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Paul Thorn 

Saturday, March 20, at the Beachland Ballroom.

It isn't every day that you hear of a thoughtful and humorous singer-songwriter who once stepped into a boxing ring to fight former middleweight champion Roberto Duran. Paul Thorn did it, in April of 1988, losing to Duran on a sixth-round TKO. But lest the lanky native of Tupelo, Mississippi, turn into a stumblebum, Thorn said "no mas" to a life of scorecards and blood-soaked sponges, and returned to his first love: music. Since 1997, he has released three full-length studio CDs, an EP, and a live album.

Son of a Church of God minister, into a life where all manner of pleasure was deemed evil and strict segregation of the sexes was the order of the day, Thorn began his music career at age three, playing tambourine in Dad's tent revivals. He absorbed the gospel music of the black churches and the rich musical heritage of his home region. Thorn is still deeply religious, but not in a hellfire-and-brimstone way; songs like "Downtown Babylon" and "Rocks" get under your skin, rather than in your face.

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