Toad's Glen Phillips Plays 'Intimate Evening' in Dallas

Bend's Intimate Evening series moved to Rock House Film Studio

By Frank Heinz
|  Thursday, Nov 20, 2008  |  Updated 3:23 PM CDT
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Toad's Glen Phillips Plays 'Intimate Evening' in Dallas

Glen Phillips

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Former Toad the Wet Sprocket front-man Glen Phillips is playing Dallas' Rock House Film Studio Friday night as part of Bend Studio's Intimate Evening concert series.

Since Toad disbanded in 1998, Phillips has kept busy with a very wide variety of eclectic projects, not to mention a robust solo career. 

Phillips is currently involved in no less than four projects, including the Works Progress Administration, Plover, the Mutual Admiration Society and Remote Tree Children.

Yes, he is very, very busy.

The WPA is comprised of Phillips with members of Nickel Creek, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Elvis Costello and the Imposters, while the MAS is made up of Phillips and Nickel Creek's Chris Thile and Sara and Sean Watkins. If that weren't enough, Phillips also recently released an album with the band Plover made up of himself, Garrison Starr and Neil Hubbard, while also carving out time for a self-described "bizarre, freak-out project" with friend John Askew called Remote Tree Children.

"We are in an era where having a sound is really important and it's the one thing I was never really able to stick to as a solo artist," said Phillips. "Rather than trying to hem all my various interests into a single project, it's been really nice to get to, you know, I love playing, singing live in the studio and having something be all about human interaction and I also love hacking apart sound files and playing with computers.  It seems like a good balance of these various outlets, where I'm having fun in all these different directions."

So, what does it all sound like and how do the projects differ?

"The Plover project has a very moody, trancey quality to it.  The WPA record is eight people live in a studio recorded by Jim Scott -- sounds like, kind of classic American music -- two fiddles and pedal steel and a bunch of singers.  It's much more like a band or classic American outfit.  Remote Tree Children is geek disco," Phillips said.

At Friday's show, Phillips said Toad fans can expect to hear some of their favorites as well as selections from his solo career and many of his other projects.

"I tend to play solo career and Toad. I mean, the WPA stuff fits in very well with an acoustic show.  The RTC stuff is way too out there to play acoustic."

In Dallas, Phillips will be playing with WPA and MAS band mates Sara and Sean Watkins after suffering a recent injury that temporarily left him with only partial use of his left arm. Phillips said he was sitting on a glass coffee table, moved back and the glass collapsed, partially severing a nerve in his left arm and limiting his ability to play the guitar.

"I can kind of play guitar.  I feel like I am about 10 years back in my ability, but I can play somewhat," Phillips said. "It will be very interesting to see how it goes."

After Toad ended, Phillips said he wanted to do a solo project for awhile but quickly realized he was having more fun playing music with people he loved and that injuring his arm has only benefited that endeavor.

"I had some kind of chip on my shoulder about needing to do the solo thing after Toad, at some point I forgot that wasn't the only thing I wanted to do.  I like working with other people ... I decided I was just going to have fun and work and make music with people I love," Phillips said. "When I sliced my arm up I was thinking, 'Wow, all I have been thinking about is that I don't want to have to work alone all the time anymore ... I'm sick of it being about me," said Phillips. "So, cutting the arm kind of forced my hand in a certain way."

He is doing what he said is simply, "the most fun," but is looking forward to a little down time early next year.

"I'm mostly excited about in January, you know, getting to do all the honey-dos," Phillips said. "The lawn has suffered. The projects have been doing well, but the lawn has definitely suffered."

Phillips' munificence apparently knows no bounds.  Phillips lives only a few blocks from an emergency staging area where officials were battling the Tea Fire that decimated part of Montecito, Calif., last week.  He graciously took time out of his day to have our chat while  playing host to nearly a dozen evacuees who had lost their homes overnight.

In response to the community loss, Phillips and some friends have created a Web site that will provide resources and aid for those impacted by the fire.  You can read more about the organization in Phillips blog on his Web site, www.glenphillips.com.

Phillips plays Bend Studio's Intimate Evening series held at Rock House Film Studio on Cole Avenue this Friday.  For more information, visit www.bendstudio.com.

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