Paul moved from Detroit to Nashville in 1972 to play the pedal steel guitar with Barbara Mandrell. Later in the 70’s, he recorded and toured with Jerry Reed and Mel Tillis. In 1981, Paul decided to quit the road and focus strictly on session work in Nashville. Since then, he has been well received throughout the recording industry. You can listen to his playing behind such legendary artists as Sting, Mark Knopfler, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, Barbara Streisand and Megadeth for examples of Paul’s musicianship. His ability to create music outside of the country field has taken him well beyond the stereotype by which the pedal steel guitar has always been limited. Paul’s soulful playing on this uniquely voiced instrument is clearly from the heart and makes him one of the busiest session musicians in Nashville.
Paul has also been instrumental in bringing several new musical sounds to the forefront of Country Music: the Pedabro, the acoustic lap steel (nicknamed “The Box” by Mac Macanally) and the Baritone Steel.
The Pedabro looks and plays like a steel, but sounds like a hybrid of the Dobro or resophonic guitar and was built and patented by Paul’s father. The first of many hit records featuring the Pedabro was Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis.
The Box looks like a long narrow box with ten strings and sounds somewhat like a swampy acoustic guitar being played with a bottleneck. A good example of this instrument can be heard on the intro and solo of You and Your Friend on Dire Straits On Every Street CD.
The Baritone Steel could also be called the bass steel guitar. Paul took the normal pedal steel and tuned it down one octave. It sounds like a six string electric bass with pedals. You can hear this instruments sound on Dire Straits The Bug as well as CDs by Leann Womack and Andy Griggs.
Recently Paul joined local Nashville (and soon worldwide) band extraordinaire The Timejumpers featuring 11 amazing players and singers cranking out pure country music every Monday night at 3rd and Lindsley. They’ve also undertaken several tours out of town and the demand for their sweet sound is growing rapidly.
In July of 2013, Paul, along with long-time friend and Timejumpers bandmate Vince Gill, recorded and released an album containing a collection of tunes that honor the kings of Bakersfield Country music, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Featuring 10 tracks (5 from Owens and 5 from Haggard) Bakersfield allows the duo to shine as musicians in addition to Vince Gill’s superlative singing. Franklin and Gill both take their time on extended solos while the core band of Greg Morrow, Willie Weeks, JT Corenfloss and John Hobbs are allowed to shine as well. Kenny Sears shreds his Fiddle on “Foolin’ Around” while his wife Dawn Sears provides sterling harmonies throughout the record (both are in The Time Jumpers with Vince and Paul).