Paul's music is a potent blend of tough blues, psychedelic solo improvisation, raw punk vocal energy, strong songwriting and a revolutionary approach to open tunings and slide guitar. CD's: 2006: Judgement Day / 2002: Live! In Toronto / 2002: Red Hot Slide 1995-2002 / 2001: Vancouver Blue / 1999: Worldwide Slide / 1999: Binson's Blues / "Perhaps only the Australian Dave Hole is comparable in the slide guitar stakes, as Canadian Paul Fenton plays some of the most mesmerising, warm toned slide guitar you have ever heard...A majestic player who at times seems to weave his guitar lines through the eyes of an imaginary needle, 'Judgement Day' is the perfect introduction to those who have never heard Paul Fenton before. Once you've heard this album you will be hooked." Pete Feenstra, www.getreadytorock.com, London England Paul has appeared with Derek Trucks, Sonny Landreth, Wide Mouth Mason, Rory Gallagher, Jack Bruce, Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, Walter Trout, John Mayall, Coco Montoya, Steppenwolf, The Strawbs, Nazareth, Bernard Allison, Mick Ronson, John Hiatt, Roy Buchanan, George Thorogood, Thirteen Engines, The Stranglers, Guy Davis, Tom Cochrane, The Headstones - and members of the Guess Who, Goddo, The Blushing Brides, McKenna Mendelson Mainline, The Anger Brothers and Downchild have performed live with him. Two of Paul's most important musical "imprintings" came when he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 and when he heard Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones play slide guitar on "Little Red Rooster." Above, Brian playing slide in Ottawa in 1965.
The first time he heard Mississippi Fred McDowell on slide and Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd were equally inspirational. Some of Paul's favourite slide players are (in no particular order): Tampa Red, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Rory Gallagher , Duane Allman , Johnny Winter, Elmore James, Brian Jones and David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. Paul plays open tunings exclusively, among them: G, D, E, D modal, a D minor 'drone' tuning (taught to him by bluesman Guy Davis when they played together at the Ottawa Folk Festival in 1999), C and more. Paul is entirely self-taught on slide guitar and began with the decision to take out several "how to" play slide guitar books from the local library. Most decisive of all, Paul was hooked for life after the time he ventured down Highway 401 to see and hear the explosive blues rock of 'modern-day Robert Johnson', Rory Gallagher in 1973 at the Colonial Tavern - with "King Biscuit Boy" (Richard Newell 1944-2003) opening up, backed by McKenna Mendelson Mainline.
After the Gallagher concerts, Paul decided to make music his life. Some thirteen years later, he would repay Rory by giving him a Supro Dualtone guitar as a thank you gift (Paul had also opened for Rory in Montreal at the 1,100 seat "Le Spectrum" in 1982). Read about that night here. In between, Paul had become the 'charge' of older brother John, a serious rocker and excellent guitar player in his own "rite". John, the 'Godfather' of the Fenton musical clan (which also included bassist and youngest brother Michael) began his own career with Ottawa heavies Avalon in the mid-70's, recording at Montreal's Tempo Studios the same time as Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush.
Around 1977, after hearing an English punk music collection LP via a friend of Ted Axe's who worked at Treble Clef (a local record store), Paul and the legendary band The Action merged the sounds of the Stones, Gallagher and Status Quo with the nitro of the mid-70's London punk rock movement. With controversial Ted Axe on vocals, Paul, John and Ted writing lyrics and music, Paul began his slide odyssey. At first rudimentary but terrifically emotional and exciting, his playing progressed rapidly after a freak incident. From the liner notes to Worldwide Slide: Paul's older brother John tells the story of the night long ago when young Paul was literally 'woodshedding' in a metal garage during a storm, on the shore of Green Lake.
John heard wild loud slide guitar then a terrible crash like an explosion and feedback. Lightning had hit the garage, knocking Paul unconscious and the 'untended' guitar screamed like Hendrix's Strat at Monterey. He's never been the same since and John claims Paul immediately went "from good to gifted." The Action was recorded live and in the studio and were the darlings of the city's lively punk-rock/hard rock scene. Leather, extreme volume, great original rock and roll guitar from John and Paul and Ted's wild stage antics and hilarious patter drew legions of fans.
John eventually drifted away to his own projects, Ted became too much to handle, going extremely "Bowie-glam" and was fired - but never replaced. The band has numerous bootlegs and two studio albums, the second remains unreleased. The first EP (1977), recorded in Montreal, was a big hit in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and New York and remains a coveted collectors item to this day. 1977-1981.
Next up came a band again featuring Paul: a bit spacier and more traditional in rock terms by the name of "Number One." Local rocker Gordie "Uranus" Innes was in and out of the four or five piece outfit. Paul branched out, using echo, Leslie, chorus, a stereo Rickenbacker 12 string electric for the first time and some more Fenton magic was woven. Recorded extensively live, unfortunately only bootlegs and some unreleased studio recordings and demos remain of their excellent work, including a fine session at Connecticut's Trod Nossel recording studios. 1982-83.
Paul played for a while with notorious and excellent Stones tribute band "The Blushing Brides." Paul toured the US and Canada extensively for over a year but the muse called and he eventually returned to his first love: writing and playing original music. 1983-84. The 'Brides later recorded Paul's popular song "Nasty Boy" on their RCA debut. (Thanks to Mike Heron for the photo taken in Toronto at the Nag's Head) His 'return' was greeted with tremendous excitement in local quarters.
Fans spoke of a combination of 4/4 roots rock and roll, hard electric blues and the nasty punk energy of The Action married with the 'prettier' and more experimental Number One period. The Fenton Brothers Band was born. Featuring Paul, the bass and vocals of brother Michael, Andre' "Action" Gauthier (and many others) on drums, first Fred Guignon (later Ronald Gilfillan) on guitar, they ruled the Eastern Ontario and western Quebec bar circuit, setting many beer-selling records, hence their popularity with club owners and booking agents as well as audiences. While the Action had had a couple of high-profile openers (The Stranglers, The Diodes, a couple of others), The Fentons as they soon became known ruled as the 'house' band at B-circuit 1920's vaudeville - survivor club and rock palace Barrymore's.
Opening for Mick Taylor, Jack Bruce, George Thorogood, John Mayall, Thirteen Engines, John Hiatt, Edgar Winter, John Kay and Steppenwolf, and Roy Buchanan, the group also opened The Strawbs at the Diamond in Toronto after which Rod Dennick (bass, vocals 1985-1998) said "I almost shi* my pants when I heard that slide!" Rod dragged the group off to a Queen Street club to jam with Paul. The Fentons also opened for Rory Gallagher in Montreal (Le Spectrum), Tom Cochrane in Toronto's beautiful Diamond Club and Johnny Winter (three times, including at the prestigious National Arts Centre), during which the reclusive Texan ran from his dressing room in the midst of the Fentons' set to watch Paul play and, tapping his cowboy boot vigorously, exclaimed "Man, this guy is a red hot slide player!" After his own set, Johnny summoned Paul to his dressing room for a rare private National guitar acoustic blues jam session witnessed by Workman John of CHEZ FM. They were also picked to open for Huey Lewis twice at 37,000-seat Lansdowne Park (Huey bumped them at the 'rain date' due to the threat of precipitation but graciously paid them in full anyway). Scores of demo sessions followed, including a partial, unreleased session produced by legendary Mick Ronson at Nevessa studio in Woodstock, NY (Mick also played on one of the three songs - the session was engineered by Todd Rundgren and Utopia's main man Chris Anderson), A&R shopping, a relocation to Toronto and 2 rock solid EPs later, the band dissolved due to industry indifference, over-exposure and Spinal Tap drummer syndrome.
1984-90. Paul then formed "The Bleedin' Hearts", named after the Elmore James song and a very happy and successful period followed. Once again, fronted by a controversial and energetic singer and featuring Paul's mastery of rhythm, slide and delicious writing, the band took off. Playing extensively in Eastern Canada, they garnered heavy local airplay and were signed to an International recording contract with the Netherlands' 'Continental Record Service', a Rounder Records Europe company.
They were also inked to do an eight-country European tour. Virtually the day the second CD was released however, Paul and the band broke up acrimoniously, citing the usual personal and music business conflicts. (They were to have opened for Walter Trout and his band in support of the Bleedin' Hearts record "Seconds to Go".) The superb CD sells to this day in Germany, England, Italy and the Netherlands. A very good 'run', 1992-96.
Paul's music is a potent blend of tough blues, psychedelic solo improvisation, raw punk vocal energy, strong songwriting and a revolutionary approach to open tunings and slide guitar. CD's: 2006: Judgement Day / 2002: Live! In Toronto / 2002:Red Hot Slide 1995-2002 2001: Vancouver Blue / 1999: Worldwide Slide / 1999: Binson's Blues / Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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