Kelly Joe Phelps is one of the great guitar players of our lifetimes. He clearly lives to play music, he tours continuously, and my guess is that music is what keeps him alive and keeps his many demons mostly under control.
He has just announced cancellation of his current tour dates on two continents because he is suffering from something called ulnar neuropathy, which prevents him from using his right hand.
For all of the reasons stated above, I fervently wish him a fast and full recovery.
Most people don’t know about him. One of the few good and lucky things about the years I lived in Oregon (long and other story) was my discovery of Phelps there, shortly after his career started, back when the locals nicknamed him “Cujo”. As a fan, I’ve strayed over the years, because sometimes he is just too much for me. But I’ve always come back.
If you want to check him out, here are some facts and links:
- He has nine albums. My personal favorite may be Shine Eyed Mr. Zen.
- He made one fantastic album with Corinne West, Magnetic Skyline, then, tragically, they broke up.
- He combines elements of jazz, delta blues, folk, and spiritual music.
- He is dark and strange and sad and deep – and can be really, really funny.
- He has been called “the Coltrane of slide guitar” although he does more fingerpicking nowadays.
- He has lots of stuff on Youtube. His most recent YouTube videos are from his new album. I especially like “Hard Time They Never Go Away”.
- He has a website that can steer you to the various places to get his music.
- He has a sanctioned, fan-operated Facebook page.