Dean Phelps, 2012 National Thumbpicking Guitar Champion, put together this collection of traditional hymns and gospel music for his fourth CD. A new original song, “Play On, Pauline,” is also among the album’s 15 tracks. Fourteen tracks of Picking the Faith, including “Play On, Pauline,” are also available as digital downloads. Members of The Champions, Brian Keith Wallen, Ted Yoder and Marty Price, join Phelps for a bonus fifteenth track, Stephen Foster's "Hard Times (Come Again No More)," which is only available on the physical CD.
Picking the Faith combines two of Phelps’ loves. A native of Maysville, Ky., he visited a lot of small town and rural churches while growing up. “I developed a love for old hymns and gospel music,” he said. “That music is prominently featured on Picking the Faith.”
After Phelps moved to Indiana in 2005. He met a retired pastor who taught him the thumbpicking style made popular by Merle Travis. “Although I had been playing guitar for almost 40 years, learning the Travis playing style was like falling in love with my guitar all over again,” Phelps says. Picking the Faith combines his old love of hymns and gospel music with his new love of Travis-style guitar.
Several stellar Indiana acoustic musicians joined Phelps to record Picking the Faith. Scott Nelson of Flatland Harmony Experiment plays bass, and Holly Smith of Patchwork adds fiddle. Nelson and Smith also contribute harmony vocals. Boyd Thaxton of Circle City Bluegrass brings the mandolin to several tracks. Ted Yoder, 2010 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion, lends his particular dulcimer flair to two tracks.