By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Bay Area songwriter who has been setting the bar high for bedroom studio producers for over 20 years, Kelley Stoltz celebrates the release of his latest effort with two special shows at the Chapel in San Francisco Thursday.

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While he first worked in the music industry while living in New York City during the ’90s, Stoltz didn’t release his first album until 1999 after he had relocated to San Francisco. Recorded entirely solo on four-track over the space of several years, The Past Is Faster announced Stoltz as a talented songwriter with a gift for crafting lush, lo-fi pop psychedelia.

His follow-up effort Antique Glow two years later found him upgrading his home-recording setup to a Tascam 388 1/4″ reel-to-reel tape machine and further spread the word of his music with CD releases by Bay Area imprint Jackpine Social Club in the U.S. and Raoul Records in Australia.

With his profile raised by reviews praising Antique Glow and his full album tribute re-recording of the classic Echo and the Bunnymen album Crocodiles (Stoltz’s version — entitled Crockodiles — was tracked in just a week), the musician stepped up his international touring and eventually got signed to Sub Pop Records.

His debut EP (The Sun Comes Through) in 2005 and subsequent string of albums for the label offered further proof of how Stoltz had refined his knack for Beatles/Beach Boys hooks and harmonies while maintaining the sometimes fractured sonic aesthetic of his home recordings. He also branched out and helped other Bay Area artists in the studio, including garage rockers Thee Oh Sees, fellow songwriter Bart Davenport and Comets on Fire drummer Utrillo Belcher’s indie-rock project Colossal Yes.

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Stoltz would eventually move on from Sub Pop after the release of his 2010 effort To Dreamers, issuing his next album Double Exposure on Jack White’s Third Man Records three years later and opening on part of the tour promoting the White solo record Lazaretto (the guitarist has long been an admirer of Stoltz’s, bringing him along as support for a tour by power-pop supergroup the Raconteurs a decade earlier).

The songwriter has maintained a high level of productivity in the years since, releasing six albums under his own name along with additional side project efforts — including a concert recording by the fictional band Strat (Live at the Whammy Bar) and the collaborative Falcon/Faulkland set Energy Beats Perfection made with Garth Steel Klippert — as well as spending two years as touring rhythm guitarist for Echo and the Bunnymen.

Last year, Stoltz released both the punchy collection of “power pub” anthems Hard Feelings and the more pop-minded Ah! (etc), which features contributions by Echo & the Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant, noted local singer Karina Denike (Dance Hall Crashers, Red Room Orchestra) and guitarist/songwriter Allyson Baker (Dirty Ghosts). Stoltz and his band featuring Baker and guitarist/keyboard player Doug Hilsinger (Bomb, Enorchestra) take the stage at the Chapel for two dinner shows celebrating Ah! (etc) with a psychedelic light show by Mad Alchemy and Stoltz singing from a third-story window to be in compliance with COVID restrictions for live performance.

The concerts mark the return of live music to the Chapel and its sister restaurant Curio for the first time since the holiday surge in COVID-19 cases forced the closure of restaurants except for take-out service. The $90 tickets ($35 for music plus a $55 dinner charge) are being sold in sets of 2, 4 or 6 to correspond to table seating. Masks are required for entry and all members of a party must be present and waiting together in order to be seated.

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Kelley Stolz Ah! (etc) Album Release Party
Thursday, Feb. 25, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. $90
The Chapel