Veteran Austin-based songwriter plays Machinery Row on Thursday
For the past nearly 20 years, Philip Gibbs has been on the road doing what he describes as chasing down the “magic” that is singing and writing his own music.
On Thursday, Gibbs performs his set of country/blues/folk tunes at Machinery Row. The free show starts at 8 p.m. out on the patio.
When asked to explain his musical style, he said it, “really depends on the song.”
“I’d say in two words it’s western folk,” he said. “but on some songs I’m playing country, some songs it’s folk or blues, rock and roll, jazz and I even do a few cowboy songs.”
As for what inspires him to write his music, he said it’s something that’s hard to put into words.
“I can’t really explain it because it seems like magic,” he said.
Born in Austin, Gibbs has performed a staggering number of shows, 2,500, in 38 states over the past 18 years. His newest album came out this year titled “Box Canyon Blues,” which you can check out here at CD Baby.
His other two recent-ish albums, “The Petroleum Age” (2011) and “Paper Crosses” (2003), have received heavy airplay on Americana stations nationwide. He’s also kept a lengthy schedule of gigs since then as well.
Gibbs said he does enjoy playing one or two cover songs in his sets, but at the same time there’s nothing quite like playing your own music.
“When you have a song, you’ve got it for the rest of your life, and you know it’s just a lot easier dealing with your own songs when it comes to recording,” he said. “You own these songs and can do whatever you want with them. They’re really a part of you, you know?”
And those songs have received a lot of media attention since Gibbs released them to the world, also.
The San Francisco Chronicle is quoted saying about him, “An inspiring troubadour, with a trove full of songs,” while Michael Barnes with the Austin American Statesman has said that he, “…continue(s) to return to this veteran Austin-bred singer-songwriter who carries the road along with his music. Creative guy, across the board.”
And lastly Mark Tucker with the Acoustic Music Exchange said about Gibbs, “Phil Gibbs is a true blue, dyed-in-the-wool, 100 percent folker and Austin native with ancestral lineage roots back to the mid-1800s in Texas.”
Part of those roots include influences from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, two of the most beloved and well-known folk singers ever.
Gibbs said he looks at Seeger and Guthrie as, “hardcore folk troubadours (who are) great examples of the way music has been handed down from hundreds of years in history,” he said. “It’s a real small world when you boil it down to good music and I’d hate to throw myself into that pot because I’m still learning and Austin is an interesting place to learn a lot about that music.”
In the meantime, Gibbs will continue writing and performing and traveling. He said when it comes to using songwriting as a form of self-expression, he said he loves it because, “It is self expression but also there is sort of a mathematical magic with the whole rhythm and rhyme and that’s a bit different,” he said. “You’re just trying to find the words, trying to desperately find the words for this complicated human existence we all live.”