Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase Paul Kaplan

Veteran musician and songwriter Paul Kaplan has been an enthusiastic participant in the folk music world since the late 1960s when his early anti-Vietnam war songs were published in the legendary protest magazine Broadside.

His involvement with the singer-songwriter movement was sparked by his early love of the songs of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton. He pursued that love as a frequent attendee at the Songwriters’ Exchange at the Cornelia Street Cafe, in New York, and as a regular contributor to The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, in which ten of his songs were included. In the late 1970s, Paul had the opportunity to produce three posthumous albums by one of his heroes, Phil Ochs.

His first album, Life on This Planet, released in 1982, featured the songs “Call Me the Whale” and “Henry the Accountant,” later covered by such folk music greats as Sally Rogers, Ed McCurdy, David Massengill, and Debby McClatchy, as well as artists in England, Ireland, and Denmark. His song “I Had an Old Coat” from King of Hearts (1985) has been sung by Nickelodeon stars Sharon, Lois and Bram (The Elephant Show), as well as Claudia Schmidt, Lui Collins, Priscilla Herdman, Jay Ungar and many others.

Paul’s interest in traditional music is reflected in his four years as a member of the group The Derby Ram, resident band of the Eagle Tavern in New York City. With band founder Dan Milner, Paul co-authored the popular A Bonnie Bunch of Roses-Songs of England, Ireland and Scotland, published by Music Sales in 1983 (still in print).

In his solo career, Paul’s warm style and gentle humor have charmed audiences at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Gotta Get Gon and Denmark’s prestigious Tønder Festival, as well as such venues as Passim, The Eighth Step, Mother’s Wine Emporium and Golden Link.

Paul has recently released his third album, After the Fire. The title song was inspired by his sense of loss after the events of September 11, 2001 and his heartfelt hope that lessons of rebirth and renewal can be retrieved from tragedy.

In the last few years Paul has been honored by the inclusion of his songs in two monumental collections produced by Smithsonian Folkways. One of his first songs, “ Vietnam,” appears in the Grammy-nominated Best of Broadside (2000). A second song, “King of Hearts,” is featured in Fast Folk—a Community of Singers & Songwriters (2002). And in 2003 “Henry the Accountant” was included in Being Human— Readings from the President's Council on Bioethics, along with works by Homer, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Whitman, G.B. Shaw, etc.

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