#610 Paul Thorn
Blues/Country/Rock: Paul Thorn performs from his newest album Pimps and Preachers at the Folk Alliance International in Memphis, TN.
Among those who value originality, inspiration, eccentricity, and character - as well as talent that hovers somewhere on the outskirts of genius, the story of Paul Thorn is already familiar. Now, Thorn reveals another layer of his fascinating history on the album Pimps & Preachers, addressing that subject on the title cut and in the intriguing "family portrait" he painted for the cover, which highlights his daddy the preacher and his uncle the pimp. Pimps & Preachers takes us to a central theme of Thorn's youth: the pull of polar opposites - one representing the severe ecstasies of fundamental faith and the other, the pleasures stigmatized and yet glamorized by the church. In his seminal albums, particularly his landmark Mission Temple Fireworks Stand, his upbringing as the son of a Church of God Pentecostal minister became a matter of record. What hasn't been clear, though, is the parallel impact of his father's brother, who showed up suddenly from California when Thorn was 12 years old. “He was a pimp back in the day,” Thorn says. “I had never met him before, so when he came back to Mississippi he had all this street wisdom and I started hanging around him as well as my father. My father was my mentor, but I learned a lot from my uncle too. Everything I've accomplished has been influenced by the time I spent around these two men.” Thorn remains close to his father and his uncle today. The qualities that so strongly affected Thorn endure in the lyric to the title track, which honors them both; one for teaching him to love, and the other for teaching him to fight. For all the moral questions raised by the choices each man made, Thorn came to accept what they represented as essential and complementary. His embrace of opposites leads to a unity of spirit.
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