BluSeed Studios welcomes Paul Asbell Friday

SARANAC LAKE – BluSeed Studios will present Paul Asbell at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the BluStage.

Cost is $15 or $12 for BluSeed members. For tickets, call 518-891-3799 or email

Asbell began playing at age 12, on an acoustic guitar that his dad had “broken in” singing pro-labor and “peoples’ songs” while performing at union rallies and concerts in the late ’40s.

An entirely self-taught player, Paul used as his early models the music in his dad’s 78 and LP collection- records by Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Blind Willie Johnson, Leadbelly, Uncle Dave Macon, Woody Guthrie, Jimmy Driftwood, and Flatt and Scruggs, as well as jazz and gospel discs by Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, The Staple Singers and Mahalia Jackson. Soon after hearing the music coming out of bars on Chicago’s South Side, however, he single-mindedly started playing electric guitar, trying to evoke the sounds of Buddy Guy and Otis Rush.

His career began at age 18 “in the trenches” of Pepper’s Lounge, the 1815 Club, Theresa’s, and other haunts, as a sideman to Otis Rush, Magic Sam, JuniorWells and other fixtures of the Chicago blues scene. Gigs, tours and recordings followed, with legends like John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sam Lay, Pops Staples, Donny Hathaway and Lightnin’ Slim. During this time he appeared on the milestone recording “Fathers and Sons” featuring Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield and also played on “The London Howlin’Wolf Sessions” LP, featuring Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and members of the Rolling Stones.

Since the early ’80s, Asbell has performed regionally with numerous legends of jazz and blues, including Sonny Stitt, Jon Hendricks and family, Bobby McFerrin, David Bromberg, Big Mama Thornton, Betty Carter, James Carter, Kermit Ruffins, Michael Ray, the Sun Ra Arkestra, The Wild Magnolias, Joshua Redman, John Stowell, and countless others.

Since 1994, Asbell has been reconnecting with his original folk-based roots in festival shows and solo concerts. Recent appearances include Healdsburg and Newport Guitar Festivals, MerleFest, and numerous acoustic venues across the country. His 2 solo acoustic CDs, “Steel-String Americana” and “Roots and Branches,” received numerous rave reviews for its highly individualized twists on blues and jazz standards, old-timey country-based themes and original pieces from the “american roots” tradition. The Flynn Theatre called them “A genre-blurring, virtuosic waltz through the deep heritage of American folklore, where styles of Robert Johnson, Doc Watson and Dr. John rub elbows with those of Joe Pass and Bill Frisell.” Others have said “It is quite the best CD of acoustic guitar that I have heard in years!”