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Underground fame is just fine for Paul Thorn

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Paul Thorn returns for Sunday's special "Mountain Stage" in Huntington, honoring the Marshall Artists Series' 75th season. On May 8, Thorn will release "What The Hell is Goin' On?" an album of covers from some of his favorite artists.
Read an interview with fellow "Mountain Stage" performer Michael Cerveris, a former Huntington resident, here.Read a review of Paul Thorn's new album here.  WANT TO GO?"Mountain Stage"With Arlo Guthrie and Boys Night Out, Paul Thorn, Michael Cerveris and Loose Cattle and Delta RaeWHERE: Keith Albee Theater, 925 4th Ave, HuntingtonWHEN: 7 p.m. SundayTICKETS: $35 (free for Marshall students)INFO: 304-696-6656 or  CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Paul Thorn says that, if a man thinks he's nothing if a woman leaves him, then he probably has the answer to why she left him in the first place.He said, "You turn on the TV and see these good-looking guys with blow-dried hair and washboard abs, but they're wimps."They sing about how they're going to fall apart if the women they love leave them."I think the world has got enough of those kinds of songs," said the former boxer and son a preacher man. "I think it's time men started to reclaim their manhood."If Thorn, who appears Sunday in Huntington on "Mountain Stage," can help a few men do that with one of his songs, that's great. And if it has to be a cover song, that's fine, too.
After writing nine albums, the singer/songwriter decided to hand some of the heavy lifting over to someone else. His 10th record, "What the Hell is Goin' On?" is a collection of covers, each done in Thorn's bluesy Southern rock style.
"People always ask me what I listen to," he said. "This is just a set of songs that, for different reasons, I liked a lot."It's as simple as that, but sort of eclectic.Thorn covers Lindsey Buckingham's "Don't Let Me Down Again," from his 1973 album with then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks. Other tracks are relatively new, like Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Snake Farm," which was recorded in 2006.None of the artists are household names. Sure, people might know who Hubbard and Buckingham are. Hubbard is considered one of the elder statesmen of the Texas music scene and an influence on country and Americana music. Buckingham had a moderately successful solo career but is best known as the guitar wizard of Fleetwood Mac."I run with a crowd of underground artists," Thorn said. "Even the most well-known artist on the album, like Delbert McClinton, [who] I sing a duet with. To me, he's a household name, but the average guy on the street, he doesn't know who Delbert McClinton is."He doesn't think that's such a bad thing.
"I want a career like John Prine," he said. "John isn't a household name, but he can put his name on the marquee of a theater just about anywhere in America and a couple of thousand people will show up."At the same time, he can probably go to Walmart and probably not get recognized."That sounds all right to Thorn."I think, if you blow up overnight, you spend the rest of your career shrinking," he said. "If you get a million fans in one night, they won't stay with you, but two or three people a night . . . they're with you for life."Too much success is often kind of a curse. Thorn doesn't really want to get too big."If I become so successful," he said, "there won't be anybody home to share it with."He'd miss his family if they weren't there when he got back.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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