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    ‘Sugarland’ musician Ellis Paul performs at Stony Brook’s Ucafe

    On Sunday, Dec. 4, Ellis Paul played at UCafe, bringing his own brand of music to the stage.

    Ellis Paul is a long-time guitar player, and he has toured with the famous country duo Sugarland, forming close friendships with both Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. He has recorded several tracks for soundtracks in movies such as  “Hall Pass,” which starred Owen Wilson. He even has such a successful fan following that he was able to raise money from them to produce his last album without a record company.

    Many of the attendees at the concert were either first-time listeners or first-time viewers. Although this was not Paul’s first time at Stony Brook, his style of music pleased many of the newcomers. “Wonderful,” was how Larry Eastman, a Stony Brook local, described the show. “He is a great performer. Not a Neil Young, much more intimate than that.”

    The concert started with opener Peyton Tochterman. The crowd enjoyed Tochterman’s performance as he sang with his low, country voice during his 30-minute set. However, Tochterman made several more appearance backing Ellis Paul later in the show.

    Paul’s set, on the other hand, was much longer, and the crowd seemed to love every second of it. He played several songs from his past album “The Day After Everything Changed,” as well as a number of cover songs from artists such as Roy Orbison. It was easy to see that the crowd was enthralled by his playing, as they sang and clapped along with nearly every word.

    The close intimate setting of UCafe allowed the small crowd and Paul to joke with each other and engage in conversation. The attendees seemed to enjoy his stories almost as much as his music. Ellis proved to be very personable as the attendees laughed and clapped at both his songs and stories.

    Paul even had a few crowd participation songs that quickly became popular. As he strummed powerfully on his guitar, the crowd chanted the lyrics of the chorus, and reverberated the “na-na-na” to the beat of the songs. From the back of the venue, one could not miss the constant side to side motion of the crowd’s heads during every song.

    Ed Schmeider, chair of the English Department here at Stony Brook, was even present at the concert. “Recording can’t capture what an artist is like live.” Schmeider stated his admiration for Ellis Paul and his skill as a guitar player and lyricist.

    Tochterman gained much attention as well. His “coffee shop country” style of playing struck a chord with the crowd. Tochterman, a self-proclaimed Zach Galifianakis look alike resembles the actor down to the last mustache hair. However, Tochterman drew the crowd in with his melodic playing and meaningful lyrics.

    Throughout Paul’s set, Tochterman played several back up songs and even had a few solos. Proving his worth as a guitar player, Tochterman often left the crowd applauding loudly and cheering after his solos.

    Ellis Paul continued playing into the evening. The sound of beer bottles and wine glasses clinking accompanied the bluesy notes coming from the guitars ad keyboard. The clapping and cheering did not subside at all through the performance. Although, Paul was not available for an interview, Tochterman stated that performing with Paul has been the “greatest opportunity.”

    Ellis Paul will be releasing an album later this month. He stated that it was geared more towards a children’s album, but it was written for adults. He is focusing the upcoming album on great American heroes, and the role they play in history. He and Tochterman will continue touring for the rest of the year.

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