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Grant-Lee Phillips’ Parlor of Stars at The Lounge at City Winery Nashville

Summer Residency Wed. Aug. 14, 21 & 28

Grant-Lee Phillips performs with Special Guests

8.14 - Robyn Hitchcock, Dawn Landis, and Andrew Combs

8.21 - Alex Wong, Wild Ponies, and Kevin Gordon

8.28  - Jarrod Dickenson and more TBA

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what’s new

May 7, 2019

Transmitting from the homestead today, fresh off my springtime tour in Denmark, Belgium and the UK. This time around, I shared the bill with singer/songwriter Josh Rouse.  The two of us made a road-trip of it,  puddle-jumping, riding the rails, perfecting our moving roll into black cabs with guitars on our backs. It was a quite an adventure! We played some beautiful venues, including a number of awe-inspiring churches that were built in the late 19th century, where our voices swirled around the rafters. A thousand thanks to everyone who made it out to these unforgettable shows.

Back home in Nashville, I’m enjoying the sunshine that that we didn’t get enough of out on the trail. This, along with writing new songs and preparing for a summer residency in Nashville in august. “Leave a Light On” one of my newest songs, has become a regular feature in my set over the last few weeks. I’m starting to get that recording itch and anticipate going into the studio some this summer.

I’ll also be heading out East this August, with shows in Philadelphia at Boot & Saddle on Aug. 7th, Washington DC at Union Stage on Aug. 8th, New York City at The Rubin Museum of Art on Aug. 9th, Northampton, MA at the Parlor Room and August 10th and in Cambridge, MA at Club Passim on Aug. 11th. I look forward to seeing you there! Your’s Grant-Lee

 

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PHOTO: PETER ERIKSSON  @photographerpeter

PHOTO: PETER ERIKSSON @photographerpeter

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Grant-lee Phillips

 

“I’m drawing on the urgency of the moment,” reflects Grant-Lee Phillips. “The things that eat away in the late hours…”

With Widdershins, Phillips invests the insight, nuance, and wit that has distinguished his songcraft over the past three decades in a riveting dissection of today’s fraught social landscape. Beneath the moment’s tumultuous veneer, Phillips uncovers resonances spanning centuries – patterns echoing from the present day to the distant past. In doing so, he unearths deep reserves of hope and even humor, transcending shock to reveal age-old cycles and archetypes – which Phillips delights in resurrecting.

Phillips explains. “I made a commitment to myself not to sink into despair: I’m tracing a longer narrative here. We’ve been through some of this before – not just our country, but the civilization as a whole…”

The urgency that first spurred Phillips informs Widdershins both lyrically and musically, as its twelve songs arrive in a headlong rush, with the sharp trio of Phillips (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jerry Roe (drums), and Lex Price (bass) serving as messengers. Recording live in the studio – with all of Phillips’s vocals sung while cutting basic tracks – emphasizes the clarity and prescience of the material. Says Phillips, “This moment is explosive, volatile, and heightened. It’s important to me that the music reflect that – not just lyrically, but how it wallops you over the head. It should convey that same spirit of revolt, upheaval, and absurdity.”

The album’s title – meaning to proceed counterclockwise – emerged from the buoyant, surging opener “Walk in Circles,” which throws down the gauntlet on the record’s frontline. “St. Augustine said the wicked walk in circles,” muses Phillips, “and I thought, I have no problem with that. Sign me up with the witches then, if that means moving in step with nature – but let’s not go backwards.”

From there commences a rogue’s gallery of charlatans, tyrants, and seers; a travelogue of manipulations, mannerisms, and misdeeds. “The Wilderness” examines our hair-trigger default to tribal divisions – that fatal tendency within us to cast out the other, making them the target of our fear and derision. Crowds also play a part in the satirical “Unruly Mobs,” in which Marie Antoinette condescendingly looks down upon the rabble proletariat, her playful disdain blinding her to the imminent tumult surrounding her. Phillips assumes the title role on “King of Catastrophe.” Choking back anxiety while thumbing the pages of history, he sings “It’s not as though we’re helpless and it has to be,” he sings. “They left a couple notes behind – they built a wall in Germany.” He describes the rollicking “Miss Betsy” as “a parlor song about the horrors of child labor. The character is essentially a wicked stepmother, a cruel headmistress – with just a hint of Mrs. Robinson tossed in for melodic pleasure.”

Phillips’s explorations reach a fever pitch on the terse, driving “Scared Stiff.” “I wrote that so quickly,” he recalls. “One sitting, in a sweat, thinking about intimidation, people feeling up against a wall.” Humor pervades, as the song nicked its title from a vintage Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin horror/comedy.

By turns sardonic, provocative, and illuminating, Widdershins delivers its poetic truths in Phillips’s peerless melodic sensibilities, relayed via vocal performances that balance intensity and vulnerability. Consistent with his many albums, Phillips presides over the production of the album. “By the time it’s done, I will have walked every inch of the album,” he says, “surveyed every alcove, crawled up in the attic. I approach being my own producer with the seriousness of a builder – just as I would if I were producing someone else.” Basic tracks were recorded over four days with engineer Mike Stankiewicz at Sound Emporium in Nashville. “He was so fast. We flew through songs and Mike never missed a beat or a button. I took it all home, added a few more brush strokes, but I knew we had something special when I left Sound Emporium.”

While this is the second album recorded with the Roe/Price rhythm section, it marks the first collaboration between producer Phillips and Widdershins mixer Tucker Martine (case/lang/veirs, My Morning Jacket, Bill Frisell, the Decemberists, Punch Brothers, etc.) “I’ve wanted to work with Tucker for a long time,” says Phillips. “It was clear that we spoke the same language and had comparable sensibilities.” For instance, when starting work on the backhanded salute “Totally You Gunslinger,” Phillips suggested they aim for a mix that combined Roy Orbison with The Smiths. “Somehow that made as much sense to him as it did to me.”

Grant-Lee Phillips’s gifts for reconciling classic touchstones with an adventurous sensibility has distinguished his work since he first emerged as the frontman of the acclaimed trio Grant Lee Buffalo in the early ‘90s. At once cinematic in scope and disarmingly intimate, the band’s music set the table for a varied, captivating solo career that embraced electronic soundscapes (Mobilize, 2001), reimagined country-rock (Virginia Creeper, 2004), faced fatherhood (Little Moon, 2009), delved into his own native American heritage (Walking in the Green Corn, 2012), and reflected upon his own life-changing move from Los Angeles to Nashville (The Narrows, 2016). Whether fronting a band or performing solo, he is a riveting live performer – which many discovered through his role as the town troubadour on the cult television hit The Gilmore Girls (both in its original run and the 2016 continuation).

Phillips sees in Widdershins a connection to his earliest work with Grant Lee Buffalo. “That was also a time of intense social anxiety. The Gulf War, the LA riots – everything became cranked up. Then a few years later there was the earthquake we lived through, which also made for a time of uneasiness. I was in a heightened state when I wrote that stuff – as I am now.”

As the past and present converge and the journey of Grant-Lee Phillips continues, his craftsmanship continues to blossom. In times of tumult, he awakens comfort and hope by shining light into darker corners. “I hope to express my faith in people, my faith in the good ideas we’re capable of, and that regardless of what opposition we face, the fact that we can surmount these things,” he concludes. “We can stare them down, laugh at them, belittle them, and drive the darkness back into a hole. Music is a way of kicking some of these giants out at the knees – along with a bit of gallows humor: All the noose that’s fit to print…” 

 
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Management
TOMMY MANZI / UMBRELLA GROUP MANAGEMENT
425 W. 23 STREET, SUITE 1BB
NEW YORK, NY 10011
212.785.1133
email: thomasmanzi {at} mac {dot} com

Publishing: Storm Hymnal Ltd. (BMI) & Chrysalis Music Ltd. (World Excluding N. America).
For licensing, publishing and other inquiries contact Tommy Manzi

Booking: USA
Mike Leahy
Concerted Efforts
Ph 617-969-0810
mike@concertedefforts.com

Booking: INTERNATIONAL
Paul McGivern
Pitch & Smith Ltd
13 Hague Street
London, E2 6HN, United Kingdom

e: paul@pitchandsmith.com
Tel. +44 (0)20-3637 3361

www.pitchandsmith.com/#grant-lee-phillips

official music videos

From the latest Grant-Lee Phillips album Widdershins

 

 Watch more videos

King of Catastrophes Dir. Grant-Lee Phillips

Miss Betsy Dir. Grant-Lee Phillips

Walk in Circles ( Teaser ) Dir. Grant-Lee Phillips

Tennessee Rain Dir. Stacey Huckeba

Smoke and Sparks Dir. Kris Kristensen

Check out more music videos, including live performances on my Youtube channel GrantLeePhillipsTV

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 Grant-Lee Phillips’ Parlor of Stars

The Lounge at City Winery Nashville

Summer Residency Wed. Aug. 14, 21 & 28

8.14 - Grant-Lee Phillips with Robyn Hitchcock, Dawn Landis, and Andrew Combs

8.21 - Grant-Lee Phillips with Alex Wong, Wild Ponies, and Kevin Gordon

8.28  - Grant-Lee Phillips with Jarrod Dickenson and more TBA

TICKETS ARE $10 IN ADVANCE, & $12 AT THE DOOR

Enter “Grant-Lee Phillips’s Parlor of Stars” – the celebrated singer/songwriter’s summer residency at The Lounge at City Winery Nashville. Kicking off on August 14th, the limited run will continue every Wednesday throughout the month. Phillips, the front-man of the group Grant Lee Buffalo turned solo artist will perform from his overflowing songbook and play host to an impressive cast of special musical guests. Robyn Hitchcock, Dawn Landes, Steve Poltz and Jarrod Dickson are among the slated guests while “Surprise guests are bound to roll in through the kitchen” says Phillips. Assuming the role of ring-master and host comes naturally to Phillips, having been a regular fixture at Largo, the LA venue that so many musicians and standup comics call home.

“I come from that place, where the singers had to hold down a show to survive, where comics might play a telecaster. I love what happens when you throw us all in the ring together. It’s like a neighborly cage match.” Phillips jokes. It’s no surprise that Phillips spent the nights of his youth at a Vaudeville revival theater in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Some will undoubtedly know Grant-Lee Phillips from his quirky role of The Town Troubadour on the syndicated TV show The Gilmore Girls. Phillips most recent album, Widdershins, was recorded in Nashville, his new home. The album was named among the Top Ten Americana Albums of 2018 by Mojo Magazine. Phillips tours both the US and internationally. He’s headlined City Winery in New York City, Boston, Chicago and Nashville. Says Phillips “My Parlor of Stars is a place where everyone’s welcome, where the performers forget they’re on a stage and we all get down to the business of having a good time.”

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