Ellis Paul

Sometimes a relatively small decision can have a big impact on your life. A case in point is singer-songwriter Ellis Paul. In January of 2020 he started a Patreon membership platform so his fans could access exclusive online content for a monthly fee. By March of that year the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in, wiping out his entire touring schedule. Luckily his membership numbers went from 200 to almost 1000.

"That was life affirming in many ways. Recognizing there was a safety net beneath me which I couldn't see, but was always there, was a profound thing."

The pandemic also brought about a re-evaluation of his life, partly because he had turned fifty-five years of age. The result of this time of self reflection was one of gratitude which can be heard on his latest album, 55.

"I wanted the whole album to be an expression of the things I love. I'm grateful I'm still alive, despite all the stuff that's going on. I think I captured the mood I was in."

This introspective time also impacted the way Ellis divides his work/life balance.

"I'm not working as hard on the road as I used to be, trying to be at home with my kids more. Probably the only silver lining to the pandemic was that it forced us all to re-evaluate how we were living."

In a career lasting thirty-five years where he's released twenty-two albums, you'd think Ellis would be running out of ways to write a song. But as they say, "with age comes wisdom".

"Coming up with new stuff is difficult but that's part of the challenge and joy of it. I don't have the same toolbox I had when I was twenty-five or thirty. But now in my fifties it's kind of a more mature toolbox."

Ellis's performing style has also changed with age. Whereas in the past he might have sung an octave higher when he came to the chorus of a song, his inability to do that these days requires a different approach.

"I write with the voice I have and that's good too. It's forcing me to be more creative in a box."

Ellis has embraced different ways to interact with his fans. Besides his Patreon memberships he leads yearly trips to Ireland with Inishfree Irish Music Tours. It's an opportunity for fans to spend ten days in the Emerald Isle seeing the sights, listening to exclusive performances from Ellis and local musicians, plus the added bonus of sharing the experience with about twenty other Ellis Paul fans. The company has over thirty American and Canadian artists signed on as tour leaders.

"A lot of my work is focused on super-serving the hardcore fans who have made me part of the fabric of their lives. So I organize vacation trips and songwriting retreats. It's been great because I get to know them personally. They're sort of the core of my bread and butter. It's been fun."

In this post-COVID environment, the economics of touring is different that it used to be. To that end Ellis has tried to adjust how much he's on the road and for how long, not always successfully.

"I have to go out for at least four or five days and sometimes two or  three weeks in order to make it economical. I had to make a calendar for February for my daughter 'cause she's still in high school and I wanted her to know where I was going to be. I discovered I was only going to be home for six days that month so that was a hard calendar to hand over."


For more on Ellis Paul and 55, go to https://ellispaul.com.