There is a fearless quality to the music of Christopher Paul Stelling. A voice that sounds both old and young, an effortless yet intricate finger-picking guitar style and lyrics that are both dramatic, and intensely confessional.
It’s a sound that channels the restless spirit of a young man who left home to travel the country, haunting and impassioned songs formed by endless nights alone on stage with a guitar, playing to packed houses, other times to nearly empty rooms. Stelling estimates that he’s played over four hundred shows in just the past three years. It places him within a longstanding tradition that serves to nurture ones character and art.
“It takes a lot of work to stay on the road,” he says. “You learn to rely on your songs as a sort of resting place amidst all of the unfamiliarity. You fill your head full of places, and sounds, and ideas — and it all comes spilling out. When the things around you change constantly, you change too. And the things that stay the same become who you are. It’s nurtured my songwriting, knowing that the inspiration is all around you. If you aren't seeing it, then look harder, and if you still don't see it, then turn the corner, and if you still don't see it then look at things differently, because it's right there in front of you.”
Stelling grew up in Florida. “It’s a strange place to grow up,” he offers. “It’s a beach when you're the beach, but it’s a swamp when you’re everywhere else.” He says he left at an early age, searching to find an identity, living for abbreviated stints in Colorado, Boston, Seattle and North Carolina before settling in New York City. During those years, he worked in a used book store soaking up the great works, and for a time, played guitar for ten hours a day, eventually perfecting a melodic finger-picking style influenced in large part by blues legends such as Skip James and Abner Jay, masters like John Fahey, and banjo greats Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb.
And while his guitar playing is unquestionably masterful, it never intrudes. The melodies remain perfectly integrated, his songs focused and urgent. It is folk music, and it is much more. There are hints of Waylon Jennings’ country blues, a healthy dose of early seventies rock like Van Morrison and The Band, and poetry and art reminiscent of Dylan and Waits. But in the end it is completely honest and personal, in intent and form.
“You make your art and you put it out there,” Stelling says. “When people listen I hope they get that I care and that I'm trying. That it's ok to be afraid, because fear is necessary for developing courage, and courage is necessary to face what we are up against.”
Watch Christopher Paul Stelling perfrom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pus-1nD_8P4
Acclaim For Christopher Paul Stelling:
"Hauntingly powerful." - Huffington Post
“Fans of Tim Buckley and Ray LaMontagne will find Stelling a kindred spirit to both, with his magnetic intimacy and meticulously solemn reverence towards his craft." - My Old Kentucky Blog
"People cried. No one spoke. It felt like being in church without any guilt.” - Noisey
“The most nimble right hand since Earl Scruggs when combined with whiskey drenched narratives of hope and despair, played over and under the uncanny resonance of Christopher Paul Stelling’s vocal delivery unearth something astonishingly modern. It is the vague sensation there is humanity left in this world." - PopMatters
“What a real self contained, modern day troubadour looks and sounds like. A voice to be reckoned with in the years to come.” - American Songwriter
“Played in earnest admiration of Americana and folk, Stelling manages to sing in a clear, confident voice while simultaneously finger-picking lovely, complex melodies on his guitar.” - The AV Club
Christopher Paul Stelling On Tour
2.20 Folk Alliance Kansas City, MO
2.21 Folk Alliance Kansas City, MO
2.27 Sugarlands Distilling Co. Gatlinburg, TN
2.28 Willow Tree Johnson City, TN
3.2 The Pour House Raleigh, NC
3.3 Crown Station Pub Charlotte, NC
3.5 Savannah Stopover Savannah, GA
3.6 Savanna Stopover Savannah, GA
3.8 Tin Roof Charlotte, SC
3.10 Mindzai Creative Atlanta, GA
3.11 Desert Island Supply Co. Birmingham, AL
3.13 Fair Grinds Coffee New Orleans, LA
3.14 Standpipe Coffee Lufkin, TX
3.26 The Garage Charlottesville, VA
3.27 Café Nola Frederick, MD
3.28 Mercantile Home Easton, PA