The long, strange trip of Paul Metsa

By Jon Bream
Star Tribune

Metsa_BlueCollege football teams battle on one soundless TV and a Fox pundit silently blows hard on another. Most of the patrons at Rudolph's BBQ are lost in their ribs and conversation. Paul Metsa sits in a lonely corner under not-too-loud speakers, absorbed in a blues ditty on his acoustic guitar.

At least one guy is listening. He pulls up a stool 6 feet away from Metsa and begins to mime the guitarist's fingerwork. Undaunted, the veteran Minneapolis music force presses on for 45 minutes, accompanying the soulful vocals of Willie Walker, his duo partner.

While Metsa might dismiss the evening as a "paid rehearsal," the guy who has shared a stage with Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger also knows it's an opportunity. It's a chance to plug his latest endeavor, the just-published memoir "Blue Guitar Highway." Metsa, maybe more than any other Twin Cities musician, knows how to sell himself.

That's why "Blue Guitar Highway" has so many compelling stories that you can't put it down. Because Metsa was able to rub shoulders with the greats (Bob Dylan, Dennis Hopper, Joey Ramone), not-so-greats (Tom Arnold, Frank Stallone, the Chippendales) and local heroes (Dave Ray, Bob Mould, Paul Wellstone). "Highway" is a long-and-winding tale about family stuff (Mom dying in surgery), personal stuff (getting busted for cocaine possession) and musical stuff (performing everywhere from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minn.).

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