Josh Paulson
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Josh Paulson

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


The Coffee Shop on Cuyler may be to Josh Paulson what The Coney Island was for Woody Guthrie.

“My great-grandfather knew Woody Guthrie,” Paulson said. “He didn't like him.”

Like him or not, Paulson is the latest musician to come out of Pampa with a measure of success.

Paulson, 25, started singing when he was 6 with his father, David Paulson, in church. At 15, he sang at the funeral of a family friend and next-door neighbor, Doug Winkleblack.

He sang at his sister's wedding. He describes his work at Briarwood Full Gospel Church in Pampa as his first gig.

It was the year 2000 that he moved to Amarillo. He was supposed to be on his way to Bible college, the Southwestern Assembly of God in Waxahachie, but after reading the rules and regulations, he decided not to go, even though he had a scholarship.

“I had a scholarship and a roommate,” Paulson said. “I read their rules, and you couldn't wear sandals. You couldn't wear sandals to Jesus school. I decided I wasn't going to go after all.”

He said he didn't have any idea what he was going to do. He was getting the brakes fixed on his pickup at 45th and Western and looked across the street where there was an apartment for rent sign.

“I didn't really plan on being here this long,” Paulson said. “Here I am still here.”

His first professional performance, more of a jam session really, was at a The Coffee Shop on Cuyler.

“When I first started playing, I saw Mike Fuller play there when I was 18,” Paulson said. “I had never seen a musician play other than at church.”

After watching Fuller, an Amarillo musician, play at The Coffee Shop, Paulson decided that was what he wanted to do.

“My friends and I were always up there on Friday nights,” Paulson said.

He returned there Friday night, before heading to Austin, Kansas and back to Nashville to work on a new DVD.

Paulson said he first started playing for worship with a band at church. Paulson said he really didn't want to play with the band, but he got asked to. They asked him if he could sing.

“I said, ‘Yeah,'” Paulson said.

They asked him if he could play the guitar.

He told them no.

They asked him if he could learn.

“I said, ‘I guess so,'” he said.

Paulson went on to learn to play the guitar in three months.

“It was well enough to play worship,” he said. “Looking back, it wasn't really that hard to learn.”

He said it was basically three chords.

But it was The Coffee Shop on Pampa's main street that changed his life.

“I remember sitting there playing with some friends,” Paulson said.

He and four or five friends sat out in front of The Coffee Shop, just playing for the fun of it.

“We played until after they closed,” Paulson said. “We played until like 4 a.m., man.”

He had left his guitar case open off to the side, and after playing for hours, he found people had left about $20 in his case.

“I wasn't even leaving out to make money,” he said.

His first job in Amarillo was also at a coffee shop, Roaster's in Wolflin Village.

“I worked at Roaster's when I first moved here,” Paulson said. “I got fired two months later.”

It's the only job he's ever been fired from, he laughed as he sat at a table in front of Roaster's on a spring afternoon.

“I still come back every day,” Paulson said.

He said he's had a lot of jobs. He worked in the oil fields. He was a recording engineer for the school system. He worked for Pepsi. He worked for Coca-Cola.

“They paid more than Pepsi did,” Paulson said.

He was a chef at a country club. He was a bartender at B.L. Bistro. He was a photographer for KVII-TV, Channel 7.

But music was the only thing that he's done long term.

“Everything else, I did for about a year and got tired of it,” Paulson said.

His first bar gig was on his 21st birthday at Coconuts.

Paulson had just sung at his sixth wedding that summer.

“That was one of the most depressing summers I've ever had,” he said.

The wedding was for the brother of a girl he had been going with.

“I was in love with her,” Paulson said.

They had broken up, but he had to sing a duet with her.

“We hadn't talked in two months,” he said. “That was the most nervous gig I've ever had.”

That's when he decided he wasn't going to play any more weddings.

He said he got burned out playing at church and decided to give up music for a while, but his music pastor took him to Coconuts in Amarillo for Paulson's 21st birthday.

“He bought me my first Scotch, my first beer and my first Margarita,” Paulson said with a grin on his bearded face.

Nathan Taylor was playing at Coconuts that Sunday night.

With some drinks and the urging of his friends, Paulson ended up playing that night.

“That was my 21st birthday,” Paulson said. “I'd never played in a bar before.”

He played a few songs that he'd played in coffee shops over the years, and the next day.

“The place just kind of went quiet,” Paulson said, “and then they started cla - The Pampa News By DAVID BOWSER


The road of being a performer is a strange one. It’s a journey unique to its line. I mean, really, there might just be something wrong with a person who wants to be at the center of attention in a room full of strangers, and to get what they are thinking to thousands of people. It’s a little egocentric.

But for all of us who have heard a song by a musician or a band that expresses how we feel - when we couldn’t express it ourselves - we appreciate that drive, even if they are weird or egocentric.

Like many musicians, I was born into music. My first influence in music is my father, David. He, like myself, was born into music. He has been singing since he was a child. I think many of us are born into music. However, I don’t believe any of us are born into being a performer. That is something that takes time, experiences good and bad no matter what God given talent a person might possess.

Performing for me started in church, more specifically, I started singing with my father. When I was 17, I bought my first guitar to be a worship leader in the youth group of the Full Gospel church I went to in Pampa. That, I guess, was my first gig in a way.

My first experience with the real power of a song was when my father and I were asked to sing at the funeral of a good friend and neighbor Doug Winkleblack. It was also one of the largest groups of people I have sang in front of to date. Nearly a thousand people were there to say goodbye. Those are the moments when you sing for a reason - a time that matters. In some way, we tried to help, console and comfort the people we sang for.

In that moment, my father and I sang for a reason. We sang for his family and friends, and in that moment, nothing else mattered.

I am a coffee shop guy since I first stepped into The Coffee Shop in Pampa – yes, it’s actually called the Coffee Shop. It was a place where I hung out with my friends and also started some of my musical friendships that continue still today. One Friday night, Mike Fuller – an Amarillo solo artist - came from Amarillo to play our coffee shop. He didn’t know it at that time, nor did I, but that night changed my life.

Surrounded by my friends, we listened to his songs. As he played there barefoot, I silently said to myself, “That’s what I want to do.” So that’s what I did, I bought an acoustic amp, microphone, mic stand and some candles. I put together my first sets, finding songs I love to play.

I played for coffee and tips. Sometimes my friends would play with me - most times I’d play on my own. There is that moment when you close your eyes and play a song you love - that is the most perfect escape.

That’s what hooked me: the feeling that you can express yourself and people will listen, and maybe they will get something out of it too.

I moved to Amarillo when I was 19 years old. The first thing on my to-do list was to find a coffee shop to play at. I found Dante’s. It was a coffee shop in an old Taco Villa on south Bell Street. The first night I went there, I heard a group of musicians who played until 2 a.m. Later on, many of them would become my good friends. I saw a guy playing two guitars, which freaked me out a bit - but it was great! Rodney Branigan and I have also become friends now.

Playing in the bar
Many musicians get their real start in bar. Playing in bars is where you can cut your teeth, especially in Amarillo.

These can be some of the best gigs. They can also be the most frustrating, especially when you try to get the crowd into the performance. My first time to play in a bar was a drunken one on my 21st birthday. Some friends of mine took me out to a bar, fed me drink after drink and asked the guy playing, Nathan Taylor, if I could play a song even though I really didn’t want to. That song, “Black” by Pearl Jam, was my first bar gig.

Even though it sometimes is hard to play a song that means a great deal to you in a bar, the moment when a noisy bar crowd becomes silent to listen to your song is an incredible moment for a performer.

I have found music and performing to be one of my only ways to express myself, which can be a blessing and a curse. Because this seems to be the only way I can express myself sometimes. I guess it’s a good thing, but sometimes I wish I could just say how I feel.

Good music or bad music? Like anything that can be felt, many people feel differently about things from the same source. What to one person may be the best music ever played, to another may be trite or of absolutely no significance. In this monthly column, I’ll write my observations and opinions. They are all I can convey. I tend to call it like I see it. If I think a performer or a band is great, I will say so. If a person needs work, I’ll say it. If they really aren’t worth coming to see I’ll say that, too. But of course, this is all just one man’s opinion. and we all have our own, ya know.

From a show at the Civic Center, or Globe News Center for the Performing Ar - Amarillo Scene By JOSH PAULSON


Discography

Live From the Golden Light - 2004
Songs About a Girl - 2007

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Josh Paulson’s music is Folk-Americana-Soul, the type of lyrics that catch your attention and tug at the heart of the listener. Life’s journey, as heard through these melodious renditions, is an enjoyable harmonious trip.

Born and raised in Pampa, Texas Josh Paulson comes from a musical town. Playing the streets Woody Guthrie played, true Folk Music roots.

Brought up in a Full Gospel church he sang with his Father. Singing at weddings. Singing at funerals, true Gospel roots.

Playing coffee shops and bars he has played over 537 shows in less than 5 years. Mostly in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

Performing weekly solo shows at Coconutz, Brewsters, The Golden Light and Burberrys in Amarillo. Where he was able to share the stage with many great performers. Including: Rodney Branigan, Moses Morin, Susan Gibson, Matt Martindale, Jason Boland, Stoney Larue, Kevin Prosch, John Pointer

Paulson’s debut studio album, Songs About a Girl, was released in March of ‘07. (Although the album is not about just one girl, the alternative title “Songs About Girls”, … would have just sounded dumb!)