Train Kept A Rollin’: Paul Nelson Band’s Endless Journey

The Paul Nelson Band is a touring workhorse, showcasing some of the best in blues and rock. Currently trekking across the Midwest with a return stop at The Slippery Noodle, Paul Nelson continues to push boundaries.

Paul Nelson on Selective Memory

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For years now, Paul Nelson has made Jamaica a January festival destination. He has performed in the past at the Johnny Winter Fest and now the 2nd Annual Peter’s Players Jamaica “Winterfest.” The festival, held in tropical Montego Bay, featured the Paul Nelson Band along with award-winning guitarist Ana Popovic, Matt Andersen, and Rare Earth legend Peter Rivera. For Nelson, it was a special performance that dripped with glorious guitar jams and fun musical explorations.

The stage is Nelson’s second home. His tireless schedule leads him from the big festivals to intimate nightclubs and back again; he performs an average of 150 shows a year. Now we find him trekking through the sub-freezing winter landscape of the Midwest with a stop back at The Slippery Noodle. It is the historic bar where he always receives that warm Hoosier welcome.

“Man I love The Slippery Noodle,” boasts Nelson. “It’s rich in blues history, and I just love the crowds. The way Indianapolis has developed, it’s just a great hang.”

Although Nelson will be revving up the night with his signature blues guitar work, he has noticed a transformation in the importance of rock and blues coming together. For the past few years, he has seen a trend of the two genres conjoin with artists like Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Taz, Marcus King and other reputable guitarists grabbing influences from Clapton and the British classic rock and blues era, and infusing it into their modern interpretation of both.

Johnny Winter – Dust My Broom (Live on Letterman)

“Blues people want a little rock in their blues and rock people want a little blues in their rock,” Nelson said. “We are in a really good time where guitars are back in the forefront. But audiences also want songs. The rock puts a little bit of song structure into it. You hear the blues stations playing more rock and vice versa. It allows the musician to stretch and do more on a recording instead of just thinking what you have to do for blues or what you have to do for rock. The instrumentation changes and the appetite of the fans grow.”

Getting lost in that guitar solo may be a sweet spot for Nelson, yet he loves the stage aspect of having that rock and blues integration where the band plays an equal role in the level of entertainment. “You don’t want to play a blues solo all night.”

When he came up with the plan to construct his band, Nelson sought out musicians from across the East Coast that all culminated an immediate musical bond. The group is comprised of Joe Pafumi on drums, Mike Echols on bass, and Rico Amero on vocals and harp. As soon as they all got together, they immediately collected material and went out on the road. It’s a rarity to be able to have that strength instantaneously. Nelson set up a mobil unit where they could practice out on the road and enrich their sound.

Paul Nelson – Jumping Jack Flash

“We are constantly thinking up new ideas and working on our interpretation of other classic songs whether its doing our version of a Freddie King or Albert King or B. B. King or whatever we feel might work with the crowd. We can put our unique stamp on it.”

The Paul Nelson Band may make these traditional songs shine like diamonds, it’s his original work from albums like the 2016 release of Bad Ass Generation that blends everything together with gusto. Nelson is currently writing new material for an album that will potentially be released this year. Add that to the intensive list of production work, collaboration, and busy touring schedule. The Johnny Winters guitar protege continues to take the helm of prestigious rock and blues and provides a humanist approach to his guitar playing whether it is on the road or in the studio. Either way, there is no stopping his incredible work ethic, and what it comes down to is that he loves the music that he plays. Odds are, Nelson will be visiting a city near you.

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