Wearing a faded, threadbare shirt rolled up at the elbow and a tentative smile, a wide-eyed young man meandered onto campus Tuesday morning.
Armed only with a guitar and a true musician’s ability to make a song personal to his audience, Josh Paul, a junior majoring in music, melodically crooned a cover of Iron and Wine’s “Naked as we Came” and his original, “Sky High.”
To Paul, music is what’s familiar.
“To be very honest, it’s my family,” he said. “I’ve always been around the guitar. My dad was always playing and when I was in elementary school, that’s when I actually started to remember things.”
He would listen to his dad play the guitar at coffee shops – similar to where Paul can be seen performing.
“I would always go up to (his guitar) and I would take my cars and I’d race them up and down the fret board,” Paul said. “I would pluck the strings on the guitar and listen to how they sound, and he would let me sit on his lap and would do the chords on his left hand. I would strum, and that was so cool.”
Paul has the sort of infectious positive attitude that gets a smile out of anyone he comes across.
And even if it wasn’t always, through Paul’s eyes everything is okay. And he’s made it that way.
“My mom and my dad were divorced when I was two,” he said. “But I would see both of them all the time in different households, even though we all get along together (now), which is nice. My mom … would play Jewel, and then my dad would play Pink Floyd and this live album from AC/DC …and Metallica. And then I started to find my own music.”
As a music major, Paul has explored different genres. And be it sitting on top of the parking garage at midnight with a worn-out snare drum and some brushes or playing a few covers for a crowded sushi restaurant, Paul has had a gift for incorporating diversity in his craft since he was young.
“When I was in sixth grade, I was in the school band and I played trumpet and that was a lot of fun,” he said. “My trumpet instructor would come to my house and … he brought some metal. He brought “The Dillinger Escape Plan” and then he introduced me to a band called Every time I Die and I loved it, it was incredible. And (my instructor’s friend) Brian was in a dance-pop-rock band and they brought music to me all the time. Brian would give me guitar lessons. He introduced me to John Coltrane.”
Though he has no structured plans for his future in music, Paul has a five-song demo out called Water Woman. He performs every Wednesday night at Aki Sushi House.