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Flying Solo 

Brooklyn's Christopher Paul Stelling picks his way down the left coast


"I'm writing this from an airplane. We are currently experiencing much turbulence. I'm confident, though, that all will turn out well and I will get safely to my destination..." says Christopher Paul Stelling in an email interview with the Source. That's what it's like being on the road as religion, he says. "It's like that."

The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter with a growling punkish vocal delivery and a hybrid finger-picking style combining the traditions of classical, blues and country has been crisscrossing the country on perpetual tour since 2012, logging hundreds of shows. His music is a mixture of blunt, shouting, grizzled force, all delivered with matador-like grace. Primarily self-taught, his style of solo-musicianship is in the style of the original troubadours in the truest sense.

"You pick up things along the way," says Stelling. "I've spent a lot of time with the banjo, too, as well as the guitar. I've been playing now for about 22 years. Lots of trial. Lots of time, lots of experimentation. Once I discovered my natural inclination towards finger-picking, I looked deeply into country blues players, like Skip James and Robert Johnson, in addition to more modern players like Sandy Bull, John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and Alex Degrassi. These guys helped me refine my playing, pointed the way."

As far as I know the plane landed safely, and Stelling is currently on his way via Washington, Portland, Eugene and Zigzag to Bend ("It's freezing in New York and I'm glad to get back on the road after a little break," he jokes) teamed up with the deep honey vocals of Portland's Hip Hatchet, who the Source has said sounds like, "a mix of rustic prairie and Romance poetics scribbled on glass-stained bar napkins." If that's the case, that turbulence is just another story for Stelling's novella songwriting.

"I try to read a lot, though at times my habits might be erratic," says Stelling of literature's influence on his songwriting. "I love storytelling."

His next big story will be the 2015 release of his third effort Labor Against Waste, which was recorded in two stages, between three European tours.

"As opposed to my two previous records that were recorded very very quickly, this one had time to breathe," said Stelling. "But I still kept up a pace to keep things from stagnating."

Christopher Paul Stelling & Hip Hatchet

8 pm. Sun., Nov. 30

Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.


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