closing date: 23 Jan 2013
Kelly Joe Phelps
Roll Away The Blues (The Very Best Of)
Released January 28th on Nascente/ Demon Music
UK Tour January/February
Steve Earle: "Kelly Joe Phelps plays, sings, and writes the blues. HOLD UP before you lock that in - forget about songs in a twelve bar three chord progression with a two line repeat and answer rhyme structure - though he can certainly do that when he wants to. I'm talking about a feeling, a smoky, lonesome, painful - yet somehow comforting groove that lets you know that you are not alone - even when you're blue. Play on brother."
Bill Frisell: "He's not just playing 'AT' the music or trying to recreate or imitate something that's happened in the past. He seems to have tapped into the artery somehow. There's a lot going on in between and behind the notes. Mystery. He's been an inspiration to me."
U2's The Edge - "Kelly Joe Phelps is a great example of what the modern blues is all about. His music has all the authority of the great blues without any hint of rehash or re-tread."
Cameron Crowe -"More than just an awesomely talented musician, Kelly Joe Phelps speaks to the soul of each and every listener."
Nascente/ Demon Music are proud to announce the release of the latest album in their artist series; an anthology of work from American delta-blues & jazz singer-songwriter Kelly Joe Phelps, affectionately known as "The Phantom Monk Of Folk-Blues".
Recorded in the 90s & 00s, mostly for Rykodisc, 'Roll Away The Blues' highlights his remarkable improvisational finger picking and lap-slide guitar skills, and the husky, confessional vocals that have enraptured audiences around the world. Kelly Joe plays a form of rural blue-collar blues directly hued from the same coalface as Mississippi Fred McDowell and fellow Louisiana blues man Robert Pete Williams.
After the release of his debut album, a gig at a club in Santa Monica attracted the attention of Rick Rubin, who set about signing him up to his own American Recordings. He also made a fan of iconic Mexican singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo, after they played a number of shows together in the mid-nineties.
Unfortunately Rubin's label ran into difficulties, but not before the famed producer helped Phelps set up his own home recording studio. Instead Rykodisk signed him up and he ended up staying with them for eight years, five albums and one EP. We feature tracks from all these releases, plus his acclaimed debut ('Lead Me On') for the small Portland, Oregon label Burnside Records, and a wonderful cover of the Robert Johnson classic 'Hellhound on My Trail', which he recorded with Canadian duo Zubot & Dawson.
Born in the blue-collar farming town of Sumner in Washington State, Phelps started to play guitar when he was 12. When he was 16 he took lessons with a teacher who excelled in finger picking and jazz guitar. The latter became a full-time passion of his until the age of 32, when he discovered the joys of lap-slide guitar and old blues music. With a voice reminiscent of the great John Martyn, he quickly went from small cafes and bars, to nationwide and then international tours, with plaudits coming think and fast for his first two releases, 'Lead Me On', and 'Roll Away The Stone'.
Standouts from the first album include a cover of the Skip James classic 'Hard Time Killing Blues', the traditional standard 'I've Been Converted', and the self-penned title track, all featured here.
By the second album, Phelps' jazz avant-garde leanings were coming to the fore, with the 100% improvised title track 'Roll Away The Stone', and his intricate "free music" take on Blind Lemon Jefferson's 'See That My Grave Is Kept Clean'.
'Shine Eyed Mister Zen' sees Phelps at his creative peak, with the wonderful 'River Rat Jimmy' - a tale about an old school friend, who died of a rare blood disease in his late teens - and the murder ballad 'Katy'; a twisting tale, which utilises his lifelong love of poetry.
Maybe tiring of doing it all solo, or craving the creative juices of other musicians, Phelps recorded as a trio for his 2001 album 'Sky Like A Broken Clock'. The dynamic sound of string bass and drums, with additional organ, accordion, cello, and harmonica, adds a different dimension to Phelps' unmistakable tones, as you can hear on track such as 'Sally Ruby' and 'Gold Tooth'.
'Slingshot Professionals' sees Phelps going for big production, more musicians, and a commercial push. Although critically acclaimed, Phelps felt he was losing his identity somewhat, even with the addition of improv jazz guitar Bill Frisell. So in itself this album is an anomaly, but even so, it's an impressive one by anyone else's standards. 'Jericho and 'Window Grin' are standout examples of this.
Phelps' final album for Rykodisc was the up-close and personal live album 'Tap The Red Cane Whirlwind'. We feature live favourites 'Fleashine', and 'I Am The Light Of The World', famously covered by the Revered Gary Davis.
Loved by critics, worshipped by his fans, but still, bizarrely, not a household name, this compilation attempts to readdress that balance and celebrate the talents of a remarkable musician with guitar skills that keep your jaw stuck firmly on the floor.
Kelly Joe Phelps will be playing a number of shows around the UK in early 2013. The full list of dates are as follows:
23rd Belfast The Black Box
24th Milngavie Milngavie Folk Club
25th Shipley The Live Room
26th Gateshead The Sage
27th Sheffield The Greystones
28th Norwich Arts Centre
29th London The Slaughtered Lamb
30th London The Slaughtered Lamb
31st Bristol St Georges's Hall
1st Hove Palmeira
2nd Newbury Arlington Arts Centre
3rd Bilston The Robin
5th Harpole Harpole Old School Hall
6th Salford The Lowry Studio
7th Llandeilo The Angel
8th New Brighton Floral Pavilion Theatre
9th Barry The West End Club
10th Topsham The Globe
12th Worth Matravers The Square & Compass
13th Sandwich St Mary's Arts Centre
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