Story last updated at 4:34 p.m. Thursday, June 13, 2002

Boston duo hit Alice's stage
by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment
Vance Gilbert, singer-song-writer.  
Boston musicians and old friends Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert may both occupy the folk singer/songwriter scene in Beantown, but reviewers seem to focus on different qualities in these longtime friends.

While Paul is known for passionate, literate character sketches of the human condition, Gilbert wins notice with his wit, as one reviewer put it, "to his own detriment."

The duo plays at 8 tonight at Alice's Champagne Palace. Paul recently released "Sweet Mistakes," his latest album, featuring 11 new tracks including the title track, selected by Hollywood for the "Shallow Hal" film soundtrack. It's not Paul's first connection to the silver screen. His music has graced the soundtrack of "Me, Myself, and Irene" as well.

It's a long way from Paul's origins on a Maine potato farm. After a track scholarship took Paul to Boston, he began playing his music at open mikes around the city, and was soon rewarded with sell-out shows. These days, the venues are more like Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival, but the music is of the same vein. It's Paul's song-writing that entrances fans. They quote his "Autobiography of a Pistol," song describing a .45-caliber pistol which recently shot two people, and "Here She Is," where Paul writes "If you could paint her, she'd be a Picasso / She's got a few things out of place."

photo: entertainment
Ellis Paul Singer-Song-Writer  
While Paul's music headlines with comedies, Gilbert may be best known for his own humorous act, despite the fact that his music sans the comedy has won him awards and recognition for years.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Gilbert did not gravitate toward music until

his college days, when "everyone was


Three years after graduating with a degree in biology, Gilbert's musical career began to blossom, despite some early gigs in the Lawn Boy store that were less than glamorous.

Gilbert released his first album in 1994. It was titled "Edgewise" and on the Philo label, but it was years before the musician said he released an album he felt accurately reflected his sound.

With the most recent recording, "Shaking Off Gravity," Gilbert taped an acoustical single, continuous recording that includes not only his music but his wit as well.

"This is the record I always wanted," Gilbert said in a release, "with all the clicks and flubs and occasional slipping around, intonation-wise. These vocal performances are on the money. I wanted performances, and I also knew that, as a songwriter, I had come to some (new) level."