BLUEGRASS BILLBOARD CHART ranked 12th THERE WILL BE NIGHTS WHEN I'M LONELY!!!! - Nov. 2013
Awarded BEST ALT. COUNTRY ALBUM 2011 Independent Music Awards for 'Feed the Family' released with Hillgrass Bluebilly Records of Austin, TX.
"Wert's sound can be described as soulful and primal, worldly and spiritual, raw and thoughtful and uncompromising. It is real life music, his compositions and their subject matter. And though he seems to somehow transcend himself and his humanity through song, he remains irrevocably human, and so too does his music."
-PLUG IN MUSIC/J. Carlson
"If I were to make a list of the twenty most important singer/songwriters of our time, John Konrad Wert, better known under the moniker Possessed by Paul James, would undoubtedly be among those at the very top, if not the topmost artist."
-Urban Artist Group 2010
"Nominated best "Folk" artist of the 2008 Austin Chronicle/Off the Record's Austin Powell"
-Austin Chronicle 2009
"His musical style can only be described as insanely invigorating. Audiences have witnessed him exercise his skill, which has been known to enchant and captivate, throwing all present individuals into fevered states of ecstatic jubilation. This guy is a master of the fiddle, guitar and banjo; he sings about life issues ranging from love and sexuality to demons, God, salvation and desperation, all performed with the same invigorating passion as he stomps his foot during each song for amplified percussive effect. When Wert is on stage, you will feel singled out among a room of enthused bystanders, as if he is speaking to you alone for the distinct purpose of mesmerizing your mind." -J. Payne DT Weekend 2008
"One-man band Konrad Wert grew up in a Mennonite family, raised by preacher father and a piano player mother, which accounts for both the baptized-in-fire-soul and musical versatility heard in his gritty Old World music. Wert's mix of blues and vintage folk howls with a sense of explosive freedom and latent rage-not unlike an Amish kid emerging from the wilderness to discover America -that instills his simple guitar/fiddle/stomp-box arrangements with unusual passion."
- The Onion 2007
Possessed by Paul James has been touring out and about for 3 years now, including:
*Europe with SYA Records and Voodoo Rhythm Records: Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy.
*Domestic touring includes: California, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma with more to come.
Most noteably, PPJ has shared the stage with such artists as:
*William Elliot Whitmore
*Ramblin Jack Elliot
*Larry and His Flask
*T Model Ford
*The Black Angels
*Split Lip Rayfield
*Greg Graffin of Bad Religion
*Rev. Peytons Big Damn Band
*Black Diamon Heavies
*Left Lane Cruiser
*Rev. Beat Man
*The Dead Brothers
*Scott H. Biram
*Drew Emmit of Left Over Salmon
*Vince Herman of Left Over Salmon
*Eric Mcfadden Trio
*Bog Log III
*Ralph White of the Bad Livers
*Red Hunter of Peter and the Wolf
*The Meat Purveyors
*The Weary Boys
*Harlan T. Bobo of Goner Records
*Tim Kerr of Poison 13
*Black Joe Lewis
Solo artist: Jon Konrad Wert
Instrumentation: Violin, Electric/Acoustic Guitar, Dobro, Banjo, Stomp Box, Mandolin and Diddly Boe.
Possessed by Paul James CD/LP SYA Records 2006
-“A redefined mix of blues, old timey folk, southern wickedness and fire! FIRE DAMMIT." -WHOOPSY Magazine Austin 2006
KVRX Local Live Vol. 11: Assacre to Zookeeper
Compilation with DVD track included 2007
"In this 11th installment of the college radio frequency's Sunday night program, the glorious (Peter & the Wolf, Possessed by Paul James)..." -Austin Chronicle 2007
Hiram & Huddie Compilation via Hillgrass Bluebilly Ent. 2008
"As good as all of these tracks are though, it's Possessed By Paul James' contributions that totally steal the show and his version of Lead Belly's "The Bourgeois Blues" wears the "best song" crown."
Cold and Blind CD/LP Voodoo Rhythm Records 2008
"Cold and Blind, which in its entirety will sting you into enlightened emotional euphoria."
-DT Mag. Austin, TX
SLOWBOAT FILMS 'The Folk Singer' feature film.
*Presently Screening throughout Europe
*Winner of Best Feature at Deep Blues Fest 2008
"Feed the Family" 2010 CD
Released with Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
"Every song is an experience, a moment in time that must be cherished...." -Saving Country Music
"THERE WILL BE NIGHTS WHEN I'M LONELY" HB Records 2013 CD/LP
"Musically, Wert's reached a new level of possession. His violin: angelic. His banjo: a brothel romp. The lyrics present a thoughtful meditation on life from a most vulnerable vantage point, one that bombards you with realities of love, responsibility, isolation, and gratitude." - Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle Review/Feature
Saving Country Music
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PPJ Press 2010/2011
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THERE'S A LOT TO KEEP UP WITH BOTH DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL. HERE ARE JUST A FEW OVER THE PAST YEA...THERE'S A LOT TO KEEP UP WITH BOTH DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL. HERE ARE JUST A FEW OVER THE PAST YEARS!!
I wanted to revisit this post today because it was just announced the the album won the Independent Music Awards award for Best Alt-Country Album Of 2010 and I felt that should earn it a rerun for those that missed it the first time. One time I said something about Possessed By Paul James and I feel this would be a good time to quote it, “a lot of people won’t get Possessed By Paul James but those that do will have found a musician who’s albums they’ll be listening to for years to come and that’s a special thing.”
Congragulations to Konrad and all the Hillgrass Bluebilly folks.
The last time I wrote about Possessed By Paul James I was relatively sure no one outside of my little Deep Blues circle had any idea who he was. Flash forward a couple of years and a stint on the last Revival Tour, and people on my alt.country/punk-folk circle have at least heard of him and a few lucky ones have seen him live.
Possessed By Paul James is one Mr. Konrad Wert, currently living in Texas but hailing from my home state of Florida. His past two albums, Possessed By Paul James and Cold and Blind, coupled with his live shows have garnered him a cult following as rabid as any, and one I am proud to call myself a part of. That said, the albums have also fallen into the “love ‘em or hate ‘em” category. It’s an issue I can relate to because for the longest time I loved Cold and Blind but found Possessed By Paul James utterly unlistenable. That was, until I managed to catch him live 2 times at the Deep Blues Festival 3 years ago.
Konrad is best understood if you’ve seen him live, that’s an undeniable fact, but it’s become less of a requirement with each album, and now with Feed The Family I think he’s managed to make an album accessible enough that the live show isn’t a requirement for those with a slightly more confined musical palate. Feed the Family captures everything that makes Possessed By Paul James great without spending too much time in that challenging area that requires knowing him live to be able to truly “get it”
So, what does that get you? For long time fans, the stomps, vocal quakes and yelps are still present. For the potential newly indoctrinated (slash Konard live virgins), said stomps, vocal quakes and yelps are mixed more into the background, with Konrad’s picking and passion out front for display. The results are a surprisingly restrained sound that manages to capture the immediate and passionate nature of Konrad’s music. I think with all that said, it’s clear that this is seriously some Essential Listening. If you’ve heard PBPJ before and didn’t like it, listen again ‘cause this is easily the best album he’s recorded to date, as well as a done deal for a slot on the 9B Top 10 of the 2k10.
March 31, 2011
Possessed By Paul James: Feed The Family (Hillgrass Bluebilly, 2010)
After watching the whole movie The Folk Singer a couple of times and the scene where Konrad Wert sings the song Shoulda’ Known Better a dozen of times, I knew I had to properly introduce my heart to Possessed By Paul James’ music. A good place to start is his new album Feed The Family that came out just a couple of weeks ago (oh and the movie is stunning and extremely highly recommend to everyone. You don’t even need be a big fan of PPJ beforehand to enjoy it).
Feed The Family is a wonderful album that demands your attention. It’s almost impossible to use this as a background music, because this has more soul than the Hitsville box sets and it will cause a beautiful havoc in your heart. The man is singing his heart out and you better listen to what he has to say. This is passionate and pure music ranging from energic bluegrass blues to absolutely beautiful folk songs. It may not be the most easily accessible record of the year, but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding ones.
-One Chord World Press
Possessed by Paul James
Feed The Family
Record Label: Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
Review by Kaleb Bronson
Absorbing the true musical spirit of his father and grandfather, Konrad Wert transforms himself into Possessed by Paul James and does so with a fine-tuned form on his newest album release “Feed the Family,” a more polished yet creatively raw album of realism
Seeing Possessed by Paul James live is one feat that is unbeatable, his transformation from a genuinely kind-hearted and caring man into the maniacally controlled and beast-like man of musical charm is out of this planetary realm. His sound is like no other, mixing instrument switches continuously and fluctuating his style through a gamut of skill sets and mini-freak-outs. “Feed the Family” is Possessed by Paul James’ most crisp album yet, like the first nibble of a fresh fall apple, or a drive through the thick morning fog. Each track leaps bounds through the mental corridor with a mixture of instruments and lyrical content letting the listener hear bluegrass, punk, country blues and pure musical soul.
Think of Jiminy Cricket meeting Johnny Cash while dining at Charley Patton’s house on All Hollow’s Eve before dancing in the streets to the music of Robert Johnson; this is what Wert has to offer within every track he writes and performs. It’s a true amalgamation of emotion, spirit and spark. On the album’s title track “Feed the Family” Wert lifts his heart into the air to express the importance of ancestry; a refreshing jaunt into his soul, which then calms as he enters “When it Breaks.” This track shows the importance to always continue no matter the scattered bone trail offers you. “Go ahead all and crucify the only innocent man, go ahead and justify all of the hate you have, all of the hate you can,” Wert bellows with elegance.
Each track has the depth of the ocean floor yet the emotional capability to grasp the sounds like a floating lily pad. “Oh the Rhythm” enters a journey into Wert’s inner sanctum, the listener can absorb his emotion beyond a song, the song becomes an experience; a calming tool for the heart and a soothing ring to the ear, “Oh the Rhythm” has politics and love all in one. As any man grows old in any form, the body ages right along side, whether humans like it or not. Possessed by Paul James explains this transformation on the track “Older in my Body,” where he sings, “I’m much older in my body than my heart.” The lyric is simple but everyone can resonate with the beautiful agony.
One of Paul James’ most glorious songs live he takes to this record, “Take Off Your Mask.” This song and record is filled with questions about oneself; life, love, religion, family and so many more, all for the listener to choose from.
So many tracks are combined into this album of wonderful wisdom, which come to an end at “Color of my Bloody Nose.” A beautifully harmonious track of love splattered with torment; a superb ending to a labyrinth of an album.
The movement of “Feed the Family” flows like a Montana stream. Possessed by Paul James may not be headlining at the Coliseum, nor would his fans want him to, his charm, poise and skill will last as long as people notice that he is a true
The first thing you will hear from fans of Possessed by Paul James is how amazing he is live. Well I’ve seen him live twice in the last few months, and as amazing as the live version is, I like the album better. Yes, a man whose name is always proceeded by “You HAVE to see him live,” has topped himself by the sheer quality of this project. This was the only album this year I could not find anything to pick on. If you’re looking for heavy twang, there’s not much of that here, Possessed works more in the mold of the Texas songwriters, the Townes and Guy Clarks. But he’s also evolved from that to his own style that can’t be pigeon holed, including deep ties to the roots in the instrumentation and themes.
-'Saving Country Music'
PPJ Press 2009
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Most recent clippings as of 2009 are currently being collected. Feel free to review past and presen...Most recent clippings as of 2009 are currently being collected. Feel free to review past and present since 2006.
Possessed by Paul James
Cold & Blind
(2008, Voodoo Rhythm)
File Under = Intensely soulful blues/folk
the rest of us content ourselves on oxygen, Konrad Wert seems to be
sustained by coals and lighter fluid because as Possessed by Paul
James, Wert breathes flames. I don’t mean that as any kind of
exaggeration either, it only takes a single spin of Cold and Blind
to feel the heat bleeding through the speakers. Wert’s pseudonym suits
him well. ‘Possessed’ is definitely adjective I’d use to describe
Wert’s maniacal delivery, though who Paul James is, I’m not sure.
According to Wikipedia Paul James could be anything from gardner to a
sportscaster to (most likely) a Canadian blues guitarist. Cold and Blind
is a deeply rooted blues album soaked in a heavy batch of nostalgia.
Wert takes on guitar, banjo and violin all with the percussion at his
feet and also all by his lonesome. However, where similarly
multitasking musicians tend to slow up to juggle their instruments,
Wert blazes forward like an obsessed demon, spitting and hollering all
along the way. Often coming off as Tourettes patient, Wert’s
spontaneous outbursts only serve to underscore the immediacy of Cold and Blue's
songs which are often punctuated by the applause of a live audience.
The record sounds like it was recorded on Skip James’ back porch,
filled to the brim with the ghosts of past blues luminaries. Wert’s
voice and guitar never fails to stretch the recordings to their limits,
pushing and pulling against the equipment as if the sound intended to
break free of the speakers its played on. It is really quite an
experience. Amongst the knee slappin’ there is heavy dose of folk
balladry that cuts you straight to the core. Possessed by Paul James is
nothing if not emotive. A magical, transportative record; Cold and Blind
feels like some ancient unearthed genius that’s aged in a way that
makes it all the more vibrant and contemporary. I feel like I'm all
over the place here but that is the nature of the record I guess -
definitely a keeper.
POSSESSED BY PAUL JAMES:
Cold and Blind: CD
Some pretty damn good ........Texas blues and folk stuff on the Swiss label of Lightning Beat Man. Not as blown-out as most of the Voodoo Rhythm output and, in my opinion, this
is a good thing. Some bluesy stuff and a real folk feel on some tunes;
there is some really pretty stuff in places on this disc. At times,
there are even a few tunes that wouldn’t be out of place on one of the
Roky Erickson acoustic records. That is about the highest praise I can
give. Just a great collection of tunes sung with heart and soul. Check
this great songwriter out. –Mike Frame (Voodoo Rhythm)
Austin Chronicle/Off the Record
Jan. 2, 2009
by Austin Powell
The Chronicle Music Poll has followed the industry's paradigm shift into the Digital Age. Due to social networking sites such as MySpace, not to mention the local Land Development Code, Section 13-2-864 (see "Violators Will Be Punished," Sept. 12, 1997), the concert poster as advertisement has largely gone the way of the PDF, and the poll committee, with profound regret, has removed the category from this year's ballot. Other categories to get the pink slip include Novelty Band, Horn Player/Section, Strings Player/Section, and Instrument Equipment Store, though all of them are still in the running for the annual "Best of Austin" issue. Cast your ballot before Jan. 31. The remaining categories, with OTR's picks:
...ROOTS-ROCK: James McMurtry
FOLK: Possessed by Paul James
LATIN TRADITIONAL: Grupo Fantasma...
Most Recent 2008
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NINE BULLETS Best Albums of 2008 12/30/08 #7. Possessed By Paul James - Cold and Blind Easily t...NINE BULLETS Best Albums of 2008
#7. Possessed By Paul James - Cold and Blind
Easily the wife’s favorite album of the year, she even tried to convince me that it need to be mine or sex would be withheld. Needlessto say, I am gonna be a little tense for a while. In all seriousness,though, seeing Possessed By Paul James was surely my favorite show ofthe year. As I said in my original piece on the album, “Cold and Blindfeatures Konrad incorporating fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, stompbox, the occasional diddly boe, grunts, hollers and a kind honesty thatyou rarely hear, but once you do, cannot deny.” and seeing him live makes you realize just how genuine that is.
I-94 Bar Zine
COLD AND BLIND - Possessed By Paul James (Voodoo Rhythm)
Let's make something clear, Konrad Wert is Possessed by Paul James.
Reading about Texas musician Konrad Wert's background, the guy has the lineage to be singing the folk blues. Raised in a Mennonite Amish family, where both parents were a preacher and a piano player, it is clear that Wert absorbed the death trip inherent in the art form of blues. However, what makes Wert's music authentic is a raw vocal style and deep understanding of the music itself. Wert songs spins tales of people lusting, drinking, fighting then seeking redemption and grace.
When I first heard "Cold and Blind", I was struck by the attention placed on the live recording / production. The low-fi approach emphasizes the elements of Wert's strumming, percussive instrumentation and his passionate voice. As a result, the formula is successful. Purists might argue that at best Wert is just a diligent student of Harry Smith's Anthology of Folk Music; however, if you look closer Wert understands the primal, ecstatic beauty that is inherent in "hillbilly" - Depression era music.
Cold and Blind is full of many highlights. Some of the more memorable tracks include "Fiddle Run" with the song title's charging instrument, tambourine and stompbox. Lyrics range from "I love you!" to seconds later "I hate you!". Confused? Sounds like someone is need of marital counseling.
On "Love's Disease", a beautiful guitar line is combined with a melancholic fiddle, to create a mournful mood. Here the spaciousness of recording technique really brings out the original elements of Possessed By Paul James. Another track such "Come to The Water" employs finger picking guitar and the same percussion as "Fiddle Run" with great effect. Defintely rowdy, the song gets your feet stomping. On the sixth track, "Ferris Wheel" displays a more "pop" element but is able to retain the rural aspect of his roots.
Possessed By Paul James or, more specifically, Konrad Wert is really on to something with his approach towards music. Cold and Blind is album that demonstrates a unique talent who is following his vision and sees the transcendent power of blues in a digital age. - Arthur S
MUSIC LIVE ON THE INTERNET
Sept. 26th 2008
Here in London, the sun is shining for once and I have a very entertaining 'Music Lives On The Internet' interview for you care of Autopsy IV at ninebullets.net.
Last piece of music that got your heart racing?
"Then there's the new Possessed By Paul James....it's just so, organic...so personal...so, inaccessible...a lot of people are not gonna get that album but those that do know they've got an album they are gonna listen to for the rest of their lives and there is very little more exciting than that."
Last gig that made you say "Wow"?
"While it may have been a truncated set I would have to say Possessed By Paul James' set at this years Deep Blues Festival. At the end of that I had to go all cartoon and insert wench into my jaw and ratchet it up off the ground and back into my face. It was amazing....It was like watching a man give birth to song.
PSYCHEDELIC & ACID FOLK MUSIC
Voodoo Rhythm Rec. Cold And Blind (US,2008)****'
Once in a decade or even longer a new artist appears within a dust folded style with an inevitable need to express himself here, finding no place else, doomed to freedom (after his community related choice ; with the Amish you either go for personal freedom or confirm until death their conservative society, I am not sure which sort of choices exist within the Mennonite family, in which singer/instrumentalist "Possessed by Paul James" was raised-).
I met a black guy on the streets just yesterday who missed his stop on the last bus back, because he was too drunk to notice and now he asked me the way home. He said he liked drinking because it is his freedom because his grandfather still was a slave. I wanted to say to him that there also exist a freedom of choice to stop soon enough or at least not to drink the heaviest Belgian beers because they're dangerous, but what could I say more, because he hardly could find the middle of the road, or the right direction home. Freedom if fact you also need to be able to handle, or it possesses you. Perhaps some communities would see you in freedom as a sinner any how. But at least the choice of which form it gets and which results and procreations it makes, is entirely a personal decision, possibly not judged differently when afterwards when within tougher religious and community's restrictions.-
But "Possessed by Paul James" choice was inevitable. He's the blues voice of destiny as much as the first slaves would express this so, pure and inevitable. Performed with banjo, violin or guitar with tambourine, this is a raw and vivid live recording, a cry of confession of this life, which is pure and damned at the same time. Played with banjo (1), soft and sad with guitar (2) and also tambourine (6), electric guitar and tambourine (3) fingerpicking guitar and violin (4), amplified guitar (5), violin and tambourine (7), blues guitar and handpercussion (8), bluegrass violin and hand percussion (9), the songs themselves can be sad and quiet, confessing or more possessed by reality. Yes, this is the real thing, making me finally love blues and bluegrass again. For me, this is giving new life to a burned out genre, as powerfully working like a new messiah for the blues, like a true and fresh be-real voice for it. I also understand how well this fits with the music of Reverend's Beat Man. It is remarkable that people who grew up with preaching ideas and expectations often are destined to become a voice with a real spirit of their own, even when the form is completely different or even the opposite form as the parents or family might have expected. In fact just the true form of the gospel was found.
Austin Chronicle/Austin Powell
Possessed By Paul James Cold and Blind (Voodoo Rhythm)
The stories spun by Kerrville's .... as Possessed by Paul James crackle and pop like lost entries of John Lomax's field recordings, artifacts of the Old South sung with the conviction of a penitentiary inmate. Recorded live at various locations, Cold and Blind could double as the soundtrack for the film The Folk Singer: A Tale of God, Love & Redemption, which traces his travels through juke joints and dive bars. As his second album treads a path between Appalachian folk and Son House's deathly blues, "Come to the Water" finds the singer at his most possessed, whooping and hollering with a hound dog's fervor, while the fiddle-fueled "The Gallows" duels like the devil down in Georgia. For a one-manned band, PBPJ covers a lot of ground, from the banjo-laden title track and wrenching ballad "Love's Disease" to the familial drama of "Ferris Wheel" and closing mud-hole stomp "Fiddle Run." ***
Today I wanna talk about an interesting, to say the least, one-man band; Possessed By Paul James. I first came to know of Possessed Paul James because he was doing The Folk Singer with Scott H. Biram, and anyone affiliated with SHB gets immediate examination by myself. To say I was put off is putting it lightly. I didn’t like what came out of my speakers in any way shape or form. That would have been the end of any Autopsy/Possessed By Paul James relationship, had it not been for his cd showing up in my mailbox the other day and, as I said, anyone who affiliates with Scott Biram starts off on my good side, so I decided to at least give the album a listen.
Looking back, I dunno how or why I wasn’t digging his stuff the first time I heard it. My only theory is that perhaps his myspace profile was streaming poorly-recorded live takes or something, because this album is wonderful.
Konrad Wert was raised in the Florida Everglades by an Amish Menonite preacher, taking on his stage name in honor of this father and grandfather, and he now makes his home in Texas. Released by Voodoo Rhythm Records, Cold and Blind features Konrad incorporating fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, stomp box, the occasional diddly boe, grunts, hollers and a kind honesty that you rarely hear, but once you do, cannot deny. The Daily Texan described Konrad’s live show as follows:
“Wert is known for contorting his face in pleasure and apparent pain, and subsequently shakes, convulses, stomps and yells throughout his performances.”
Possessed By Paul James will be playing Deep Blues Festival this year, so I’ll get to witness it all for myself. Till then, I’ll just keep Cold and Blind on my essential listening iPod playlist. If you are in the mood for some lo-fi, under-produced, old-time Southern folk with a dash of everglades blues that cuts through all the bullshit, then Cold and Blind could be the album for you.
PPJ Press 2008
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TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: LIKE A MAN POSSESSED April 2008 The Santa Fe New Mexican: Here’s a backwoods...TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: LIKE A MAN POSSESSED April 2008
The Santa Fe New Mexican:
Here’s a backwoods, back-to-basic music treat. Working under the stage name of Possessed by Paul James, songwriter Konrad Wert is a one-man band, playing guitar, banjo, fiddle, and a foot-operated percussion instrument called a stomp box. But the most significant part of his music is his voice. As evidenced on his latest album, Cold and Blind, when he gets going, he sounds like (you had to have seen this coming) a man possessed.
Possessed by Paul James joins that loud, rowdy pantheon of blues-shouting, one-man bands like Richard Johnston, John Schooley, Scott H. Biram, and Bob Log III. But Wert is creakier and more country than these others, though just as wild. He’s like some lost Lomax field recording come to life.
Although Cold and Blind is on a European label (the irrepressible Voodoo Rhythm Records from Switzerland), Possessed by Paul James is American through and through. He was born and raised in an Amish-Mennonite family in Immokalee, Florida. According to some accounts, his dad was a preacher. “Paul James” is a combination of his father’s and grandfather’s names. Wert spent some time in Colorado; these days he lives in Kerrville, Texas, and has a day job as a special-education teacher.
The important thing is that Wert sounds as if he’s emerged from some primordial swamp where every shadow might be a demon. As he shouts and yelps, which he does on the title song and on “The Gallows,” you can imagine him as some sinner in the hands of an angry God.
“I didn’t see much flashiness as a kid in the family or within the church community,” Wert said in an interview in Whoopsy magazine. “We couldn’t dress for Halloween, no dancing, no secular radio, sacrifice for others so they can grow, etc., etc. So, you see, when you get a chance to sing, man, ...YOU FUCKING SING.”
And when Wert plays his fiddle at what seems like 1,000 miles an hour, as he does on “Sweet Mary Alice,” it’s hard not to think about Stephen Vincent Benét’s poem “The Mountain Whippoorwill (Or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddlers’ Prize)” — and Charlie Daniels’ song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” — about the country boy working his bow like a maniac to save his soul in a contest with the devil.
Wert is explosive on crazed stompers like the ones mentioned above. There are some softer, slower songs here, like “Vodka and a Fight” and “Ferris Wheel” that aren’t as impressive. But I guess you have to catch your breath sometimes. Even when you’re possessed.
The Daily Texan April 2008
PPJ review/Cold and Blind:
You'll Like It If You Like: Tom Waits, John Lee Hooker, Nick Cave
Present-day country and blues artists have seemingly lost their genuine level of appeal, but local grunge crooner Possessed by Paul James has simply refused to jump on that bandwagon. He brought March to a close with the release of his sophomore effort, Cold and Blind, which in its entirety will sting you into enlightened emotional euphoria.
There is an undeniable connection that Possessed by Paul James' music makes with every listener blessed enough to know its captivation; no matter your preference for a genre, the fact stands as tall as ever.
The titletrack opens the disc doleful of love, numb in its endless series of trials and tribulations, but determined nonetheless to stick with it; or perhaps trapped unintentionally by love's cycle, promising joy and ending in heartache. This is the basic premise that the effort on a whole follows, maintaining a truth about life that comes from a tired and worn old soul.
Tears will then spill in undeniable awe when "The Gallows" is revealed. Epic doesn't even come close to describing this one's gut-wrenching fiddle intro, after which it goes into a passionate fit about old Larry, who stole some bread and is hanging with a smile while his child starves and his wife is crying. His new disc illustrates poignant traits that inspire from Southern roots aiming to give listeners a fuller life.
Wisconsin Rapid Tribune
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
For the Love of Music
Over my aforementioned trip, I happened to hit the end of South by Southwest, a music festival that takes place every year in Austin. I love music, in pretty much every form and fashion. I am pretty sure there isn’t a genre in existence that’s not represented on my iPod; I feel that life is a lot more enjoyable with a soundtrack.
The festival takes place across 80 stages throughout downtown Austin; we went to Hole in the Wall, a bar close to the University of Texas - Austin campus. We were there to see one of Katie’s favorite artists, Possessed by Paul James.
Konrad Wert, the one-man band that is Possessed by Paul James, sits on stage with a stomp box (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, with a microphone and a tambourine attached) and various instruments. The high-energy performer plays the guitar, fiddle, and banjo, while singing (or sometimes growling, barking, or grunting) songs of his own creation. Growing up in a Mennonite Amish family may account for Wert’s fire and brimstone style of performing.
At first description I have to admit I was a little leery of the musician, not to mention, while there are a few country and bluegrass singers I can appreciate, fiddles and banjos have never been my favorite.
As Wert walked through the bar, carrying his own instruments and talking to people as he made his way toward the stage, he never seemed like a musician in the sense that I traditionally think of, with the labeled clothes and an entourage. While men set up his equipment, Wert went and talked to some of his closer fans, of which I was lucky enough to be in attendance with.
Once on stage, Wert began tuning his instruments and testing sounds. Another band who had been playing in a second room in the bar immediately stopped, to which Wert responded to by yelling into the microphone that he wasn’t playing yet and that they should continue with their performance. About 15 minutes later Wert began his set with a song called “Babies on my Mind,” which described exactly what the title suggests; Wert’s wife is expecting their first child in early May. Wert continued with songs such as “Gallows”, a fast-paced fiddle run with lyrics about a man being hung for stealing bread. While dark in its subject manner, the banjo oddly lightened it and caused uncontrollable stamping of the foot. The song “No Windows,” was simple and strange in its lyrics, backed by the strum of the banjo, and yet after a few more listens I have found the song to be profound in its underlying message.
The concert was anything but what I had expected, and I truly loved listening to someone who cared so much about his art that you can hear it in the performance. Possessed by Paul James is beginning to gather steam; Wert recently completed filming “The Folk Singer,” in which he plays the lead, and his self-titled album is available on iTunes. Though he may be gaining popularity, Wert remains humble.
I ended up meeting Wert after the concert; he politely shook my hand introducing himself with classic southern charm saying, “Pleasure to meet you.”
Psychedelic Folk March 2008
Once in a decade or even longer a new artist appears within a dust folded style with an inevitable need to express himself here, finding no place else, doomed to freedom (after his community related choice ; with the Amish you either go for personal freedom or confirm until death their conservative society, I am not sure which sort of choices exist within the Mennonite family, in which singer/instrumentalist Konrad Wert was raised-).
I met a black guy on the streets just yesterday who missed his stop on the last bus back, because he was too drunk to notice and now he asked me the way home. He said he liked drinking because it is his freedom because his grandfather still was a slave. I wanted to say to him that there also exist a freedom of choice to stop soon enough or at least not to drink the heaviest Belgian beers because they’re dangerous, but what could I say more, because he hardly could find the middle of the road, or the right direction home. Freedom if fact you also need to be able to handle, or it possesses you. Perhaps some communities would see you in freedom as a sinner any how. But at least the choice of which form it gets and which results and procreations it makes, is entirely a personal decision, possibly not judged differently when afterwards when within tougher religious and community’s restrictions.-
But Konrad Wert’s choice was inevitable. He’s the blues voice of destiny as much as the first slaves would express this so, pure and inevitable. Performed with banjo, violin or guitar with tambourine, this is a raw and vivid live recording, a cry of confession of this life, which is pure and damned at the same time. Played with banjo (1), soft and sad with guitar (2) and also tambourine (6), electric guitar and tambourine (3) fingerpicking guitar and violin (4), amplified guitar (5), violin and tambourine (7), blues guitar and handpercussion (8), bluegrass violin and hand percussion (9), the songs themselves can be sad and quiet, confessing or more possessed by reality. Yes, this is the real thing, making me finally love blues and bluegrass again. For me, this is giving new life to a burned out genre, as powerfully working like a new messiah for the blues, like a true and fresh be-real voice for it. I also understand how well this fits with the music of Reverend’s Beat Man. It is remarkable that people who grew up with preaching ideas and expectations often are destined to become a voice with a real spirit of their own, even when the form is completely different or even the opposite form as the parents or family might have expected. In fact just the true form of the gospel was found.
DT Magazine 'The Folk Singer'
Slow Boat Films, out of Frankfurt, Germany, has begun production on its latest film, M. A. Littler’s “The Folk Singer,” a tale which merges fictitious storytelling sequencing with real-time documentary-style shooting at actual live performances by the gritty, grunge and blues one-man band Possessed by Paul James. The tongue-in-cheek script was loosely written to center around the troubled experiences of Jon, a folk and blues singer who struggles through a month-long tour of Texas as feelings of anger and doubt arise, making him uncertain as to whether or not he will be able to provide for his unborn child. Redemption and triumphing over adversity will serve as the film’s overlapping themes. Unlike the countless number of rock n’ roll stories of the past where the stars all succumb to their addictions and die, this drama promises a more positive outcome, leaving viewers with the message that if we try, we can all kick a little ass.
But for those familiar with the work of Konrad Wert, aka Possessed by Paul James, that goes without saying. His musical style can only be described as insanely invigorating. Audiences have witnessed him exercise his skill, which has been known to enchant and captivate, throwing all present individuals into fevered states of ecstatic jubilation. This guy is a master of the fiddle, guitar and banjo; he sings about life issues ranging from love and sexuality to demons, God, salvation and desperation, all performed with the same invigorating passion as he stomps his foot during each song for amplified percussive effect. When Wert is on stage, you will feel singled out among a room of enthused bystanders, as if he is speaking to you alone for the distinct purpose of mesmerizing your mind.
His candor and approach were the two basic factors that have led Littler’s inspiration in writing and directing the project. The filmmaker and the musician have created a bond based off the faith each holds in the other’s abilities, and it is this bond with the great amount of talent they both possess that will give the film wonderfully vibrant traits.
Konrad is not the only artist to appear in the feature; others, such as the psychotic yet lovable country crooner Scott H. Biram and Colonel J.D. Wilkes from the Legendary Shack Shakers, will co-star as the main character’s friends from the road. Venue-wise, they were looking for old-fashioned bars and saloons, so places like The Oaks in Manor and Hole in the Wall on the Drag were chosen first.
Austin shooting wraps this Friday with a 10 p.m. show at Beerland. Check it out, hoot and holler, and you might just make it into the film.
"There's no roots-music scene here," presumes Keith Mallette, one-half of Hillgrass Bluebilly Entertainment, a new booking agency that recently set up shop on North Loop and specializes in roots music "raw and primal, with passion, conviction, and balls." Mallette formed the company in Phoenix in 2005, bringing to town acts like the Weary Boys and Scott H. Biram, and has since established branches in Indiana and Tennessee. Hillgrass is currently compiling a double tribute album to Hank Williams and Leadbelly, Hiram and Huddie, which features locals Chili Cold Blood, Wayne Hancock, and Tucson's Bob Log III, among others. "We're trying to start a movement by reintroducing our American roots through these new American acts," Mallette says. On Saturday, Bluebilly presents Possessed by Paul James, Tom VandenAvond, Legendary Shack Shakers' J.D. Wilkes, and Biram at the Oaks in Manor, a show that's being filmed by Germany's Slowboat Films for The Folksinger: A Tale of God, Love & Redemption. Konrad Wert, the Kerrville-based special-education teacher behind Paul James, stars as himself in the film. "The subtext of the story is loosely based on what I'm trying to do as a musician, the inner demons I have to face while trying to succeed and make a living for my family," explains Wert, who met director Mark Littler through fellow one-man band John Schooley. "There are going to be moments when it's just two guys throwing ideas back and forth in swimming holes and barbecue joints. There's going to be a lot of pickin' – I know that much."
PPJ International Press 2008
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Goddeau/Magazine Over Muziek Andere Possessed By Paul James :: Cold And Blind In de...Goddeau/Magazine Over Muziek Andere
Possessed By Paul James ::
Cold And Blind
In de wereld van de muziek regent het singer-songwriters, waardoor het er uiteindelijk gewoon op neerkomt om heel overtuigend en heel eerlijk over te komen als je wil opvallen. Wij hebben er even op moeten wachten, maar met Possessed By Paul James is het eindelijk nog eens zo ver.
ImageDe Texaan Konrad Wert is nu nog een onbekende, maar hoe lang dat nog gaat duren is maar de vraag. Met zijn one man band Possessed By Paul James komt hij immers in het vaarwater van groepen als Two Gallants en Black Diamond Heavies terecht en vervaardigt hij bezeten rock-'n-roll met niets meer dan zijn stem, afgewisseld met een gitaar, een banjo, een viool en een voetdrumstel. Daarbij klinkt hij even wild als Jerry Lee Lewis, maar wel met dat verschil dat Wert zijn viool voor een gitaar aanziet waar Jerry Lee Lewis zijn piano even roekeloos als een gitaar bespeelde. Werts motieven zijn cliché als de pest, maar dwingen hem er wel toe om zijn ziel bloot te spelen. En het is daar dat hij in uitblinkt: het regent immers hellevuur wanneer hij met zijn labiele stem een tekst als "Falling In And Out Of Love, Among The Broken Hearted" in een liedje als "Cold And Blind" oprochelt. De Paul James waarnaar verwezen wordt in de artiestennaam, is niet toevallig een legendarische bluesgitarist uit Canada.
Tegenover Werts explosies staan er evenveel implosies. Daar is "Vodka And A Fight" een mooi voorbeeld van: het nummer is even ingetogen als opener "Cold And Blind" uitbundig is, maar dankzij Werts labiele stem en zijn typische instrumenten twijfel je er niet aan dat je nog steeds naar dezelfde troubadour aan het luisteren bent. In het nummer verzoekt hij zijn geliefde vriendelijk om hem te kruisigen, wat meteen een goed idee geeft van hoeveel inspiratie hij uit zijn gebroken hart haalt. In "Love's Disease" noemt hij de liefde op zijn beurt heel consequent "The Sickest Disease".
Wie Wert naar zijn grootse inspiratiebron vraagt, krijgt Tom Waits als antwoord, maar een dergelijke referentie moet men met een stevige korrel zout nemen. Zijn stem klinkt nu eenmaal minder doorleefd. Niet dat deze vaststelling roet in het eten gooit, want met een nummer als “Ferris Wheel” slaagt hij er -- al jankend -- wel degelijk in om hetzelfde soort blues uit te stralen. Bovendien doet het nummer denken aan gezellige Ierse caféfolk, wat Possessed By Paul James meer eigen karakter geeft.
Dat Wert er met Cold And Blind perfect in geslaagd is om een live-gevoel te bewaren, heeft uiteraard veel met dat folkgehalte te maken. Wanneer hij zijn plaat speels opent met een gemoedelijke “One, two, three…” en een geamuseerde lach zit je als luisteraar meteen in de ideale sfeer om optimaal van Cold And Blind te kunnen genieten. Een liedje als “Ferris Wheel” -- waarin Wert even letterlijk de bedelaar uithangt -- versterkt dat gevoel nog meer. Combineer dat nog even met effecten waarbij Werts stem vervormd wordt om de muziek ouder te laten klinken (“Take Off Your Mask”) en het kan niet verbazen dat het resultaat er mag wezen.
Dat hij tijdens de finale met "Fiddle Run" nog net iets verder gaat door zich in een wilde mix van zijn typische instrumenten zonder veel gezang te storten, rondt het geheel niet te gratuit af. Het bewijst dat Wert met Cold And Blind nog lang niet aan het einde van zijn kunnen is, en dat er nog potentieel in overvloed is om in de toekomst te verrassen. Niet dat dat een noodzaak is, want het is al een hele prestatie op zich om met een plaat als Cold And Blind te debuteren. Ondertussen maken wij er liever geen geheim van dat Possessed By Paul James tot nog toe onze grootste en meest aangename verrassing van het jaar is.
16 mei 2008
Meer Possessed by Paul James op KindaMuzik: http://www.kindamuzik.net/artiest/possessed-by-paul-james
Toekomstmuziek: Possessed by Paul James
Een jongeman kruipt hoestend en brullend uit het moeras van Florida naar boven. Het is Konrad Wert die onder zijn artiestnaam Possessed by Paul James een opzwepende, genre-overschrijdende plaat maakt. Inderdaad, om bezeten van te raken.
Tekst: Dirk Verhoeven
Wie is hij?
Konrad Wert groeide op bij een Amishgezin rond de Everglades in Florida. Wert mat zichzelf een artiestnaam aan die verwijst naar zijn vader en grootvader. Vervolgens is hij met niet meer dan gitaar, banjo, viool en een gehavende gitaarkist op pad gegaan en opgepikt door het label Voodoo Rhythm.
Wat doet hij?
Wert ofwel Possessed by Paul James treedt als eenmansband op, hoofdzakelijk in grauwe kroegen in het zuiden van de Verenigde Staten. Hij brengt folk- en countryliedjes ten gehore, maar doet dit met een punkinstelling. Zijn plaatje Cold and Blind is live en zonder nabewerking opgenomen. Wert jaagt zichzelf in bijna elk nummer als een wolf op: hij gilt en jankt om zichzelf op gang te brengen.
Wat maakt hem zo goed?
Een grote bak lef door rauw en direct te durven voordragen, dat maakt deze eenmansband zo goed. Naast zijn opzwepende country- en bluegrassnummers durft Wert ook geregeld in tempo terug te zakken. Dan blijkt dat hij ook de blues beheerst. Het is de combinatie van energieke uitspattingen en ingetogen, maar al even meeslepende liefdesliedjes, die Cold and Blind tot zo'n doortastende plaat maakt.
En de toekomst?
Die is voorlopig nog hetzelfde als het heden. Spelen in grauwe kroegen. Werts plaatje wordt in Europa inmiddels aardig opgepikt, dus wie weet staat hij binnenkort in een bruin café in Nederland of België. Als het er maar donker is en de mensen flink aangeschoten en rumoerig zijn. Dan kan deze man immers weer flink over het publiek heen brullen en janken.
» 04 mei 2008 » artikel doorsturen » artikel afdrukken
Inkognito – Mailorder – Denmark
Aufgewachsen in Florida, hat der mittlerweile in Austin, Texas beheimatete Country Musiker KONRAD WERT, musikalisch noch heute die Sumpflandschaft der Everglades vor Augen. Zu seinen Instrumenten zählen Geige, Banjo, Gitarre und eine Stomp Box, mit denen er ursprünglichen Country Folk mit Bluegrass und rohem Blues vermischt, und unter dem Namen POSSESSED BY PAUL JAMES mit viel Herzblut bis teilweise zur Raserei zelebriert. Der Mann klingt dabei so authentisch, als hätte er diese Art von Musik vor Jahrzehnten erfunden und auf seinem von der Welt abgeschnittenen Microkosmos für die Nachwelt konserviert. Ganz so ist es wohl nicht, aber schon schön das er nach dem Album auf SHAKE YOU ASS nun auch vom schweizer Label VOODOO RHYTHM entdeckt wurde, irgendjemand muß ja diese Art von US-amerikanischer Kultur erhalten, wenn es schon die Amerikaner selbst nicht tun.
Flight 13 – Mailorder
Wie, eine Singer-/Songwriter Scheibchen auf *Voodoo Rhythm? Nun ja, nicht ganz, aber hier ein Solist aus dem Süden der Staaten, der mit viel Herz in der Stimme zu seiner Klampfe (und ab und an noch zu einer seufzenden, fast schon weinenden Violine) und einem Schellenkranz sein Leid von der Seele singt. Blues ursprünglich und doch mit einem aktuellen Touch. Ich höre Jeffrey Lee Pierce (nur viel "unrockiger") und auch William E. Whitmore (noch ursprünglicher) oder auch Old Seed. Hey, Rock`n`Roller - für eure melancholischen Stunden.
MOTORAVER Magazine - Denmark
Ich sage euch Leute, wir haben keine Probleme! Konrad Wert a.k.a. Possessed By Paul James hat echte Probleme! Und die trägt er so unglaublich erfgreifend vor, dass sich einem die Nackenhaare streuben. Welche innere Größe muss man haben, um seine Verzweiflung so ehrlich dem Rest der Welt kund zu tun?! Das ist keine Songwriter-Scheisse - das ist das wahre Leben! Konrad Wert a.k.a. Possessed By Paul James wuchs in Florida als Kind einer Amisch Familie auf. Der Vater ist Priester, die Mutter Pianospielerin. Als Kind trägt er colabodenstarke Brillengläser, spielt Geige und ist der Loser in der Klasse. Und auch sonst lief´s nicht optimal. Die Frontzäune liegen als Tribut an eine Schlägerei in irgendeiner Bar, die Kohle für neue ist nicht da. Alles was ihm bleibt ...
ist seine Hass-Liebe zu Fiddle, Banjo und Gitarre und diese kommt jedesmal in ihm hoch, wenn er dazu greift, um sein Publikum zu unterhalten. Aus Respekt vor seinem Vater und Großvater trägt er deren Namen. Er ist bessessen. Mittlerweile in Texas zu Hause erzählt er aus der Bühne aus seinem Leben; von Gewinn und Verlust; lässt uns am persönlichen Kampf gegen seine Dämonen teilhaben. Die One-Man-Band zelebriert Bluegrass Blues Punk, der vor innerer Zerissenheit nur so strotzt. Old Time Love Ballads - Love is the sickest Disease. Die 10 Songs wurden in diversen Locations teilweise nur auf One-Tack-Tapedeck live mitgeschnitten und somit variiert die Soundqualität. Was aber immer gelang und was auch viel wichtiger ist: die Atmosphäre und die emotionale Belastung wurden auf Tape eingefangen. Unglaublich intensive und ehrliche Platte!
Planet Trash – Netherlands
Cold And Blind - Possessed By Paul James Het kostte wat moeite en hij nam er de tijd voor, maar wat wil je ook. Konrad Wert is namelijk opgegroeid in Florida in een Amishfamilie en dan is het geen logische stap om in je eentje een podium op te kruipen om als een bezetene muziek te gaan maken. Of misschien juist wel, het is maar van welke kant je het bekijkt. Konrad Wert zwoor zijn religieuze opvoeding gedurende zijn puberteit af en zwierf door Noordwest Afrika, Centraal-Amerika en een paar staten van zijn thuisland. Muziek ging pas echt een grote rol spelen toen hij in een bestelbusje in New Mexico woonde waar hij zijn huidige vriendin ontmoette. Ze liet hem naar punk luisteren en Wert zag het (andere) licht.
Niet dat Possed By Paul James punk maakt, het is meer een combinatie van blues met folk gemaakt door slechts een persoon. Die naam is overigens een ode aan voorvaders. Een combinatie van de voornamen van zijn vader en grootvader. Geesten uit het verleden. Bezeten klinkt het in ieder geval wel. Cold And Blind is weliswaar niet de meest geniale plaat die dit jaar zal verschijnen, maar gezien de voorgeschiedenis wel een van de meest interessante. Een schizofrene mix van de wereldvreemde, religieuze, traditionele en bezeten kanten van Konrad Wert.
Dagensskiva.com – Sweden
“Bluegrass i Voodoo Rhythm-anda.”
Western Times/Japanese Zine
PPJ Press 2007
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The Onion Feb. 07 "One-man band Konrad Wert grew up in a Mennonite family, raised by preacher fat...The Onion Feb. 07
"One-man band Konrad Wert grew up in a Mennonite family, raised by preacher father and a piano player mother, which accounts for both the baptized-in-fire-soul and musical versatility heard in his gritty Old World music. Wert's mix of blues and vintage folk howls with a sense of explosive freedom and latent rage-not unlike an Amish kid emerging from the wilderness to discover America -that instills his simple guitar/fiddle/stomp-box arrangements with unusual passion. Having toured Europe on the strength of his self-titled LP for Italy's Shake Your Ass Records, Wert most recently abandoned Austin and retreated once again into the Colorado mountains to write another batch of soul-baring songs. Opening: Andy Klier, Ralph White, Paleo."
DT Magazine SXSW March 2007
Those who have not witnessed the energy and stamina of blues and grunge artist Possessed by Paul James should take note, and pronto. The one-man band, responsible for crooning, stomping, jingling, and playing guitar, fiddle or banjo, all while mesmerizing audiences with his contorted emotional appeal, has been away from the Austin scene for some time. But recent dates in and around this city's annual festival can only lead the avid fan to speculate if these sparse gigs signify this musician's long-awaited return for good.
Konrad Wert has been up in a secluded Colorado cabin haplessly churning out the material for his second and third albums. Late last summer, the man simply vanished leaving all in wonder, and without even a goodbye or, more likely, a three-fingered salute. As it turns out, his sudden departure was a result of personal reasons and, therefore, excusable. Though the tension cannot be denied, which leaves many with an insatiable need for the growl.
If you are one of the lucky ones who have seen this individual perform in the past, you already know the sheer magnitude of such an occasion.
KVRX Local Live Vol. 11: Assacre to Zookeeper
Time to dive into Austin's musical wealth. And KVRX knows it. In this 11th installment of the college radio frequency's Sunday night program, the glorious (Peter & the Wolf, Possessed by Paul James) and the not-so (Cry Blood Apache, the Moaners, Ghostland Observatory) are caught on disc, while a companion DVD courtesy of Texas Student Television rounds out. See double Tee Double! Performances from 2003 to 2006 revolve around the Hold Steady's prefame jitters, Smog's uneasy ooze, and Paul James' freak-out, repeating only Pompeii's emo-rific "Pythons, Awake!" from CD to DVD. A successful compilation should cover all bases, and after years of experience, KVRX masters the mix. We're gonna go listen to Zookeeper's closer, "Modern Living," on repeat now. "None of the hits all of the time."
SLOWBOAT FILMS Nov. 2007
Beginning in Jan. 2008 we will begin shooting the feature film 'The Folk Singer' with Slowboat Films of Frankfurt Germany.
THE FOLK SINGER - A Tale of God, Love & Redemption - Troubled by religious demons, anger, doubt and the need to supply for his unborn child folk blues singer Jon embarks on a gruesome month long tour through Texas. Armed with nothing but a fiddle, a banjo and a beaten up suitcase, Jon hits the road. Throughout his journey he crosses paths with musical peers, religious mavericks as well as his aging mother who attempts to rekindle family ties but inevitably has to accept that Jon's journey is a solitary one. The road leads him from small town bars and Honky Tonks to the Mexican desert where it comes to a final clash between Jon and his demons.
KVET Last Musical Discovery
The kids were at Grandma's for an extended Christmas visit, and so an extremely rare night on the town for the wife and I on Friday night...like we did in the pre-kid era, we hit some cocktails, a movie (I Am Legend, which was quite good, at the new 6th Street Alamo Drafthouse, which was very good), and then did some random bar-hopping. After a couple of miscues, we ended up at the Hole In The Wall on the drag for the first time in a long, long time, where we very randomly came across the stylings of Konrad Wert of Kerrville, who performs under the name Possessed By Paul James. Now, this is not your usual KVET sort of stuff...it's very much a primal, swampy Southern sound, very spiritual, very dark, very beautiful. No true child of the South can miss the value of this music, as unusual a performer as Konrad may be. This is the kind of stuff you have to take in live to get the full effect, and the next Possessed By Paul James show scheduled near Austin is happening on January 12 at The Oaks in Manor, a show which will be caught on film for a new folk music documentary called The Folk Singer. Have a look at the video below, and check out Konrad's home on Myspace HERE. Best of luck to Konrad on the new baby, whom he mentioned was on the way at the show on Friday.
PPJ Press 2006
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Austin Chronicle January 2006 by Audra Schroeder The notion of a one-man band sounds crazy. And...Austin Chronicle
by Audra Schroeder
The notion of a one-man band sounds crazy. And in terms of logistics, it's not, well, natural. When the late Hasil Adkins set out to play every instrument himself because he thought Hank Williams was on his recordings, he kicked a big ol' hole in the space/rock continuum. Rock & roll, hillbilly, country, and blues were forced to fight it out. There's a growing handful of Austin musicians who took that cue and are doing it for themselves. "One-man band" is an all-inclusive term, but each musician has a different way of playing, a different sound, a different story. A different way of getting their kicks.
Among the handful of soused baseball fans, Konrad Wert looks like a younger version of Tom Waits: hat dipped low over one eye, suspenders clinging to a worn T-shirt. We sit at the Horseshoe Lounge in South Austin, where the jukebox spins Otis Redding and shuffleboard is the preferred recreational sport. He offers a story with all the Waitsian traits: God, religion, and revelation in a half-empty bar. But his story is true. The 29-year-old guitarist grew up in the swamps of Immokalee, Fla., and his family was Mennonite Amish.
"Music was church," he says. "It was four-part hymn singing; piano was secular. It was an instrument made by man, so they felt the only way to sing and praise God was with the voice. But it was a multilingual church service – Creole, Spanish, and English – so it sounded really crazy. And in terms of my music, there are a lot of roots."
Wert is part of a handful of local musicians who do it for themselves. In his live shows, he goes by the name Possessed by Paul James, and to hear him try to describe his music is an exercise in primality. There's grunting, growling, melody, balladry, oppression, dirt, grit, love, taxes, death. While he mainly played guitar in his teens, pop and rock music weren't allowed in the church.
"There was definitely a lot of me listening on a Walkman," Wert smiles.
He received a grant during college and lived in Northwest Africa, where he studied art and music and started seeing the world outside the church. He moved around to D.C., California, Central America, and briefly lived in Arlington, Texas, busking wherever he could. It was when he was living in a van in New Mexico and met his current girlfriend that the music started kicking in.
"She was so far away from all those aspects of the church," he says. "I started listening to punk; it was the final kick in the ass. And so music has really been a way to connect with people and have a conversation. Not to channel a political or social issue, but something greater."
He's definitely channeling something. Or someone. See, he got the stage name through an accident with the family tree, a combination of his grandfather's name (Paul) and his father's middle name (James).
"And the possessed comes ...," Wert pauses and laughs. "I would get a video camera to see what I looked like when I played at home. And when I would look back at it I would think, 'What the fuck is going on?' And when I played with bands, people would say I looked kind of crazy onstage, like, in a concerned way. But I'm just channeling something higher. A song like 'Nightmare Waltz' [from his self-titled CD], it's a love ballad, but it's the ugly beauty of it, and I connect with that, with the beauty of the ugliness. People have used the word primal, and I've started to appreciate it."
Wert's setup includes banjo, guitar, fiddle, and an old trunk he picked up from a junk collector, which he stomps on. He sings through a regular mic, but during many of his country and trad-blues type songs, his voice dips into an unintelligible growl or yelp before crawling back to a croon.
"Possessed is just ... possessed by Richie Havens, possessed by experiences," he says. "[My grandfather] Paul Wert lost his job as a chicken delivery guy when he worked for Weaver's chicken. Tyson bought him out. So he drove his Ford into a fucking freight train, and he survived. He was committed to a mental hospital, did shock therapy. Music's very feeling motivated."
Other songs like "No Windows" and "The Warden's Wife" paint a picture of dusty, small-town desperation under his plaintive lyrics.
"People say, 'Oh, it's just a white boy doing the blues,' but it's gotta be more than that, because, especially from the church perspective, if you have that on your fucking back, you're gonna have a lot of similarities with those folks. It's a universal feeling, that oppression. There's the roots blues that comes from the black community and the roots blues that stems from the poor, urban, white community. There's a huge fucking bridge there, between punk and blues."
Possessed is definitely the appropriate word for Wert's music, if not an ironic one given his upbringing.
"I'm just glad I get to throw my hat in there," he says. "You know, a Mennonite Amish kid from Florida, you have your own story to tell."
by Jacob Payne
Last Friday, Emo's laid claim to a one-of-a-kind union of artists both homegrown and from afar.... One-man band Possessed by Paul James came to the spotlight next, and the audience was drawn closer to the stage so they could better feel his emotionally charged set. Konrad Wert, a young man skilled on both guitar and fiddle, is known for contorting his face in pleasure and apparent pain, and subsequently shakes, convulses, stomps and yells throughout his performances. It is a sight to be seen, but unfortunately, he will soon be leaving his Austin home for a two-month tour of Germany and Italy.
Whiskey and Apples Magazine
by Red Hunter
What may be a name unknown to most people reading this will someday go down in songwriting history, mark my words. Stomping, hollering visionary Konrad Wert's music, performed under the name Possessed by Paul James, is nothing short of a miracle. The myth of his life has yet to spread, and since there are so many uncertainties about it I'll just tell you he somehow shreds on three instruments, has the voice of satan and a priest all mixed together, and he grew up in a Mennonite Amish family. Words don't really do justice to this new voice, so I'll start by just referring you to one of his songs, "Committed."
In truth there's not much I can say about this guy that wouldn't be better expressed by just watching him. He's doing his first tour in Europe right now on Shake Your Ass Records--and I know there's no substitute for the real thing--but this video will give you some idea why I'm so blown away by the guy.
To learn more and purchase his amazing self-titled LP, please visit Shake Your Ass Records.
Zig Zag Live
Possessed by Paul James is the musical vehicle of Austin-based singe/songwriter Konrad Wert. Originally hailing from Florida, Wert fills his songs with a disparate blend of traditional blues, soul and Raw Power-era Stooges. His cathartic growl over songs that incorporate fiddles, guitars, mandolins, stomp boxes and diddly boe make for a formidable stage presence and as unique a concert experience as one could hope to see.
by Becky Hayes
KONRAD “Possessed by Paul James” … a perpetual conversation
-SXSW ’06 saturated the land with bands I could neither distinguish nor understand, and promotional shwag the cost of which I could not fathom. In spite of all this money spent and combat for attention, one of the very few things that really moved me was a local artist who continuously moves me – Konrad Wert. Without a video or a “promo kit”… without spending a dime, this motherfucker puts tears in my eyes every time.
-Our conversation began months ago, in an interview published July 2005; we talked about his roots in the Amish/Mennonite community and rebellion from that, and his ‘awakening’ among the diverse cultures of the Florida swamps. But Konrad’s conversation, Possessed by Paul James, started long before that and continues as his philosophies swirl and clang in a never-ending debate on the value of music and the value – or not – of life.
-Konrad! Listening to your CD (which is badass), I realized that your true energy and power has not been captured in this format – Possessed by Paul James must be experienced live. Your music is more about "the moment" and in that moment you and I (the audience) are more alive than most of the time. You are staggeringly inspirational and cathartic, and apparently not motivated by common factors such as money and ego. Talk about what you're trying to do with your music, and anything else you’d want to talk about in the ultimate press story.
Shit... hmmmm that's good shit Bek...ok sincerely now... regarding what I try to do with music and it's performance, I would have to say the 'ultimate press story' would focus less on my individual chapters and look more towards the philosophy or foundations of MUSIC. I say that generally because my own first-hand experience is only a quarter of what makes up 'PossessedbyPaulJames'... in terms of why we become musicians, or the value of music in Austin… the challenges of musicians trying to live off of their conviction, the stories of oppression and violent love, the great Austin cult figures like Ralph White, Daniel Johnston, Brian Batey and SPOT...
I realize I'm not being clear but these are ideas in my head in terms of what I as a reader would like to be exposed to, rather than the life story of 'changing moments' in an individual musician's life - granted they factor in, but I think that's what can fuck up music. Musicians begin to think they're offering up something greater than what it really is: music - and that is awesome but it don't mean shit in terms of life and death, or hungry kids or whatever. The ‘rock star’ is bullshit. Maybe it's inspiring but the act needs to recognize the duality of music... the player and the listener... 50-fuckin-50 right? Not blowin’ smoke Bek, just ranting. Musicians forget that, all the damn time, or at least I feel they do. I don't hear or see that 'selfless' act of working musicians. I see fuckups acting better than others. I don't know Bek it's fucked... but I get tired talking to other musicians after shows and all I see is a big fuckin’ self-centered egooooo... and that negates EVERYTHING about music. It's there to welcome, and to open, and to be sincere, and to be a testament to people and our mutual demons or passion or struggle... that's hard, right?
Reflecting on what we’ve talked about… I was shootin’ the shit with a poet from Atlanta the other day. It was a good meaty conversation, thick and sincere... the art, music, written work, dance, sculpture, photograph, film etc. etc. are all an invested reflection of 'others' -- other journeys, struggles, passions, loss, vengeance, addictions. These forms are created because we're inspired or 'raped' by the lives of others. In turn we affect others by our own inspirations or demons. You see this is the missing piece that gets washed over. Everything in art is a kind of reflection. The beginning of the 'idea' is generally (almost always in my opinion) a result of something we've experienced from something/someone else. What rips my brain apart is how we all forget that. I mean the artist, the journalist, the audience, the fuckin corp. monger forget that the very key to sharing art is simply an echo; a domino effect. That means we're all in it, boss. We're all singing, dancing, sculpting, shaking, growling, writing, fucking etc. etc. you see. I'm not trying to say it's a happy land of flowers and pooh-bears eating gumballs, hand in hand kissy kissy... fuck that... no what it's saying is you exist because I exist... I exist because you exist. THEN it becomes something.. If that's our reasoning then how do we ACT with one another? If my life is dependent on yours then by god or the devil I'm not gonna fuck you over man.... I'm not gonna cut you off on I-35... I ain’t gonna beat you down off 6th Street... I'M GONNA DRINK WITH YOU, LAUGH WITH YOU, SCREAM WITH YOU!!! That's why we do music, to do those things together equally, not for fame and pussy (excuse that word but I hear a lot of cats use that as the reason for doin music)…
- I would bet they’re the ones who don’t get any…
-A buddy of ours contemplated your approach to music (Possessed by Paul James) as a “conversation” that you are having, with several characters. He suggested that besides a unique artistic format, this might be a mechanism to overcome some shyness or other obstacle. Can you explain what’s up with that?
No Windows is a distinct, uplifting song that is constantly stuck in my head. What does "no windows" mean? Quote me some lyrics from the song and tell me what it's about. And other songs you've written...
Oy “No Windows" - the butchers knife and the devil's wrath replaced by postcards pussy cats... that's so disgusting... the kings and queens of later days their sex their drugs it's all erased by their sons and daughters... go ahead go ahead, take that leap and now your dead, you got no windows." Ok well this came on the fly in May 05...working with banjo runs... it's hard to explain songs, I don't really feel in control of how they come out. I don't have a grasp or method. I kind of rely on the subconscious to do the talking. It's left to the listener to take what they want really... At that point though, I’d recently quit a band I was in, working a lot, wanting to move and feeling shitty... ha the universal South Austin lifestyle... still it seems to be a reflection of how we take very pure expressions in life and muck 'em up.. We digitally re-master old black and white films and photos, we always want to change for the better or worse... and either way we're dead in the end... so why touch it? Go with it... smoke a roach, pop the tab and laugh at how pathetic your life is... look at your pal across from ya and laugh at their pathetic life... we're all dead anyway. People in power never listen to us, we can shoot the president but they’re still gonna blow up 3rd World peasants in the name of crack ass democracy... so... "Go ahead go ahead take that bullet now you're dead, you got no windows."
Ha, I'm looking at your question again and seeing the word 'uplifting' -- ha, I guess I dumped on that a bit… not trying to, but for me it is uplifting to sing a universal truth - powerlessness. We’re not in control of much at all. The only thing we do know is that we don't know… that makes me feel as valuable as a worm... and there you go, that's my value in life, a worm and that's fucken awsome… WE'RE ALL WORMS!!!!!
-And that is what’s uplifting about your performance – instead of the bullshit facade of the pussy-mackin rock star, you offer an exposed human being made of corruption, weakness, self-loathing, all of those truths that are true about everyone. And that truth is what makes you rise to a monstrous stature among worms.
On the value of humanity… When you played at the post-Roundup eastside Gearheadquarters party, the neighborhood was "on fire" (to quote a resident of the ‘hood). I suspected you would, and I believe you did, have a positive impact on this neighborhood which bears a heavy undertow of racist tension, particularly among the men. This might embarrass you but you’re a "man" like they don't make 'em anymore these days – as in, if everything blew up and we had to form tribes, you would be elected as some kind of chief or spiritual leader. American men are in a sad state of repressed weakness (manifested, for example, in the false power and racist/sexist negativity of shitty hip hop), young men have no real-life role models, etc... and you come along like a super hero, someone who can lift people out of their shit, if only by celebrating our negativity. Can you talk about manhood and what it means, especially within our media-controlled fantasy culture where false/negative images of manhood corrupt and pollute our concept of humanity?
Hey I really suck… I'm an asshole a lot of the time for real, Bek. 'Possessed by Paul James' is fuckin cool because it reflects how cool everybody else is... but me I suck, and I'm ok with that... but I know what you mean. Yeah there's this song “Men, men, men” on the EP... "in walks in my true redeemer she is staring at me coldly, the gates of Hell have opened and I am now among the dead… we are those bottom feeders, full of lies a race of cheaters, we are men." That's how I see it too, boss. Us men through history and presently have all the power and fuck things up. I'm not bashing us men as much as saying, ‘hey, we know how and why we fuck up, so stop making the same mistakes asshole!’ We gotta learn. But he's just as 'weak minded' as he is powerful… therein lies the conflict. So what does that mean then? Well maybe it goes back to the beginning, the foundation of anything is sincerity and humbleness, be it in a sexual relationship, gay or straight... a work environment, social interaction, etc. We have a responsibility that most men can't handle. And we need to recognize that. Yes it's power, but it's not always a physical power... it's an historical power. Personally, if I know that the majority of my 'sex' is a belligerent, raging social group, but I don't agree with it now nor the history of such acts, then I'm gonna need to stop it within myself, stand against it and channel it through another form of living. I struggle with those issues everyday Bek... maybe 'PossessedbyPaulJames' helps in this way because it pulls from experiences of such broken men... if it's recognized and we see it, then maybe we can learn something about ourselves in the act. I don't know really, but it's ugly isn't it. We've disfigured our 'sex' to such an extent that the immediate idea of men in society is a negative thing. I don't have many good memories of church, but I've learned from it and I remember the hymns always felt very depressing… always pushing the evil of humanity, the failure of the lot. Then the chorus would bell out something like ‘but in heaven there's a home’ or ‘god is my rock my salvation’ ....you know I think that's what's beautiful about pointing out the problems of men, or the problems within 'relationships' - the song itself is the victory. We're singing about how pathetic we are. "Rejoice, rejoice, we're a pack of losers man!!!!" That kind of extinguishes the power, the very thing fucking us up to begin with.
-The EP is now carried at these Austin music shops: End of an Ear (S.1st) Waterloo Records (6th and Lamar) Cheapo Discs (Lamar and 14th) Sound on Sound (N. Loop) and Antone's Records (Guatelupe strip).
Sleaze Grinder Magazine
by Stu Gibson
A record that lands on your mat that you turn over and track one be called ‘Fiddle F**k’ has to be fantastic. No question. It has to be. And this chap Konrad Wert who belts out this stuff under the powerful mambo voodoo of Paul James is a freewheelingly fantastic frenzy of fury, snot and frenzied feeling that sho’ don’t let down your first impressions. Why, instead, he hops right aboard atop them hollering on guitar, banjo, fiddle, floor, fingers, fumbs and anything he can beat, breakdown and reel into some sort of rotgut rhythm, trounces them into dust, snorts ‘em with shotgun pellets, steps out into the street and stands centre-stage at the crossroads where he’s pulled willingly to the four corners by Tom Waits, Euchrid Euchrow from Nick Cave’s ‘And The Ass Saw The Angel’ book, Charley Patton and John Lee Hooker...Robert Johnson? He too scared to come, boy.
Maybe it’s the Florida background coupled with the Amish upbringing, but the feral, untamed wildcat abandon of the playing mixed with a definite spirited if not spiritual fervour is something of a fraternal link to Curtis Ellers urbane big city circus mastery up in New York...another absurdist hill-folk troubadour preaching splenetic eloquent tourettes tirades at whatever trouble, hellhounds, spouses and spinsters litter his door with enough spit, sawdust, fire and brimstone to build a barge to bestiality, buggery and kingdom come. Hallelujah.
Where he opens with a riposte at those drunken ‘I love you man, you’re my best friend’ types over the top of what sounds like a ripped Waterboys on the ‘Fishermans Blues’ sessions jamming with The Happy Flowers and Otis Lee Crenshaw, gladly Wert is directed to deeds deeper by his doppelganger of the soul, and this is by no means a pisstake record. ‘No Windows’ is a lovely homeless on the homestead drinking winsome wine song, with the lulling chiming lungs of Leadbelly wooing Lucinda Williams for a melodious mingling in the chicken shack; ‘Foot In Heaven / Hell’ is a lightning bar country blues boogie like The Carter Family wagon train playing for their lives, no, souls, at The Little Bighorn; Mr. Waits channelling Kerouac at a séance couldn’t create ‘Colour Of My BloodyNose’, a dark affecting tale of slapstick suicide that starts as a sprightly jig and becomes a slandering scat-sermon of suppressed helplessness and rage -
'They threw you in a garbage bag
The trashmen took your soul
Now your toilet is my tombstone
Your blood is my muse
What’s the point in fighting
When we’re gonna fucking lose...oh baby FUCK YOU, Fuck You...’
‘Fiddle #1’ harks at the ghosts haunting Johnny Cash, sounding like Cash leading a pre-Civil War battle singsong round the campfire. ‘Billy Bobby Boy’ may recall Tom Waits in the braying vocals and the mountain slide roll of the guitar that could force the coal companies from quarrying all the Appalachians into the sea, yet that with ‘Warden’s Wife’ has more traces of the full moon-shine eerie hill music of Uncle Dave Macon and the Mississippi Mud Steppers along with other names you might pull off bluegrass boxsets to make yourself seem erudite. But none more mysterious than ‘Men Men Men’, a mournful mandolin accompanying the vocal, telling its tale of us men and all the weaknesses and foibles in the face of the straight and narrow (waist)line.
There is something captivatingly ancient, rigorously real yet frantically, fatalistically instantaneous about this record. Even though he coulda walked out of the woods from an underground bunker into modern life for the first time in a century this is excitingly and enchantingly eccentric and amongst all this sanitised reproduction roots rock/country/blues this is the closest you get to a real deal...accompanying himself at times with guttural utterances somewhere between Keef’s usual slur and Brad Pitts oik character in ‘Kalifornia’ there certainly seems to be some possession going down somewhere. At the very least that of genius, good gawd almighty, sinners, grinners and granddad faced gurners. Go wild, HOG wild in the country...
SLOWBOAT FILMS VIDEO RELEASE OF 'MEN, MEN, MEN'
by Christer Davidsson
Your real name is Konrad Wert, how come you call yourself Possessed By Paul James?
I USE THE NAMES OF MY PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS. AT THE TIME IT FEELS LIKE I'M NOT ALONE OR MAYBE PULLING FROM THEM..
Describe the PBPJ sound to the ones who havn’t heard you yet?
WELL JUST RECENTLY I MOVED OUT OF AUSTIN, TX TO HOWARD, CO JUST ON THE SANGRE CRISTO RANGE. MY MOM GOT SICK BACK IN FL AND I PUT THE BREAKS ON THE MUSIC FOR A BIT. BUT THE SOUND IS ROOTED IN 'ROOTS' FROM BLUES, ROCK, PUNK, BLUEGRASS AND WRITING. I GET WRAPPED UP IN IT SO IT CAN TAKE OVER.
When did you start playing music?
IN THE CHURCH SINGING REAL YOUNG. STARTED PLAYINIG VIOLIN AROUND 10 AND THE OTHERS FOLLOWED.
What would you be doing if you wheren’t playing?
WELL THE THING IS I'M NOT RIGHT NOW. HAD TO CANCEL MY TOUR THIS SUMMER WITH EVERYTHING GOING ON. BUT IT'S GOOD TO BEGIN AGAIN. I'VE DONE ALOT FROM CARPENTRY TO TEACHING TO BOUNCER GIGS IN ALUQUERQUE. WORK IS WORK, BE IT MUSIC OR OTHER WISE.
Your self-titled album was released last year. Are you happy with it?
THAT WAS THE FIRST SHOW DOING POSSESSED BY PAUL JAMES. THAT WAS ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF AGO. A BUDDY HAD AN UNDERGROUND STUDIO, WE FILLED UP A TRASH CAN WITH BEER AND CHARGED TWO BUCKS TO GET IN. ONE TAKE, ONE ALBUM, ONE LABEL AND A HELL OF A LOT OF FUN..GOOD TIME...
How come an italian label put it out?
SYA RECORDS WAS WORKING WITH CHILI COLD BLOOD AND BLACK JOE LEWIS WITH WALTER DANIELS. I PLAYED SHOWS WITH THEM AND THEY SENT THEM THE MUSIC. BOSS BEPPE IN MILANO DUG IT SO WE DID A REPRINT ON A RECORD AND A MONTH TOUR IN GERMANY, SWITZERLAND, SLOVENIA AND ITALY.
You had an Amish upbringing, in what way has that affected your music?
THAT GETS ASKED A LOT, BUT THE THING WAS WE WERE OUT OF THE COMMUNITIES GROWEN UP.. MY FOLKS WERE MENNONITE WITH AMISH FAMILY. IT WAS AS CONSERVATIVE AS ANY CHURCH RAN FAMILY WHERE THE PASTOR IS THE DAD AND MOTHER THE PIANO PLAYER. SO IT ALL WORKED OUT, NOT MY GIG BUT THEY RAISED ME GOOD.
Any upcoming releases planned?
VOODOO RYTHEM RECORDS IN SWITZERLAND AND TX CATTLE DOGS IN AUSTIN, TX ARE GAME TO IT. I NEED TO FIND A HOME AND GET WORK DONE. IT'S ME THE MISSES THE TWO DOGS AND 75 ACRES IN COLORADO, SO THERE SHOULD BE SOMETHING SOON.
Tell me about that!
THE SOUND NOW FEELS CALMER BUT NOT LIGHTER. STILL DARK BUT LESS FUCKING RAGE. I WAS ANGRY LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE AND IT CAME OUT IN MUSIC. SERVED IT'S PURPOSE AND FELT GREAT, BUT NOW IT'S SOMETHING NEW. FOR ME YOU DO MUSIC AND SHARE IT WITH PEOPLE SO IT FEELS SINCERE, NOT PUSHED FOR BULLSHIT.
In what way is being a one-man-band better than being in a group?
GOOD AND BAD. YOU MISS CREATING WITH MUSICIANS, BUT YOU DON'T MISS THE EGO, THE MISCOMMUNICATION, THE BULLSHIT.
What are your plans for the future?
CHOPPING WOOD, HIKING AROUND THE MOUNTAINS, WRITING AND PLAYING WITH OLD MINER LOOKEN FELLAS, SHARING A DRINK AND TAKING A SHIT. LIFE IS GOOD.
Would you like to say anything else before we say good-bye?
NO I'M FINE. MUSIC IS ONE THING. IT FEELS GOOD TO SHARE IT BUT I LIKE DOIN DIFFERENT THINGS. I'LL PICK OR BUSK AROUND FOR A LONG LONG TIME, BUT IT'S JUST AS GOOD TO SIT ACCROSS FROM MY BABY, TAKE A BIG ASS BREATH OF MOUNTAIN AIR AND SPIT.
Thank you and Good Luck!
by Red Hunter
Here's another artist who will up-and-disappear to some small Colorado town just to protect his art and write honest songs, despite having signed recently to Shake Your Ass in Italy and toured Europe with explosive shows and an unbelievable Howlin' Wolf style presence. This guy's energy, his shrieking fiddle, his stomping bass-drum feet, and his spitting, hollering preacher's lyrics are deeply tied into his real life story: Konrad Wert grew up in an Amish community, came out into the weird America he'd been sheltered from, and somehow channels the explosive freedom he felt into his writing and performances. Myspace.com/possessedbypauljames -- If this guy performs within 500 miles of you, start planning the road trip.
Lowcut Magazine # 39
by Jens Kophoed
Possessed By Paul James is a one man band by the name of Konrad Wert, born and raised by Amish people down in Florida. His debut album is a rowdy infectious mix of bluegrass, folk, punk, and blues graced with religious hollering (and a lotta ‘fuck you’s’), footstomping, acoustic geetar, fiddle, banjo and what-not. The album seems to be recorded live, I’m sure this is exactly how PBPJ sounds like, a show I’d love to experience (he has been busy tourning Europe). This boy has a very strong soulful raw voice and seems quite frankly to be possessed by some southern fire ‘n’ brimstone demon! Highly recommended.
PPJ Press 2005
[+ Show ]
Possessed by Paul James CD Reivew Whoopsy Magazine #5 July 2005 by Johnny Mack "Break it! Smash...Possessed by Paul James CD Reivew
Whoopsy Magazine #5 July 2005
by Johnny Mack
"Break it! Smash it! Fuck it up! Love it! Hold it! Squeeze it! That's what you do when you listen to this shit. Man, when have I been this excited by one guy? Yeah I'm a jaded old fuck but I still want my rocks off? This strange creature comes from the depths of the Florida swamps ripe with raw power not seen by many. A rediefined mix of blues, old timey folk, southern wickedness and fire! FIRE DAMN IT!
Fiddle, banjo, guitar, a diddly bo (stringed thingy), bells and yell. Like Billie Holiday and Doug Kershaw made a speed baby at the crawfish boil! (I got to use all these exclamations cause that's how it blows up all over)!This here dude works at Bouldin Creek, but would be better off rippen it up around the globe, tearing your ass out with all his wild antics and cornbread-fed soul purity. Some people just knock yer face in the dirt. He be one 'em!
...Git it now! This is too excitin to not hear. 'Konrad' takes a tasty dish and serves it up with some hot fever! Gut-kicken' down home wacked out blues destruction! Holy Lord, eat me!"
(excerpts of WHOOPSY MAGAZINE CD review written by Johnny Mack)
Austin Chronicle Texas Top 10: December 2005
by Audra Schroeder
1) Jana Hunter, Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom (Gnomonsong)
2) Spoon, Gimme Fiction (Merge)
3) My Education, Italian (Thirty Ghosts)
4) Paul Wall, The People's Champ (Swishahouse/Atlantic)
5) Baby Robots, Chartorseau (Ant Lunch Musick)
6) Possessed by Paul James EP
7) Attack Formation, Somebody as Anybody (Australian Cattle God)
8) The Crack Pipes, Beauty School (Emperor Jones)
9) The Weird Weeds, Hold Me (Digitalis)
10) ST 37, Future Memories (Four/Four)
Excerpts from PPJ Interview
by Becky Hayes
Konrad, you sing "different"- and you dress kind of different too. Tell about your Amish/Mennonite background and how it influences your style as a musician.
..."Possessed by Paul James is meant to channel the growls of angry, passionate people that have had such 'shunnings' in life, be them religious or otherwise. I dress dark and sometimes paint my face in shows because it's a possessive power that you're trying to tap into. It's the roots of women and men that have had no choice but to TAKE IT (teeth kicked in, thrown out on the streeet, fuckin house blown up by a bomb, church kicks'em out for not wearing black shoes,etc.) I'm trying to get that for the sake of expressing it. It feels iright."...
..."I didn't see much flashiness as a kid in the family or within the church community . We couldn't dress for Halloween, no dancing, no secular radio, sacrifice for others so they can grow, etc. etc. So you see when you get a chance to sing man...YOU fuckin' SING..."
by Dave Roybal
...Austin is quickly becoming ground zero for relatively new one-man blues bands.. such as Possessed by Paul James (Konrad Wert). Konrad is the child of a Mennonite preacher who has busked his way from Florida to Central America possessed by the dueling voices of Paul James.
Is the one man band the last option for the control freak or an issue of economics?
Konrad- I was playing the fiddle for some bands, and I started this other band with some friends and it was going pretty well, but then unfortunate bullshit started happening and it was too much work without any fun. I've been doing the one man band for three months and my roots in Austin only go back about two years, so I was mainly busking on Congress first Thursdays to make some scratch.
How do you define yourself and how do people react to you?
Konrad- Personally, a lot of the music I got into is more rooted in all the Americana bluegrass traditions. I grew up in south Florida and then moved up to Virginia where I started picking up the fiddle. Now I'll throw down fiddle, mando, banjo and git and then do a stomp box...
Set List: Originals with covers of traditional roots/blues.
Length of Set: Pending from an hour to three hours long with set breaks in between:
Should Have Known Better
Feed the Family
4 Men From the Row
Men Men Men
Young Man Shoes
What Cha Gonna Do When it Breaks
Vodka and a Fight
Fathers and Sons
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