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Paul Thorn Returns To Gospel Roots In 'Don't Let The Devil Ride'

Bonnie North
Paul Thorn

Paul Thorn may have been born in Kenosha, Wis., but his accent is pure Mississippi. That’s because Thorn left Wisconsin as a baby and grew up in Tupelo, Miss.

His father was a preacher in the Pentecostal Church of God of Prophecy and much of Thorn’s childhood was spent participating in multiple weekly services. He left the church at 18 but says he still believes — he’s just not sure in what.

"I think of myself as somebody who’s ain’t ever gonna know," he says. "Ya gotta die to know, you know? But I just try to live a good life and be a good person. And if there’s a hell, I hope I don’t go to it."

Thorn also spent a lot of time in neighboring African-American congregations, entranced with the music. And those influences, as well as the secretly consumed rock and roll of his youth, have made Thorn the musician he is today — hard driving roots, Americana, gospel and rock — all combined with a wicked sense of humor and a way with lyrics.

Thorn was in Milwaukee in November touring his newest album Don’t Let The Devil Ride, and he stopped by the performance studio to chat with us and play some tunes:

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.