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The Paperboys (sometimes billed and credited as Tom Landa and the Paperboys) are a Canadianmarker folk music band from Vancouvermarker that formed in 1991. The Paperboys blend Celtic folk with bluegrass, Mexicanmarker, Eastern European, African, zydeco, soul and country influences. The band has had a variety of line-ups since its formation, with Landa remaining as the sole founding member, although founding banjoist/bassist Cam Salay often returns as a guest performer. Known for consistently creating pop songs with melodic hooks, their music has been called versatile, with a wide range of influences, melding diverse musical influences more successfully than some other Irish rock bands have previously.

Their first studio album, Late As Usual, was released in 1995, with their most recent release being their sixth album, 2006's The Road To Ellenside. Their first three studio albums have received Juno Award nominations, with 1998's Molinos winning for the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year category, and also winning a West Coast Music Award the same year. Their album Postcards won a West Coast Music Award in 2000. The Paperboys have their own record label and production companies, Stompy Discs and Stomp Productions, which they created to produce and market their work themselves, beginning with their first album. After the death of original drummer Paul Lawton, The Paperboys helped to finance a scholarship in his name. The band has also appeared in and scored award-winning international films. They are noted for their version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower", which was part of a tribute album to Dylan's 60th birthday.

A staple at folk, roots, and bluegrass festivals in North America and Europe, The Paperboys have extensively toured both continents, performing in Englandmarker, Germanymarker, Switzerlandmarker, Norwaymarker, Scotlandmarker, Irelandmarker, Francemarker, and Austriamarker. Regularly featured on Canadian national television, The Paperboys have said in the past, "We get paid for the travel time but play for free."

Formation and roster

Tom Landa, lead singer, and Kendel Carson, on fiddle
Tom Landa was born in Mexico to a Canadian mother of Irish ancestry and a Mexican father, and later moved to Canada. The Paperboys were formed in 1991 by Landa, now a vocalist and songwriter, after he moved from Mexico Citymarker to Vancouver, British Columbia. Initially, Landa discovered Celtic music via the Canadian band Spirit of the West, whose flautist was Geoffrey Kelly. Kelly would then later produce The Paperboys' first studio album, and finally end up joining the band full time. The original band roster included Paul "Lolly" Lawton on drums, who died in 2005, and Cam Salay on banjo and bass. In 1995, the band was joined by Shona Le Mottée on fiddle, and Shannon Saunders on a variety of instruments, to contribute to the band's debut album, Late As Usual. Le Mottée left The Paperboys in 1997, after recording the award-winning Molinos, and was replaced by flautist Hans Araki. In the late 1990s, they were joined for a time by keyboardist Doug Schnidt.

In 2009, the band currently consists of Landa, Kendel Carson on fiddle, Brad Gillard on banjo and bass, Geoffrey Kelly on flutes, and Sam Esecson on drums. Occasional guests as of 2008 include Cam Salay on banjo and bass, Damian Graham on drums, Tobin Frank on bass and accordion, and Vince Mai on trumpet.

Studio album history

Geoffrey Kelley on flute, and Matt Brain on drums
Brad Gillard playing the banjo
The Paperboys released their first studio album, Late as Usual, in 1995, on a label they established themselves, Stompy Discs, with an associated production and management company, Stomp Productions. Late as Usual went on to garner a Juno Award nomination for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. They followed that album with 1998's Molinos, which also was nominated for the Roots and Traditional category at the Juno Awards, this time winning. Additionally, Molinos took away the Best Roots Recording category in the West Coast Music Award of the same year. One review referred to Molinos as "bluegrass-tinged pop-rock" with an "undercurrent of Celtic wildness". In 2001, The Paperboys released Postcards, their third studio album, which also was nominated in the same category, for their third straight nomination, but Postcards did not win. In 2000, they won another West Coast Music Award for the Best Roots Recording category for Postcards.

They followed next with Tenure in 2002, the double album Dilapidated Beauty in 2003, and The Road to Ellenside in 2006. In a review for Molinos, it was noted that The Paperboys consistently write pop songs with melodic hooks, which other prior Irish-rock inspired bands such as The Pogues and Oysterband, and others were not always successful at. Postcards, which has songs that range musically from bluegrass, zydeco, flamenco, Irish traditional, country, to Celtic-new-age-Native, and with songs that mix some of the themes, was described as a satisfying example of how far the versatile scope of The Paperboys' music extends.

The Paperboys' 2006 album, The Road To Ellenside, is named for the Englishmarker mansion, Ellenside, in the Lake Districtmarker near Irebymarker that they recorded it in. After a performance in the area, a fan invited the band to spend the night in her mansion for dinner. Landa told her that the home would be an amazing place to record a record, to which the fan replied, "Why not?" One year later, they returned to the Ellenside mansion, living there in Cumbrianmarker countryside full time while recording their studio album. Additional recording work for The Road To Ellenside was done at the Tragically Hip's studio in Bath, Englandmarker and in Vancouvermarker. On The Road To Ellenside, The Paperboys covered Sting's song Fragile from his 1987 album …Nothing Like the Sun. The band had intended to film their music video for the track in Cubamarker, but because of high insurance costs from Americanmarker companies due to the United States embargo against Cuba, opted to film in Moreliamarker, Mexico.

Live performances and other work

Cam Salay plays bass, as Gillard plays the banjo

The Paperboys have performed and appeared in the Genie Award nominated film Marine Life, for which Landa also wrote the musical score, and in the Genie Award winning Lunch With Charles, which was the first-ever film co-production between Hong Kong and Canada. The band have also made numerous appearances on Canadian national television. The band has performed and been interviewed on Vicki Gabereau, The Mike Bullard Show, The Jim Byrnes Show, Urban Rush, Worldbeats, and CBC Television's Terminal City. In 2001, the Red House Records label asked The Paperboys to contribute a track to A Nod to Bob, a 60th birthday homage to Bob Dylan. Their rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" was consistently noted in reviews as one of the highlights of the album. In honor of their former drummer, Paul Lawton, who died in 2005, the band has worked on recording ten songs written by him, for a tribute album that would include recorded material by Lawton. Followng Lawton's death, a scholarship was created in his name. The Paul Lolly Lawton Scholarship Fund, was established by St. Clair Collegemarker in Windsor, Ontariomarker, and The Paperboys worked with the Ontario Provincial Government to raise funds for it.

The Paperboys routinely sell out shows in some of the most popular and prestigious clubs and festivals throughout Canada, the United Statesmarker, Mexico and Europe. One of their most notable appearances was being asked to perform at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Artsmarker in Washington D.C.marker In Canada, The Paperboys appeared at almost every folk festival across the country, including Edmontonmarker, Vancouvermarker, Winnipegmarker and Torontomarker. They have also played festivals across the United States, including New Yorkmarker’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, The Folk Alliance Festival, the New England Folk Festival and Seattlemarker’s Bumbershoot. The Paperboys have also performed at other music festivals, including Toronto's Harbourfront, the Milwaukee Irish Fest, and Wintergrass. The band has been asked to return almost every year to several festivals across Europe, headlining at the United Kingdom's Warwick and Trowbridge festivals, as well as at festivals in Germanymarker and Denmarkmarker. The band has also toured in Switzerlandmarker, Norwaymarker, Scotlandmarker, Irelandmarker, Francemarker, and Austriamarker. According to Landa, their European travels are some of their most successful and popular performances, explaining why they travel to Europe so frequently for long musical tours.

The Paperboys' live performances have been described as high energy and accessible, and they have a reputation for gaining new fans after a single performance. The loyalty of fans to The Paperboys has been previously described as "a growing cult-like following in recent years."

Musical style and influences

At the Tractor Tavern in Seattle
The Washington Post and Billboard have referred to The Paperboys' music as 'reminiscent of early Elton John and Van Morrison', and they have also been compared at times to a "laid back country version" of the The Eagles. While their music is hard is sometimes hard to describe, The Paperboys themselves have described it as "Guinness with a tequila chaser while listening to an Americana Jukebox." Other descriptions of The Paperboys have described a fusion of Celtic folk with Bluegrass, Mexicanmarker, Eastern European, African, zydeco, soul and country influences. Their songs range from traditional Celtic jigs to modern love songs. Landa has said that one of his own stronger influences in music is the Mexican style of music called Son Jarocho, whose most well-known song is Ritchie Valens's La Bamba. Tom Landa's songwriting has been cited as world-class by Chris Nickerson of the Seattle Weekly.

According to Landa, his bandmate Geoffrey Kelley's other band, Spirit of the West, is a major influence on himself and The Paperboys. Landa said, "Even when playing with (Geoffrey), and him being in the same room, I will still say they were a very big influence on me. I'd almost dare to say that had it not been my hearing their records, I would never have been into Celtic music to begin with -- so the band may not even exist."


Performing the song "California" from The Road to Ellenside
  • Late as Usual (1995)
  • Molinos (1998), Allmusic link
  • Postcards (2001), Allmusic link
  • Tenure (2002)
  • Dilapidated Beauty (2003)
  • The Road to Ellenside (2006)

Awards and nominations

  • 2001 Juno Awards, Best Roots & Traditional Album - Group, Postcards (nominated)
  • 2000 West Coast Music Award, Best Roots Recording, Postcards (winner)
  • 1998 Juno Awards, Best Roots & Traditional Album - Group, Molinos (winner)
  • 1998 West Coast Music Award, Best Roots Recording, Molinos (winner)
  • 1996 Juno Awards, Best Roots & Traditional Album - Group, Late As Usual (nominated)


External links

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