Shelly Blake-Plock
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Shelly Blake-Plock


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Shelly Blake-Plock @ Golden West

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Shelly Blake-Plock @ Hamilton Arts Center

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Shelly Blake-Plock @ Outdoor Festival

Dala-Floda, Not Applicable, Sweden

Dala-Floda, Not Applicable, Sweden

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“Absolutely brilliant, everything Blake records is both incredibly raw and always fascinating. Blake represents the cutting edge of underground music... He is a haunted soul, a tormented genius who records on the fringes of the American music scene, and he blossoms here, creating diverse and thrilling new music... the world cannot ignore his painful magic for much longer.” - Splendid

“Brilliant. A dose of genius.”
- Alternative Press

Shelly Blake is Baltimore's "Folk / Improvisation Icon." - 88.1 WYPR's The Signal

"The mix of labor history and its associated politics, free improvisation, folk song and social participation achieved a remarkable balance of reverent whimsy. Proving that deep ideas and serious intent can also be fun and unpretentious. Shelly Blake-Plock flashed an unassuming, comfortable stage presence... a compelling collection of disparate impulses."
- HurdAudio

This is an unusually cinematic album... The main creative force behind this undertaking is Shelly Blake-Plock, and his primary inspiration is an unusual and obscure Victorian short story which features a young boy living with an abusive father and step mother who longs to learn to play the violin. This tragic tale eventually ends in the boy's death in a surreal scene involving the ghost of his dead mother. While it might seem that the story is the primary focus here, it is not the main force that gets my attention. Instead, it is Shelly's editing methods and ear for unusual sound combinations that make this disc shine even when removed entirely from its story line... Shelly has assembled an immense cast of players and sound artists for ‘The Violencestring’- an orchestra for him to conduct in reverse. There is a nice cohesion among sounds as the group goes from high energy, free-jazz freak outs to quiet and unsettling drone works. There are some softer songs strategically placed as well as some appropriate violin pieces...

“The idea of a concept album as cinematic as this seems a little dated, but it really is pretty fun. The packaging (which features an illustrated guide to the cast of characters, looking like something out of a Tim Burton film), helps to put things into perspective even better. Shelly has a definite vision of what this story should feel, look, and sound like. All together, it's an oddly entertaining story-album that's broken up into little chunks for easy digestion. It's kind of like a psychedelic drone, free-jazz version of The Who's "Tommy" crossed with Grimm's Fairy Tales. It's a totally unique experience.” 9/10 - Foxy Digitalis

"eclectic and ambitious" - Baltimore Sun

"Shelly Blake's early recordings were studies in unpolished artistry. Recorded under the most humble of conditions, they raised no walls between the listener and his startlingly frank, anguished performances.... [he is a] vibrational alchemist of the first order." - Demo Universe

"So far, Maryland’s Fall Records refuses to disappoint when it comes to releasing albums by controversial and unique recording artists. Their last contributions to indie music were two efforts by pseudo-Christian themed folk pop quartet Page France, and their most recent offering is a collection of songs by the prolific Shelly Blake.... With Discourse and Correspondence, Blake has offered us an innovative and unique collection of dark songs.... From traditional to avant-garde, Blake’s compositions, while often simple and straightforward, run the gamut and leave little room to question his dexterity..." - Urban Pollution

"Open your mouth too wide and cherries fall out. No? Is it just me? Me and Shelly Blake. More cherries fall out of his mouth than mine - and more cherry-pits. He sings sloppy and achey, Daniel Johnston in a wagon with the dude from OMC's 'How Bizarre'. Eventually he introduces the electric guitar and this is a moment that you know, this is a moment that is familiar. It's when you're at the Scrabble tournament and you've just spelled the word 'singersongwriter' and there's a squawking sound, a brief electric buzz. You look up and there's a stork in the corner, long-legged, bearing an electric guitar. He stops playing, he looks at you, he blinks his eyes. 'Yeah, what?' he seems to be saying, in stork. And when you look back down the word 'singersongwriter' has been changed, either by cheating or by some obscure rule. And your tiles now say: 'Elope, elope, elope, elope!'" - Said the Gramophone

"It's weird, and I like weird. His voice is distinct, a touch abstract, just like his lyrics..." - WUAG Radio


The Violencestring (Umlaut Records / Fall Records 2007) Featuring Joel Grip, Eve Risser, Niklas Barno, Carly Ptak, Jenny Graf Sheppard, Lyle Kissack, Ben McConnell, Lawrence Lanahan, Aaron Henkin, Twig Harper, Ryan Dorsey, John Dierker, Jessica Riefler, and more. Produced by Shelly and Matthew H. Welch. “I love the fact that it's couched in this story that's this very simplistic, idealistic Victorian short story. But it has this twist to it. The twist is, ultimately in the end, it sort of doesn't work out. That to me is the real gist of what's going on. It would be a beautiful story if the boy learns violin and then goes off and becomes a concert violinist. He doesn't. It just leads to more beatings and more pain and more suffering. And then he dies.” -- from an interview in the
BALTIMORE SUN. “The Violencestring part d'une nouvelle mélodramatique de Sabine Baring-Gould, retranscrite avec un orchestre au grand complet. Un disque - on vous aura prévenu - très ‘secoué’!” -- ORKHESTRA. "It's a totally unique experience." 9 out of 10 stars -- FOXY DIGITALIS

Drug Warriors: 1995 - 2005 Volume Two (Fall Records 2007 digital reissue) “Shelly Blake experiences time differently from you and I. This record is proof of that. He and I seem to have reasonably coherent interactions, but he actually lives some time in the future and I have to wait to catch up to him, and by then, he's moved that much further past. Let me explain: I was handed a copy of Drug Warriors about 4 and a half years ago, a few months after the birth of his twin sons, Abraham and Cicero. He handed me a CD-R with artwork that he printed himself and said, ‘This is the record that almost destroyed my marriage, I hope you enjoy it.’ I didn’t. Not at first. I had not caught up to Shelly yet. I filed Drug Warriors in my CD rack and expected that to be the end of it. It was not. Something kept pulling my back to it, making me take it out and play it over and over again, only to give up in frustration and put it back in the rack for another few months. This cycle happened several times over a period of 2 years, and each time the time it stayed on the stereo got longer and the time it went back into the rack got shorter until eventually it never got put back in the rack. It is now one of my favorite records of all time. It only took 2 years, and of course by that time Shelly had moved on to something very different and left me to repeat the cycle again and again with his other records. Hopefully it won't take you as long to catch up to him as it does me.” -- from the liner notes by Dan Madri

Don Addersley Eats Bad Meat (Lack of Color 2006) An award-winning short film comedy about a man who eats bad roast beef and suffers terrible hallucinations. The film was made as part of the 48 Hour Film Festival competition, premiered at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and took home three awards.

Discourse and Correspondence (Fall Records 2006) A record in two parts. The first is a suite of rough little pop songs for piano and guitar; the second part is a collection of extreme noise abstractions recorded at FFMUP and a few other places. "...this is a moment that is familiar. It's when you're at the Scrabble tournament and you've just spelled the word 'singersongwriter' and there's a squaking sound, a brief electric buzz. You look up and there's a stork in the corner, long-legged, bearing an electric guitar. He stops playing, he looks at you, he blinks his eyes. "Yeah, what?" he seems to be saying, in stork. And when you look back down the word 'singersongwriter' has been changed, either by cheating or by some obscure rule. And your tiles now say: "Elope, elope, elope, elop!" -- SAID THE GRAMOPHONE

What a Queer Thing, Democracy (Ringing Boots / MT6 Records 2005) Four-tracked song-cycle detailing with life in America during the Iraq War. Including Shelly’s only recording of ‘Stress Positions’ a piece for drowning harmonica player.

Tumbling Traces / Scholastic Anomie (self-released ltd. ed. EP 2005) lo-fin split w/ Lawrence Lanahan and Austin Stahl. "Blake's catalog consists almost entirely of rudimentary home recordings of songs committed to tape as they were being written, never to be refined or recast. Partially inspired by the field recordings of Alan Lomax, Blake uses a one-take method to get back to the essence, as he sees it, of folk music, which once hinged on a much closer relationship between audiences and those who
made it. In this light, his works-in-progress can be seen as a rather unpretentious attempt to rehumanize (and even bring the 'folk' back into) folk music." -- NASHVILLE SCENE

Apache, What Apocrypha Have You? (self-released ltd. ed. 2004) Live microcassette tour recordings. Mixture of free improvisation and folk song; including Shelly and Joel Grip on a 15 minute long Hammond organ and double bass improv
recorded at Shelly’s house. Grip and Devin Gray appear on tracks recorded at AS220. Also pieces from a show at Strange M



It's noisy, real life and life imagined, that is. No?

Shelly's life in music has been more like the response of a lycanthropist to the wax and wane of the moon than that of a guitarist who learned early on that genre mattered more to the guys who stocked shelves in record stores than it ever mattered to people who really love music.

So, if by 'folk music' you mean setting ancient Sumerian and Sanskrit lyrics to pounding drums and eclectic horn arrangements and if by 'free improvisational' you mean flying free with scathing electric guitar that suddenly segues into the use of old license plates as free jazz percussion instruments, and by 'rock and roll' you mean totally giving up the ghost and running downstream with yr liver in yr hands, then yes, exactly.

Shelly Blake-Plock (b. 1974) is a musician, writer, and filmmaker from Baltimore, MD. His recording experience began in 1995 with the release of 'The Lonely Ornamental Music of Shelly Blake' -- a lo-fi cassette release of songs and improvisations mostly recorded on the outgoing message of an answering machine.

Early experiments in lo-fi democratized recording produced albums ranging in style from lo-fi bedroom pop and fractured Americana to abstract psych-electric guitar studies and organ infused freak-outs to non-instrument radical body performance and theatrical spiritualist esoterics.

2004 saw first of many collaborations with double bassist Joel Grip. In 2006, they performed a 48 hour continuous performance as a duo; this was a benefit for Public Health Music. They have also toured the US and Europe together in constant search for the faces in the trees.

In late 2006, Shelly and Matthew H. Welch began work on a quasi-musical called 'The Violencestring'. Based on a late Victorian ghost story and comprised entirely of free improvised music but with a scripted libretto, the piece was directed by Grip. The album was released to critical acclaim and in the European tour that followed, Blake-Plock and his compadres experimented on a nightly basis between a variety of ways in which to present themes from the album.