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Playing with Phil Keaggy in Louisville

September 26, 2007

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One of the best things about my job is the people I get to meet and work with, and this weekend I was especially aware of that as I got to open up for one of my musical heroes, Phil Keaggy. 

I’ve probably seen Phil in concert more than I’ve seen anybody else – we’d catch every concert that was within 3 hours of where I lived. I got to meet him several times, too, and found him to be as kind as he was gifted – which is saying a lot. (If you’re not familiar with Phil Keaggy’s work, you should know that he’s one of the premier guitarists making music today. www.philkeaggy.com)

In fact, I was a little nervous to play before him. But it was a great show and after the enthusiastic response from the audience at the end of my set, Phil told me to do another song (which was very generous of him). After I was through, Phil walked out on stage as I introduced him. After talking briefly about how he’s inspired me over the years, I said, “ladies and gentleman, Phil Keaggy – my biological father!” and then we quick stood next to each other. Phil is about 5’4 and I’m ridiculously tall at about 6’6, so it was a good sight gag. He’s got a quick wit, though, and countered with “it’s hard to biological (as in buy a logical) father these days…”

Phil proved that he’s still the best at what he does, and also that he’s not rested on his laurels but continues to grow and is in fact better than ever. For 2 hours we were held captive by a master at the top of his game. His new CD “Roundabout” features some of the amazing jams he’s doing on stage “in the moment” these days.

The best part of the night was hanging out backstage and talking music and stories with a man who’s been my hero for years. (I drove my mom and later my wife crazy as I would sit at home with my guitar and try to perfect my own tapping technique after seeing a Keaggy concert.) He was kind and generous, and the best compliment he paid me was when he said I reminded him of Mark Heard, my greatest songwriting hero. 

It was a great night and I was blessed to make new friends in Louisville on both sides of stage. 

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