Ellis Paul

Ellis Paul

Photo by Jack Looney

Nashville's Ellis Paul, a gifted singer/songwriter who  paints aural pictures with his words to tell stories to his audiences, will perform an 8 p.m. solo concert Friday on the intimate stage of Front Porch Music (505 E. Lincolnway) in Valparaiso. Tickets: $20/All Ages.

This is the latest stop for Paul in more than a quarter century as a traveling troubadour supporting a catalog of 19 albums which have garnered him numerous awards and accolades. His songs have also found their ways into several film soundtracks.

Paul's latest album, "Chasing Beauty," came out about two years ago and features some of his best writing to date. One of those is "Kick Out The Lights (Johnny Cash)," about an infamous gig in the late country superstar's career. Another is "Plastic Soldier," a homage to wounded soldiers and the irony of how little boys playing with plastic soldiers never realize that one day as an adult that some soldiers return from battle with plastic parts replacing their lost limbs. "That's a song that seems to connect with a lot of people," said Ellis who is sure to perform it at this Veterans Day Weekend concert.

Paul has a dual career really -- one as an adult folkie telling adult stories, and one as a children's entertainer telling kid friendly stories populated by colorful characters -- and he has been lauded and critically praised for both sides of his musical coin.

His tour schedule finds Paul stopping at many elementary schools across the country each year. "Yeah, I probably do about 25-30 school performances each year," he said. "It's a good sideline, and I've put out a couple of children's books also, but mostly I'm known for doing contemporary adult music and having songs in movies and television shows."

The Ellis Paul performance at Front Porch is geared more towards adults, but remains a very family-friendly show.

Although some articles have compared him to the likes of Springsteen and Dylan, this writer finds a more commonality of sound with the likes of Harry Chapin and Livingston Taylor. Paul confirms while saying -- "I feel I was born out of that mish-mash of singer/songwriters that came out of the lates '60s and early '70s -- the James Taylor, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell vein of acoustic writers and performers."

A native of a small town in Maine, Ellis recounted how he was a track and field athlete as a teen and that he still runs today. It was only while sidelined for a year or so with a knee injury while attending Boston College on a track scholarship, that he discovered the acoustic guitar and that he had a knack for writing songs.

After honing his craft a bit by spending time and performing his original tunes on Boston's fertile coffee house "open mic" circuit, Ellis decided to jump in the deep end and relocate to the hub of great songwriters -- Nashville, Tennessee -- to see if he had what it took to swim with the sharks. That was over two decades ago and he is still based there.

"I do gigs pretty much every weekend of the year," said Ellis. "I go out for 3-4 days at a time. I'm kind of a nomad, doing around 150-160 shows each year." Even after maintaining such a rigorous schedule for more than two decades, Ellis is not road weary and actually looks forward to each night of performing.

More: 219-464-4700 or .frontporchmusic.com.

MUSIC NOTES

• The Lake Effect Band performs from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cedar Lake American Legion (13050 Washington St.) in Cedar Lake. More: 219-374-9815.

• The Purdue Northwest Theatre Company presents a student-led cast performance of a Monty Pythonesque retelling of the classic, “The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood” beginning with an 8 p.m. show at the Purdue Northwest Hammond campus, Student Union Library Building (2233 173rdSt.) on Friday. Other performances: 8 p.m. Nov. 11, Dec. 1 and 2, with a 3 p.m. matinee Nov. 12. Additional performances are on the Westville campus (1401 S. US 421) at 8 p.m. Nov. 18 and 3 p.m. Nov. 19. Directing this family-friendly production is award-winning NWI director Zachary Gipson. Tickets: Adults, $15, Seniors; $12, Children (12-18); $10, and under 12 are free. More: pnw.edu/theatre.

•This Saturday in the Center Court of Southlake Mall, Radio Memories, featuring husband/wife vocal duo The Dentons, will perform a free holiday concert set from noon to 1 p.m. after marching and singing Santa songs during a mall-wide "Welcome Santa" parade around the mall at 10 a.m. Leading that parade will be the Merrillville High School Marching Band and Dance Team. More: shoppingsouthlakemall.com.

· Singer/Songwriters Michael McDermott, Heather Horton and Steve Plotz will guest at noon Friday on 89.1FM-Lakeshore Public Radio's weekly program, "Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges." The three artists will discuss their performances at Memorial Opera House on Nov. 18 for a food drive benefiting Housing Opportunities, a homeless shelter in Valparaiso. Also on the program will be Southlake Mall's Marketing Director Kristi Jackson to discuss the coming of Santa Claus to the mall and news about special holiday events planned for this season, including a trio of free center court concerts. Stream live at: lakeshorepublicmedia.org.

Opinions are solely those of the writer. Reach him at beatboss@aol.com.

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