last album,” Thorn says of 2012’s What the Hell Is Goin’ On? Like 2010’s autobiographical Pimps & Preachers, it was among its year’s most played CDs on Americana radio and contributed to Thorn’s rapidly growing fan base. And Thorn followed that airplay success with his AAA radio hit version of “Doctor My Eyes” from April 2014’s Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne. The latter also features Grammy winners Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, the Indigo Girls, Lucinda Williams, Keb’ Mo’, Ben Harper and Don Henley.

What the Hell Is Goin’ On? was also Thorn’s first set of songs written by other artists, borrowed from the catalogs of Allen Toussaint, Buddy and Julie Miller, and Rick Danko, among others.

“I lived with those songs and studied them before I recorded that album, and that changed me and made me grow as a songwriter,” Thorn relates. “Lindsey Buckingham’s ‘Don’t Let Me Down Again’ especially got me thinking. It was a rock anthem with a sing-along hook, and I fell in love with it and the idea of big vocal hooks. So every song on Too Blessed To Be Stressed has a big vocal hook in it. And it works! We’ve been playing these songs in concert, and by the time the chorus comes along for the second time people are singing along. I’ve never seen that happen with my unreleased songs before, and I love it.”

It helps that those big vocal hooks on Too Blessed To Be Stressed are being reinforced by the sound of Thorn’s flexible and dynamic band, as they have been doing for years in concert. During their two decades in the club, theater and festival trenches, the four-piece and their frontman have garnered a reputation for shows that ricochet from humor to poignancy to knock-out rock ’n’ roll. Guitarist Bill Hinds is the perfect, edgy foil for Thorn’s warm, laconic salt o’ the earth delivery — a veritable living library of glowing tones, sultry slide and sonic invention. Keyboardist MichaelDr. Love” Graham displays a gift for melody that reinforces Thorn’s hooks while creating his own impact, and helps expand the group’s rhythmic force. Meanwhile drummer Jeffrey Perkins and bassist Ralph Friedrichsen are a force, propelling every tune with just the right amount of up-tempo power or deep-in-the-groove restraint.

“These guys really bring my songs to life,” says Thorn. “A lot of albums sound like they’re made by a singer with bored studio musicians. My albums sound they’re played by a real blood-and-guts band because that’s what we are. And when we get up on stage, people hear and see that.”

Thorn’s earlier catalog is cherished by his many fans thanks to his down-home perspective, vivid-yet-plainspoken language and colorful characters. It helps that Thorn is a colorful and distinctly Southern personality himself. He was raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the land of cotton and catfish. And churches

“My father was a preacher, so I went with him to churches that white people attended and churches that black people attended,” Thorn says. “The white people sang gospel like it was country music, and the black people sang it like it was rhythm and blues. But both black and white people attended my father’s church, and that’s how I learned to sing mixing those styles.”
His performances were generally limited to the pews until sixth grade. “I’m dyslexic, and got held back in sixth grade,” Thorn relates. “I didn’t have to face the embarrassment, because my family moved and I ended up in a new school. There was a talent show, and I sang ‘Three Times a Lady’ by Lionel Ritchie with my acoustic guitar, and suddenly I went from being a social outcast to the most desired boy on the playground. The feeling I got from that adulation stuck with me and propelled me to where I am today.”

At age 17, Thorn met songwriter Billy Maddox, who became his friend and mentor. It would take several detours — working in a furniture factory, boxing, jumping out of airplanes — until Thorn committed to the singer-songwriter’s life. But through it all he and Maddox remained friends, and Maddox became Thorn’s songwriting partner and co-producer.

Nonetheless, Thorn possessed the ability to charm audiences right from the start. Not only with his music, but with the stories he tells from the stage. “Showmanship is a dying art that I learned from watching Dean Martin on TV when I was a kid,” Thorn explains. “He could tell little jokes and then deliver a serious song, then make you laugh again. And he would look into the camera like he was looking right at you through the TV. That’s what I want to do — make people feel like I’m talking directly to them.”

That’s really Thorn’s mission for Too Blessed To Be Stressed, which can be heard as a running conversation about life between Thorn and listeners — a conversation leavened with gentle insights, small inspirations and plenty of cheer.

“I wrote these songs hoping they might put people in a positive mindset and encourage them to count their own blessings, like I count mine,” Thorn observes. “There’s no higher goal I could set for myself than to help other people find some happiness and gratitude in their lives.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2013

PAUL THORN’S ‘WHAT THE HELL IS GOIN’ ON?’ DUE MAY 8

On new album, Thorn tries something fun and different —
covering songs he loves by other songwriters

TUPELO, Miss. — Paul Thorn took an unexpected detour on the road to recording a follow-up to his most successful release, 2010’s Pimps and Preachers. After writing many discs of semi-autobiographical tunes that have drawn comparisons to John Hiatt and John Prine, the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter — hailed as the “Mark Twain of Americana” — decided to do an album of covers. “I wanted to take a break from myself,” he reveals, “do something different, and just have fun.”

The collection, entitled What The Hell Is Goin’ On? (due May 8, on Perpetual Obscurity/Thirty Tigers), finds Thorn putting his own gritty rock stamp on some of his favorite songs. There are some names familiar to Americana fans (Buddy Miller, Ray Wylie Hubbard), some lesser-known (Foy Vance, Wild Bill Emerson) and some surprises. The Buckingham and Nicks tune “Don’t Let Me Down Again” originated on that duo’s debut, not during the Fleetwood Mac era, while the Paul Rogers/Free song that Thorn chose to cover is an obscure one, “Walk In My Shadow.”

The idea for a covers album grew as Thorn encountered tunes that meant something important to him. “I would hear them in the tour van or I’d be at a festival and see someone perform them live,” Thorn says, “and I'd say ‘That’s a great song, I wish I had written it!’” One thing all the writers of these songs have in common according to Thorn is that they are true artists. “They don’t just write songs in an effort to become popular or follow trends,” he explains. “At the risk of sounding corny, they write with their hearts. None of these songs are cookie-cutter tunes like you hear on the radio today. They all have real depth, which is very appealing to me.”

The set covers subjects that are familiar territory to Thorn, from the spiritual pull of Miller’s “Shelter Me Lord” to the spirited fun in Big Al Anderson’s “Jukin.’” Thorn, so skilled with his own character studies, plays storyteller with such lurid tales as Hubbard’s “Snake Farm” and Emerson’s “Bull Mountain Bridge.” Emerson (who has written for George Jones and Tammy Wynette) is someone, according to Thorn, who “can tell a story in a song like nobody else.”

What The Hell Is Goin’ On? also delivers songs of love and salvation. Vance’s “Shed A Little Light” and Eli “Paperboy” Reed’s “Take My Love With You” are emotionally powerful tunes. The latter particularly expresses Thorn’s feelings about being on the road and missing his family back home: “Being a touring musician is a blessing and a curse . . . and Eli put into words what I feel like sometimes.”

What The Hell’s centerpiece is the powerful title track, a blistering look at life in modern times that was penned by blues-rock icon Elvin Bishop. “We are living in a new world where people are very connected, but also at the same time are disconnected,” Thorn states. “I believe technology in moderation is good but too many folks are walking around wearing ear phones and some have forgotten the lost art of basic social skills.”

The song also is significant because he has developed a friendship with Bishop over the years. “I sometimes visit him at his house when I’m out in California and he always gives me a jar of his homemade jelly that he makes with fresh kiwis from his garden,” Thorn recalls. “He sang this song for me on his front porch one day and it blew me away.” It was also a treat to have Bishop perform a guitar solo on the tune — which Thorn describes as “wonderfully raw and dirty.” Other special guests on the album are Delbert McClinton (another Thorn idol) and the marvelous singing McCrary Sisters.

The heavy lifting on the album, however, was done by Thorn and, as usual, his touring band (guitarist Bill Hinds, keyboard player Michael Graham, bassist Ralph Friedrichsen and drummer Jeffrey Perkins). “The guys in this outfit are a tight unit and a well-oiled machine,” he proclaims. “I’ve had the same guys in my band for goin’ on 15 years and they are incredible musicians.” Another long-time collaborator is Billy Maddox, who steered the ship and also served as What The Hell’s producer. The sense of camaraderie among Thorn, his band and Maddox contributes to the disc’s loose, live performances. The lived-in quality is undoubted aided by the fact that Thorn and the band had already played these songs live and honed them into what he calls “crowd-pleasers.”

Thorn has been pleasing crowds for years with his muscular brand of roots music — bluesy, rocking and thoroughly Southern, yet also speaking universal truths. The Tupelo, MS native worked in a furniture factory, jumped out of airplanes, and was a professional boxer before sharing his experiences with the world as a singer-songwriter. Pimps and Preachers, which topped the Americana charts for three weeks and broke into the Billboard Top 100, perfectly exemplified the vivid scope of his songwriting — and illuminated his family background. While his father is a Church of God Pentecostal minster, his uncle (his father’s brother) spent time as a pimp — and Thorn was influenced by both of these men. Mining these “saint and sinner” scenarios, Thorn crafted a disc that All Music Guide lauded as “a great rock & roll album,” while The Nation labeled it “an incredible find.”

When Thorn and his band hit the road, he’ll be performing both his captivating originals and these favored covers, because, as he says, “there are so many great writers out there whose songs need to be heard.” Thorn also might slip in a new song or two as he already has started writing more songs of his own for the next album.

PAUL THORN ON THE ROAD AND
ON SOUL SALVATION TOUR WITH RUTHIE FOSTER
All shows are with Paul Thorn Band unless otherwise noted

Thurs., Feb. 23 SPRINGFIELD, MO, Nathan P. Murphy’s
Fri., Feb. 24 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK Oklahoma City Limits
Sat., Feb. 25 DALLAS, TX The Kessler Theater; sold out.
Soul Salvation Tour featuring Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster
Tues., March 6 ANNAPOLIS, MD Rams Head
Wed., March 7 ALEXANDRIA, VA The Birchmere
Thurs., March 8 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Cafe Live
Fri., March 9 NEW YORK, NY City Winery
Sat., March 10 CHATHAM, NJ The Sanctuary Concerts
Wed., March 28 KANSAS CITY, MO Knuckleheads
Thurs., March 29 ST. LOUIS, MO Old Rock House
Fri., March 30 BLOOMINGTON, IL The Castle Theatre
Sat., March 31 SCHAUMBURG, IL Prairie Center for the Arts
Mon.-Tues., April 2-3 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Dakota

Paul Thorn tour
Thurs., April 12 GREEN BAY, WI Riverside Ballroom
Fri, April 13 IOWA, IA The Mill
Sat., April 14 GALESBURG, IL Fat Fish
Tues., April 17 THE WOODLANDS, TX Paul Thorn solo radio show taping, Dosey Doe
April 21 CLARKSDALE, MI Ground Zero Blues Club
April 29 CHARLESTON, WV Paul Thorn solo radio show taping, Mountain Stage
Soul Salvation Tour featuring Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster
Wed., May 2 LAFAYETTE, LA Acadiana Center for the Arts
Thurs., May 3 NEW ORLEANS, LA House of Blues
Fri., May 4 BATON ROUGE, LA Manship Theatre
Sat., May 5 MERIDIAN, MS MSU Riley Center for the Performing Arts

Paul Thorn tour
Fri., May 11 BIRMINGHAM, AL WorkPlay Theatre
Sat., May 12 ATLANTA, GA Variety Playhouse
Sun., May 13 NASHVILLE, TN 3rd and Lindsley
Wed., May 16 AUSTIN, TX One World theatre
Thurs., May 17 CHEROKEE, TX Cherokee Creek Music Festival
Fri., May 18 DALLAS, TX Kessler Theater
Sat., May 19 SAN ANTONIO, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
May 20 THE WOODLANDS, TX Dosey Doe
Fri., May 25 TAMPA, FL Paul solo acoustic at Skipper’s Smokehouse
Sat., May 26 TAMPA, FL Skipper’s Smokehouse
Fri., June 1 TUPELO, MS Tupelo Elvis Festival
Sat., June 2 MEMPHIS, TN New Daisy Theatre
Fri., June 29 LOUISVILLE, KY Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium
June 30 MINFORD, OH Private Show
July 13 8 p.m. STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO Strings Music Festival
July 15 ALTA, WY Targhee Festival
July 21, MOSCOW, ID Rendezvous in the Park
August 3 SANTA CRUZ, CA Rio Theatre
Sat.-Sun., Aug. 4-5 NICASIO, CA Rancho Nicasio

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