I've never met Dennis Phelps, but I picture him in a t-shirt that says "Music Is My Life."
He started playing guitar in high school and went through the usual succession of bands, playing covers and eventually doing originals. Today, he owns and operates a recording studio in New York state. When he's not recording his own music - he records and performs as a solo artist and with two or three different bands - he's coaching fledgling bands through their first recordings. He loves the energy of new bands, and likes his roles as producer and engineer almost as much as he enjoys playing. His steady schedule of writing, playing, practicing, and studio work (both behind and in front of the boards) leaves him little time for outside interests.
He enjoyed creating his first solo album, 27, but he really prefers the interplay and camaraderie of a band. These days, he often performs with Trees, an acoustic guitar band, and Outback, a five-man band that features keyboards, providing a nice balance to Dennis' guitar work. Past collaborations include a pair of albums done with yet another friend, released under the name Glacier.
His music reflects some of his influences more than others. He's always been a huge Beatles fan (of course, they influenced practically everyone), but the progressive bands he covered years ago are echoed occasionally in the synth parts he added to his solo projects. He's listened to and played such a wide variety of music (including lots of jazz) that most of it has become absorbed into his own style, the guitar-based rock of "Rough Around the Edge" and "Is There Something."
Although he modestly neglected to credit himself on the album, he wrote most of the arrangements for 27, and even played many of the keyboard parts and all the drums. (He started out playing drums in junior high before picking up guitar.)
Ask him where he'll be in ten years, and after a brief pause, he says he sees himself still writing and playing, and maybe still working in the studio. "I'm sure I'll be performing ," he says, then grins - "at least until I'm too old for MTV."
Excerpted from The Racer Record, the Racer Records newsletter.