CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — When Tresa Paul talks about her musical influences, she rattles off a list that reads like a Who's Who of American soul and blues: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Dinah Washington.
But the person who had the biggest impact on her career is much closer to home. It's her father, James Bowman.
Paul's earliest music memories, she said, include watching her dad perform as a guitarist and singer with The Archers, a popular 1960s Tri-State band.
"I was always so proud to listen to him and all the neighborhood kids thought he was the coolest," Paul remembered.
He also loved soul and rhythm and blues, "so I was exposed to some great music early on," she said.
But although music was an important part of her life, as a teenager Paul thought she would pursue an art career.
Then, at the age of 14, she got her first guitar and the music bug bit her hard.
"It never let go," Paul said. "I got my first band at 17, started writing songs at age 18 and knew I wanted to play music professionally."
Today, Paul is lead vocalist and guitarist with Grand Point Station, a Chambersburg, Pa.-based band. In addition to Paul, the group features Denny Mickley on guitar; bass player Christine Cersley; and Tyler Mickley on drums.
The band will be among the headliners at the second annual Blues, Brews and Barbecue on Saturday, May 5, in downtown Chambersburg.
The event takes place in the back lot at The Capitol Theatre Center from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be held rain or shine, with proceeds benefiting the theatre.
Last year's event raised more than $6,000.
Paul said Grand Point Station has been together for about two years but most of the members have had a long friendship.
"I've known our guitar player, Denny, for about 20 years and he has always been one of my favorite guitar players," she said. "His son, Tyler, plays drums but is a formidable multi-tasker, also playing guitar and bass. And we recently added Christine Cersley on bass in January. I've been friends with her for a year. I followed her previous band around and she and I played together at local open mics and blues jams."
Paul said the band's style has been dubbed "funk-infused blues" — a raw, emotive sound that couples classic soul and blues with original tunes.
"Ironically, all four of us come from rock bands that have played everything from progressive metal to hip-hop and Elvis," she said.
Although the band performs cover songs, Paul said "we add our own twists to them."
Paul said she is the songwriter in the group "but what is so great about working in this band is that I trust our band's musicianship implicitly. So, when I write a song, I present it at a rehearsal and everybody adds their own flavor of fabulousness to it."
Paul said the band performs throughout the Tri-State area but hopes to expand their audiences.
"Of course, we are a relatively new band and it takes a while to get a band established and gain a following," she said. "Right now, we are playing points from Carlisle, Pa., to Hagerstown and in between."
Paul said "slowly but surely" the band is developing a loyal fan base.
"There's tough competition out there and a lot of wonderful bands," she said. "There (are) so many other kinds of entertainment that my dad or even myself 20 years ago did not have to compete with. Building a following is an arduous process. You have to do much footwork, calls, promos, recordings, face time, follow-ups, free gigs. You do what it takes."
But what is encouraging, she added, "is our band has received excellent responses from any of the new venues we have played."
Paul said this will be the second year that Grand Point Station has performed at Blues, Brews and Barbecue.
"I worked for The Capitol Theatre for three years as a stage and facility manager and remained involved with the theater doing tech support for several years after I no longer was employed there," she said. "I always have been passionate about the place. It holds many memories for me, as it does for many Chambersburg natives. We all are grateful that it is not a parking lot, like other old Chambersburg landmarks are now. When I came on in 1999, it was owned by a branch of our Chamber of Commerce and was being slowly renovated by volunteers. So many people in the community feel that they own a piece of the Capitol."
Paul said the band is thrilled to be part of the event again this year.
"It is wonderful to support something that perpetuates a sense of community — and great music, too," she said.
If you go ...
WHAT: Blues, Brews and Barbecue
WHEN: 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 5
WHERE: The Capitol Theatre, 159 S. Main St., downtown Chambersburg, Pa.
COST: $10, includes one complimentary beer in a souvenir glass; $7 for a designated driver. Food and beer will be sold separately.
CONTACT: Call 717-263-0202 or go to www.thecapitoltheatre.org.
MORE: For more information and a sampling of Grand Point Station's music is available at www.grandpointstation.com