Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

It’s Just Another Day in Paradise for Country Artist Phil Vassar

Oct 13, 2016 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould

Photo by Robby Klein

Phil Vassar is not only known for this energetic, piano playing, powerhouse performances, but also for not having a set list; so you can bet no show is like another! Instead of performing the same usual list of songs, Phil plays what his audience wants to hear, giving them a once in a lifetime experience!

Phil has had multiple hits as both a songwriter and an artist. He has 26 Top 40s, 15 Top 10s, 10 number 1s, and eight albums. A few recognizable songs include “Just Another Day In Paradise,” “My Next Thirty Years” (Tim McGraw), “Right on the Money” (Alan Jackson), and so many others.

Not only is Phil’s wine cellar one of his favorite rooms in the house, but it’s also where “Songs From the Cellar ” was created. Here is where Phil gets the chance to drink wine while jamming out with all different sorts of artists, songwriters, entertainers, and wine connoisseurs! “Songs From the Cellar” was recently picked up by Keep It Country TV in the United Kingdom.

Phil Vassar will be performing at Rams Head On Stage Saturday, October 15th, 6 p.m  & 9 p.m. Tickets are $49.50 and can be purchased here for the 6 p.m. show or the 9 p.m. show.

“I love performing at Rams Head, it’s one of my favorites. I just love Annapolis and the town.” – Phil Vassar

Who is your all-time favorite country music artist that you’ve met and/or performed with?

Wow, that’s a hard one you know. Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, I’ve met so many of these guys, Elton John. Merle Haggard was my first concert. Willie Nelson. The list goes on and on.

I mean it’s hard to say, I’ve gotten to sing with Earth, Wind & Fire. That was a highlight of my life. It doesn’t get much better than that.

You’ve written songs for country superstars Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. Why write songs for others instead of singing them yourself?

That’s a good question because I tried like hell to get a record deal. They didn’t like my songs because I was a piano player and they thought if you lived in Nashville that you need to play guitar and wear a hat. I went down that road a million times. They would tell me that I sing good but that I’m not a good song writer. Then you write songs for Kenney Chesney and other artists, they reach number one with your songs, and now everyone thinks you’re a great writer now. I couldn’t get a deal and now all of a sudden everyone wants to work with me. It happens sometimes.

Photo by Robby Klein


If you could sing with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Paul McCartney from the Beatles. Just to say you were singing with a Beatle would be the best thing ever.

If you didn’t pursue music, what other career choice would you have chosen?

Probably a dancer. Just kidding. I think that this is all I ever wanted to do. It would have been a doctor. Only ever thought I ever had besides being a singer. A lot of my friends are doctors and they always tell me “your job is a lot more fun dude.” I definitely think I chose the right path for me. I love business, but I really do love to play music, sing, and write songs.

I just grew up loving music, I always hate compartmentalized music. My mom and dad were big music fans. We always listened to all different times of music. It was fun. When I moved to Nashville, it just felt like home. I was like this place is awesome, I felt like I was at home from the moment I got here. That was it for me. My first concert as a kid was Merle Haggard, I always loved his songs. I said, “Man he writes real songs for real people,” and that’s kind of what lured me in.

You’re known for having a lot of energy on stage. How do you captivate each audience during your performances? How do you make each show different from the next?

I just think for me I always loved to play music, it’s fun. I grew up athletic, I like to jump around. I always wanted to entertain people. There’s nothing more lame to me than someone that just stands there and sings their songs. Every night I get up there and I get to sing for a living. There was a lot more pressure in the beginning, but now I have a record coming out in the fall. Usually you have to make a record every year. I’m a writer, I tour, and I do 130 shows a year. Its really taken five years to write this thing, so I’m excited about that. Playing new music is always invigorating and exciting.

What’s the most embarrassing moment while performing? What’s the most memorable?

We’ve all done stupid stuff, fall, or trip or something stupid like that. That’s the one thing about a live show, especially when you’re doing the singing, a lot of people lip sync. If I could do that, wow. It’s a challenge every night. Every song is going to be different. You don’t know what the song is going to be like, especially in the outdoor venues. You never what you’re going to walk into. It’s always a lot of fun.

Performing live is always like being on the edge of a train wreck. I don’t have a set list. I just call up the songs and take requests during the show. People tweet requests and it pops up on my TV monitor during the concert. You never know what you’re going to get and it keeps it fun. That’s one thing I love about live shows. A lot of people do the same set every night, same order, same head bop, it’s like a bunch of robots and it bores me.

Where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to while on tour?

I don’t know, I just love everywhere. It’s always so different. We played Phoenix at 114 degrees at 1 a.m. The one thing I do love about my job is that I get to see the world. Twelve shows in Europe and 12 different countries. People love music and that’s what so fun about it. The stuff going on in the world, there’s nothing like seeing an entertainer do their job. I saw Elton John perform solo for a benefit, it blew my mind. It’s hard to get up there with an instrument by yourself and captivate a crowd or audience. And I think that’s what a true artist is.

Do you think using social media has enhanced your career? What kinds of things do you post?

I think it does. I was really late to that party. Record to record you could tell when someone was going through a divorce or a breakup just by their music. Now everyone tweets what their eating for breakfast, it’s over the top. It’s almost too much information.

There’s really nothing interesting that I do, I mean I’m at my house cleaning my pool. I think social media is both good and bad. We try to use it to our advantage. I think it’s a good thing and a lot of great music is out there that’s not necessarily on the radio. Being able to be accessible to an artist is a great thing.

Do you think you’ve changed as a musician over the years? How so?

I think you evolve. I think if you don’t, you sort of die creatively. You don’t want to write the same song over and over again. You don’t want your first and eighth albums to sound the same. It’s part of the creative process. Madonna reinvented herself 20 times. She’s amazing and keeps evolving. I love that. Once again, James Taylor, one of my favorites, sounds like that comfortable show. I slip it on and I’m like, “Dude this is awesome.” Then you see people that try too hard.

I definitely think that I’ve gotten better as a piano player and song writer. My singing is as good as it ever has been.

Tell me a little bit more about “Songs from the Cellar.” What got you started and would you say it’s been a success?

What I’m trying to do is have real music, real artists. Little Big Town. Three rock and roll hall of famers. It’s going to be really, really cool. I’m really enjoying doing it. It kind of came out of nowhere, it’s kind of organic.

It all started in my cellar, a plantation house in Nashville. It had a storm cellar. My neighbors who are big wine connoisseurs thought that this would be a perfect place for a cellar. Then 15 years later, here we are. I love it. It’s the vibiest room in the house. I brought a keyboard down and started hanging out.

I just ran a snake through my studio and hooked it up. It’s just so organic and now it’s turning into a bigger thing, which is cool. You get to see something go from nothing to come to a major network and reach three to five million people a week. It’s really taken off.

Sheryl Crow is five houses down. It’s really cool. Nashville is a great place for artists and artistry. People from all over Los Angeles and New York are moving here. I just get to reap the benefits of that. Sit around have glass of wine, coffee, talking about life, touring, and then perform a little show.

What advice would you give to someone looking to make it big in the country music world?

I think you have to live in Nashville. If you want to do it professionally you have to do it here. That’s what I love about Nashville. It’s such a melting pot of different folks from all over the world. We did a tour in Ireland with the Sheeran’s, and they’re coming here to Nashville to record in October. They come here to be creative and I love that. I think if you’re really serious about it, then come to Nashville. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to go where they are.