Possessed By Paul James (Austin, TX)
Possessed By Paul James is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist Konrad Wert. He was raised Mennonite with Amish roots in the swamps of Immokalee, Florida and presently resides with his wife and son in the Hill Country of Texas. Wert’s performances are so energetic that he could easily be mistaken for a small crowd. His songs are very honest. Not only are they completely personal and sincere, but they transcend identity and touch on the human condition. “Possessed is just… possessed by experiences and family (Paul and Melvin James),” Wert says. ”…I connect with that, with the beauty of the brokenness, innocence and/or ugliness.”
PPJ has been around now since 2006 touring domestically and internationally while finding a balance between family and the opportunities of music. “The goal is to be able to share and benefit both my family and those willing to listen. That is a success in my opinion and thus far it seems to be working it’s way out.”
In 2006 SYA Records of Milan, Italy pressed Wert’s first LP ‘Possessed by Paul James’ followed by his first European tour. In 2007 while touring overseas the Rev. Beatman of Voodoo Rhythm Records came to a PPJ show and liked what he heard and saw. Thus in 2008 ‘Cold and Blind’ was released, Wert’s second album. Presently we are awaiting PPJ’s 3rd record, ‘Feed the Family’ this time with the intent of going completely independent, pressing both CD, LP and 7-inch.
Needless to say it has been a slow and steady road for the music of Possessed by Paul James. As Wert likes to put it, “This isn’t a race. No one is coming in first or last, it’s simply a marathon in the process of music and that feels best.”
Delaney Davidson (New Zealand)
Part man part wheel, Delaney Davidson is part wandering minstrel, part travelling salesman. One hand holds a small brown suitcase, his trade, his ghost orchestra, the other holds his guitar. One foot firmly in the Blues Trash corner of the ring, the other on the road, you could say Delaney sees music as he sees geography, and that although he has certain preferences, in fact all territories are up for grabs. Ireland, Germany, Italy, Brazil, UK, Switzerland, Mexico, Austria, Romania, Belgium, Holland, Russia, France, USA, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, all destinations on the ten year Solo Tour with which Davidson has turned homelessness into a success of its own. Man of a thousand faces, his work with paint, music, film and concept all has traces of his unique take on life. Part new world and part old world, this duality is echoed in the flavours he evokes with his work; Past VS present, too loud for folk VS too quiet for rock, Light VS Dark, Davidsons restless work refuses to be still for the portrait it is asked to sit for. A pattern we see in his own restless life, indeed, the apple never falls far from the tree.
“One rotten apple ruins the whole barrel” laughs Delaney when asked to describe his work. “But then I think we all need a few rotten apples, and sometimes thats where the flavour comes from, ripe vs rotten, where does one cross over into the other”
This approach of DIY has a special flavour of its own, and can continually be seen in Davidsons work. “Neccessity is the mother of invention, and a lo budget will lead to all sorts of beautiful stand-in potential. Whistling instead of violins. I love to see things take a step, and I think people like to see the triumph of a good idea over a slick production, I think it gives them hope and inspiration. Ultimately the result of hi gloss is alienation and a removed and depressed let down feeling or not being good enough. I say let it all go!”
While Davidson seeks to embody this ethic he also displays a degree of skill in his work. His painting exhibitions of Nocturnal Landscape in the early 1990′s showed a minimal use of form bordering on abstract and a tonal blend of colours that were darker than black. What these works lacked in skill they made up for in concept; they delighted the man on the street and astounded the connisseur. While he has spread the word of both New Zealand aswell as Voodoo Rhythm all through the world, there has also been talk of his being awarded an Honorary Masters degree in recognition of the body of work that has appeared over the years from his hand.
He proves this true in the series of short video films he is continually releasing on Youtube. All made on little or no budget, each one a triumph of style and medium. Lending itself well to visuals, the personality of his musical work has been sought after for film soundtrack, see the “Flammend Herz” (story of Herbert Hoffman, Hamburg Reeperbahns oldest tatooist), aswell as “Netherwood ” a localised tale of rural darkness, and the Delaney scowl is immortalised by Slowboat Films as his portrayal of Parrish echoes across the screen in the soporiphic noircotic nightmare “The Road to Nod” ; the tale of an old Jailbird as he spirals to hell.
His doorkeeper stance on stage work has often been one of pioneer, as was shown in his introduction of the lap steel into the Basel Stadt-theatres production of Die Dreigroschen Oper. Again walking the lines between, Delaney’s master of ceremonies attack was a key ingredient in the success of “Random Acts of God” a Contemporary Dance show as response to Christchurchs Earthquakes by Corrupt Productions.
Wisconsins Steelbridge Songfestival (Brain child of Timbuk3′s Pat Macdonald), aswell as Port Lyttletons Harbour Union both showcased his dark sense of humour and his ability to write with others, as does his melodic work in the Dead Brothers, but he seems to come into his own when he is solo. “I think its hard enough to follow your own path or brain and find the time or space to hear it. The idea of asking anyone else to follow it seems like a huge task for all involved. If you only have one suitcase, you can move house in a half hour. On the other hand if you have your house tidied up you can invite people round to dinner, and I love to work with others on certain things to acheive a flavour I can’t capture alone”
However nothing embodies his spirit of floating work as ramblingly succinctly as the eternal tour he began in the beginning of the century and still continues today. Work that encompasses some ten years and several continents, countless shows and numerous releases. He has shared the bills with Underground Queen Holly Golightly, Cult legend Reverend Beatman, Radical Film-maker Miron Zownir, German Intellectual Franz Dobler, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Jack Oblivian, Bob Log III , Dr Quintron and T model Ford. Has it become a way of life for him? “I never worked so hard as I do now, Self Emplyoment is the key to an early grave, I see this in lots of musician friends of mine aswell. you are your own travel agent, your own booking agent, your own photographer, your own graphic designer, your own manager, your own producer.. on top of that you are a musician. With my show I am the drummer, singer, guitarist and sometimes harmonica player, you could say it is not a way of life, it IS life”