Rev. Dean Phelps, currently serving the Indiana regional church, claimed first place in the National Thumbpicking Guitar Contest held at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Ark., on May 12. He oversees new church establishment and ministries of stewardship and communication for the Christian Church in Indiana.
Originally from Maysville, Ky., Phelps has been playing guitar for over 40 years.
Thumbpicking, also known as thumb style or thumb and finger style, is a guitar technique where the guitarist plays bass, rhythm and melody simultaneously. With roots in ragtime and delta blues, the style emerged in west central Kentucky around the turn of the 20th century.
Although he has many years of experience as a performing and recording guitar player and singer, Phelps only recently discovered the thumbpicking style. Phelps entered the national competition for the first time last year, finishing third. Previous recognitions for his playing include winning the thumbpicking guitar contest at the Indiana State Picking and Fiddling Championship in 2010.
The National Thumbpicking Contest is part of Thumbpicking Weekend at the Ozark Folk Center.