Phil Vassar Brings Country To SoCal

PHIL VASSAR plays The Coach House Feb. 13, Humphrey's/San Diego Feb. 14; press photo

PHIL VASSAR plays The Coach House Feb. 13, Humphrey’s/San Diego Feb. 14; press photo

Nashville country musician Phil Vassar brings spirited fun and music to SoCal as part of his current “Stripped Down” acoustic tour. Vassar is slated to play at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano Feb. 13 and Humphrey’s in San Diego Feb. 14.

Vassar states that concertgoers are in for a great time!

“It’s just me on a piano and guitar and stories. It’s a storyteller kind of vibe. It’s really fun.”

Though born in Virginia and currently residing in Nashville, a region well-known for being central to country music as well as the filming location of his show “Songs from the Cellar,” Vassar unapologetically boasts of his love for the region of Southern California.

“I’ve played in Southern California so many times. I love it,” he says. “I’ve actually played The Coach House and of course I’ve played San Diego. I’ve played all over. I love Southern Cal, Orange County and San Diego. I love the vibe. I love it there. I love the weather. If I could live there I probably would.”

Musically active since 1997, Vassar has become well-established in the country music genre thanks to his baritone voice but also for his skilled piano playing.

Vassar says his entry into music started off slow but gained speed in large part due to him personally knowing a number of prominent names he met over the years.

“I lived in Nashville so I just started playing music all over town. I started writing a lot and trying to get a record deal. In the meantime, I met a lot of people like Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney and Faith Hill and Joe Dee Messina.”

Meeting these individuals and befriending them allowed Vassar the opportunity to pen a number of songs that many of the notable artists he met went on to record. Notable songs he is credited as writing include Collin Raye’s “Little Red Rodeo, ” Tim McGraw’s “For a Little While,” and Alan Jackson’s “Right on the Money.”

Vassar’s efforts not only saw many of his songs soar to high positions in song charts but also an award in 1999 from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

“After that it became a whole lot easier to get a record deal,” Vassar says. “My first record came out in 2000 and I’ve done ten since then.”

Vassar’s music, as is typical of country, can best be described as stories set to song. In fact, Vassar considers himself to be a storyteller and one who uses music to accomplish that. It’s music that he creates through what can best be described as a naturally occurring process.

“Most of the time I think I’ll start with a melody or work it on the piano. I kind of get something going. Sometimes I’ll write the lyrics. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on an airplane and write it and then I’ll put the music to it later on. There’s really not a right or wrong way to do it for me. I think I just kind of do it both ways.”

Though he has recorded ten albums to date using this method, Vassar uses live concerts as a gauge to determine whether he has produced the best possible songs he can which is something he is unable to fully accomplish in a studio setting.

“You can’t really tell in the studio. There’s no feedback. You don’t know what’s going on. Whether it’s good or bad. I think having the opportunity to play songs live, you really get a better indication of how your music is or how it’s going to do.”

Additionally, Vassar uses a unique approach for each live show he does. Vassar calls this method as “kind of flying by the seat of your pants.

“I don’t have a setlist or anything like that,” Vassar explains.” I just sort of start playing music, asking people what they want to hear, and I just take requests. That’s what I do for the whole night. That’s basically how I do it. I love doing it that way so the show’s more spontaneous and that’s the way I like to do it.”

Vassar promises those who attend his concerts in Southern California will not only enjoy his shows but he promises he will enjoy playing them too. For Vassar, being able to publically share the music he makes is not just a career but a constant goal that he always strives to accomplish wherever he goes.

“That’s the payoff, you know. I think that’s the most exciting part of the whole deal. I love playing live. I’ve always loved it even before I was writing good songs and doing all that. But playing live, I mean, that’s the way to go. That’s my favorite.”