“Paul Kaplan has a rare gift for writing and singing songs in the old troubadour tradition. His new CD After the Fire is reminiscent of the works of Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers, with beautiful melodies and strong narratives seamlessly crafted into one classic ballad after another. This is the work of a master.”
— David Massengill
Veteran musician and songwriter Paul Kaplan has been an enthusiastic participant in the folk music world since the late 1960s when his early anti-Vietnam war songs were published in the legendary protest magazine Broadside.
His involvement with the singer-songwriter movement was sparked by his early love of the songs of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton. He pursued that love as a frequent attendee at the Songwriters’ Exchange at the Cornelia Street Cafe, in New York, and as a prolific contributor to The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, in which ten of his songs were included. In the late 1970s, Paul had the opportunity to produce three posthumous albums by Phil Ochs for Folkways.
His first album, Life on This Planet, featured the songs "Call Me the Whale" and "Henry the Accountant", later covered by such folk music greats as Sally Rogers, David Massengill, Jay Mankita and Ed McCurdy. His song "I Had an Old Coat" from King of Hearts (1985) has been sung by Nickelodeon stars Sharon, Lois and Bram (The Elephant Show), as well as by Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise, to name just a few. All three songs are available on his CD The Folk Process.
Paul’s interest in traditional music is reflected in his four years as a member of the group The Derby Ram, resident band of the Eagle Tavern in New York City. With band founder Dan Milner, Paul co-authored the popular A Bonnie Bunch of Roses-Songs of England, Ireland and Scotland, published by Music Sales.
In his solo career, Paul’s warm style and gentle humor have charmed audiences at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Great Hudson River Revival, The Gotta Get Gon and Denmark’s prestigious Tønder Festival, as well as such venues as Passim, The Eighth Step, Mother’s Wine Emporium and Golden Link.
Paul has been honored by the inclusion of his songs in two monumental collections produced by Smithsonian Folkways. One of his first songs, Vietnam, appears in the Grammy-nominated Best of Broadside. A second song, King of Hearts, is featured in Fast Folk – a Community of Singers & Songwriters. And in 2004 Henry the Accountant was included in Being Human — Readings from the President’s Council on Bioethics, along with works by Homer, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Whitman, G.B. Shaw, etc. Paul’s latest honor was having his songs “I Had an Old Coat” and “Call Me the Whale” included in the new Rise Again songbook, the successor to Rise up Singing.
His latest album – We Shall Stay Here – contains twelve songs that reflect the way he sees the world. Some may leave you in stitches; some may leave you in tears; some may leave you in your car in the driveway unable to stop listening. All of the supporting players did beautiful work on this album. Most notably, Paul was fortunate to get some amazing backup on four songs from Jay Ungar, composer of “Ashokan Farewell”, and from John Roberts, of “Roberts and Barrand” fame, who sings a duet with Paul and adds his classy concertina playing.
Other generous quotes –
I am a big fan of Paul Kaplan. I love his singing; I love his songs.
I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by “Carrion Crow” - outstanding match of powerful, tradition-based tune to powerful, poetic lyrics that apply so directly to the tragic state of the world, much of it caused by our own national administration! Again, thank you, and congratulations.
Ed Brown (U’nI Coffeehouse, Springfield, Mass.)
Eat your heart out, Wayne Newton.
One of the best lyricists America has.
You have all the goods in your songwriting. I’m hearing your songs on the lips of many as I travel, so you are making your mark.
A master at both comic writing and serious composing... From the moment he started to sing he had the audience eating right out of the palm of his hand.