Material: Americana in its purist form, Phil Celia defines the genre by weaving his roots, country and folk influences into a sound both contemporary and timeless. Celebrating the release of the PCB Sessions CD, the band played through the album front to back with Phil sharing stories about each track along the way. With echoes of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, the undemanding yet layered music filled the room with warmth and the heartfelt lyrics kept the audience engaged.
Musicianship: Unplugged and uncomplicated, The Phil Celia Band handled the material with ease, and with the flawless sound in the room, each musician’s expertise was on display. The depth and tone of Celia’s vocals brought character and a unique identity to the songs. Simon’s bass lines added weight when necessary, particularly in the fourth song “Find My Way,” while Posner’s skills were highlighted often, including a banjo solo in the zydeco-in- spired “Things I Know.”
Performance: Kicking off the show with the country and western inspired “Toe the Line,” Phil Celia used the opening of the song to introduce the band, including his son David on the drums and brother Perry on guitar. Years of experience with this group, and 30 plus years playing with his brother contribute to a confidence and comfort on stage that made the audience feel at ease. Each song came with a story that added a personal, intimate touch to the evening, particularly on “Wild,” a sweet song dedicated to his son and daughter-in-law.
Summary: An amazing songwriter, Phil Celia explores all avenues of the americana genre, going well beyond the “singer/songwriter” or “folk” pigeonholes. He’s a storyteller at heart, and the lyrics along with the skillful backing of this group of musicians makes for a seriously satisfying and enjoyable night of music.
The Players: Phil Celia, guitar, lead vocals; Abby Posner, mandolin, banjo, vocals; Cara Batema, accordion, vocals; Lelah Simon, bass, vocals; Perry Celia, guitar, vocals; David Celia, drums, vocals.
Photo by Valerie Taylor