Singer’s Hard Rock show helps other patients, too
March 18, 2009
Glen Phillips’ solo acoustic shows actually rock harder than those with his big, boisterous bands.
It’s been harder for the frontman of Toad the Wet Sprocket to rock since Oct. 8, when a broken glass coffee table damaged the ulnar nerve in his left arm. However, Phillips said that he thinks of his solo acoustic work as his physical therapy, and he estimated that he’s about 80 percent recovered from the injury, with three fingers that are mostly usable.
“You can do a lot with three fingers,” Phillips said.
Luckily for music fans who turn out to the Hard Rock Cafe inside Harveys on Wednesday, March 25, Phillips considers himself a writer, singer and arranger foremost. He has not only his solo work and Toad from which to draw but also his other projects: “Guitarist is probably fourth down the line,” he said. “The job these days has been getting these various projects I’m doing off the ground.”
With a name like Toad the Wet Sprocket (which originated from an Eric Idle monologue on Monty Python’s “Contractual Obligation” album, according to Wikipedia), it’s unlikely that fans have forgotten Phillips’ work with the band he helped start in 1986 at San Marcos High School near Santa Barbara.
“I think we found a great balance with going out and playing the songs they expect to hear,” Phillips said. “I’m also really happy with the work I’ve been doing, and having been in Toad means there’s an audience willing to go out there and hear me.”
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While Toad released a live album in 2004, a compilation in 1999 and still embarks on short tours, the band’s last studio effort was “Coil” in 1997. Nevertheless, Phillips has been busy. One of his new projects, Works Progress Administration, grew out of his collaboration with Nickel Creek in 2004. In addition to Phillips and Sean and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek, the octet also includes pianist Benmont Tench and Cracker’s founding bass player, Davey Faragher. WPA’s debut album is due out in August.
Phillips invoked the psychedelic pop act MGMT in describing another new project, Remote Tree Children. The experimental band’s debut album, “Veteran of the Loudness Wars,” is available for download on its site at bandcamp.com.
Although this week’s show is Phillips solo, he draws not only on his varied back catalogue and Toad, but also his other projects.
“It’s, I think, a well-rounded repertoire,” he said “My favorite current songs to play are the WPA songs. I’m really happy with that record.”
If listeners like the acoustic arrangements on Wednesday, they might want to check out the bands’ more elaborate arrangements. For fans, it’s novel, and Phillips said playing an acoustic show is a way to get back what he lost.
“It’s more taxing because I have to be the whole band.”
Phillips’ show is part of the fifth annual March on Stage, the Hard Rock’s global live music series. Proceeds benefit Musicians on Call, an organization that brings live and recorded music to patients’ bedsides. Volunteers for the group have played for more than 125,000 people since its inception in 1999.