Recently, one of my guilty pleasures has been re-watching episodes of a favorite television series, "Gilmore Girls". Actually, I take back the "guilty" part of that comment. I was and still am a fan of the show’s rapid-fire pop culture quips and snarky back and forths, in spite of any naysayers (and I know that there are some out there). It’s also through that show that I happened upon musician Grant-Lee Phillips. Appearing in nineteen episodes as a street corner musician, serenading the Girls and their neighbors in Stars Hollow as they went about their day, Phillips played the role of The Town Troubadour. Philips' screen time and lines on the show were limited, but the small parts that he did act were every bit as funny and quirky as I'd come to expect from any of the other characters. When I first watched the series during its network run over ten years ago, the character piqued my interest, but it wasn’t until I dusted off my season DVDs and saw him again that I began to really wonder. Was this actor an accomplished musician, or someone unknown at that time, waiting for a big break? As it turns out, it was the former. Phillips was no novice; he already had over two decades of experience working in the entertainment industry under his guitar strap.
Phillips began playing guitar at a young age, with some performances at a vaudeville revival house as a teenager. During his college-age years, Phillips attended film school for a short time in the early 1980s, but decided that music was the path he’d rather take. During that decade he formed the band Shiva Burlesque with friends and fellow classmates, releasing two LPs before they disbanded in the early 1990s. Phillips later went on to form the band Grant Lee Buffalo with two other former Shiva members. Releasing their first album in 1993, they enjoyed much success touring in Europe, went on to tour with bands such as R.E.M., The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam, and released three more albums until 1998, with Phillips embarking on a solo career shortly after.
|Grant-Lee Phillips (photo: Denise Siegel)|
These days, Phillips regularly plays sold-out shows at Largo, a nightclub/cabaret venue in Los Angeles. He and the other members of Grant Lee Buffalo have also reunited to do a few shows within the United States.
|Phillips performing at Largo (photo: Lincoln Andrew DeFer)|
If Grant-Lee Phillips wasn't already on your radar, I highly suggest a visit to his fun-to-navigate website: http://www.grantleephillips.com/ to learn more about him and his work.