When we heard that Guitarp master Phil deGruy was going to make a rare Los Angeles appearance, Frank (Doucette) and I went nuts.
For those new to Phil — or his invention, the Guitarp — check out my original in-depth profile and interview: Phil deGruy: Limitless Guitar
He played a single gig last night (at Alva’s in San Pedro, where we played last year with Ken Bonfield). Phil is what is known in the biz as “a guitarist’s guitarist,” so not surprisingly, a small horde of local guitar pros were in attendance, including Scott Henderson and Sid Jacobs.
Phil did not disappoint. While his CDs are amazing, it’s another thing to see him re-create and embellish his arrangements live. A mad genius and special wit, it was also great to finally meet him in person.
He’s well known for his spectacular “Lenny Breau harmonics”…
…as well as his very individualistic harp string embellishments.
I think I may decide to re-evalute and move Phil’s location on our Players page. I have him under “Non-conventional,” an understatement to be sure — yet his technical and musical use of his super-trebles is not as “special effect”-driven nor as eccentric as I seem to have remembered. It may be that it’s hard to sometimes tell whether the notes you’re hearing are from the neck or the harp bank; they’re mixed in a lot more than at first appears. He probably uses them more melodically, creatively and consistently than 90% of the acoustic super-treble HG players out there.
And — he’s added a whole new twist — and it is a doozy!
For the past year, Phil has been using the DigiTech digital Whammy pedal. At this concert, he had only the supers going through it.
When we heard the first super-treble melody that included an impossible “pedal steel guitar” bend, our jaws (and ears) dropped. Very cool. For Phil’s style of madcap jazz hilarity-infused virtuosity, this option just adds to his musical effects and colors — and extended pitch range to chords and melody notes. I’m a fan.
The amazing custom Novax Guitarp
Of course I had to continue my new nerdy “Harp Guitar Selfie” tradition:
(I need either longer arms or a shorter face)
In honor of “Phil Night,” I put his first 2 CDs on sale at Harp Guitar Music. Both are essential for jazz guitar fans.
“Ten Years After” in my title comes from the interesting fact that Phil was my very first (and sadly, only) Feature Player interview for Harpguitars.net in September, 2004. By complete coincidence, he came to town for this “re-visit” exactly ten years later. How appropriate! And so I’ve chosen Phil again for our Featured Player of the Month.