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Paul Thorn at the Rogue

Singer and songwriter Paul Thorn took an unexpected turn when he set out to record a follow-up to his successful 2010 "Pimps and Preachers." His new "What the Hell is Goin' On?" released in May, is an album of cover tunes.

"I wanted to take a break from myself," he says. "Do something different and just have fun."

Thorn has pleased crowds for years with his muscular brand of roots music that is bluesy, rocking and thoroughly Southern. The Tupelo, Miss., native was a professional boxer before sharing his experiences with the world as a songwriter. "Pimps and Preachers" topped the Americana charts for three weeks and broke onto Billboard's Top 100.

Thorn and his band will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass.

The new album finds Thorn putting his gritty, rock stamp on some of his favorite songs.

"I would hear them in the tour van, or I'd be at a festival and see someone perform them live," Thorn says. "The writers are true artists. They don't just follow trends. They write with their hearts."

Tickets cost $15 and are available at www.roguetheatre.com, by calling 541-471-1316 or at the door.

— Laurie Heuston

Paul Thorn