KELLY JOE PHELPS
THE CORNER - 6 APRIL 2004
evening began with a short opening set from Serena Ryder, the 20-year-old
Canadian singer who opened for Steve Earle. Accompanying herself
on guitar she sang several of her own compositions from her latest
CD "Unlikely Emergency" and also included her cover of
Hank Williams "Love Sick Blues". I must say her stage
presence is confident and she has a powerful, quite remarkably mature
voice for one of tender years. Her delivery is reminiscent of Ani
Ryder - Corner Hotel
Phelps is acknowledged as one of the best slide blues guitarists in the
world. However, his last two records have not featured that instrument,
nor did Kelly Joe bring his slide guitar with him on this tour. A member
of the audience asked him to play steel. Phelps' wry reply was "it
got stealed at customs". He is instead garnering a name for himself
as a songwriter.
Joe Phelps opened his show with "Jericho", a song from
his latest CD "Slingshot Professionals". Playing a Martin
guitar and employing his characteristic slurring vocals in his warm
husky voice, he followed with a song from the "Clock Without
Hands" CD, "Clementine" a skewed version of the old
classic "My Darling Clementine".
drew on material from all his CDs, hardly pausing to enlighten the
audience on the song titles. This reviewer noted down a few of the
lyrics and scanned the CD notes of his CDs to find the titles.
Joe Phelps - Corner Hotel
As he had
only flown into Melbourne that morning, and had already performed at a
Basement Discs Instore at lunchtime, it was obvious that he was tired
and jet lagged. Despite that, he gave an honest and masterly performance.
for the most part, his legs seemed to have a life of their own, stomping
disjointedly in time to the music as he rocked backwards and forwards
in his chair, seemingly oblivious to all but the song and the music.
next few songs were "Knock Louder", "Not Too Far
To Go", "Capman Bootman" "Tommy" and "Fleashine"
pausing between each to acknowledge the audience reaction and thanking
them in his quietly spoken way.
of the audience requested "Goodnight Irene" and another
requested "River Rat Jimmy". The latter request was in
accord with Kelly Joe's busy tuning of his guitar so "River
Rat Jimmy" was next.
Joe Phelps - The Corner
the set with "I Am the Light of This World".
applause drew him back for two more songs "Hard Time Killin' Floor
Blues" and "Katy".
It was a
laid back evening and though Kelly Joe Phelps only sang 11 songs it must
be remembered that each of those songs was prolonged by elaborate and
beautiful guitar embellishments.
We were left
satisfied but wishing for more.
and Photos by Anne Sydenham 2004
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