PHIL KEAGGY BAND
Lights Up Times Square
as Legendary Glass Harp Returns to New York!
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Phil Keaggy Band was billed as the Friday night act at the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill in the heart of Manhattan on March 9, 2012. We had spent the afternoon at Ripley's Believe It Not just across the street from the venue. When Phil and his group took the stage we could hardly believe that the performers were actually the three members of the legendary Decca recording artists - Glass Harp. The next two hours of music was truly unbelievable and enjoyable.

Phil Keaggy and Glass Harp Return toi New York City
The Phil Keaggy Band was actually a surprise reunion of the legendary Glass Harp!

Phil Keaggy is a guitarist, producer and songwriter. He has released over 50 solo albums, both instrumental and vocal. In addition, Phil has played on 8 records with the band Glass Harp who released their self-titled debut in 1970. Keaggy has also been a guest guitarist on many records ranging from the hard rocking P.O.D. to the progressive Neal Morse.

Phil has won a number of Dove awards. Starting in 1988 for his instrumental album, "The Wind and the Wheat and in 1992 for his Celtic-influenced, "Beyond Nature". From 1998 to 2001, Phil has dominated the "Instrumental Record" category at the Doves, winning for "Invention", "Acoustic Sketches", "Majesty and Wonder" and "Lights of Madrid". For three years in a row, Keaggy was voted one of the top fingerstyle guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine readers.

Soundpress.net has been following Mr. Keaggy since the early 90's and we were looking forward to the Phil Keaggy Band performance. Around seven thirty, Phil appeared on stage stating, "we are supposed to go on at eight but that seems like a long time to wait - so, since I'm ready, I will be my opening act".

Keaggy recalled when he and Glass Harp opened for The Kinks in 1971 at Carnegie Hall and later reminisced that the power trio had played at the legendary Fillmore East in its last weeks before the venerable venue closed. These two occasions were the last times that Glass Harp had performed in New York City.

Picking up an acoustic, Phil played an instrumental piece combining his signature style of layering leads mixed with tapping the strings and added additional sounds to the mix. After thanking people for their positive comments he moved into the Irish inspired "Shades of Green" - a spirited tune enhanced by Keaggy looping percussion parts and bass notes into the song.

Phil mentioned that George Harrison was one of his influences and his interpretation of "Here Comes The Sun" was bright and beguiling as he sang into the body of his acoustic with the crowd joining in for the hook line. He played "Legacy" a new song from Live From Kegworth (October 2011) that was a mix of majestic leads, the tap method and melodies with effects.

Phil closed the bonus acoustic set with "Salvation Army Band" a live staple that is always different depending on how Phil blends the effects, changes keys and handles the catchy refrain.

Phil Keaggy and Glass Harp Return toi New York City

Daniel Pecchio (bass) and John Sferra (drums) promptly joined Phil on stage at eight p.m. Keaggy switched to a red electric guitar and shared how the three met as teens. They played the rocking "Chase The Bad Away" that included extended instrumentation. Phil explained that the next song was written for Compassion kids - a ministry that Phil has supported for many years. He explained that "Don't Pass Me By" is not the Ringo song although he did sing a few bars of The Beatles' tune before going into his track. Hard hitting rhythms matched the hard hitting message of the song.

"Everlasting Light" which is a song that John penned was up-beat and hopeful and was elevated with harmonizing vocals. The next piece was a newer song based on a Psalm and the soul that turned out to be a rock and roll song. The tune was up-tempo and soulful with a soaring guitar solo backed by solid rhythms.

Phil switched to a Les Paul Sunburst and the band played the potent "John The Revelator". There were some changes to the lyrics and Sferra's powerful drumming propelled the piece. The progression went into an expansive montage of Glass Harp tunes and even a few bars of The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville".

They continued jamming on Glass Harp tunes including the dynamic "Do Lord" with its dense rhythms and lavish leads. This flowed into "Village Queen" that was broadened instrumentally with sassy guitar licks. "Changes" from 1971 with John handling vocals was captivating.

The band played another newer song entitled "Where the Morning Dawns" inspired by George MacDonald - a Scottish writer who had a big heart for God and people. The atmospheric piece floated in some parts moving into an almost rap of works in others than progressing into rock and returning to a more fluid feel. "Can You See Me" closed the set with a colorful jam.

"Thank you, New York! God bless," stated Phil as they left the stage. Since another show was scheduled at B.B. Kings the Phil Keaggy Band did not play an encore but they left the enthusiastic crowd with the memory of an unbelievable career spanning show. The set included plenty of Glass Harp tunes and a fine mix from Phil's prolific solo catalogue. The acoustic set was an extra that added to an enlightening evening!

Glass Harp was as potent as ever and Keaggy's new tracks rocked with melody and power and should keep fans of his Sunday's Child and Crimson and Blue eras quite satisfied. What would be even better would be another visit to the Big Apple by the mythical Cleveland-based trio. We can't wait another forty years!

Phil Keaggy and Glass Harp Return toi New York City
Glass Harp in New York: Daniel Pecchio on bass, Phil Keaggy on guitar and John Sferra on drums make a powerful trio!

Related Links: For more information on PHIL KEAGGY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Phil Keaggy | Glass Harp | Compassion International | B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

(Originally Published on March 10, 2012)

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