By Charlie Swanson
Paul Thorn is not the type of guy to get stuck in the past. The Southern roots-rock and blues songwriter has crafted a career of prolific creativity and constant touring, resulting in a discography more than a dozen albums long and a die-hard fanbase that stretches from coast-to-coast.
Yet, this summer marks a particularly special milestone for Thorn: The 20th anniversary of his debut album, Hammer & Nail. To commemorate the occasion, Thorn and his band will perform Hammer & Nail in its entirety on Saturday, July 22, as part of a weekend residency at Rancho Nicasio.
“It was my first record, and it was a different world,” says Thorn from his home in Tupelo, Mississippi. “For one, record companies were still record companies.”
A&M Records signed Thorn in 1997 after he was discovered playing in a local pizza joint. As it turns out, Hammer & Nail was his only release with A&M, and since that debut album, Thorn has self-recorded and self-released 13 acclaimed albums.
“It’s the day of the independent artist,” Thorn says. “I’m thankful I put the time and the work in, because things are going well. These past 20 years have been fruitful.”
When Thorn debuted on the Americana scene in 1997, he was praised for catchy roots melodies and clever lyrics, and his tireless work ethic has made him one of the most consistent entertainers working today.
“I still don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” he says. “In any business, you want it to grow, and it’s growing.”
With eyes ever on the horizon, Thorn is also aware that Hammer & Nail continues to resonate with many of his fans, and the album’s songs are still highly requested.
“It [the album] is special to my heart,” Thorn says. “I’m excited that people are still interested in the record. It’s very nice that it will last; things all went by so quickly.”
Paul Thorn Band, Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23, Rancho Nicasio, 1 Old Rancheria Rd., Nicasio; Sat., 8:30pm; Sun., 4pm; $35-$40; 415/662.2219.