Josh Olmstead is a longstanding member of Philadelphia’s independent, underground music scene. He has released two full-length solo albums, an EP, and singles produced by Brian McTear (War on Drugs, Kurt Vile), Jon Low (The National, Sharon Van Etten), Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man), and Ben Riesman (Heyward Howkins). Hailed by music journalist A.D. Amorosi as “humble little-ole-folky-flowery-songwriter-pop-rocker Josh Olmstead,” he has been commended by WXPN’s Bruce Warren for his original songs “that stretch out nicely with cosmic guitar and keyboard jams.”
In addition to his work as a singer-songwriter, Olmstead is a classically trained guitarist, making him an unconventional and imaginative choice for lead guitar in a growing number of eclectic bands that he’s worked with over the years, including BC Camplight (Bella Union), Le Fits (UFI Records), Summer Fiction (Bank Robber Music), The Looks of It, TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb (American Diamond), and Vita & the Woolf. Olmstead’s lead guitar work in BC Camplight’s NewsWorks Tonight theme music can be heard weeknights at 6 pm throughout Greater Philadelphia on WHYY (an NPR member station). And, his guitar in the Le Fits’ song Daddy Was Wrong recently appeared on the soundtrack of the film, Knock, Knock, starring Keanu Reeves.
As an in-demand guitarist, Olmstead has toured internationally, performing music in England, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, and several U.S. cities. His performances include Bonnaroo, Fringe Arts, South by Southwest, and Xponential Music festivals, as well as podcast, radio, and TV appearances on such programs as Bands in the Backyard, Daytrotter, Food Network’s Chopped, WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, Weathervane Music Project Series, and WXPN’s The Key Studio Sessions and Folk Show with Gene Shay.
He has performed as the warmup act for two of his personal guitar heroes — Marc Ford (formerly of The Black Crowes) and Nels Cline’s of Wilco side project If By Yes — as well as for a number of his favorite singer-songwriters and bands: Buffalo Killers, Doug Paisley, Gary Louris of The Jayhawks, Howlin’ Rain, Iris Dement, Israel Nash, Jesse Malin, Lucero, Lydia Loveless, Truth & Salvage Co, and Wussy.
In 2015, Olmstead and his solo group were invited to perform as the backing band for Austin-based songwriters Elijah Ford (ex-Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses and son of Marc Ford) and John Jack Joseph on select east coast tour dates.
Olmstead is currently writing songs for a new solo album. His lead guitar on TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb’s highly-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Kong EP is expected later this year.