Music News

Kelly Joe Phelps

Portland troubadour Kelly Joe Phelps began as just another kid locked in his bedroom hacking out Led Zeppelin riffs. He eventually broke free of the confines of hard rock to study classical guitar, delve into the free-jazz movement and discover a passion for blues-centric folk. This stylistic combination and an unwavering desire to play it his way in the face of commercial failure has garnered Phelps — who's hailed as much for his distinctive finger-picking style as for his lyrical approach — plenty of critical acclaim. To some degree, this leaves him in limbo. Although Phelps doesn't change styles as frequently as Britney changes wigs, he's done time as a purveyor of blues and folk, and, more recently, as a free-ranging, finger-picking, singer-songwriter coffeehouse type along the lines of Leo Kottke, with whom he's frequently compared. Somehow he manages to wrap it all together, even tossing a little jazz improvisation or the occasional rock lick into his repertoire of complex instrumental passages and intricately woven narratives.
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Glenn BurnSilver
Contact: Glenn BurnSilver