My first encounter with Jon Phillip was at the recent performance by Tommy Stinson’s Cowboys in the Campfire at Franklin’s Luna Record Shop. I couldn’t help but notice this guy in the audience who knew all the words and sang along to every song. Tommy eventually acknowledged his friend Jon, and I later met him and learned that he got to know those songs while a member of Stinson’s band.
Meeting Jon and seeing his passion for fandom and record collecting was like finding a younger version of myself. But, unlike me, he’s also a musician who brings an interesting past and future to the Nashville Music scene.
In addition to playing in Stinson’s band, Jon has also served time on the drums for the Paul Collins Beat, Berwanger and several other bands. Stepping out on his own, there are also some cool new power pop tunes that Jon has recorded with his Mini Meltdowns trio. You can hear the four-song EP digitally now prior to its upcoming April 20 release on both vinyl and CD.
So, thanks to my Franklin neighbor Jon Phillip for giving us the low down on his life in Music City through his 11 Answers to my 11 Questions.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m originally from Milwaukee, WI. I absolutely love it there and will always consider it home, but living there and in the surrounding area for 35 years, I realized I needed a change. I got sober six years ago, and it didn’t take long after getting sober to come to the realization that I no longer felt comfortable living near all my triggers and shadows of my past. It’s a strange feeling when you no longer fit in a place that helped shape and define you as a person. That, and moving away from my family, friends, favorite sports teams, and music scene was tough, but I was ready for a change.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
The first record I bought was Def Leppard’s Hysteria on CD from K-Mart in Kenosha, WI when it came out in 1987. I’m a collector, so I’m looking at LP’s and 45’s online and in stores and purchasing things almost every week when I can afford it. In the last month I’ve purchased an OG copy of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy and an OG copy of Lou Reed’s debut LP from Foundation College Park in Orlando, FL, an OG copy of Beastie Boys’ Aglio e Olio from my friend Parker’s shop in Costa Mesa, CA called Creme Tangerine Records, the new Hot Snakes’ Jericho Sirens from the band when I attended their show here at Mercy Lounge, and a Dischord Records EP compilation LP of The Teen Idles, S.O.A., Government Issue, and Youth Brigade, an OG copy of Link Wray’s Be What You Want To, Lee Hazlewood’s The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides (1968-71) and a 6-LP box set called Nashville Now from 1974 that has singles from many country artists from that era by Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Tammy Wynette from Love Garden in Lawrence, KS.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
My dad took me to go see Def Leppard for my first concert ever at Alpine Valley on the Hysteria tour in 1987, and it completely blew my mind. The last was Tommy Stinson’s Cowboys in the Campfire at Luna Record Shop in Franklin.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Gram Parsons, without a shadow of a doubt. His contribution to Nashville’s sound is undeniable. Without Gram, there would be no Emmylou. Another major one for me would be Levon Helm. His work with The Band and solo material defines what American Music is and should be and had a heavy hand in influencing Nashville music and the music industry as a whole. I wasn’t there, but his show at the Ryman that was recorded for video release, proves that he can get anyone out of their seats and singing along.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but the Local Latte at Fido is so good. Five Points Pizza is my favorite in Nashville and their garlic knots are maybe one my favorite snacks in the city.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline is the one for me, even though not many would agree probably. I love the soft country croon he adopted on this record, simple arrangements and rudimentary lyrical themes. Tied by a small fraction would be The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Neil Young’s Harvest, The Louvin Brothers’ Tragic Songs of Life and the Hank Sr. singles he recorded here.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
A slice (or two) from the side window at Five Points Pizza.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
John McCauley, Robyn Hitchcock, and John Prine. My other three choices would be Little Richard (because he’s been in Nashville forever I guess), Dave Mustaine and Mick Mars. Dave and Mick both live in Franklin, and I hear they’re neighbors.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
The 5 Spot, even though I haven’t played there since moving here. I played there the summer before I moved here on drums with the Paul Collins Beat. The sound was great, and I think they have the best overall vibe there in town.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
Keith Richards. I hear he’s such a country boy at heart, it’d be cool to see him sit in with songwriters randomly here and play his cool licks. It would also be majorly insane to just see Keef out shopping at Grimey’s or attending a show at the 5 Spot.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
I’m already busy writing and recording for a new Mini Meltdowns 7-inch. I would love to play drums for an active band again. After 3 1/2 years of not really touring anymore, and making music super occasionally, I’m starting to miss the comradery of making music with friends and performing songs for people wanting to hear rock n roll.