Much like the diverse influences that make up the prismatic sound of his music, Anthony Paule has come a long way to get to where he is today.
The guitarist and bandleader of the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra, who was due to perform at the Downtown Theater in Fairfield on Saturday night, was born in South Africa to British parents who left England after serving in the Royal Air Force during WWII. Eventually, however, they could not come to terms with living with that country’s racist apartheid government and moved to the United States with their family when he was just a baby.
After crossing the Atlantic as passengers on a container ship, landing in Boston, and then surviving a cross-country Greyhound bus trip with her two older brothers, the family settled in Los Angeles.
Growing up, Paule remembers that music was an important part of her life, sharing fond memories that clearly demonstrate the impact her experiences would have later on in her musical career.
“My father had a huge record collection, tens of thousands of records, and he played the trumpet,” Paule explains. “He liked classical music and jazz, mainly, but also blues and rock and Indian music and Egyptian music, he liked music from all over the world.
“I still have 78s he bought in the 1930s from Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. They are in perfect condition. When I was a kid, he taught me how to handle records when I was about four or five years old, very carefully. They were precious to them and he kept them in top shape. My mother sang in temple choirs and community theaters and things like that, so both of my parents were musicians.
The first instrument Paule learned to play was the clarinet when he was in elementary school. But once he got his first guitar at 13, there was no looking back.
“The only use for the clarinet after this point was this little thing called the barrel, which connects the rest of the clarinet to the keys and everything. Turns out the barrel is really great for playing slide guitar. So I started listening to blues records and trying to sound like Elmore James,” laughed Paule.
When he moved to northern California in the late 1970s, Paule joined his older brother’s rock and roll cover band after that band’s guitarist left. Even though he was underage, Paule managed to sneak into bars and clubs to play shows, and gradually perfected his chops over the years.
Playing a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from rock and blues to jazz and soul, Paule eventually formed The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra in 2007 at a friend’s suggestion to collaborate with singer Frank Bey. This formation of the group recorded three albums and made several tours in the United States and Europe. In 2016 singer Wee Willie Walker joined.
“We recorded an album in 2019, in November, and three days after finishing the album, he passed away unexpectedly. It’s amazing. If you listen to the album, you can’t believe it’s a guy who will be gone in three days,” Paule said.
Although obviously heartbroken by the loss of their lead singer, the band released the album as a tribute to him and continues to make music with vocalist Terrie Odabi, who has often guested the band but is now a member. official.
“It’s kind of funny because the title ‘Not In My Lifetime’ came about because we were doing studio interviews,” says Paule. “And the lady was interviewing Willie and she asked them what he thought of the recording session. He said, ‘Well, it’s just fantastic because of everyone and I don’t think that will happen again for me, not in my lifetime.”
“We had another name for the album, but we decided to use it. We started the album with this little excerpt from this interview.
After that Saturday night concert and a few other local shows, Paule and the rest of her Soul Orchestra can’t wait to fly to Italy next month for three weeks of touring and festivals.
“We are going to play this fabulous festival called Umbria Jazz Festival. We play every night in front of thousands of people on a giant stage and headliners will include Herbie Hancock and Tom Jones,” said Paule. “It’s beautiful, in this beautiful hilltop town in Italy.”
If You Go: The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra with Terrie Odabi, 8 p.m. Sat., June 25, Downtown Theater Fairfield, 1035 Texas St., Fairfield. Tickets cost between $35 and $45. For more information, visit Downtowntheatre.com.