Jersey guy Paul Evans and
Singer-songwriter-musician Paul Evans is a Jersey guy, born and bred. He's been down a few side roads and back since he ran away from his Collingswood home at the age of 12 "just to see what it would be like." Some of them have been uphill paved highways while many more of them have been long and winding paths of jagged rock and gravel, even broken glass and fire. Seldom have they ever been downhill all the way. That he's still alive is a triumph. And the tragedy, trials, and tribulations of a man's serious search of his soul and the turmoil of the struggles of the inner and outer self are his simple testimony that life's really all about the journey, not the destination.
Paul Evans has reached a destination. The here and now. And his songs and music tell his story with vivid illustrations of the heavens and hells encountered along the way and how he's finally arrived at a place of peace. Well, as peaceful as a man like Paul Evans can be with his life and his art.
It's not unusual that this journey that began with his unrest at 12-years-old actually coincided with receiving his first set of drums. He taught himself to play piano at 13 and guitar at 14. With music and songs stirring around in the head of a child influenced by the revolutionary tones of the times symbolized by the likes of The Beatles, the Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, it's no wonder that quitting school as a 10th-grader and hitch-hiking to Los Angeles with a best friend was next in order.
After finding his way back home, finding love and fatherhood at the age of 20 was a logical follow-up. And another son two years later certainly put the music dreams on hold for the time-being as the realities of life and feeding a family put making a living at the top of the list. So, stints as a garbage man, a pizza delivery guy, a vending machine delivery service, and finally a professional firefighter are what put food on the table for a father with mouths to feed.
Then, getting laid off and having to find fire-fighting work elsewhere, like in Houston, TX, began a whole new chapter of the story. Here's where domestic upheaval and divorce did their drastic dance and dictated a detour to life's darker side.
"I hitch-hiked, walked, and hoboed from Houston back to Collingswood," Paul says. "With my guitar and one suitcase after throwing everything else I owned out on the front lawn of the house in Houston. I spent a month living under bridges, in boxes, and rail cars and eating out of dumpsters at truck stops. I was a mess."
Then in 1986, while living in a park, he met Cookie. And the vision and the passion came flowing back to him. A year later they were married and Paul started a band called "Jersey South." From 11 years of fighting fires in burning buildings to building fires in train yards to stay warm, he had survived homelessness and come full circle. Back to where his songs came to life. And the music that had played in his head for years was finally finding its way out.
He's left Jersey a few times since to live in Nashville, and still spends time there. Bitten by the music biz bug and Loretta Lynn's dog, Paul still believes his songs can be recorded by Nashville artists. But for the most part, his songs are him. By him and for him. So, now, from his home in Hammonton, where he pens his songs and packs his truck to go pick and play his music at various dives and night-clubs all over Jersey, like the Golden Nugget Tavern, 38 West, the Pine Hill Tavern, the Green Bank Inn, and Mayo's, this 50-something year-old wandering minstrel sets out to share his stories and tell his tales through the music he lives and loves to make.
"Seeing how people are touched with the songs I write continues to amaze and nourish my soul," he says. "I only hope I'm giving back as much, if not more to these folks than they are giving to me." From a guy who once drove by a burning house, stopped and ran in to pull a woman to safety, and who once drove his car 160 mph down a Nashville highway, he adds, "There is no better feeling, no better 'rush', no other emotion that I've ever experienced that can come close to writing a song, and having the wife of the guy who sang it tell me that MY song, and the words and the feeling in it, saved her marriage."
Paul's latest album, Agua Noir, which basically means "Dark Water", is a culmination of where he's been and who and what he has become. Songs like "Screamin' Hollar Inn" (actually about the Green Bank Inn), "Sweet Water River", and the narration, "Water Me", tell their own stories as well as stories about Paul, reflecting who this guy is, where he's been, and where he's coming from. This project and its predecessor, Endlessly (portions of which Paul is re-recording), are currently available exclusively at Paul's new online label, VirtualMusicMarket.com, in mp3 download-only format.
"We're going green ... and cheap," Paul said. "With the world becoming so environmentally conscious, we've decided not to create any more trash with plastic and cellophane. And with the economy in the state it's in and not having to spend money manufacturing the CDs, we've decided to sell our downloads at 69 cents. And you can buy a whole album of mp3s for six bucks."
Nashville song-plugger, Raleigh Squires, a 30-year veteran of the Nashville music scene with 15 years in the Mel Tillis organization, started VirtualMusicMarket.com last year (http://nashvillecitypaper.com/news.php?viewStory=60704 ). Paul Evans was his first signee.
"They don't make songwriters like Paul anymore," Squires said. "I've heard a lot of songs and singer/songwriters in my time and I'd honestly put Paul in the same category as Haggard, Waylon, and Willie. He's as unique a singer as you'll ever hear and mainstream country radio has all but abandoned music like this. But Americana and the Internet is where the best music is these days anyway. And Paul's right there among the best."
Paul's music is getting attention and airplay at Americana Internet radio. He's getting play from satellite XM's XCountry station and Internet syndicators like Tom Fahey's AmericanaOK from Scotland, the BBC's Ralph McLean, and talk show host Hugh Hewitt. Philadelphia's WPXN, one of the premier stations in the region, is also playing cuts from Agua Noir. The feedback is tremendous and downloads are starting to happen. Paul Evans may be on his way down another road. One that finally leads to success.
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link to mp3s of Paul's songs : Paul Evans Digital Song Library
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