Konrad Wert to perform free show at Schreiner University
Kerrville, TX – Konrad Wert joins us in the Lion’s Den of the Floyd and Kathleen Cailloux Campus Activity Center at Schreiner University on Wednesday, Mar 4, for the Texas Music Coffeehouse series. The concert starts at7 p.m. This is a free event and the public is encouraged to attend.
Konrad Wert is a man of many voices. As a Kerrville Independent School District (KISD) Special Education teacher, he is articulate and intentional. As an advocate for justice in education he is passionate. But as an artist and musician, better known by his stage name, Possessed By Paul James.His voice is expressive, holding rest and action in tandem.
After gaining recognition from NPR, The New York Times, CMT, and MTV for his celebrated live performances and 2013 Billboard-charting breakout release, There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely, the Golden Apple-winning educator took some time to reflect, reorient and underwent two vocal surgeries. “The nature of being a schoolteacher, a public speaker, and a musician, you know, any ear nose & throat specialist will tell you that’s like a hat trick for getting a vocal surgery. So,there was some time where I needed to really learn how to sing fluidly and in a healthy way while preserving the opportunity to continue as a teacher and articulate,speak, without duress.”
After a few years away from music, Wert is returning with a new album, As We Go Wandering, bringing a rejuvenated voice to Possessed By Paul James. Where There Will Be Nights was crying out on behalf of the dilemmas faced by families, students, and teachers nationwide, As We Go Wandering brings a sense of peace. But as the title suggests, in Possessed By Paul James’ estimation,perhaps counter intuitively, peace, rest, and movement dance hand in hand.
This tension of justice and peace, rest and movement, unity and self-expression are at the heart of Possessed By Paul James’ music and performances. Raised Mennonite among pacifists and service workers in a small community in southwest Florida, Wert’s upbringing brought strict guidelines of what could come into the house. “The aesthetic was very church oriented,” he says. “We had this typified image of Jesus in the living room, Mary in the hallway, and a painting of the Last Supper in the bedroom. Musically, we didn’t get anything heavier than The Monkees.”
Upon leaving home however, Wert discovered punk rock. Coming from a rural town, Wert had been exposed to a lot of roots music, and where others would have merely seen a jarring conflict with their up bringing, Wert saw an interface. “I actually found that in many ways, punk was like urban blues, you know, just with more energy and amplification,”added Wert. “To paraphrase David Byrne, the punk movement was defined by attitude rather than style, something that sought to remove the boundaries between spectator and artist and making everyone a participant in what Patti Smith called, “just another word for freedom.”
For Wert, Possessed By Paul James became a way to create an environment for expression and reflection in a way that can foster wholeness from a sense of community. “We could look at the complexities of expression,the conflict of ego and humility, and servitude within the Mennonite-Amish community and in our rumspringa – that was incredibly impactful for me. Because, how do you express yourself, and in a way that’s not completely arrogant? How do you do that in a way that reflects what really matters? That’s a huge element of what Possessed By Paul James is.”
“As We Go Wandering is about the question of where we go from here. How do we move forward,” says Wert. This tension is expressed at the very center of the track list, with “Be At Rest.” “All across the nation teachers see the same needs, fill the same roles, and ask the same hard and troubling questions: Students who are hurting,families fighting for the rights of their children, passionate teachers who constantly bear burdens that can become crushing,” says Wert. “Most troubling and devastating are the increasing numbers of human beings that are falling to violence within our schools. ‘Be At Rest’ provides an open image and feeling to all those hurting: ‘Raise up your voices,lay down down your sword and shield, be at rest. Come together on the foundations of peace and justice so we may heal, so we may help, so we may learn in order to do better for our children.’”
So what about the name, Possessed By Paul James? “It’s partly just because of the way we play, maybe it’s due to anxiousness or anxiety, I don’t know, but just close the eyeballs and get it out,” says Wert. “But also, Paul was my grandfather, James is my dad’s middle name -so it’s a reference to something bigger than me, that there is something greater than ourselves, something that we’re in together. It’s important for us to acknowledge and be honest about that – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We are more than just ourselves.”
The Texas Music Coffeehouse series is sponsored by the Schreiner University Department of English, Humanities Division, Chi Phi and Chartwell’s.
For more information about the Texas Music Coffeehouse series, contact Dr. Kathleen Hudson, director of Texas Heritage and professor of English at Schreiner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 830-792-7409.