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The sound of adversity 

Chaz DePaolo's had his share of the blues, but he's kept fighting

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You know you've got an unusual bluesman when he cites the power of positive thinking in an interview.

"Tony Robbins is right," insists guitarist and songwriter Chaz DePaolo. "You design your own life."

Though the sentiment could seem trite coming from someone else, DePaolo has earned the right to turn a little philosophical. He's had plenty of practice turning bad into good, and it's helped him write some fiery tunes. (See his latest CD Flirtin' with the Blues, along with Bluestopia, coming later this fall.)

"I had a pretty tragic childhood," he admits. "My sister was murdered when she was 17. And, two months before that, my brother was killed in a drinking and driving accident."

His upcoming CD will include "Pearly Gates," a tribute to his siblings.

"It's tough," he says, "but who comes out of childhood unscathed?"

DePaolo's also beaten bouts of severe depression, a battle with the bottle and tendinitis that robbed him of his ability to play guitar.

"I thought I would never play again," he recalls. "But after seven years and 11 doctors, the 12th finally found a medicine that worked."

Now he's doing more than 200 gigs a year across Europe, Ireland and North America, playing a unique blend of rock-infused blues. His most memorable stop so far has been the Galway Arts Festival, where he opened for his hero, Buddy Guy.

And though the blues might seem depressing for someone who's been through a lot, DePaolo sees his music's purpose as you guessed it positive.

"Blues is the perfect genre for me," he says. "I love playing it. It's not just pain, it's healing."

Chaz DePaolo

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Friday, Aug. 24, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $8-$10, call 866/468-7621 or visit ticketweb.com.

  • Chaz DePaolo's had his share of the blues, but he's kept fighting

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