Blues, southern rock, and country musician Paul Thorn will headline the music lineup at this year’s Great Delta Bear Affair.
Paul Thorn has created an innovative and impressive career, pleasing crowds with his muscular brand of roots music – bluesy, rocking and thoroughly Southern American, yet also speaking universal truths.
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. Raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, among the same spirits (and some of the actual people) who nurtured the young Elvis generations before,
Paul Thorn has rambled down back roads and jumped out of airplanes, worked for years in a furniture factory, battled four-time world champion boxer Roberto Duran on national television, signed with and been dropped by a major label, performed on stages with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Sting, and John Prine (among many others), and made some of the most emotionally restless yet fully accessible music of our time.
He’s also appeared on major television shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live, been the subject of numerous National Public Radio (NPR) features and charted multiple times on the Billboard Top 100 and Americana Radio Charts.
In 2018, Paul released an album titled Don’t Let the Devil Ride.
“This is the culmination of my whole life in music, coming back to my gospel roots,” says Paul Thorn about his newest album, Don’t Let the Devil Ride. “My message on this record is ‘let’s get together’—I want to help lighten your load and make you smile.”
The son of a preacher man, Mississippi-raised Thorn spent much of his childhood in church, participating in multiple weekly services with his father as well as at neighboring African American congregations, where he became entranced with the music whose infectious spirit is captured on the new album.
Don’t Let the Devil Ride collects soulful songs originally cut by black southern gospel groups, and features guests Blind Boys of Alabama, the McCrary Sisters, the Preservation Hall Jazz Horns, and Bonnie Bishop.
The album was recorded at three temples of sound: the Sam C. Phillips Recording studio, whose namesake gave another son of Tupelo his start; at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, where Thorn worked as a songwriter for legendary producer Rick Hall early in his career; and at Preservation Hall, where horn players from the celebrated jazz venue lent songs a New Orleans vibe.
The new release marks Thorn’s first time recording gospel music, after a dozen albums in roots-rock mode, though his upbringing has previously been reflected in his creation of a body of strikingly original songs. In his own songwriting, Thorn often addresses the foibles of human relationships, although he doesn’t favor the sacred over the profane.