Tag Archives: Radoslav Lorkovic

Ellis Paul with Laurie MacAllister

Friday, December 29, 2017

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

This was my 49th Ellis Paul show! I hope I get to sing on stage with him at my 50th show. I can sing, Ellis!

I started seeing Ellis Paul in 2002, so that’s 15 years of great music I’ve gotten to hear him perform live. He’s still my favorite singer songwriter, and I love seeing him live at his now annual warm up to New Year’s Eve show at One Longfellow Square. I used to ring in the New Year with Ellis and friends every year at Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but Portland is so much closer!  

I picked up my friend Hedda in the snow and we slowly made it to Portland on a slippery highway. We had a delicious dinner nearby at Mi Sen, but were squeezed for time and had to miss seeing my talented pianist friend, Ben Cosgrove, at Blue. We made it to One Longfellow Square right after 7 to get good seats up front, and there were easily already 25 people in the room. I know where the super fans sit (I am a fan, not a super fan), and decided I needed a couple of rows of buffer, so grabbed seats for Colin, Hedda, and me in the fourth row. We chatted for an hour and then Laurie MacAllister (of Red Molly) took the stage to start the show.

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David Glaser, Laurie McAllister, and Radoslav Lorkovic

Hedda saw her first Ellis Paul show (my 46th) with me last year at Brunswick’s Unitarian Universalist Church, and Laurie sang with him then, too. We thought their chemistry was obvious, and wondered if they were a couple back then. They were, we discovered at this show. Laurie MacAllister has a very pretty voice and was so grateful to perform her first solo show in 14 years in front of such a polite audience. Her new solo record, The Lies the Poets Tell, is out in late January. It’s a cover album of songs from artists you may not know–including Shawn Mullins (one of my all time favorites), Mark Erelli (who Laurie called her favorite songwriter and urged us to see live), Antje Duvekot, oh, and some guy named Ellis Paul. She opened with Shawn Mullins’ “My Stupid Heart.”David Glaser joined her on guitar–she told us she’d heard him play last year during preparations for Ellis’ annual New Year’s Eve shows and asked him to be her guitarist on her new album–and Radoslav Lorkovic, the “Croatian Sensation,” accompanied on piano and accordion. Laurie told us she met Rad for the first time back in 2005 when they played at the same music festival. When she and her Red Molly bandmates told him they were off to New York City for a gig later that evening, he asked if he could come with them and play, too, which they all quickly agreed to. David, Rad, and Laurie were also Ellis’ band that evening. They are obviously friends and it was fun to watch them together.

Ellis Paul took the stage to a sold out crowd after intermission. He told us he wrote a song with a friend in mind that was supposed to be more of a joke, but turned into his love song, “I Ain’t No Jesus.” I’d never heard Ellis talk about dating Laurie before, but he talked about her saying “I’ll Never Be this Young Again” in reference to recording a new album, and he stole her line and wrote a song featuring it. Laurie interjected that she came down to the living room the next morning and he played it for her–completely finished overnight. He told us it was one of the first times he’d ever played it live.

Ellis also played another new song I hadn’t heard before, which is always exciting when you see someone play as often as I do. He projected a picture onto the screen behind him and it was of Ellis and his father in front of a huge fire. He told us about a family reunion that turned into a major fire house fire over the 4th of July weekend in 1979. He thanked his relatives in the crowd who were there to support him, and told us about a relative who’d fought for the Union Army in the Civil War and was injured at Gettysburg. They gave him a farm–150 acres in Wasburn, Maine–and every generation in his family has produced potato farmers since then until now. He joked that he went into the more lucrative folk singer business. His grandparents had 9 kids and 40 grandchildren. He laughed as he told us “none of the names have been changed because everyone who is guilty deserves to be in this song.”

Ellis told us he’d record an album in 2018, and I think I’m most looking forward to “Scarecrow in a Corn Maze”–a song about a soldier injured in Iraq who comes home from war and struggles. The chorus goes, “scarecrow in a corn maze, just trying to find some way out.” Ellis has always been an excellent storyteller. His songs are relatable because they tell real human stories. This song stuck out to me the most among songs I don’t know very well. We sang along to a song that Ellis wrote about all of the states he’s performed in called “So You Ain’t From these Parts.” The verse about Maine features the crazy names of places here from Damariscotta to the Cobbosseecontee.

Every year, Ellis and his friends play a medley of songs during their NYE shows. This year, they paid tribute to music legends lost in the last couple of years–Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, and Glenn Frey. Their cover of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was incredible. I’ll admit I’d never heard Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” before. Everyone came off the stage into the audience and sang “Seven Bridges Road” (famously covered by the Eagles) for us.

Ellis thanked us for our continued support and for coming out in the bitter cold. He told us his kid just got $3,300 braces, and chuckled when he told us that we’d paid for them. I figure my 49 concert tickets will pay for at least a year of a teenager’s car insurance when his girls start driving.

Did we all sing along to “The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down”to close the night? I think we did. I am sleep deprived from New Year’s Eve last night. Thanks for a lovely evening of music that always makes me feel like I’m home, Ellis and friends. I’ll see you soon!

Happy 2018! Let’s all hope for goodness and light in the year ahead!

xo,

bree

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Ellis Paul and Friends with Betty Soo

Friday, January 1, 2016

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

When I went to this show—my 45th Ellis Paul show—I knew my two-year-long relationship was essentially over (I respect that this is minor in the scheme of the universe), and I was feeling all the feelings. I also hadn’t really shared this information yet, so I was trying to hold it all together. I’m someone who doesn’t have a lot of interest in major holidays, but I’ve always loved the clean slate that comes with a new year, and I really wanted to make this night—the first of 2016—as happy as I could muster. I am so grateful for dear friends and the comfort of music. If ever there was someone I’d want to see perform while tending a broken heart, it’s Ellis Paul. His songs are vignettes—stories from many people’s lives—full of love and loss and change. Seeing an Ellis show, for me, is like being home wherever I am, despite whatever is going on. This was a well-timed night for this very uplifting show. I left feeling much better than I did when I arrived. That’s pretty high praise.

I had a lovely dinner at Empire with my friend Megan and her parents. She’d gifted them dinner and their first-ever Ellis Paul show for Christmas, and I got to tag along with them for the night. Colin, my steadfast concert friend, joined us and we filled in the middle of the second and third rows at One Longfellow Square. It was already pretty full when we got there fifteen minutes after the doors opened, so we were lucky to get such good seats at cozy OLS.

Austin, Texas’ Betty Soo opened the show. She was personable and seemed glad to be with us. She told us some of the gross band names she’d seen written on the walls downstairs in the green room (I’ll spare you). I particularly liked the song she wrote for her husband (who is her roadie and merch guy, too), “Whisper My Name.” Betty is a celebrated songwriter and was even named Kerrville New Folk Winner at the Kerrville Folk Festival.

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Betty Soo

I was so glad to see Don Conoscenti and Radoslav Lorkovic take the stage with Ellis Paul. From that moment forward, I soaked in the familiar songs, the friendly banter, and the opportunities to sing along (when invited). It was the best I’d heard Ellis sound in a while. Laurie MacAllister from Red Molly joined the gang for about 1/3 of the songs, including a heart wrenching cover of “To Make You Feel My Love” and a cover of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” which Massachusetts-based folk singer-songwriter Lori McKenna co-wrote and won a Best Country Song Grammy Award for. Colin kept track of the night’s set list, which is helpful now that I’m finally emerging from hibernation and writing this four months later. I was grateful to hear some of my favorite “older” Ellis songs like “3,000 Miles” and “Martyr’s Lounge,” peppered with great covers by the whole gang (Don sounded awesome on “What a Fool Believes”), and Ellis reading his book The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas. This show gave me exactly the escape I needed and helped me feel at least a little glad to see 2016, after all.

xo,

bree

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Don Conoscenti and Ellis Paul

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Ellis and Radoslav Lorkovic

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Rad

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The Nights the Lights Went Out on Christmas

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Ellis Paul with Radoslav Lorkovic and Chris Trapper

Saturday, December 27, 2014

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I was so happy to end my concert year with a girls’ night out in Portland and my 43rd Ellis Paul show! Megan, Sarah, and I had a delicious dinner at Mi Sen on Congress Street (the custard with coconut sticky rice is DELIGHTFUL) and hurried back over to One Longfellow Square to grab good seats and see if anyone had canceled since the show was sold out and Megan accidentally didn’t have a ticket. She eventually did make it in, and my concert friend Colin joined us as well. The show was so crowded that OLS removed half of the stage to accommodate a couple extra rows of seating.

I hadn’t seen Chris Trapper since 2011 when he opened for Colin Hay at The Strand in Rockland. I was a big fan of his band The Push Stars when I was in college, and I was excited when I learned he was opening the show. I was happy to hear “Keg on My Coffin,” which included a pretty solid audience participation part to start the show. Chris told us that his song “This Time” was nominated for a Grammy as part of the August Rush soundtrack and he also got to hang out with Jonathan Rhys Meyers who sang it in the film (which impresses all of his female friends). He also admitted to writing the theme song for a much-hated show called Sox Appeal in which a guy was set up on three two-inning blind dates at Fenway Park during a Red Sox game. I’ll admit to watching a few episodes. Chris also told us about his album of original Christmas songs including “Black and Blue Christmas.” He said he’d been a professional songwriter for about 14 years and that Ellis Paul had been a great mentor throughout that time. He talked about having written so many songs about falling in love, but that staying in love is the much harder part, so he wrote a song about working to stay in love called “Love You Still.”

Chris Trapper

Chris Trapper

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Ellis Paul and pianist extraordinaire Radoslav Lorkovic took the stage after intermission. Their show at One Longfellow Square very near the end of the year has become a tradition I’m grateful for since I went to Club Passim for their New Year’s Eve show every year for eight years before my friends in the area moved away and couldn’t join me there anymore for NYE. I’m so happy they bring the warm up show for the New Year’s show to me in Portland every year!

Ellis and Radoslav opened the show with three of Ellis’ best-known songs“The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down,” “3,000 Miles,” and “Maria’s Beautiful Mess.” Ellis asked us to sing with him on all three. Rad hilariously accompanied Ellis on piano while he read his poem “The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas.” Ellis told us that people have started to show him their rose tattoos because of his song “Rose Tattoo.” He joked that the song is just a love song and not a call to action. Oops! Kidding.

Radoslav Lorkovic and Ellis Paul

Radoslav Lorkovic and Ellis Paul

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“The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas”

“The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas”

Ellis has talked at length at the last few of his shows I’ve attended about the loss of music you can hold in your hand. He laments the loss of the chance to admire album artwork and read the liner notes while listening to an album for the first time. In the age of digital music, we’ve lost that part of our musical heritage. This epiphany happened for him after driving a rental car that didn’t even have a CD player. When he arrived home, he immediately went out and bought his daughters a record player to give them the musical experience he grew up with. His newest album, Chasing Beauty, is now available on vinyl.

Ellis designed the album art for Chasing Beauty

Ellis designed the album art for Chasing Beauty

Vinyl!

Vinyl!

Megan and I were in stiches at one point during the show because Ellis’ family was scattered throughout the crowd and heckled him during the show. He joked that “they have Tourette’s and talk all the time.” He remembered the amazing Pete Seeger who died in January of 2014 and played “If I Had a Hammer” in his honor. Ellis turned 50 yesterday and hosted a house concert on concert window to celebrate. Happy 50th, Ellis! He told us (with help) that “I Feel Fine” was on the top of the chart the week he was born in 1965.

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I was happy to hear “Mary, Mary” live—it’s got to be my favorite Christmas song. Ellis made a beautiful video using sand art for “Mary, Mary” that you should really check out. He’s an artist in many senses of the word. Ellis and Rad unplugged and joined us in the crowd and wrapped their set with “Love is a Curious Thing.” We stomped for an encore and Chris Trapper joined Rad and Ellis on stage to play “Waiting on a Break,” which Ellis said is inspired by the “godfather of Boston music,” Dennis Brennan.

Unplugged in the crowd

Unplugged in the crowd

Rad, Ellis, and Chris sing one more for us

Rad, Ellis, and Chris sing one more for us

I’m always so happy to start or end (or both) my concert year with you, Ellis! Cheers to health, happiness, and good music for all in 2015!

xo,

bree

The set list. Thanks, Colin!

The set list. Thanks, Colin!

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A Happy New Year with Ellis Paul and Friends!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

Rad, DonCon, Ellis, and Michael

I love Ellis Paul. No one who knows me will be surprised to hear that he is my favorite musician touring today. I first saw him at Pickard Theater at Bowdoin College (my alma mater) in Brunswick, Maine on March 30, 2002 at the recommendation of one of my friends from Bowdoin’s Residential Life staff. I was hooked. Ellis is a phenomenal songwriter. He writes in a narrative style that makes listeners feel like we are right there living in whatever vignette he’s exploring in his song. I knew immediately that I wanted to see Ellis again and again, and I discovered that he plays back-to-back New Year’s Eve shows every year at the incredible Club Passim in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’ve attended his New Year’s Eve show there seven times with fabulous friends. It’s surely been one of my favorite traditions in my life.

This year, though, my friends and I were not able to make the show together. Our friends Lizzie and Dave welcomed their first child into the world just weeks before the Club Passim show—welcome, Caroline! This year, Ellis on New Year’s Eve was not to be. Ellis and his friends Radoslav Lorkovic, Don Conoscenti, and Michael Clem have played at the intimate and fabulous One Longfellow Square in Portland, Maine on New Year’s Day for the last two or three consecutive years. One Longfellow Square is a beautiful, small venue and is now a non-profit and I’m a member. I was really happy to be able to see Ellis and friends at OLS so close to home to start off my year. Check out One Longfellow Square here. You won’t be disappointed!

My friend Michelle and I grabbed a great Thai dinner before the show and were joined at OLS by Jason, Max, and Sophie. We got there just after doors opened and were only able to get five seats together in the sixth row. The show was sold out and people arrived early to get a good spot. Ellis is a Maine favorite as he’s a Maine native living far from home these days. When Michelle and I found seats, the woman sitting in front of us with her family was quite chatty. She had also seen Ellis a month or so before at Slates in Hallowell, Maine (just four miles from my house)—a show Michelle and I had also attended. She was so excited to see Ellis and called herself his number one fan. At some point, though, it came out that this was my 37th Ellis Paul show. I was dubbed “Ellis’ number one fan.” Any Ellis fan reading this obviously knows I am not his number one fan. He has quite a lot of people who claim that title and I am happy to share!

Peyton Tochterman, who Ellis discovered playing at a wine bar in Virginia, opened the show. We’d seen him in November, too. He reminds me of Maine musician, David Mallett. He exudes country—songs of villain/heroes and love and loss. He was significantly more entertaining on this night—I think he’s hit his comfort zone touring with such seasoned professionals. He told a hilarious story about his neighbor who bought his daughter a rifle for her fourth birthday. I promise the story is funnier than alarming. He also said his neighbor (the same one, I think) has a tattoo of a JEEP with the word “JEEP” tattooed underneath it. He asked if Mainers could relate and a woman in the front row said she’d gotten a pink rifle when she was younger. Peyton also told the story of how he written the first part of his album while recovering from surgery after Kenny G’s piano fell on him when he worked as a roadie. Yes, really. He has a sense of humor about it now, saying it couldn’t have been Elton John’s or Billy Joel’s piano but Kenny G’s. He was in a dark place when he wrote his EP—good fodder for country/folk music, really—and when Ellis heard him at the wine bar, he offered Peyton songwriting help and really pushed him to record and mentored him through the creation of a full-length album.

Ellis, Rad, DonCon, and Michael Clem took the stage after seven shows in three days. They were no worse for wear and put on a great show. They played “3,000 Miles” and “Maria’s Beautiful Mess”—Ellis classics—but also a couple of new songs from Ellis’ just-released family album, The Hero in You. I really, really like the song about Chief Joseph and love the concept of intelligent songs for kids about important people like Rosa Parks and Benjamin Franklin. He also played a newer song about Johnny Cash called “Kick Out the Lights,” which is my friend Michelle’s favorite and has a great audience participation part.

Roy Orbison’s wife, Barbara, who recently passed away on the anniversary of Roy’s death, had asked musicians to record Roy’s songs. Ellis donned a pair of sunglasses and played a beautiful rendition of “Crying.” The band rocked out during the annual cover songs portion of the evening (last year included “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which was amazing!)—playing “Across the Universe” and  “American Girl.”

The ongoing story of the night was about an incredible and expensive guitar that Ellis had played for a couple of shows but decided it would be crazy to buy. Later, when he decided to go for it, the guitar he loved had just been bought by Neil Young for his wife.

Fast forward to another fabulous and expensive guitar in Oklahoma that Ellis played during his shows there. When the owner told him Neil Young was coming in soon, Ellis pulled out his credit card and bought the guitar (which he was playing at the OLS show). When Ellis broke a string and proceeded to fix it himself during the course of a song which he continued to sing without missing a beat, Michael Clem hollered out “I bet Neil Young couldn’t do that.” A lot of camaraderie on stage that night.

Ellis and DonCon in the Audience

As per tradition, Ellis and the guys unplugged and came out to play in the audience— they did “The World Ain’t Slowing Down” in the audience and wrapped up the night back on stage with “Annalee” and “Hurricane Angel” as an encore. It was a beautiful night, a great start to 2012, and I’m excited for my 38th Ellis show!

xo,

bree

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