Michael Phillips - songwriter, singer, guitar instrumentalist, performer; translator (university degree) & "language man"
Born in Vienna, Austria in '59 - "That's when I dropped from the sky - again! * definitely American-hearted, -minded and -spirited * bilingual * first guitar at age 8 * first own songs at 15 * quits his only formal guitar lessons after two years * 1976: meets Woodstock legend Tim Hardin in New York City * in the fall of 1976 first paid gigs * 1978: various rookie ("newcomer") contests (winner Int. Bregenz Folk Festival, Austria) * 1980: first album release * works as a soloist * appears on the same bill as, e.g., Les Brown, Gerry Lockran, Sally Oldfield, Ralph "Streets of London" McTell & Austro-Canadian folk pop star Jack Grunsky (joint tour '81) * 1988: starts performing in a band format (CD LIFE AT FIRST SIGHT, 1997) * since 1998, he's mostly been on tour solo as a "song & guitar man" again (vocals, 12-& 6-string acoustic guitar, dobro, electric guitar, harmonica) * Michael hasn't looked back writing new songs & guitar instrumentals * works as a performer wherever his music is cherished * November 2009, release of CD NEVER SLOW DOWN. More productions to follow!
The American folk, blues and rock 'n' roll music of the sixties. "What inspired me then to make music myself, was the guitar-songwriters who captured the spirit of their time and expressed it on the basis of folk and blues." Starting from there, Michael Phillips, over the years, has disclosed an own form of musical expression for himself, which combines elements of various musical styles in an independent way. His music, today, also betrays quite a weakness for rock'n'roll as well as for classical music forms (instrumentals).
Michael has never swum with the tide, when it comes to concessions to short-lived vogues and trends in music. In his uncompromisingly off-mainstream songs of love and "world review" that more than once feature a biting bitterness, sometimes even irony and scorn, he sheds a critical light upon the multi-facetted aspects of human existence, mirroring himself, as an individual, in his environment. In most cases the needs, desires and anxieties described are contrasted with the skin-deepness and alienation in a fast-living world which is bent on buying and consuming, and ruled by status-seeking, mindlessness and hypocrisy. Written with great care – often with a roguish and self-ironical wink as the artist's loophole – his lyrics lay proof of a keen poetic wit and a fervent love of – the American - language. His songs are hardly ever mere descriptions of atmospheres, moods, or emotional states: they are devoted to some specific subject and have a story, with a beginning and an ending. This being so, the listener cannot resist the impression that it is the passionate search for truth and the striving for artistic authenticity what his songs are all about.
Following the folk tradition, he is self-taught, exclusively playing by ear. Having to find his way on his own from the very beginning, he, at first, embraced the various guitar picking-styles of folk, blues and ragtime music, inclusive of alternate tunings and the slide guitar technique. "What's so fascinating to me about this kind of music, is that it offers an enormous potential of individuality because of the fact that this non-academic way of playing the guitar is not taught at conservatories." Over the years, with the 12-string guitar having become his chief instrument, he has thus attained a high measure of uniqueness. His refined technique is largely based on the right hand´s picking (with fingerpicks) of a melody or arpeggios, with the thumb simultaneously playing bass lines and providing rhythmical accents. Complex in form, tightly structured and entirely ready-composed ("Improvisation is not part of the plan here."), it is especially his instrumentals, that allow him to give full scope to his musical and technical skills as a guitarist.