"Lessons features sensitive backing by members of the Mountain Stage band, as well as a batch of unfancy easily enjoyable songs. the clear winners of the group are "Take a Lesson from the Earth" with its strong melody and ethereal background vocals and "Lettin' Go" which has a familiar countryish charm. Some tracks are colored by hints of gospel and jazzy fiddle-fueled swing, which lend an agreeable diversity to the disc." --from a Review in "Graffiti," a Charleston, WV Music Scene magazine:
These 12 songs give you 12 insights into Paul's heart and soul: thoughtful, witty, loving, pained at times, wise, reflective and diverse in musical styles. The disk is backed up by West Virginia's finest musicians--members of WV Public Radio's Mountain Stage band, who give the songs rich acoustic textures with Ahmed Solomon's brilliant percussion, Ron Sowell and John Kessler's impeccable rhythm guitar and bass backgrounds, and Steve Hill's tasteful acoustic guitar leads and colorings throughout. The instrumentation is rounded out by Paul's fiddle adding the perfect bluegrassy sound on tracks like "You Put a Smile on My Face" and swing licks on "You're the One that Should be Blue" and others. To add the finishing touches, Paul is joined by vocalists Julie Adams, John Ely, Nancy Buckingham, Becky Kimmons and Bill Kimmons who create a gospel chorus on "Let us All Sing With Joy" and doo wop setting for "I've Got my Love on Hold." Each 'lesson' on this disk will be one you'll want to hear again and again.
Paul Epstein has been living and playing music in West Virginia since 1974 where he came to settle. He had taught himself guitar as a teenager growing up in PA. In the early 70's he played string bass with string bands in Maine and Pennsylvania. When Paul arrived in West Virginia to settle in rural Roane County, he acquired a fiddle and began going to festivals and listening to and studying the fiddling of many legendary West Virginia fiddlers including Mose Coffman, Bill Iman, Johnny Johnson, and Glen Smith. He and friends formed a string band, Booger Hole Revival, that traveled widely and recorded two albums. During this time, Paul's musical interests expanded to include traditional Irish, swing, country, and writing songs.
Paul began teaching elementary school in Kanawha County in 1987. In the 1990's he made two recordings. School Bus Comin' has received much acclaim by parents and teachers. His second CD is called Lessons Life's Taught Me. With accompaniment by members of WV Public Radio's Mountain Stage Band, it is a richly textured recording containing heartfelt songs of love and loss as well as celebrations of the beauty of his chosen home. It echoes with Paul's diverse musical interests. Through the mid 1990's Paul served as songwriters' liason and songwriting events coordinator during Vocal Week at the Augusta Heritage Workshops.
Paul was also called on to write and play the theme music for The West Virginians, a documentary produced by the WV Film Project. That tune, Appalachian Morning, is included on his latest CD, Strawberry Lass, which contains 12 of Paul's original fiddle tunes. Today, Paul plays fiddle with the Contrarians, a high energy Contradance band ( www.homepages.charter.net/contrarians ),he presents writing workshops to teachers, performs his songs in a variety of venues, and teaches school in Charleston, WV. He also co-directs the Central WV Writing Project and presents writing workshops to teachers. Paul continues to record new songs, some of which can be heard at http://www.garageband.com/paul_epstein