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Paul of all trades: UNT administrator moonlights as musician

Paul of all trades: UNT administrator moonlights as musician

Paul of all trades: UNT administrator moonlights as musician
March 25
22:13 2019

People may know Paul Corliss as the UNT System’s Chief Communications Officer. His lesser-known gig, however, is as the lead singer of Bandolero, a “Texafied” Grateful Dead tribute band.

After receiving his bachelor’s in journalism from Texas Christian University, Corliss worked in sports communication. He managed marketing and public relations for the NBA, the New Orleans Saints and NASCAR. But after years of traveling for work, he said he was ready to settle down.

“I traveled so much for work that there were a lot of times I missed family things,” Corliss said. “The opportunity at UNT provided me with a great work-life balance where I didn’t have to travel but I was still challenged, interested and compelled by what I was doing professionally.”

As a more permanent Dallas resident, Corliss became more involved in the city’s music scene and found his passion for performing after he met his neighbor, guitar player Tom Relihan.

“[Relihan] and I started like any band,” Corliss said. “We started playing songs out of my garage until we added too many pieces and then my neighbors and wife booted us out. The first time someone let us play was at a Fourth of July block party. We were terrible, I mean really embarrassingly bad, but people were supportive of us and the more you do it, the better you get.”

Corliss and Relihan said they spent about six months practicing in the garage before they started recruiting other members and booking gigs.

“It started out all as fun and we kind of just put pieces around us and it took off,” Relihan said. “We’ve had this kind of revolving door but right now we’re the most stable we’ve been. It’s been really cool to go from nothing to a mad dash to get where we are, and now things are leveling out and comfortable.”

Courtesy Paul Corliss.

After adding Relihan’s father on bass guitar, the band went through a few guitar players and drummers. The changes made Bandolero into what it is now, a band performing anywhere from two to six times a month.

“We all come from different perspectives,” Corliss said. “The youngest guy in the band is 28 and the oldest guy. Our keyboard player, he’s got to be about 60. We have a big range of age, perspectives and where we come from, but we all love what we’re doing. I think we all feed off each other and get excited doing it together.”

Although he began performing within the past two years, Corliss said he has loved live music and the Grateful Dead since he first saw the group when he was in high school.

“The Grateful Dead is so unique in that people kind of just lose themselves in the music and dance,” Corliss said. “It was just an eye-opening experience that kind of ignited something within in me,” Corliss said. “I made it my mission to see as many Grateful Dead concerts as I could at that young age. I think before Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995, I made it to 12, including his last two.”

Last fall, drummer Brad Fletcher was asked to sub in for a few gigs. Corliss said Fletcher quickly became a permanent member of the band because of their similar musical taste.

“[The band is] a lot of fun,” Fletcher said. “They have a lot of energy. Paul has a lot of energy and personality. They have a lot of folks that come out to see them, so they have a lot of fun shows.”

Corliss’ other involvements in UNT include the oversight of marketing and communications for UNT Dallas, being a member of Chancellor Lesa Roe’s cabinet and working as an adjunct sports communication professor at UNT Dallas. He and his wife also operate their own sports marketing company, Grizzly Sports.

“I’m the type of person who has a very hard time sitting down,” Corliss said. “I’m somebody who always likes to be doing things, and for me, it’s that everything I’m doing is compelling and enjoyable. A lot of guys, my age especially, like to golf, hunt or fish, and I don’t do that. This is kind of like my hunting or golfing or fishing.”

After two years and multiple performances in the DFW area, Bandolero is now preparing for its first gig in Denton.

“When we started the band, one of my goals was to play in Denton,” Corliss said. “I’ve always referred to Denton as sort of Austin before Austin even became Austin. There is a great music scene and people embrace the weird.”

Bandolero will play at LSA Burger Co. on the Square at 7 p.m. on March 29. Admission will be free.

“Actually doing what we’re doing as a band has been a whole new thing, but I’m not afraid to try new things even in my forties,” Corliss said. “That’s what it’s been. It’s been an awesome learning experience and I enjoy it every time I get to play.”

Featured Image: Paul Corliss is the UNT System’s Chief Communication Officer and sings in a Grateful Dead tribute band named Bandolero. Image by: Will Baldwin.

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Talia Snow

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1 Comment

  1. MarkJ
    MarkJ March 26, 17:23

    I’m ready!!

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