Richard Phillips and Friends have been providing music to Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee and Western North Carolina for over 28 years. Their blend of various musical styles coalesces into a unique Americana sound of Appalachian Folk, blues, country, and, what Richard calls, “imaginary music.”
Dr. Richard Phillips writes many of their songs and has recorded ten studio produced albums, most of them at Grammy winning Maggard Studio in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. He teaches intermediate and blues guitar in Mountain Empire Community College’s (MECC) Mountain Music School.
Roger Bullock has played with Richard Phillips and Friends for 16 years but has been a performing musician since high school. His early success with the group, Velvet Haze was punctuated in 2011 when Guitar World Magazine recognized their 1967original single, “Last Day on Earth” among the songs that led to the heavy metal genre. For 16 years, starting in the late 90’s Roger was the rhythm guitarist and later bassist for of Northern Virginia’s premier rock and roll cover bands, The Sock Monkeys. He teaches with Richard in MECC’s Mountain Music School.
Tommy Clements began his musical career playing drums and percussion in middle school but he cut his teeth on traditional music at the same time as a stage musician playing guitar in the stage band for Virginia’s Official State Play, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” Later Tommy played with different bands focusing on popular music but never lost his feel and love for folk, blues and traditional music. He has been playing guitar and cajon (which he also designs and builds) with Richard for 15 years.
Bill Smith has been performing for over 50 years. He has toured nationally with the Montana Repertory Theater, and has been in the pit orchestra of a number of theaters. He also toured as a musician with Roadside Theater, an internationally known Appalachian based storytelling theater troupe. He is a lifelong musician and has worked with various bands playing Dixieland jazz, folk, rock and roll, old time string band music, and blues. He plays many instruments, including bass, fiddle, and banjo, and is also an accomplished song writer. He has played with Richard for 6 years. He teaches banjo in the JAMMS Program, which teaches old time music to school children.
Chris Rose is one of the preeminent guitarists in Southwest Virginia. He was banned from the Tri-Cities annual guitar contest after winning three years in a row. He teaches music at University of Virginia’s College at Wise and at MECC and gives private lessons. He also teaches advanced and blues guitar at MECC’s Mountain Music School. Chris has played in numerous bands and has taken student groups on performance tours in Europe and around the world. He is a regular at Bristol Rhythm ‘n Roots. He is always in demand as a musician and it is always worth the price of admission to see him perform. He has worked with Richard on a number of projects and has played with him off and on for over 20 years.