Brighton Fringe: Tom Paxton St George’s Church, St George’s Road, Brighton, Wednesday, May 27

ACOUSTIC folk singer-songwriter Tom Paxton began his career as one of Bob Dylan’s contemporaries on the Greenwich Village coffee house scene.

But just because he never went electric in the mid-1960s doesn’t mean Paxton remained rooted firmly in the past.

Since 2001 he has released a series of topical “short shelf life songs” exclusively on his website

And his latest album Redemption Road was crowd-funded on Kickstarter, receiving more than $30,000 from 552 backers.

“The internet is magical for getting songs out there,” he says while travelling 400 miles across Pennsylvania for an Ohio show that night.

“I have embraced the internet, which is a funny thing for someone who is lousy with computers. It’s the perfect medium for short shelf life songs – most of them didn’t belong on a CD.”

Among the subjects covered on the hilarious short sketches are late right wing pastor Jerry Falwell, who famously outed Teletubby Tinky-Winky; controversial Florida congressman Mark Foley; one-time vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin; and the collapse of the American economic system with the song I’m Changing My Name To Fanny Mae.

His Kickstarter campaign allowed Paxton to head to Nashville last year for the fourth time to record Redemption Road with producer Jim Rooney.

“It’s a one-time thing for me,” he says of the campaign, which led to the release of “CD#61 give or take a few”.

“The next album I make I will pay for myself. I’m ever so glad I did this the one time. It’s a wonderful experience as I go on tour – I’m meeting quite a few of the contributors who show me their signed CDs.

“I love Nashville – the musicians are unbelievable, and the studio experience is always so relaxed and happy. I can’t imagine recording any place else. The commercial country scene in Nashville is a world apart – there are all kinds of roots musicians, bluegrass musicians and alt country artists. It’s amazing.”

Throughout his career he has been happy to remain a roots musician, writing his own material.

Former best man Dave Van Ronk credited Paxton with being the first musician on the Greenwich Village scene to write his own songs to mix with in his traditional folk sets, penning a new composition every day.

“I don’t write every day now,” says Paxton. “I’m too lazy and old! But I recommend writing at least a song a day, or five songs a week to any songwriter. It gives you a work ethic – if you’re going to be a songwriter you need to write a lot of songs.

“Woody Guthrie preceded me in writing his own songs. He was the idol of my generation.”

That songwriting regime led to Paxton writing folk classics including The Last Thing On My Mind, Bottle Of Wine, Ramblin’ Boy and What Did You Learn In School Today?, which were covered by the likes of Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Simon And Garfunkel, Peter, Paul And Mary, Dolly Parton, Arlo Guthrie and even Dylan himself.

But Paxton was never tempted to go electric after Dylan’s famous 1965 Newport Folk Festival show.

“That sent shockwaves through the folk music world,” he says. “People started choosing sides which was not really necessary. Lots of people followed his example, and formed rock groups like The Byrds.

“I was never really tempted. For me it would have been personally something of a sell-out – not that I’m accusing them of doing that.

“I have always said what happen when you see somebody ready to sell out and no-one’s buying – I think that would have been the case with me. I wouldn’t have been a very good rock artist frankly. I had found the music that mattered to me, and I’m glad I stayed with it.”

This Brighton show is part of a UK tour marking the 50th anniversary of his first British shows.

“I love coming back to the UK,” he says. “It really feels like home to me – I have a lot of roots there with my family tree.

“When I first got there in 1965 there were hundreds of folk clubs around the country, and I played as many as I possibly could. There was a great grapevine – I found by doing well in a couple of clubs word would get around and I couldn’t keep up with the offers!”

Support from Robin Bullock.

Duncan Hall

Doors 7pm, tickets £26.50. Call 01273 917272.