Artists Picking Artists: Kelly Jo of Phat Lip

  • By cvbizz
  • July 6, 2020
  • 0
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Brett Barest

I do not know how I got this deep into this series without talking to Kelly Jo but I am going to blame the local music scene for being too darned talented for me to get to everyone in a  timely manner. That’s my story and I am sticking to it, anyway.

I was first introduced to Kelly Jo seven or eight years ago when we happened upon Velo Fellow on a random Saturday or Sunday afternoon when she was performing. Even though she was just playing a few covers for a smallish crowd it was obvious from the moment we walked in the door that her voice was in a league of its own. While I could not have known that I would eventually see her blow minds as a soloist, with the Local Green Family Band, and her band Phat Lip, I can hardly say I am surprised. Her voice, instrumentation, and just the right amount of sassy Latin flair that speaks to my Puerto Rican roots all combine to make Kelly Jo one of the most fascinating artists on the Upstate music scene.

Since Kelly Jo has already been mentioned on several artists’ lists in this series, it is only appropriate that we finally take a look at her list…

Salti Ray

Kelly Jo says: “My first time hearing them live was at the Upstate Music Awards. I love the energy in their music and stage performance, but especially love seeing two queens shred.”

The Old Earthquake

Kelly Jo says: “I think Loud Ones is one of the best albums that’s ever come out of the Upstate, from the songs to sound quality. Steven Cathcart does an amazing job with their production.”


Kelly Jo says: “This is Greenville hip-hop; smart, heartfelt, real. I really dig his artistic vision. You’ve gotta check out his video for ‘Qurantine’, powerful words and imagery.”

Jacob Johnson

Kelly Jo says: “One day I was listening to a solo acoustic guitar instrumental and after a few bars I knew it was Jacob. That’s how distinctive his playing style is. Add amazing storytelling on top of that and it’s just dreamy.”

Daddy’s Beemer

Kelly Jo says: “Any band that can make me feel like I’m 23 with the windows down -yes! Their new single ‘Dancer’ reminds me of that Cure or Smiths sound, but a fresh take on it.”

As for Kelly Jo, if you are not completely in love with what she is doing with her band Phat Lip, you must not be listening. Their latest single “Coyote” and the accompanying music video is an absolute masterpiece and their opening set at the Upstate Music Awards earlier this year was one of the most energizing performances I have ever seen in person. As the event’s host, I gave thought to tearing up my opening monologue and heading for the door because I was in no way equipped to follow that in any way shape or form. I suspect anyone in my shoes that particular evening would have felt the same way because Kelly Jo and Phat Lip were simply that damn good. Check them out for yourself and thank me later if you are new to the scene.

My immense appreciation goes out to Kelly Jo for a great list to help us all get through the week. Even if we do not have a bunch of live shows to consider, these lists are always a great reminder of just how much talent we have right here in the Upstate. When things get back to normal, we all have a lot of catching up to do.

Phat Lip on Spotify

“Coyote” video on YouTube

More in the Artist Picking Artists Series

Weekend Live Music Calendar

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