We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Demer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
For the last 10 years I’ve been playing music in hospitals and nursing homes. It has looked different this year because of COVID, but I’ve been performing lots of outdoor concerts and some concerts over Zoom. I know it’s an especially isolating time for many of us, and not just for folks in long-term care facilities. At the beginning of the pandemic I started playing “sidewalk serenade” concerts where I drive around and play in people’s front yards. Sometimes it’s just for the folks who live in the house but, more often than not, folks will invite their neighbors to bring their lawn chairs and join them as they enjoy the music. It has been a great way to bring people together while maintaining a safe distance. In addition to playing concerts, I try to write songs that bring people together. Many of my songs were inspired by friends, family, and people I’ve met. Music is a powerful vehicle for empathy and I hope that, in these divided times, my songs can help others to feel seen and understood.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Somehow I’ve been doing this art thing for 10 years now. In some ways it feels like I’m still making it up as I go – walking through each open door, trying not to expect too much, and being pleasantly surprised when an opportunity arises. I’ve never had a 5 year life plan. It has been more like following the winding bend of a river. In different seasons my work has taken different shapes – nursing home singer, touring artist, songwriter, producer, background musician for parties, church musician. These days I do a little bit of everything. I realize that my career is not conventional. Sometimes I wonder if I spread myself too thin. But I love wearing these different hats. I think the common thread is a neighborly closeness to the ground. I’ve never had a manager or a marketing team. Any growth I’ve had has been the result of word of mouth recommendations. I may not have big numbers on social media or Spotify but I’m very grateful for a small-but-appreciative network of friends, fans, and clients who allow me to make music for a living. I hope to treat people well and operate my business like a “mom and pop” shop. I don’t have big aspirations of taking over the world. I just want to carve out a niche where I can serve others well through my art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take my friend for a walk at Oak Cliff Nature Preserve. Then we’d get some tacos at Taco Deli at Sylvan Thirty. While we’re there we could grab a coffee at Houndstooth. After a nap we could ride bikes or run at White Rock Lake. Another day maybe we’d bring books to read at Prather Park, one of Dallas’s best kept secrets. Of course we’d need to go to Wild Detectives in Bishop Arts. If we’re lucky, we might catch some live music there. If not, perusing the books and drinking a cocktail will do. Some other day we could park at Taqueria La Ventana, have some tacos and margs, and then walk to Klyde Warren Park for a game of ping pong. My dad plays viola for the Dallas Symphony. Maybe he could get us into the Myerson for a backstage tour while we’re over there. Speaking of arts and culture, I’d definitely take my friend to an Art House Dallas event. That community has been huge for me. Of course, I’d also like to introduce my out of town friend to my neighbors and my church family at St. Matt’s. I’m lucky to know some wonderfully kind folks here in Lower Greenville. Oh! Can’t forget Deep Ellum… There are too many great spots in Dallas. I’m sure I’m forgetting several. I love this city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My church, St. Matthew’s Cathedral, runs a food pantry ministry that serves our homeless and food insecure neighbors in Old East Dallas. My friend Nancy Sanford heads up this effort and is an amazingly hopeful and caring person.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0QrsFdJpSTanVSPA5ANR3E?si=B8cVk4dtRAery3K0bBHvaw