ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: A. James Shelp and the Rolling Hills

Day 3 of Milwaukee Psych Fest at The Cooperage kicked off with a noon performance from A. James Shelp and the Rolling Hills. The rest of the day consisted of sets from bands/artists Tekla Peterson, Shining Realm, Powers/Rolin Duo, IE, Head, Matt Lajoie, All Seeing Eyes, Gold Dust, Muun Bato, Elkhorn, Mountain Movers, Jeffrey Alexander and the Heavy Lidders, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band, and Los Dug Dugs.

Shelp, the founder and curator of Milwaukee Psych Fest, has long been known for his experimental psychedelic project Moss Folk. A. James Shelp and the Rolling Hills has been his new sonic venture, which he says focuses more on a rural take on psychedelic and improvisational music. “I’ll do some folk songs and I’ll even do some Grateful Dead songs…which I’ve never learned covers for a project before,” he explains. “It’s a similar vibe to Moss Folk for the most part but less effect laden and less in-your-face.”

His set Saturday consisted of one Moss Folk song and two improvisations with Shining Realm drummer Joe Derderian joining him on percussion. “I’ve known Joe for over a decade; he used to book Moss Folk in Iowa City,” Shelp said. “He gets what I’m doing and is very talented.”

Shelp is working on a new record, describing it as such, “It’s like drifty, eerie folk music…some instrumentals, some with vocals. I’ve been recording it for a while now; it’s got eight songs so far and I’m waiting to get some pedal steel put onto it. The instrumentation other than that is pretty comparable to what I’ve done with Moss Folk. There’s a drummer from New York named Ryan Jewell who I’m sending tracks out to so he can finish putting percussion on; the pedal steel guy is actually the player from Psychic Ills and a few other bands too. They’re guns for hire to get some tasteful stuff on the record.”

A. James Shelp and the Rolling Hills’ record is slated to be released next year.

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