Living in Harmony: A Q&A with Duncan Phillips
Join Duncan Phillips, Kate MacLeod, Kat Eggleston, and Erin Inglish this Saturday, February 1st at 8pm for their concert– Singer-Songwriters in the Round.
As the son of Bruce, “Utah Phillips, Duncan Phillips began traveling on the road with his father in the winter of 2000. Utah referred to Duncan as his “road manager”, but Duncan jokes that everyone knows his father couldn’t be managed. Bruce always had the dream of playing on stage together with his son, but as a kid, Duncan could never reconcile that in learning to play the guitar, he would be learning one of the very things that kept him separated from his father for so many years. Duncan performed on stage just shortly after his dad’s death in 2008.
Along with Utah’s old road-worn Guild guitar, Duncan inherited the songs and stories of the people and places that his father wrote about over his forty plus years of wandering the country. In Duncan’s own words: “Well, even though he may be gone, every time I’m on the stage, he is there with me and this my story, so far…”
What are some of your earliest memories of music?
As far back as I can remember music seemed to always fill our house. Until my parents separated when I was about 5 years old. Then the music literally stopped.
How has your relationship with your father influenced your music?
I say the music stopped when he left Utah, but it was always rattling around in the back of my mind. The music did start again when I became his road manager in the year 2000. After his death in 2008 what I inherited, along with his old Guild guitar, were the songs and stories of people and places. There’s a lot to a question like this. Some of this is better explained at our shows.
How do you balance your personal life with your life as a songwriter and performer?
For me to be able to tour and travel the road all aspects of my life have to be in harmony. When I’m home I take care of businesses so when I’m on the road the people and towns get my undivided attention.
Tell us a story from your experiences on the road.
Recently while in Nebraska a young server at the diner commented that she thought the word oxymoron meant Jumbo Shrimp– seems simple. Apparently in the classroom one day her teacher told her that oxymoron meant Jumbo Shrimp but what she didn’t tell her is what the word oxymoron itself meant. All theses years she thought it was just another word for Jumbo Shrimp.
Later down the road in Louisville we found out that the Southern Baptist Congregation had forbid its members to participate in yoga classes based on on its religious overtones.
I see me trying to explain that in Seattle. For me the road is a collage of people and stories an I hope my shows reflect that.
Who are you listening to now? What are some of your current musical and non-musical inspirations?
I’ve logged a lot of miles lately and mostly what I listen to is what other artist trade with me while on the road. It’s always to good to hear what other musicians are doing.
Tell us what’s coming up for you– what are you most excited about?
I am going to be writing a play based on one my fathers live performances.