Chicago singer/songwriter blows into town
A windy city transplant is making his mark on our soundscape here in Eau Claire after an 8,000-mile tour that encompassed 31 cities in 21 states. Phil Circle, a blues/country/rock musician, spent 20 years cultivating his singing, guitar playing, and songwriting skills in Chicago, playing constant gigs as well as completing 130 recordings. He also performed at fundraisers for Obama’s presidential race and Hillary Clinton’s senate run in which the Chicago-affiliated politicians were in attendance.
“I had a reputation for advocacy (for independent musicianship) in Chicago,” said Circle, admitting that his “unplanned” move to the north woods occurred when arrangements in Austin, Tex. fell through. Yet he’s been surprisingly stimulated by what he calls a vibrant music scene here in Eau Claire, the former home of his now-partner Megan Corse. “You walk three blocks downtown and hit six music venues. For the area and per capita, it’s bigger than Chicago. It was an unexpected scale,” he said.
Within two days of residency just outside Eau Claire, Circle had already booked a gig at the Acoustic Café and snagged a teaching position at the Eau Claire Music School. “I’ve met a lot of welcoming musicians,” he said, citing Jeff White (open mic host at Bottle & Barrel) as a particularly helpful kindred spirit. Besides guitar and voice lessons, Circle will delve into the instruction of songwriting and “making it as an indie musician.”
His latest CD, Minutes to Circle, covers Santana-esque “electric blues” territory, veers into softer urban beats reminiscent of early John Mayer, then finishes with a sound that is distinctly Irish, including a fiddling cover of the wistful Will You Go Lassie Go. Throughout the 11 tracks, his husky vibrato is a constant, lending an unexpected bit of world-weariness to songs about new love. Allow some straight-from-Chicago sultry blues to move you, too.
“This is my base of operations. I’ll tour regularly, but I’m settling here – this is where I’m going to be. I’ll build on my teaching here, and I’m getting some radio attention from WHYS. We got a house in the woods – what more could a guy want?”
Check out Phil Circle and his band at Bottle & Barrel on Nov. 5 from 10pm-1am. Find tracks and videos at www.philcirclemusic.com.