I don’t listen to radio. There’s no real music on commercial TV. From what I’ve seen of cable it isn’t worth the money. So my sources for hearing new music are limited. I do stay up late on Saturday nights, though, and watch the PBS Channel 8 here in Nashville. Sometimes there’s Austin City Limits, sometimes bluegrass programs from the Kentucky PBS network. Some other shows I haven’t identified because of the snooze factor. Most times there’s not too much to remember.
One of these late nights, though, I saw Paul Thorn, just a guy with a flattop guitar sitting in a chair. I heard half of "Nothin’ But the Devil" and sort of woke up. Scattered among other songs Paul talked about his life a bit. A young guy in Tupelo, Mississippi, out of high school, working at the broom factory, making up songs and singing at the local pizza place on weekends. Professional boxing was mixed in as well. He did this for 12 years.
Anyway, I loved the songs and went eBay cruising the next day to see if I could find a CD. There was only one "Mission Temple Fireworks Stand" on all of eBay. I bid high enough to guarantee I would get it. The auction wouldn’t finish for a week, so I later thought I’d surf the web some and see what I could find. And I found his website which is, not surprisingly: http://www.paulthorn.com/ . That was pretty easy. I took a quick look: music and art. I had to go back to working for a living, though, so I didn’t get to spend much time there at the website.
As the end of the auction approached, I found some time to visit the website again. This was Friday, May 16, 2003. I noticed a schedule link on the left side of the page and out of curiosity took a look. There were venues from Alabama to California and sitting there on the very top, the very next night, was Nashville. Must be fate; I decided to go.
I had heard of the 3rd and Lindsley Bar and Grill ( http://www.3rdandlindsley.com/ )as a place to hear good local talent, but, owing to being somewhat lazy and definitely cheap, I’d never gone. The link was right there on Paul’s site, so I took a quick visit. Yep there’s Paul at 10:00pm. I knew it would take me a week to catch up on the lost sleep, but I decided it would be OK. You have to get out every once in while. There were other acts before Paul, but only one of them had a website: The Hosty Duo ( http://www.hosty.com/ ). Well, I’m killing time anyway, so I go there for a visit. The opening screen flashes up with a skull-n-crossbones in a cowboy hat. I almost bailed at that point, but, for no particular reason forged ahead into what I thought would be some sort of country gun-slinger type site.
Not as bad as I had expected. Pretty normal looking band and no gussied up cowpoke gone to the city look. It was getting late and I was about to log off when I noticed the link "Road Stories". I thought this might be fun, so I took a look. I ended up reading all of those stories.
These are some of the grossest, saddest, happiest, most pathetic, alcohol soaked, and oh yes, funniest stories you’ll find. After finishing them all I decided that I’d go a little earlier and see if these guys were as much fun with musical instruments as they are with beer bottles.
3rd and Lindsley Bar and Grill is a nice, cozy place for music. There is food, but it was late and I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty either because I’ve smashed up all the cars and endangered all the lives that I need or want to. I was there strictly for the music. I found a good standing spot close to the mixer, about twenty feet from the stage.
The Hosty Duo
Its interesting watching a band set up for a 30 minute set. You really have to get with it. I easily identified some of the gear and the van from "Road Stories". I’m not sure you can appreciate these guys fully without reading the stories, but on stage they are a basic, hard-driving band comprised of two guys from Oklahoma. Tic-Tac (Michael Byers), the drummer, doesn’t go for finesse. He lays down his own beat and pounds it hard all the way through. Mike Hosty does the rest with guitar and pedal bass, bassitar (as best I could figure it, six string guitar with two bass strings added to the top), and kazoo as well as vocals.
Hosty works all the instruments very well. Lots of slide, with blues and rock beat. All original songs which are, like the stories, talking about life in Oklahoma and life on the road. It was just a 30 minute set but a lot was packed in by the gun it and go ways of the Duo. Not much talk, just a little request to buy a CD so Hosty could get a pickup truck and a bass boat. I enjoyed their show so much I decided to turn big spender and spring for the $10 CD.
A pretty, young, dark haired girl (well, practically everyone is young compared to me) was taking care of CD sales while the Duo was packing up and loading the van. I wondered if she was the girl friend in the "Ole St. Gregory’s" story, but I couldn’t figure a way, being a stranger, to ask. I did tell her that I came early because I had visited the website. "Oh", she said, "The Road Stories". I smiled. Nice kid.
Soon the van was packed and off to make another road story.
While the Duo was packing up a crowd of guys started moving various music stuff on to and around the stage. Let’s see. An organ, three electric guitars, a full set of drums, and a bass but no flattop guitar in sight. No Paul Thorn in sight. I thought I’d screwed up somehow and missed him. It would be just like me to do such a thing. Hmmm. But the Hosty Duo was there at the right time and when I screw up I screw it all up, not just a little bit. So I decided I’d stay and, if nothing else, to see how all those guys were going to fit on that little stage.
It took a while to get all the gear turned on, plugged up and tuned, but within fifteen minutes or so, there Paul was and I could at least be satisfied that I hadn’t done something dumb like show up on the wrong night.
Let me tell you, this group of guys was tight and right. Blues, rock and slide guitar. Every one of the band was great. I wish I knew all their names, but I don’t paid for this so I don’t take notes. What I do remember, though, is that it was one of the best live performances that I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some darn good ones. I was worth the $10 cover to hear "It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Devil"…electrified.
Then you get to the songs. They are the greatest part of the show. Paul’s throaty "I been punched in the neck" voice is the perfect delivery mechanism. Songs about trailer parks, sin, Jesus (800lb ones at that), misery, whupin ass. The truth, cooked down to its basics, the essence of it delivered by somebody who knows. You don’t get the truth in the suburbs. You get limited truth in the city. Higher altitudes prevent you from seeing the details. You have to be low to the ground, close in, packed tight to get the truth. A trailer park in Tupelo. Who knew the truth would be found there? Song writing doesn’t get better. Thank God Paul kept believing for those 12 years.
The show was two long, jam packed sets. I loved every minute of it. CD sales were in the back so in between sets I decided to buy "Mission Temple". If I got the eBay one too, I’d give it to my brother. As I’m paying for the CD I get a little hemmed in (and I’m a bit claustrophobic) between the CDs and t-shirts. Paul is back there too signing things and I end up shoulder to shoulder to him, so I figured what the hey, I’ll get the CD signed. The guy is a decent, down-to-earth, normal guy. What a whupass concept.
Since I am cheap, I rarely recommend for people to spend their money. In this case, however, if you have a little money and Paul Thorn is anywhere close. Spend the money, burn the gas, go see him. I’m telling you its worth it.
In both sets Paul thanked the crowd for coming and for staying late. When I saw Othar Turner in Nashville a couple of years ago, Mr. Turner was at the door when I left. I shook his hand and thanked him. I didn’t get to shake Paul’s hand, but I would like to say thanks.