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  1. #1

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    There was a time that I listened to a whole lot of Kelly Joe Phelps. It was a bit of an obsession at the time. It's weird how music can be so connected to a particular time in life. I can totally feel myself driving my old Ford Ranger out to my cabin in the Goldstream Valley near Fairbanks, Ak. It's like it was yesterday, though it was more like 15 years at this point. There are some good memories from that time but a lot of bad ones too, so maybe that's why I haven't listened to him in a while. But it's not the music's fault.

    Anyway, something made me think of KJP today and I thought I'd share a clip for those that might not know his stuff. He has originals but does a lot of old blues and gospel songs. I'm as agnostic as they come, but if I anyone could sell me on religion it's this guy.

    This is one of my favorites. Not great video, but great playing.


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  3. #2

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    I've always liked Kelly Joe Phelps but I haven't listened to him in a while either.

    He also plays excellent slide guitar - has a really nice touch.

    Thank you for posting that video of him!

    Regards,
    Steven Herron
    Kelly Joe Phelps Tabs - Guitar Solos, Tab Books, Instruction DVDs + Video Lessons

  4. #3

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    I was unfamiliar with him. Love that sound. Thank you for posting it.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  5. #4

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    Yes, his slide playing is what first grabbed my interest. I used to play slide almost exclusively. He did some flat-picked stuff later on, too. And started out playing bass. He seemed to be great at everything he tried as far as music goes.

    Apparently he's dropped off the map for the time being. I hope all is well with him and that he makes some more music eventually.

    I used to have both of those instructional videos way back when. Might have to order them again sometime.

  6. #5

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    He still has a website but it hasn't been updated in almost 6 years.

    Here is a 2017 article on him:

    https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2017/...lan-leadbelly/

    "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates
    “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” - Alan Wilson Watts

  7. #6

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    I'm a big fan - I have some of his CDs I still listen to regularly. Sky like a Broken Clock is on my changer now. My memories of listening to him when I first got hooked was backpacking and light mountaineering. The only CD I bought which was disappointing is Western Bell where he took an odd turn into dissonance.

    I saw him in a small room with maybe 25 to 30 other people in Homer, Alaska - Alice's Champagne Palace - courtesy of a state grant to bring artists to rural AK. He had what I think of as a kind of a Miles Davis unapproachable vibe - walked in like he was a nobody who forgot something on the stage, never made eye contact with the audience or talked to the audience at all that I recall, but he put on an awesome show with a huge amount of energy channeled into his music, going from one song to the next with barely a gap, then he left as unassumingly as he entered.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcoSolo View Post
    I'm a big fan - I have some of his CDs I still listen to regularly. Sky like a Broken Clock is on my changer now. My memories of listening to him when I first got hooked was backpacking and light mountaineering. The only CD I bought which was disappointing is Western Bell where he took an odd turn into dissonance.

    I saw him in a small room with maybe 25 to 30 other people in Homer, Alaska - Alice's Champagne Palace - courtesy of a state grant to bring artists to rural AK. He had what I think of as a kind of a Miles Davis unapproachable vibe - walked in like he was a nobody who forgot something on the stage, never made eye contact with the audience or talked to the audience at all that I recall, but he put on an awesome show with a huge amount of energy channeled into his music, going from one song to the next with barely a gap, then he left as unassumingly as he entered.
    I've been to Alice's many times. I saw him in Fairbanks, front and center. Great show!

  9. #8

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    Never heard of him, but this reminds me greatly of what I was getting into on the guitar when I first started in mid 70's, twenty years before Phelps' started recording. Awesome stuff, I love that traditional fingerstyle Americana music, so many great players through the years engaged with it.

  10. #9

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    I used to be a great fan, and still listen to him occasionally. I like the Shine Eyed Mr Zen record best, with Sky Like A Broken Clock a close second. He also did a beautiful album with Jesse Zubot and Steve Dawson - another great band that disbanded too soon.

    Thank you for sharing the concert experience with us. AFAIK, Kelly Joe never came to Germany, so I never had the opportunity to see him live.

    I belong to the group of fans who thinks he shouldn't have given up lap slide playing. That really was the icing on the cake. I refer you to Drumbler's post which links to his take on Good Night Irene. Makes you cry.

  11. #10

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    Glad to see there's a few KJP fans here. For those that prefer the lap slide stuff, this is my favorite one from that style. Thought about using this one in the OP but thought video might get more interest.


  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by morroben View Post
    I've been to Alice's many times. I saw him in Fairbanks, front and center. Great show!
    What are the odds? I lived in Anchor Point and Homer for about seven years and that was the only time I went to Alice's.

    Curious to know whether KJP was similarly withdrawn when you saw him or if he was just having an off night when I saw him.

    Not that it matter, but I like Roll Away the Stone best of all of the records by him I've heard - I really like his use of the spirituals.

  13. #12

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    I went through a phase of playing mostly acoustic guitar in the late 90's, and I subscribed to "Acoustic Guitar" magazine...KJP was a frequent cover/interview...great player who I had kind of forgotten about, glad this thread came up.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcoSolo View Post
    What are the odds? I lived in Anchor Point and Homer for about seven years and that was the only time I went to Alice's.
    I was born and raised in Anchorage, then moved to Fairbanks after high school. I had friends who's bands would play at Alice's. Gangly Moose, Whipsaws, etc. Homer was a fun little town. Crazy that we would drive that far to see our friends play. Anyway, I moved out of Ak when in 2004 when I was 28.

    Quote Originally Posted by MarcoSolo View Post
    Curious to know whether KJP was similarly withdrawn when you saw him or if he was just having an off night when I saw him.
    Yes, he didn't say much. I always got the impression that he was a bit of an introvert. His recent hiatus from public life might support that impression. I think that probably helped draw me to his stuff. He was a player, not necessarily an entertainer.
    Around the same time ('02-ish?) Leo Kottke played the same place in Fairbanks. A lot more stories and banter between tunes with him. He's always funny. I just remember how thinking how different those two shows were at the time.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by morroben View Post
    I was born and raised in Anchorage, then moved to Fairbanks after high school. I had friends who's bands would play at Alice's. Gangly Moose, Whipsaws, etc. Homer was a fun little town. Crazy that we would drive that far to see our friends play. Anyway, I moved out of Ak when in 2004 when I was 28.



    Yes, he didn't say much. I always got the impression that he was a bit of an introvert. His recent hiatus from public life might support that impression. I think that probably helped draw me to his stuff. He was a player, not necessarily an entertainer.
    Around the same time ('02-ish?) Leo Kottke played the same place in Fairbanks. A lot more stories and banter between tunes with him. He's always funny. I just remember how thinking how different those two shows were at the time.
    Cool. I was there '99 - '07 - my grandfather homesteaded land outside of Anchor Point after WWII and I went up to help him and ended up staying a while.

    That's a long haul to support a friend's band - but that's Alaska too. We had a native band that took an open skiff from English Bay - Port Graham to perform in Homer. Funny.

    I figured KJP was a through and through introvert by his demeanor at Alice's - didn't even take much of a bow. It must be really tough to be that introverted and still be driven to perform. I listened to a radio interview about his first CD - it was done alone in an empty room of a house he had somewhere in the Pacific NW and I thought I could sense the bareness from the acoustics and the sound of his foot tapping time. Getting on stage is an effort of will for me too but once I struggle through the first couple of songs and start getting warmed up I become increasingly extroverted.

    Anyway, good talking with you.

  16. #15

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    Nice stuff. Will have to listen to more of it. I was really into this type of music in college and right afterward--Dave Bromberg, Hot Tuna, Leo Kottke, etc.

    He reminds me of a guy in the Minneapolis/Rochester area named Cam Waters. One of the best "old-style" fingerpicking players around. He played a show at my house once. He unfortunately committed suicide (or overdosed unintentionally) about a decade or so ago.

    Blues/folk guitarist Cam Waters dies - StarTribune.com
    “Without music, life would be a mistake”--Friedrich Nietzsche

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