CHECKING IN WITH PHIL KEAGGY.
It had been awhile since we talked with the inspiring Phil Keaggy. Besides being the inspiration for a number of the best Christian musicians of the next generation, Keaggy is one of the best guitarists in music today.
So, ChristianMusic decided to check in with the master to see what he’s up to. As one would suspect, it is a lot, and now includes jazz. Working with drummer John Sferra, from the Glass Harp, and keyboardist Jack Giering, Phil has recently released the instrumental album, Interdimensional Traveler.
“The album started in Jack’s head,” Phil explains. “It was born out of a time when he was having heart bypass surgery.” Phil had played on previous albums with Jack, and they just decided to see what it would be like to do an instrumental piece. “It went so smoothly. We already have another album almost completed,” Phil reveals.
Technology has helped. The musicians live in different cities and have collaborated by emailing files of their parts to each other.
“John Sferra, Jack Giering and I have always loved instrumental recordings, from Benny Goodman to Jeff Beck -- with some Booker T and the MGs thrown in,” Phil explains. “We had such freedom doing this CD, even though I was here in Nashville and John and Jack were up in Ohio and Pennsylvania. It all flowed beautifully, as if we were in the room together!
The new album is nearly done and may even top, in my opinion, the first one.”
Because of his skill, Phil plays on many other albums. One of them is an upcoming release by Micky Dolenz, of The Monkees. “I think it’s going to be big,” Phil opines. “Micky’s singing is just stellar.” Micky and producer David Harris have chosen songs that were influential in Micky’s career as well as a couple of remakes of his Monkee days’ hits.
A resident of Nashville, Phil still tours, playing throughout the country at churches, colleges, theatres, festivals, and other venues, to all ages and generations. “I love playing for the kids,” he says. With a voice and sound
that has the poignant sweet acoustic quality of Paul McCartney, it’s no wonder that the kids love Phil, too.
“It’s no secret that the Fabs (Beatles) were influential on my musical development, and in particular Paul’s singing,” Phil says. “As a youngster, I tried real hard to sing his songs. It was when I grew up a bit to discover that I can be myself and have my own voice, even with his influence detectable. I still get a kick out of listening to those early Beatle recordings. They were a great band.”
Phil’s recent works include a lovely Christmas album, entitled Welcome Inn, that has been heralded for its acoustic quality and beautiful treatment of traditional songs. He also produced and played on an unusual album, called Hamra, that features music by Uyghur Christians, from far west China.
“I’m a Christian and I’m a Christian musician,” Phil says, and discussing his eclectic nature, he adds, “I believe the Lord wants us to invest in the gifts he’s given us, and be willing to share those gifts with others.”
-- Nate Lee