Christopher Paul Stelling - CANCELED

Christopher Paul Stelling

Swallow Hill Music - Tuft TheatreDenverCO
All Ages
CANCELED

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"This Ben Harper produced collection is one of the more vulnerable releases that Stelling has ever had."

American Songwriter

Best of Luck is a shining example of what Stelling is capable of as a songwriter … Perhaps it’s thanks to Harper’s touch, or maybe it’s all that gratitude taking shape in Stelling.”

No Depression

“It’s not Americana or alt anything, it’s really just soulful folk music,” Ben Harper says of Best of Luck, the new album by Christopher Paul Stelling, which he produced.

Harper and Stelling met a few years back when the Grammy award winning musician-producer invited Stelling to open a series of shows. “Ben gave me a true gift back then,” Stelling says. “I’d been on the road for a long time and he put me onstage in front of his fans. He took me to the Beacon, The Ryman, Massey Hall, all these legendary rooms. Just to see that what I could do would even translate in spaces like that was revelatory.” Harper says he instantly recognized a kindred spirit in Stelling’s virtuosic finger picking and soulful delivery. “It was like finding a John Fahey or Leo Kottke that was a really great singer,” he explains.

Stelling accepted an artist’s residency at the Stetson Kennedy House outside of Jacksonville Florida to prepare. Kennedy had been a folklorist and comrade of Woody Guthrie and Zora Neale Hurston. Woody stayed there for extended periods as well. “I moved into this little house in a North Florida swamp just an hour from where I was born and raised,” Stelling says. “And I proceeded to freak out. It was the first time I’d just sat still for years. Mostly, I took inventory of myself. But I left feeling like I’d found a thread. After that, I would send Ben demos. He would respond with encouragement and tell me to keep digging, so I’d keep digging. Looking back, the whole process was the medicine I needed.”

Best Of Luck is a supremely accessible and finely crafted record that deftly merges genres. Harper, who has previously produced records by Mavis Staples, Rickie Lee Jones, The Blind Boys of Alabama and others, recruited an all-star rhythm section with Jimmy Paxson (Stevie Nicks, Dixie Chicks) on drums and upright bass player Mike Valerio (Randy Newman, LA Philharmonic) to lend a versatility and finesse. “I really believe this record is the intersection where folk and soul meet,” Harper says.

When Harper talks about his admiration for Stelling, he refers to his family’s legendary folk music store, filled with instruments and a fluid merging of styles and genres. “When I listen to Chris, I hear my grandparent’s store in Claremont,” Harper says. “He’s carrying on that tradition. A guy that can play any instrument from any country and play it with real feeling. He crosses genres but manages to respect them; he is a folk singer with an unusual soulfulness. He understands where this music comes from and why it’s remains so essential. Of all the record’s I have produced, this is one I’m most proud of.”

For his part, Stelling says, “This record was about learning to trust the people around me. If anything, after years of closely guarded decision-making I’m delighted by the results of this collaboration. This record has an undeniable sense of clarity. The songs are lean but never feel incomplete. Ben knew how to coax me out of my well-worn comfort zones, how to move fast and spontaneously and put me on the spot, and how to retreat and give me space to process things. People who know me have said they hear a lot more of me in this album than anything before. Realizing I couldn’t heal the world, I started to heal myself, and I couldn’t be more pleased by how that sounds.”

Venue Information:
Swallow Hill Music - Tuft Theatre
71 East Yale Ave
Denver, CO, 80210