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Ellis Paul

Real Life...Second Life...

Spring. I swear to God, I saw pinks buds on the trees here in little Charlottesville, Va. It's as if God reached down from the heavens and touched the branches with a paint brush tipped in whites and pinks.

I am halfway through the new recording project, and decided to send out a sampling of the work we have committed to tape in Nashville over the last two months. It's hard to judge how an album is going to be received when it's this early in the birthing process. But I am working very hard to insure that it is my best ever.

Listen to The Day After Everything Changed

Some of you know that we paid for this recording through contributions made at the website by fans of my music.

A ladder of package choices was posted online from simple pre-orders of the album up to a $10,000 special level that includes guitars, house concerts, songs written for loved ones, signed lyrics, concert passes, demos, my next child, etc...

To date we have raised $90,000 and counting.

I can't believe it myself!

When the economy crashed we felt we shouldn't do a hard sell on the project, and just accept the consequences of what we had and the circumstances of our times. But we found the contributions and inquiries keep coming in. It's humbling to see how much people care about what I am creating. And to all of you, thank you.

The music industry has been turned inside out by the sea of change of technology. Record labels traditionally provide money and short term marketing to artists and within a short few months abandon both the artist and the project to move on towards other investments. Unless the record breaks huge, its over. Yet, the label owns the recording forever. The artist sees little return from the actual CD unless he/she is lucky enough to sell enough copies to pay off the recording debts and even then the royalty rate is a dollar an album.

Thanks to you folks, I will own the masters to this recording.  If the songs are placed in a movie ten years from now, the money will go back to me, my management (who work tirelessly everyday to get my work out to the world) and my family where it belongs.

The added bonus is I can put out a record that doesn't have to adhere to a label's tastes. My songs are eclectic; A mix of folk, rock, country- this is the first time I have made production choices to match the songs needs, not the labels needs. The sense of ownership is greater as well, so I am finding a new attention to detail that I would normally leave to the producer's ears. I love songwriting- I treat it like a religion of sorts, a Zen practice. Usually recording the songs has felt less than the prayer then writing them, but not this time around. I think because I own every note on the record, the whole process is feeling like church. (But funnier. SORRY God!) It feels as though we passed around the plate and the community kicked in to support.

Okay on a completely different note...I recently have been exploring Second Life, an artificial reality world on the internet that has the best and worst of what the net has to offer. There's a lot of beauty and a lot of darkness.

But I have met people (or a version of them) and getting to feel a little reborn in the process. Newcomers are treated poorly by well coifed veterans for being dressed poorly and for not knowing etiquette and secrets of grace and style. There's racism, nationalism, capitalism, sex is rampant, and you can find fights or love depending on your needs.

All of this, of course, is escapism, for whatever reason, I am sure each person has a reason to be there.

There is also a lot of kindness, knowledge, humor on second life.

Traveling in this alternative world has been a great reflection on real life for me. It reminds me of things taken for granted.

We live in a pliable universe. There are people here armed with crayons, guns, brooms and bank notes

Some people make war.

Some make babies.

Some write poetry.

Some invest money.

Some teach

Some learn

and in this universe joy is a relative word. But it's not a complacent one. It's directly related to the work of your life. The making of war, love, babies, poetry.

People are starting whole lives on the internet. They have families in functioning maternity wards. Attend concerts, build homes. Last night I was chastised for the animation of my avatars walk. The anonymity of second life brings out the petty I guess, but then again some cool people have shown me around, taken me on balloon rides in Africa, dancing in Paris.

Anyway, my point is I'm counting blessings back here in the real world.  I'm reminded that I have some control here in the fabric of my life.  My actions and my work shape my universe and my joy. I think this recording is really going to make a difference in my life and my family's future. Thanks for giving me the support to create it!

A couple of other people creating joy that I want to pass on are Antje Duvekot whose beautiful new album The Near Demise of the High Wire Dancer  produced by Richard Shindell just released. Her CD release shows are at my favorite home Club Passim in Harvard Sq. Cambridge March 19th 20th and 21st .  And my good friend Flynn is getting out there more starting with a show at One Longfellow Sq. in Portland, ME on March 20th Please check them out.

See you out there... and again, thank you for your support.