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Joel R. L. Phelps & The Downer Trio

Joel R. L. Phelps & The Downer Trio


Robert Mercer
William Herzog
Scott Malin
Joel RL Phelps

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Joel R.L. Phelps is from Billings, Montana. He started playing music in around 1982, co-founding a regionally infamous post-punk group, Ein Heit, in Missoula in 1983. Ein Heit suspended operations in 1987 and bandmates Phelps and Andrew Cohen then formed rock ‘n’ roll ensemble Silkworm in 1988. After 3 LPs and many barnstorming national tours, Phelps left Silkworm in 1994, perhaps due to the pressures of all the travel, and perhaps some unconscious musical prompting. In a split that can compared to a Buzzcocks/Magazine schism (except for the lack of fame, money or any musical similarities), both parties would go on to their finest works — Silkworm, having staked a claim as one of the U.S.ís most important bands, Phelps, as the nation’s most unique singer/songwriter. Joel struck out on his own in 1995 forming his own group, The Downer Trio. The Downer Trio feature William Herzog (Citizen’s Utilities, Neko Case, Sunn0)))), Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter) and Robert Mercer (auxiliary guitar and bass), musicians with a similar minimal sensibility who, in truth, make the music really work. With four albums, two EPs and two singles and some compilation appearances to their collective credit, the group has assembled an accomplished and formidable body of work: no matter what the self-effacing Phelps might tell you to the contrary.

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