BIRMINGHAM 101
February 2005

"Seven albums into his career, the jazz guitarist turned acoustic country blues man has increasingly been balancing old standards an forgotten nuggets with his own material. For 'Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind', his current live album, the only non originals included are Skip James' "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" and Rev. Gary Davis' "I am the Light of the World", and while this may not delight the traditionalists it's difficult to raise much cause for complaint when you hear dusty voiced Phelps picking his way through the hauntingly plaintive "Cardboard Box of Batteries" or the melancholic "Not So Far to Go"."

"Over the years, he's graduated to a level on par with the likes of Waits and Springsteen in his storytelling as he weaves his tales of life's bruised hearts in search of their dreams and his fingers slide over the guitar strings like it's God strumming the notes. Frankly even six minutes or so in the company of "Tommy" or "Waiting for Marty" just doesn't seem long enough. Soak up and enjoy."

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