It has been a couple of years since we last spoke with musician Glen Phillips, the troubador who has either gone solo or partipated in bands such as Toad the Wet Sprocket, Plover and Works Progress Administration, among others over the last 20 years.
At last chat, Phillips was offering refuge to neighors displaced by California wildfires, just weeks after suffering a severe injury to his arm that required him to re-learn how to play the guitar.
"My hand won't heal for another two years, and there's no telling how much it will recover," said Phillips. "I sliced the ulnar nerve just above the elbow, and nerves regenerate at about half an inch a month. At about 40 years old, it's a coin toss whether it'll come back or not. Fingers crossed (on the other hand, of course). I've had to pretty much relearn guitar, but it's going OK all considered."
Phillips is still busy plugging away with no less than five bands: His self-named solo effort, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Works Progress Administration, RemoteTreeChildren and Plover -- though the last two bands aren't currently touring.
Phillips manages to concurrently tour with his solo project, WPA and Toad -- three pretty distinct musical offerings. He admits, working with so many projects can get a little confusing from night to night.
"I've bit off a little more than I can chew in the last few years," said Phillips. "Mostly, though, I appreciate the variety. It keeps my mind active, and keeps me creative. I have played a show here and there when I've been in the middle of another project and realized I should have brushed up on that set of material before stepping in front of an audience. It can get a little hairy."
Phillips does what he does incredibly well. I can confidently say that fans of Toad will be fans of Phillips' solo material. WPA is a bit of a different offering, an independent band labeled only as an "expandable collective" of established musicians. Depending on who they can wrangle, WPA may show up with just the core members, or if you're lucky, the expanded band of eight players. Listen to WPA here.
"Recording WPA was pretty easy. Everybody plays at such a high level and there weren't any damaged egos. We just chose the best songs together and played them. Three days of rehearsal, five days of recording. It was surprisingly effortless," said Phillips.
For the former frontman of an insanely popular band, one might find it hard to imagine it being easy to allow the spotlight to shine on others -- but that's not Phillips' character, nor is does it fit the mold of the WPA collective.
"I love getting to share the load a little," said Phillips. "It can get a little lonely doing solo stuff, and it's great to have an opportunity to not be in front all the time and get to serve the song and the other musicians in a more subtle way."
Heading out of Dallas, Phillips will head east where he will hop onboard a cruise ship and join hundreds of fans and dozens of other musicians for the Cayamo music cruise. Phillips said the cruise has a "pretty amazing collection of artists," such as Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and Shawn Mullins, and that he would "play it every year if they let me."