Paul James

Went to see the ageless Paul James playing in the park as part of the annual Beaches Jazz Festival. His shows were a staple of my youthful bar band experiences. He’s still a tireless performer, really doesn’t look at all different - how’d he pull that off?!? - and still gets up to all those great showman tricks that made him so engaging all those years ago: twirling around like a madman, playing the guitar upside down while holding it behind his head, downing a beer while playing a lead, smiling mischievously as if he’s surprised by his own showbiz schtick.
His set list is still pretty much the same as it ever was: Dylan, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and the Paul James originals that all pretty much sound like something written by Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley. Given that he has played with all three of those artists it’s somewhat of a surprise that he’s still playing bars and the odd summer music festival. That’s the kind of grind that might beat a performer down, but if it has he sure doesn’t show it when he’s on stage. Still looks as if he’s having a great time.
My only quibble with the show was that maybe it’s not suited to such a big stage and giant outdoor audience. Although he still got people up and dancing it was hard not to feel as if it would be much more fun to see him in a smaller venue, having a drink and rocking the night away. Then again, maybe that’s just my own nostalgic sentiment imposing itself on what was really a fun evening.