"I've been a fan of Paul's guitar playing for quite a few years- I think
he's one of the best-kept secrets in American music today!"
From his early years, playing blues on Chicago's South Side, to his present multi-faceted career based out of northern Vermont,
Paul has earned an underground reputation as a true "musician's musician". He has played and recorded with Muddy Waters,
John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Earl Hooker,
Lightnin' Slim, Paul Butterfield,
Sam Lay, Pops Staples,
Donny Hathaway, and numerous others while in his hometown of Chicago, Ill. (Hit the "Discography" button at left for
Paul moved to Vermont in the heady "back-to-the-land" days of 1971, where he still lives. He soon started playing with a
head-spinningly diverse array of artists, including Big Mama Thornton, singer-songwriters Paul Siebel, Jim Ringer,
Mary McCaslin, and Rosalie Sorrells, jazz greats Jon Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Sonny Stitt,
and Nick Brignola, and many others. In 1978, seeking an outlet for more personal musical visions, he formed Kilimanjaro,
and recorded 2 award-winning albums for Philo Records which led to several appearances at the Kool Jazz Festival
at SPAC, the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland,
the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, and numerous national tours and concert dates. In 1981, he and other members of
Kilimajaro joined forces with a legendary saxophonist/blues singer to form Big Joe Burrell and the Unknown Blues
Band, which remained a Northeast regional favorite until Big Joe's passing in 2005.
Performance/recording credits in recent years include David Bromberg, Paul Butterfield, Betty Carter,
Joshua Redman, James Carter, Kermit Ruffins, Michael Ray, the Sun Ra Arkestra, The Wild
Magnolias, John Stowell, guitar wunderkind
Julian Lage, Dave Grippo and former student
He has also taught guitar for over 40 years. Private instruction remains a favored format, but Paul has also taught
for many years on a university level, including positions at Dartmouth College, Skidmore College,
St. Michaels College, Johnson State College, and presently at
Middlebury College and the
University of Vermont.
More info on private instruction, workshops, and TAB transcriptions at reduced prices
can be found on the Guitar Instruction page.
Since 1994, Paul has been reconnecting with his original folk-based roots in enthusiastically received festival shows
and solo concerts. Recent appearances include Healdsburg and
Newport Guitar Festivals, MerleFest,
and numerous acoustic venues across the country. (For photos of some of these events hit "Photo Gallery" button). His 2
solo acoustic CD's, "Steel-String Americana" and "Roots and Branches", received numerous rave reviews for
its highly individualized twists on blues and jazz standards, old-timey country-based themes and original pieces from
the "american roots" tradition. The Flynn Theatre called
them "A genre-blurring, virtuosic waltz through the deep heritage of American folklore, where styles of Robert Johnson,
Doc Watson and Dr. John rub elbows with those of Joe Pass and Bill Frisell." Others have said "It is quite the best CD
of acoustic guitar that I have heard in years!" (Hit the "Reviews" button to see more of what they're sayin'
about 'em... or hit either CD button for song titles and descriptions, MP3 selections, etc).
A little while back, Paul received Seven Days magazine's
"Best Musician of 2004" Daysie Award (the runner-up was a young up-and-comer named
Trey Anastasio...) That same year saw the release of
Patti Casey's "Just an Old Sweet Song",
a "live-in-the-studio" record of old standards, explored in the intimate setting of just vocals and guitar. And speaking
of duo settings... audiences have been giving a huge "thumbs up" to recent gigs pairing Paul and old friend and pickin'
partner Brooks Williams. For more info on these and other gigs, check out the
Paul has been a frequent contributor to several web-based guitar forums over the years. He was the first "Artist of the Month"
on 13thFret.com, and produced a series of downloadable video lessons for
Acoustic Player Magazine. Additionally, video footage
of concerts and festival appearances can be found on
Two sold-out Kilimanjaro shows at the Discover Jazz Festival in June, '06 fueled a resurgence of interest in the group,
the writing of 9 new compositions, and the beginning of a two-year recording project at Kilimanjaro keyboardist Chas Eller's
studio. The result, "Homecoming", was picked by Jazziz magazine for their "Best of 2009" CD, along with tracks by
Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Branford Marsalis, and other heavyweights. "Homecoming" is available for audition or
purchase at www.kilimanjarojazz.com.
Paul was featured in an Acoustic Guitar magazine article in April 2010.
"Asbell's musical personality comes out most fully when playing his own brand of American roots music... in live performance,
Asbell reveals a deep appreciation of the history behind each tune, while giving them a fresh, updated touch."
Here is a link to the article.