Musical Biography

“Spellbinding...imaginative...sensitive... A fine example of a guitarist’s devotion to the full exploration of his instrument’s capabilities.”
        --Guitar Player Magazine

Paul ChasmanPaul Chasman’s musical career has spanned over forty years.  He came to Portland, Oregon in 1969, where he played in a number of blues and bluegrass bands, most notably the Heavy Gauge String Band.  When Paul was twenty-two, he found himself the single father of a one year old son.  This circumstance led Paul to curtail his career playing in bands and to become a full-time private teacher in order to balance a musical career with his devotion to his child.  It also developed into a musically fruitful period during which he spent his free time studying jazz and developing his solo guitar style. This culminated in 1979 when he released his first album, Solo Guitar, which Frets Magazine called "...one of the finest examples of fingerpicking you’ll ever hear."  

Paul ChasmanAt this time, Paul began composing music for the guitar, melding jazz, classical, and folk idioms into his own unique style. He developed a system for harmonics on the guitar, cascading, bell-like tones, which he utilized throughout entire pieces in ways that had never been done before.  Guitar Player Magazine called him “one of the most deft harmonics practicioners,” and called his harmonics technique “simply astounding.”  He has written articles on his harmonics technique and other subjects for a number of national publications. 

Beginning in 1998, Paul spent a particularly productive decade on the Oregon coast where he composed music for guitar and cello, the outcome being three CD’s: Sonatas No. 1 and 2, Songs from the Bay, and I Hope.  Acoustic Guitar magazine said, “Chasman's intricate arrangements are...creative ...effective...well conceived and illustrate (his) deft playing skills and harmonic and melodic gifts as well as his ability to develop his compositional ideas in the ensemble format."  

Chasman also helped found the Acoustic Guitar Summit featuring Paul, Terry Robb, Mark Hanson, and Doug Smith.  During Paul’s nine year association with the Summit, they played for packed auditoriums in Oregon, Washington, and California, were featured several times on NPR, and recorded two highly acclaimed CD’s.

Paul put his guitars away for a few years during the Bush presidency, devoting his energies to satirical political writing.  He developed a website: thecarlletters.com on which he posted “Letters of Advice and Constructive Criticism to the Famous, the Infamous, and the Current Administration” under the pseudonym of Carl Estrada.  For years, The Carl Letters has boasted a number one Google rating under the search words: “Anti-Bush Political Humor.”  Paul also wrote a novel, “The Book of Bob,” which reportedly had many readers laughing out loud and was described by one critic as “laughing magic.”

When Paul and his wife moved to the Olympic Peninsula in 2007, he picked up his guitars again and performed as onstage guitarist in the Port Angeles Community Players production of “Man of La Mancha,” was musical director of PACP’s production of  “Celebration,” and became an annual staple at the Juan de Fuca Festival.  In 2010, he composed and recorded the musical score for a full-length feature film, “The Last of Us,” which was released at the end of that year.  

In 2010,  Paul celebrated 50 years of guitar playing with the release of his CD, “One Man Guitar Festival,”  in which he played music from all phases of his career, from blues to bluegrass, Bach to Beatles, “real songs” and original compositions, played on two different steel string guitars, a classical, and an 8 string.   Minor 7 web magazine called Paul’s music “eclectic and inspiring (with a) keen ability and attention to craft...seamlessness and continuity that don’t seem possible.  Chasman is a fretboard master.” 

Shortly after the release of “One Man Guitar Festival,” Paul needed  surgery on his left hand (due to 50 years of guitar playing). In October 2011, while recovering from surgery and barely able to hold a “G” chord, Paul wrote a song. Then he wrote another. Then he couldn’t stop! One year later, Paul Chasman became reincarnated as a singer/songwriter. His debut vocal album, “Basics” featured Paul singing his songs about life, love, dogs, cats, and Muhammad Ali, along with his trademark “Pissy Songs.” 

Recently,  Paul returned to his old stomping grounds in Portland, Oregon where he recorded his CD, “There’s an Elephant in My Room.”  This release picks up where “Basics” left off with 14 new Paul Chasman original songs, but this time he has The Awesome Portland Players, 16 of Portland’s finest to help him out.  Filled with vivid poetry, inspired guitar playing,  and biting satire, “Elephant” might be Paul’s most ambitious project to date.  Look for him soon at a concert hall, environmental benefit, or smokeless bar near you.

The making of BasicsThere’s An Elephant in My Room

With his new CD, “There’s An Elephant in My Room,” Paul Chasman celebrates his return to the Portland, Oregon area after a 16 year absence, reuniting with old friends and making some new ones along the way.  With 14 new songs that Paul made up all by himself, “Elephant” cuts a wide swath of topics and styles from a Dixieland band in the title tune to a bluegrass burner in “Frankie Said the ‘F’ Word,” to a doo-wop chorus accompanying  Paul’s ode to Sarah Palin.  Paul Chasman and the Awesome Portland Players have released a memorable CD showcasing Paul’s formidable songwriting, arranging, and guitar skills while reflecting the flavor of Portland’s vibrant music community.