Rahmaan Phillip

From the Desert Companion Magazine! -- "Viola and violin player RAHMAAN PHILLIP HAS THE MAKINGS OF ROCK STAR — confident stage presence, instrumental virtuosity, good hair. So, it’s kind of weird to see him playing in the piano bar at Paris Las Vegas, wearing a beret and vest that management gave him in a crinkly plastic bag a few minutes before the gig started. A couple strolling through the casino stops at the bar’s railing, and the man asks Phillip to play “Happy Birthday” to the woman. Phillip obliges. ... THIS IS THE KIND OF JOB THAT WORKING MUSICIANS IN LAS VEGAS do to pay the bills and stay sharp. “I’ve always followed up on every opportunity,” Phillip says. “I got a late start in music. I didn’t take my first lesson until I was almost 20 years old (he’s 28 now). There aren’t very many orchestras, and I wanted to experience what it was like to be onstage.” IN ACTUALITY, PHILLIP IS A ROCK STAR. He plays with the local band he cofounded, Stoked, and tours with Elvis Monroe, a band started by the former guitar player for Lighthouse, as well as Jeff Mix and the Songhearts, who released an album and movie last year. It’s an auspicious early career for a young man who, as a kid, dreamt of being a professional skateboarder and only took band, in sixth grade, because he figured it was an easy A. He’d goof off in the back of the room, learning only what he needed to get by and not a bit more. THAT ALL CHANGED AT CARNEGIE HALL. During his senior year, his Sierra Vista High School orchestra was invited to play in an exhibition concert at the hallowed New York music venue. Phillip couldn’t understand people’s impressed reactions when he told them beforehand about the trip. He didn’t even know what Carnegie Hall was. “Being in Isaac Stern’s rooms and hearing the stories about the music legends who played there — it changed me,” he remembers. “After we played and listened to the concert, walking through Central Park, it occurred to me that music was what got me there. I said to myself, Imagine what I could do if I took it seriously.” PHILLIP’S OPEN-MINDED ATTITUDE HAS EXPOSED HIM TO A WIDE VARIETY OF MUSIC. “I’d play with older guys that had big bands, friends with guitars at open mic nights and jam sessions, country bands, reggae bands, you name it.” He’s currently recording a demo with Senegalese world music singer-songwriter King Ibu and has a gig coming up with pianist David Osborne, playing for former President Jimmy Carter in Georgia. He also occasionally performs with his girlfriend, opera singer Isabella Ivy. But don’t confuse Phillip’s industriousness with a lack of focus; HE HAS GOALS. “I want happiness, stability, and financial comfort. I want to own a house, have money in the bank, live the life of a successful accountant — but while playing music.” And, he believes, Vegas is a good place to realize those goals, for someone who’s willing to work hard." - Heidi Kyser

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