Before issuing his 1997 debut, singer-songwriter Paul Thorn was a boxer and then worked in a furniture store making chairs. That colorful past informs the working class ethos you find on his first five studio albums. Distinctive because of his deep gravelly voice and gift for writing songs that read like short stories, Thorn takes a bit of a detour with his latest album, What the Hell is Goin’ On?, a collection of cover tunes on which he pays tribute to some of the artists who’ve inspired him over the years (Elvin Bishop, Buddy Miller, Ray Wylie Hubbard). He plays at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Beachland Ballroom and tickets are $18. Brent Kirby & the Lost Fortunes open.
I love the artwork for the new album. What’s the story behind it?
I do all my own artwork. We press our own CDs and have our own distribution. I’m the artist and the art department. The top part of that drawing shows me and Jesus sitting in a kiddie pool surrounded by beautiful girls. In my mind, that’s what heaven is really going to be like. The way [preachers] describe it; it sounds boring to me. If there’s not some loose women walking around, why even go. The people burning in hell in the drawing are the people who did not buy any Paul Thorn products while they were on the earth. I’m trying to help people before it’s too late by showing them what’s going to happen.