Nine Questions

Professor Paul has been playing blues-piano gigs since 1971, while also pursuing careers in science fiction, filmmaking and emergency-room medicine.

What was the first concert you ever saw?

Lowell Fulsom with a band including a horn section, at The Top-Hat A-Go-Go in Rubidoux, Calif., in 1967. That night instantly transformed me from a jazz fan into a total blues guy.

What CDs are in your changer right now?

Last Call by Otis Spann, and several interviews with Hollywood motion-picture producers.

How many total albums do you own (CDs, vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks)?

About 150, including maybe 10 or 15 CDs. The rest are vinyl. A lot has been re-released on CD, but not some of the great old Chicago blues albums.

Do you download music, and if so, legally or illegally?

No. Downloading copyrighted music is stealing, pure and simple.

What was the first album you owned?

It's Monk's Time, Thelonious Monk. I got it when I was 8 years old. The first cut made me such a jazz fan that I completely missed rock 'n' roll--and I graduated from high school in 1965.

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?

"Got My Mojo Workin.'" Live, of course, with all the blues guys jamming, if they're so inclined. Then "Key to the Highway," if they know the 8-bar changes.

Musically speaking, what do you love that your friends don't know about?What's your favorite guilty pleasure?

A band called Da Yoopers. They play in every conceivable style, from Southern kick-ass rock to Finnish folk music, and all their songs are about real life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They are silly, strange, funny, but most importantly: They tell the truth.

What band or artist changed your life, and how?

Big Walter Horton was a virtuoso on the harmonica. I sat in with him most Mondays in Chicago in the early '80s, until shortly before he died. I got to Chicago at the end of the Golden Age of Blues, and Walter's generosity opened the doors to some of the best times of my life.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

I have to fudge it to "The Complete Works of Otis Spann," which fit on a half-dozen CDs. He's the archetype of modern blues piano, sometimes equaled, never bettered.

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