By Barbara King
Friday nights are great for live music at the Potpourri House in Tyler, and up and comer “Rusty” Paul Ruark is packing them in.
Musician and writer Paul Ruark plays from his soul every Friday night at the restaurant from 6:30-9pm and brings years of experience and talent to the stage. The Potpourri House, a Tyler staple for over 34 years, is home to extraordinary food and great live music.
Ruark, at 22, has been playing since the young age of 15, and plays eight instruments including, mandolin, viola, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica, and banjo. Self-taught, he brings a lively mix of everything from country-twang to Elvis to his repertoire.
“I have been passionate about music for a long time and love the old school stuff too, like James Taylor and Chuck Berry,” said Ruark. “If you come out to hear me, you will get a lot of original songs too; a set contains a lot of different styles.”
He has the confidence of a performer much older and wiser than his years, and is likened to Garth Brooks or Hunter Hayes, with country roots. He has performed all over the US and recorded in Nashville with famed guitar player and recording artist Chris Rodriguez, who has played for superstars like Keith Urban and Brad Paisley. He has also recorded with nationally recognized musicians Milo Deering, Krista Branch, and Chris Rodriguez.
Folks are up on their feet, dancing in front of the singer as he continues to weave his stories through song. Ruark is a man on a music mission, saying “When I graduate from UT Tyler in May, the wheels will really start turning, and the engine will be on for me to perform and write more.” He is concentrating on earning his degree in Marketing with an emphasis on Customer Service and Sales.
Some of Ruark’s tunes on reverbnation include “Keep Your Change,” “Tongue-tied,” “Farmer’s Daughter” and “Sincerely, Clark (Man of Steel).” He has a very laid-back, low key style that is confident, strong, and extremely lyrical.
Les Ellsworth, owner of Potpourri House, has a special reason to be proud of the aspiring young singer. “Paul is married to my daughter, Autumn, and has led music in church as a youth minister, as well as travelled to Washington for the National Day of Prayer,” Ellsworth said.
“I led the first worship 150 years in the US Capitol for the United States Congress, which was such an honor and a blessing,” Ruark added. He was also told it was the first time a country artist had performed in the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol.
Ruark has four published songs that can be found on “iTunes” and “Spotify” as well as “YouTube.” The native Texan has played all over East Texas and said, “My heart is here in Texas, and it’s where I want to stay and play. I see a huge change in live music here, and I think there are lots of great opportunities for artists to perform in the area.” Ruark also has a worship EP entitled, “Collide” which is available online.
To learn more find him www.facebook.com/PaulRuarkMusic. Potpourri House is located at 3320 Troup Hwy, Tyler, (903) 592-4171.