Monday, June 20, 2005

Paul Thorn Live at Zoey's

What a stroke of luck. Maria asked me to help her son move into his new apartment in Santa Barbara on Saturday. And that evening Paul Thorn was playing in a little coffee shop in Ventura called Zoey’s. We had once again missed a chance to see Paul in Hollywood on Friday because of Wicked, so finally, after 2 or 3 years of missed opportunities, I wasn’t going to let this one go by: Even though we had driven to Hollywood and back on Friday and now Santa Barbara on Saturday. Even though we didn’t have reservations. Even though I had my daughter Jessie with me and the odds of hearing songs like “Viagra Falls” were good. I wasn’t gonna let Paul leave the Southland without seeing him.

Zoey’s is a very cool little place. If you ever find yourself in Ventura, on Main St. (the main strip), check it out. It is a very small coffee/food shop with seating in the very small courtyard. There is a stairwell at the end of the courtyard (when I say courtyard, think 200 square feet… barely a yard) and up the stairs is a small room that fits 50 people. It is so small that Paul was distracted when the bartender at the far end of the room made our lattes.

So we had dinner downstairs. The place is so casual that Paul stopped by our table and asked us if he could borrow our paper (his friends had deserted him and he wanted to keep busy). After a bit of a scare (“We’re sold out tonight”), we found out there were still a few seats left and after finishing our mini pizza’s (cooked on the bbq) up we went for the concert.

Paul is everything I thought he’d be. His Southern self-deprecating sense of humor is not only part of his music, it is a part of everything he says and does. Almost every song had a story and every story had us rolling off our seats. I love to describe him as a trailer park version of John Hiatt, and his “true” stories about trailer park life are so funny and sad at the same time that you’re almost crying while you’re laughing. People always talk about his wonderful songs, but his voice is soulful, his guitar playing is near perfect, and his verbal timing is absolutely perfect.

Paul did two 45 minute sets. The first focused on his classic “Ain’t Love Strange” CD; maybe one of the best unknown classics available at your local trailer part, oops, I mean record store. In both sets he did songs from throughout his career, including the title track from his first CD, “Hammer and Nail” (a song inspired by his ring battle with Roberto “no mass” Duran).

We all had a great time, with Jessie and Maria walking away with signed CDs.

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