And fewer of them can pick out a high-voltage blues tune or bend notes in the manner of
Meet Sleepy Bones Allison, aka
"When I first heard a blues song, I liked the sound and feel of it, way better than a lot of other music around. I like the rhythms in the blues, and I love playing guitar," says Zelle. He also plays violin in his school orchestra, although he admits he'd rather be wailing on his
Sleepy Bones has performed at area festivals, clubs, private gatherings and open mike nights, including
He's also played the
Often he fronts the
"He's a great kid who doesn't let the attention go to his head at all. We don't know whether his guitar playing will become a career for him or not, but we're sure having fun with the music along the way,"
Zelle picked up playing guitar six years ago. "Mostly because my dad played, so I wanted to play, too." His parents bought him a half-scale acoustic guitar, he learned a few chords and a few days later, played "Happy Birthday" for his sister.
"He was chording it," Bingham marvels. "He's largely self-taught. He started with books, then switched to watching videos. He did much better playing by ear, listening and seeing fingers move on chords."
As a second-grader, Zelle made his blues debut at an open mike night at
Then the challenge became learning to read music, aided by studying violin. Three years ago, Zelle won a writing contest sponsored by a TV station and as his prize, he job-shadowed
He's written two songs, so far, and his "Blue Slip blues" is a set standard -- "I have to stay in from recess ... in so much trouble, got a lot to lose ... ." The lyrics are based on his personal experience of getting nailed with a pink slip at school.
The young blues guitarist also has worked with
And where did he get the stage name "Sleepy Bones Allison"? The blues name generator at Sticky Fingers restaurant: http://www.stickyfingers.com/bluesname/.
"The thing is, Paul started getting international exposure through the Internet when he was only 6. He has been featured several times on the web site of a blues guitar instructor who has a broad international following, and we weren't comfortable sharing his real identity with the world," says his mom, aka Texas Dog Magee.
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