Sat., March 1, 2014 8:00am (EST)

Playing To The Rafters, Singing Like A Man Possessed
By NPR Staff
Updated: 5 months ago

Possessed by Paul James is the performing title of Konrad Wert, a country-folk artist from Austin, Texas.
Possessed by Paul James is the performing title of Konrad Wert, a country-folk artist from Austin, Texas.
Konrad Wert is a teacher by day, but when he plays his country-folk songs for fans in his home of Austin, Texas and elsewhere, he goes by the moniker Possessed By Paul James. In truth, "Paul James" is a fiction, a combination of the names of Wert's father and grandfather. Those who have seen him perform, however, would agree he seems possessed by something.

Wert has been making music professionally since 2006, and is often what amounts to a one-man band, playing banjo, fiddle and guitar and stomping his foot for percussion. What he sings in performance, he says, may or may not reflect the way a song was originally written.

"In the recording studio, that's a great way to present the music. But in a live show, in an interaction," he says, "whatever's gonna come is gonna come. For me, that's the purest pleasure of playing music: It's almost a conversation, with a listener and a musician."

When he's not performing, Wert teaches disabled children at an elementary school outside Austin and is a father of two young children of his own, all of which influenced his latest album, There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely. He joined Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon at NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters to discuss it and perform a few songs live; hear more at the audio link.


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