Tag Archives: Red Molly

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Unitarian Universalist Church, Brunswick, Maine

This was my 46th Ellis Paul show, and it was fantastic. Obviously, some Ellis Paul shows are better than others, and I can tell the difference, even if I’m biased. There was a point in time a few years ago when Ellis’ voice sounded strained (he plays hundreds of shows a year, so that’s to be expected) and he needed to work with a voice coach and get some vocal rest. I also didn’t love how he gave up telling a lot of his best stories about a year ago (how he found his guitar, Guinness, for example) to banter instead about how we’ve lost our connection to music we can hold in our hands and carried a record player around to all of his shows. The last two of his shows that I saw (January 1 at One Longfellow Square) and this lovely night were full of the best of Ellis—with a powerful voice and great storytelling.

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Ellis Paul

Hedda and I have been friends since we both had bad hair in high school (she had a bowl cut. I had a spiral perm). She was able to join me at the beautiful Unitarian Universalist Church in Brunswick for her first-ever Ellis Paul show. My dear colleague Dennis and his beloved wife, Jean, were also able to come for their first-ever Ellis experience. I love introducing people to Ellis Paul. It never gets old. All of them, of course, loved him. He was really on that night!

Bree and Hedda

Girls’ night out! Me and Hedda!

This show was one in a series of Concerts for a Cause at the UU Church. They host concerts to raise money for local charities chosen by church members. This year’s charities are Midcoast Hunger Prevention, Tedford Housing, Independence Association, Spindleworks, Habitat for Humanity, Gathering Place, Boys to Men, Maine Hospice, ILAP (Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project), Natural Resources of Maine, Coastal Humane Society, and Doctors Without Borders.

It’s time for a brief concert etiquette lesson. If you’re taking photos at a concert with a camera that makes sound, it’s polite to shoot during a few songs and then put the camera away. The same goes for taking photos with a cell phone, even if it’s silent. No one wants to listen to your camera click or watch a show through your cell phone screen if they’re stuck sitting behind you. It is not polite to take photos throughout every song such that people around you can’t enjoy the tender moments in the song because everyone in a five-plus row radius can only hear the constant click of your camera. I spoke to this particular Ellis superfan during intermission and asked her to kindly put the loud camera away after intermission, and she obliged. I think the folks sitting behind her had to endure watching the rest of the show through the screen of her cell phone while she took photos without sound (a bummer still, even if somewhat an improvement), but the second half of the show was a ton more enjoyable for those of us a bit farther away.

Ellis Piano

Ellis at the piano and the offending constant click of that camera in the foreground. Audience etiquette no no.

Ellis obviously impressed the sold out crowd. Folks were toe tapping and laughing and singing along (when invited) all night long. The truly talented Laurie MacAllister from Red Molly sang a few songs with Ellis. She’s performed with him every time I’ve seen him over the last year or so, and is a real treat. He introduced us to his beautiful new guitar, Sprocket, which he invited us to take a closer look at after the show. I didn’t take notes and just enjoyed the show; so I have nothing resembling a set list for you, but I remember that he wrapped his set with an improved song at the piano about being back in Maine (which was creative and hilarious) and his encore was an unplugged sing along to Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” from the middle of the room.

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Ellis and Laurie

Ellis Paul and Laurie MacAllister

Encore

“Circle Game” from the center of the room.

Do you think you get to sing a song on stage with Ellis at your 50th Ellis show? Starting to plan ahead. Thank you, Ellis, for another wonderful night!

xo,

bree

Sprocket

Ellis’ new guitar, Sprocket!

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Ellis Paul with Shun Ng

Friday, April 10, 2015

Boothbay Opera House, Boothbay Harbor, Maine

My dear friend Dot asked if I wanted to join her for her very first Ellis Paul show. Of course I wanted to! I love going with Ellis Paul first-timers to see their reaction to his fantastic storytelling and engaging live show. Dot and I met after school and carpooled to Boothbay Harbor, where we boldly invited ourselves to share a big table with a man and his son at the very crowded The Thistle Inn (who, of course, we found out we had people in common with) and made it over to the Boothbay Opera House when doors opened. I hadn’t been to the Boothbay Opera House in years and it looks fantastic!

Guitar prodigy Shun Ng took the stage and wowed with very impressive, complex guitar pieces and reinterpreted songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Ellis is a mentor to this talented 25 year old, and helped him write the lyrics for the first of the songs he played that night. When Ellis’ guitar string broke later in the evening, Shun brought Ellis his own guitar to use. I liked seeing their friendship and admiration for each other, and am happy to see Ellis’ continued support of young musicians.

Shun Ng

Shun Ng

Ellis took the stage and welcomed us warmly. He lived for a couple of years in the midcoast and many of his friends and neighbors from those years were at the show. This was my 44th Ellis Paul show, and I think he sounded the best he has in ages (even though he told us later in the show that he had a bit of a cold). The majority of songs he played over the course of the evening were from his most recent fan-funded album, Chasing Beauty, and his 2010 release, The Day After Everything Changed. Ellis showed us the vinyl version of Chasing Beauty and a copy of his first children’s book The Hero In You. He reminisced with the crowd throughout the night about shows he’s played in the area, including a show years ago at Bowdoin College (I couldn’t help myself and shouted out that the Bowdoin show was my first time seeing him and he joked that “you never forget your first time!”). Laurie MacAllister, who plays bass for Red Molly, joined Ellis for two songs. They honored the late Pete Seeger by playing his “If I Had A Hammer” and closed the night together with a beautiful version of “Let It Be.” I see Ellis live so often that I am very familiar with the content of his live show, but I got a special treat because he played a song I’d never heard before–“I Ain’t No Jesus”—which I loved.

Ellis Paul smiling for his former hometown crowd

Ellis Paul smiling for his former hometown crowd

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I was glad that Ellis played some of my favorites for Dot to experience live—including “Maria’s Beautiful Mess” and “Hurricane Angel.” We got to sing along on “Kick Out the Lights” about Johnny Cash kicking out the lights at the Grand Ole Opry. Ellis hopped off stage and played “Annalee” and “The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down” unplugged from the floor. He asked us to sing along and at some point I realized mine was the only voice besides his I could hear. It was as close to singing a duet with Ellis that I’ve come. Maybe we should do a song together at my 50th Ellis show? It won’t be long. Thanks for a great night!

xo,

bree

Red Molly's Laurie MacAllister

Red Molly’s Laurie MacAllister

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Ellis unplugged

Ellis unplugged

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"Let It Be"

“Let It Be”

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