Kelly Joe Phelps

About Kelly Joe Phelps

Kelly Joe Phelps expanded the parameters of modern blues through his strong commitment to literary songs and his expressive yet simple guitar stylings. His roots as a jazz bassist in Seattle and Portland informed the idiosyncratic style of his guitar work and he went on to launch a successful solo career as a singer/songwriter in the mid-1990s. Known for his lap style slide guitar work, Phelps' stripped-down amalgam of classic Delta blues, folk, and country with echoes of jazz won him critical acclaim and he spent the next decade touring incessantly and recording a series of highly regarded albums for the Rykodisc label including Roll Away the Stone (1997), Shine Eyed Mister Zen (1999), and Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind (2005). The experimental, all-instrumental Western Bell (2009) was a career highlight and after a 2010 collaboration with Corinne West, Phelps made just one more solo record in 2012's sparse, but captivating Brother Sinner & the Whale. He died in May 2022.

Sumner, WA, United States
October 5, 1959

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