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Paul K, Musician


Paul K

Unlike the overwhelming majority of songwriters, who get next to the darker side of life but never quite break the door down, Paul Kopasz has lived as part of the fringe element, and his career has evoked comparisons to those of Townes Van Zandt, Lou Reed, and Merle Haggard—three artists known for drawing from their own shady experiences for song material.

It didn’t start out that way, though. Born in Detroit, Paul was an excellent student and earned a debate scholarship to the University of Kentucky in the early 1980s. He had already begun home-recording his songs onto cassette in 1983, self-releasing at least half a dozen albums during the ’80s. But meanwhile he was sliding further into drug abuse and a squatter lifestyle after drifting to New York City. He found an actual label (Shrunken Stomach) to release his 1988 album Patriots, but then landed in jail for several years on a heroin-possession charge.

After release, Paul picked himself up, began recording again, and found a contract with the Dutch label SilenZ. He began playing with an occasional backing trio, the Weathermen; and although his first SilenZ release, 1992’s The Big Nowhere, was a solo venture, he debuted with the Weathermen later that year on another full LP, The Killer in the Rain. Paul K began to find marginal success in Europe, but remained unknown in his native country. The domestic breakthrough finally occurred with the 1993 Homestead release of The Blue Sun, a collection of his early cassette recordings. Blues for Charlie Lucky and Garden of Forking Paths followed for SilenZ during the mid-’90s, and Paul began to get increased exposure in America with 1995’s Achilles Heel, released on Thirsty Ear. A German live album appeared in 1996, followed one year later by Love Is a Gas on Alias Records. A Wilderness of Mirrors, the score to an imaginary film, appeared in 1998. In 1999, Alias released Saratoga.

—John Bush


Program 333

Robert Franz of the Louisville Orchestra, music from singer-songwriter Paul K and Joee Conroy, and scrimshaw artist Rick Hutchings. (#333)





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