Check out a glimpse at Paul’s live Studio688 session here.
In anticipation of the release of his new EP, “The Old Forest Trail” and his concert this Friday, November 13th at Studio688 with Richard Alan Ford, we gave Memphis born and bred musician, Paul Taylor the mic and the opportunity to give you all a glimpse into the man behind the music. You’ll hear very little from us here. Just sit back and get to know Paul Taylor. You’ll be glad you did.
Take it away, Paul…
Describe your music.
All over the map, perhaps to a fault for some folks’ taste! I love so many randomly differing types of music (rock and roll, jazz, world, classical, folk, blues, etc, etc), it would be dishonest of me to not let my eclecticism creep through the music I write, especially just for the sake of trying to make my output more palatable or easily digestible for the masses.
Having said that, my forthcoming EP, “The Old Forest Trail,” just so happens to be a batch of tunes that, to my ears at least, is actually pretty straight forward acoustic music. To be brutally honest, these are pieces I was I playing and coming up with in an attempt to bring soothing tones to my father’s bedside as he was nearing the end of his time on Earth. As he passed and I began to finish this music, what had been music I was making to sooth him became music I used (and still use) to soothe myself. During this time, I also reconnected to a place I’ve loved dearly for over half my life – The Old Forest Trail in Midtown Memphis’ Overton Park. This music reflects the somber reality of losing a very dear loved one and the healing that being out in nature can bring during that time.
I’m just a nutjob! I constantly wonder about what’s on either side of the here and now, that which our brains are actually processing a few milliseconds behind. I get freaked out at the magnitude of reality. I worry way, way too much about it.
Other than that, I live a blissed-out existence with my amazing wife and dog, and I get to constantly make a lot of music with many great folks. It’s a pretty far out blessing.
For a more detailed (and I do mean down to the most banal minutiae) account of my life and history, y’all can go down this rabbit hole, “Echoes of Memphis” Interview with Paul, 2013.
Getting into “the business”
Again, perhaps to a fault, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten into the business. I’ve been on the fringes, which has been a great place to coast along ever so humbly. I’ve made music for as long as I can remember and probably before I can remember. It was never a conscious decision. My parents and much of my family were musicians, and I grew up surrounded by instruments and recording equipment. So, inasmuch as it’s a part of me, I genuinely love making music for people…but I genuinely hate trying to pass myself off as something ‘important.’ Let’s just say I’m trying to figure all of that out and that I’m somewhat of a late bloomer
Influences, musical and non-musical
Oh lord! The hardest question! To reveal any one influence would be to betray how important the others are.
But, ok, let’s just do a cross section of of only those whose names begin with the letter “M” as an example of how hard this list would be to narrow down:
Mississippi John Hurt, Joni Mitchell, Pat Martino, Fred McDowell, Charles Mingus…
…Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cormac McCarthy, The New Mutants, Os Mutantes, Bob Moses, Miró, The Minutemen, Mike McGill (inventor of the McTwist), and “McNutty”. Again these are just a few in the letter “M” realm.
Oh and of course My Mom! And Ed Finney!
Playing music with my dad, every time, whether it was on a stage or in his backyard, was a blessing beyond compare.
Hell, without getting to play with and learn from Jim Dickinson, his children and that whole Mudboy scene, I’d know nothing about the history of Memphis music and it’s roots if not for them.
Ya’ know, I’ve played music in so many diverse situations, often during the same years and months and weeks.
To give a few too many examples:
I remember in the early 2000’s playing bass for the “Gamble Brothers Band” on Beale St, playing such grooving and enjoyable music but playing to absolutely nobody (Al Gamble now plays in St. Paul, and the “Broken Bones” and Chad Gamble now play for Jason Isbell), while also touring as a drummer with master songcraftsman Dave Shouse (of “The Grifters”) in a band called “Bloodthirsty Lovers,” opening for bands that I so very much worshipped at the time (“Flaming Lips,” “GBV,” “Modest Mouse,” “Enon,” etc, etc). Or, cutting my jazz drumming teeth on Beale Street playing a few gigs with Calvin Newborn and Honeymoon Garner during the same time period I was making experimental lofi electronic music as my alien ego, Interrobang, and making Cloud Wow Music with Shelby Bryant. Or playing fretless bass and washtub bass with Ustad Aashish Khan (son of Hindustani Classical master musician Ali Akbar Khan) during the same time period I was touring as a drummer with master Americana songwriter/guitarist Chuck Prophet.
Last year, I got such a shot in the arm by touring a little bit with Robert Ellis and his band. Those young Houston kids are serious!
I’ve played with virtually every great Memphis guitarist: Lee Baker, Shawn Lane, Eric Gales, Buddy Church, Jack Holder, Tommy Burroughs, Harold Smith, so many more…not to mention my “Sons Of Mudboy” associates Steve Selvidge and Luther Dickinson.
I mean, who gets to be this blessed and fortunate?
More recently (the past 5-8 years) , just having the courage to play shows as a songwriter/ guitarist/singer has brought me many, at first shaky and scary, but then, ultimately, super fulfilling times. The set I played at the Center For Southern Folklore during Heritage Fest this year was an absolute highlight of my musical journey; and true to form I packed up my guitar and rushed immediately from that stage to the main stage to sit behind the drum kit and funk out with Hope Clayburn’s Soul Scrimmage (who I’ve drummed for for the past 3&1/2 years) to close out the festival! That’s kind of typical of the way my weekends go. (knocks on skull for a ‘knock on wood’).
Usually it’s like I’m trying to set up the drums, but the stage is all leaning over and diagonal, and the band is already playing but I just can’t seem to get the drums set up, my arms won’t move and then the gig is over…
Oh wait! You mean that’s not what you meant?
Hey, As long as I can keep sustaining myself making music, and the music I make is really pretty concession-free music, at that, I will consider myself to have riches beyond belief, I am living that dream come true as we speak!
In 5 – 10 years, gosh, hopefully, we’re all on a planet heading towards repair and rejuvenation as opposed to human inflicted obliteration. Also maybe I’ll be skinnier and stronger, and better at sight reading music! I’m of the mindset that with hard work and determination my best work is ahead of me.
A Day in the Life
Well hmmm. Pretty much every day is spent listening to music, playing a lot of guitar, of course, walking my dog “OwlJacksonJr” thru the Old Forest Trail, and helping my wife with her various amazing gardening endeavors, which have been super educational for me.
The Trials of the Music Biz
It’s hard to want to make and share one’s music with the world and to grow a ‘fan base’ whilst feeling on the inside like it comes across as a rather self aggrandizing ego trip. I always hope and pray that people understand when I’m promoting a show and it’s that constant barrage of, “look at me, look at me, come to my show!” Well, that’s just the part of it that we musicians have to grimace through! Such a fine line between not doing enough and doing too much!
Also, relating to that, with the exception of releasing two solo records (2007’s “Open Closed” and 2009’s “Share It”), I’ve basically been a side man until the past 4 years. Once I finally started booking my own shows with a band (I’ve run a band called “The Merry Mobile” over the past 4 years, YouTube us), I quickly realized how much more goes into being the band leader. I literally went down the list and called all of my former band leaders to apologize for having been such an ingrate. I get it now, running the band is constant, hard administrative work. I don’t know that I do a very good job of it yet either!
Also what music business? We are in Memphis!
Well, I have a bad habit of starting projects and not seeing them through, so I actually decided to record this EP really fast and then use this show as a deadline to have it out there, at least online for now, in order to prove to myself that I can finish something!!!
Hopefully I can follow suit with the tons of other stuff I have in the can, and also play some shows around the region and beyond to promote it all.
As much as I dream of touring around and pimping my songs, making new friends and all that fun stuff, deep down I’m actually plagued with the sense that my natural talents have afforded me what, for a long time, seemed like a luxury but actually turned out to be handicap. I’ve spent so much energy on music that I’ve actually missed out on many other aspects of life. I’d like to be of more service to the world. So, I’m seriously looking at late life education!
Is it possible to do that whilst touring and promoting records? I don’t know, I’m headed to the Old Forest Trail with my dog and will let that thought marinate there.
One more thing, I’d be remiss not to mention that the release of the EP online and concert Friday night is NOT the finish line.
I am aiming to get 100 people to place preorders for a very deluxe first edition vinyl printing of “The Old Forest Trail,” a record that was written, recorded, mixed, and will ultimately be printed in Memphis TN! Folks can find more info at paulsnowflaketaylor.bandcamp.com (website going live this Friday, 11/13).
Thanks to Paul for giving us at Studio688 the gift of such a thoughtful and reflective interview. If you haven’t already done so, watch Paul and Richard’s live Studio688 session above, and, of course, come out to see Paul and Richard Alan Ford live, this Friday, November 13th at 7pm at Studio688. 688 South Cox Street, Midtown Memphis, 38104.
Purchase tickets at the door or on Eventbrite. See you there.
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