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Stereo Phelps plays @ Sweetwater, Thursday

July 17, 2013

By Kathy Edwards McFarland
Denton Jazz Chronicles

In a special Thursday Jazz Night @ Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, Stereo Phelps, the musically talented twins, Drew and David Phelps, will play a variety of original and cover Jazz numbers, 7-9 p.m.

Drew Phelps greeted his twin brother at the airport, then brought him back to a family gathering Tuesday of this week. As Thursday draws closer, David (guitar and vocals) and

Bassist Drew Phelps

Bassist Drew Phelps

Drew (Stand-up and electric bass) will be working with pianist Michael Palma and drummer Steve Barnes for a special Thursday show on the patio stage at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St., Denton.

The Phelps twins used to look alike, according to Drew, but since David has lived in New York City for the past 25 years, they look a little different.

About Drew and Dave

Born in Dallas in 1956, Drew was initiated into the world of music at an early age when his father brought home instruments for him and his twin brother. “I got a bass guitar and David got a guitar,” he recalls. (Brother David has been successfully plying his trade in New York in various blues and jazz bands).

Guitarist David Phelps

Guitarist David Phelps

Their early excursions in ear training led to the great American tradition of garage jam bands. “There was a guy in the neighborhood who taught us how to play songs, and that’s what started us playing improvised music,” says Drew. “He turned us onto the Allman Brothers and Freddie King, when we were in junior high. So me and David used to take stuff off of their records and then get guys to play it with us in the garage.”

Although Drew had played tuba in junior high, he got more into playing Rock & Roll and Blues in high school and naturally let the tuba go. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at North Texas State University, where he was introduced to the string bass. “I was an electric bass player up to that point,” he says. “I had never really heard much string bass before that. Occasionally I’d go over the University to hear lab band concerts. At that time the electric bass wasn’t considered an instrument in university jazz circles so I started playing string bass: and now I’ve got a little bit of a niche being one of the guys around town who’s a good string bass player.”

Drew is widely regarded as one of THE cats – solid, seasoned player with a wealth of impressive credits over the past two decades, in the niche of northern Texas, around the area surrounding the University of North Texas, in his hometown of Denton. He demonstrates an unerring sense of time and intonation that is particularly reminiscent of his biggest bass influence and musical mentor, Dave Holland. Phelps is also an accomplished composer and band leader with a mature, fully realized aesthetic, as he reveals on his debut release as a leader, Round To It.

Jazz pianist Michael Palma

Jazz pianist Michael Palma

Drew’s recording credits to date include sessions with Texas-based groups like Little Jack Melody and MC 900-Foot Jesus as well as breakout artists such as Sarah Hickman (1988’s Take it Like a Man),the Dixie Chicks (1990’s Thank Heavens for Dale Evans), the Quebe Sisters, Dallas jazz pianist Dave Zoller and fusionist and hard bopper, Ronald Shannon Jackson.

About David Phelps

Guitarist David Phelps is currently a member of Peter Apfelbaum‘s 11-piece band The New York Hieroglyphics, which includes many of today’s best creative musicians, including drummer Dafnis Prieto, bassist Patrice Blanchard, trombonist Josh Roseman and vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate.  Their newest album It Is Written was released in August 2005, on the ACT label.  He also leads his own band the Eclectic Troubadours.

Drummer Steve Barnes

Drummer Steve Barnes

  • David grew up in Denton, Texas, the home of the University of North Texas, formerly known as North Texas State.  As a youngster, he started playing the bass clarinet and later played in bands with many of the children of North Texas faculty members.  David, along with his twin brother, bassist Drew Phelps, attended North Texas, studying with Rich Matheson and guitar guru Jack Peterson, among others.  David then traveled to Alberta, Canada, where he studied at the Banff Centre with jazz greats Dave Liebman and Dave Holland (both Miles Davis alumni).  He also studied with John Abercrombie, Steve Coleman and Kenny Wheeler.

David has toured the world playing with many musicians of every stripe including Lily White, New Orleans legend Henry Butler, Adam Klipple and Drive-By Leslie, Rob Miller and Prime Meridian, as well as his own group David Phelps and the Eclectic Troubadours.

David has appeared on television, most recently on Late Night with Conan O’Brien with songwriter Jesse Harris, who won a Grammy award for penning the hit Don’t Know Why for Norah Jones‘s first CD.  He has recorded for the hit Nickelodeon children’s TV show The Backyardigans, and recorded with Public Enemy on the soundtrack for movie He Got Game.

David has appeared on a number of albums as a sideman including CDs by Peter Apfelbaum, Jim Cifelli, Adam Klipple and Drive By Leslie, Lily White, and George Kilby Jr.  He has recorded two albums of his own, Spaghetti Eastern and the recently released Eclectic, with his band David Phelps and the Eclectic Troubadours.

The list of musicians that David has played/recorded/toured with is quite extensive and includes:  John Medeski, Dafnis Prieto, Ben Monder, Tony Scherr, Peter Apfelbaum, Chris Wood, Jesse Harris, Kenny Wollesen, Michael Blake, Adam Klipple and Drive By Leslie, Jeff Hirshfield, Scott Colley, Lily White, Stomu Takeshi, Satoshi Takeshi, Steven Bernstein, Chris Dahlgren, Peter Epstein, Bruce Saunders, Teddy Kumpel, Evan Lurie, John Lurie, Steve Cardenas, Henry Butler, Pinetop Perkins, Rob Miller, Bruce Arnold, Mark Feldman, Willard Dyson, Mark Kimbrell, Scott Neumann, Rob Garcia, Diego Voglino, Marcos Rojas, Mike Sim, Andy Middleton, Heather Bennett, Jim Whitney, John Hebert, Kirk Driscoll, Thomas Paul, Kiki Hawkins, Michael Jeffrey Stevens, Bennett Paster, Eric Udel, John Gentry Tennyson, Matt Darriau, Cheryl Pyle, Tony Mason, Tim Luntzel, Brad Albetta, Kevin Jenkins, J.D. Duval, Tim Otto, Steve Holly, The Itinerants, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Rusty Cloud’s Skillet, and The Second Step.

David currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Donna.

With thanks to Bill Milkowski, Drew biography; All About Jazz

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