Ellis Paul

The VIP Lounge with Ellis Paul

The Boston Globe

Friday, July 14, 2017

by Juliet Pennington

The VIP Lounge with Ellis Paul

Ellis Paul at Nubble Light in York, Maine.

If you ask Ellis Paul, he’ll tell you that no place compares to Maine. The singer-songwriter, who is from Presque Isle, in Northern Maine, believes the Pine Tree State has it all, including an abundance of natural beauty. Paul, the recipient of 15 Boston Music Awards, is celebrating 25 years of touring by returning to Club Passim for seven shows July 20-23. “I’m looking forward to playing there,” he said in a recent phone interview. “And the cool thing is I’ll be doing highlights from every one of my albums, in the order they were released.” We caught up with Paul, 52, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., and is a single dad with two daughters – ages 10 and 13 – to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? I’m from Maine, so rolling back there involves both a beautiful destination point and a return home. If you want woods and mountains, there is Baxter State Park with Mount Katahdin and lakes and waterfall hikes. I also love the Midcoast area with the ocean, lighthouses, and lobster rolls. You can take boats or ferries out to an island like Monhegan and feel like you’re completely off the grid, surrounded by the ocean and salt box houses. If you want a city hang, Portland’s waterfront is one of the best for shops and restaurants.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I was all over Maine [recently], and tried lobster rolls from a few spots. The best was at The Yardbird Canteen in Port Clyde, a tiny shack on a two-lane highway. They do ’em right. For drinks, Maine has become one of the best places in the country for craft beer. I suggest the Bissell Brothers Swiss Double IPA, but you can’t go wrong stopping by any of the breweries along the road up there.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?There are so many places I have yet to go — Iceland for example. I’m not really into touristy places, and even avoid them in Maine. So there’s something beautiful about isolation with a transformational view. Cheap flights there from Boston make it affordable.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My guitar. I like to play even on vacation, and it often becomes a conversation starter with people along the way. But the best is having a big window with a view, great food, and wine, and just sitting playing, talking. Music, wine, and friends on a vacation is the best.

Aisle or window? Window for me. I have a lot of early morning flights, and I can lean against the plane and sleep till the next destination.

Favorite childhood travel memory? We would drive from the Midwest to Maine and cram five kids, two adults, and a cat in the car for the three-day drive. We’d stop sometimes along the way — Niagara Falls, Washington, D.C. . . . but the family memories were the best.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Sushi. When it’s great, it’s the best food on earth — but it’s always costly.

Best travel tip? I make my living traveling, so I have a few. Here’s one for car renters — when you pull up to a gas station, there is a tiny little arrow next to the gas pump light on the dash that indicates what side of the car to use. If you lose a charger, ask the hotel desk if they have any in lost and found you can use. Ask local people where to go for the best food and drink — sometimes you get a better experience when you do what the locals do.

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