If you have followed Rift for a while you might have noticed that we really dig drummers. Drummers cut through a lot of the bullshit that happens onstage, and get the job done. Perhaps the most important job. They are the rhythm, the beat–to quote local drummer Laura Bennett they are the “metronome”. Drummers are a curious sort, and there are valid scientific studies and numerous memes to support that they think differently than the rest of us. Call them odd if you want to, or simply hail them as the music Gods they are.
Anyhow to the point. I came across an email subject line about an album release by Joey Van Phillips and I couldn’t quite recall where I’d heard that name before…Was he local? Had I seen him? What band was he from? The answer to all these questions is YES. Van Phillips is local, and I’d seen him perform with Doomtree, Dessa, And The Professors and Aby Wolf. Van Phillips is well known for his work with Liminal Phase and Mystery Palace among others as well.
Aptly named, Van Phillip’s Punch Bowl is just that in a sense, a record made up of collaborations with a who’s who of notable artists from today’s R & B, Rap and Hip Hop parade. Each of the ten tracks on the record not only honors the collaborative partner who gave the song its voice, but also honors the last two decades of Van Phillip’s career. Like a lifeline, you feel the beats thread through each song and link to the next, cumulative in nature.
I happened to see Van Phillips support Aby Wolf at The Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing recently, as a live performer he is not a show off, he does the work, and does it well. I really enjoyed Van Phillip’s precision, but even more so the moments that fell within the scale of improvisational Jazz. Those same qualities are found on Punch Bowl. Van Phillips seems to have an ear for what each artist needs but all the same it is undeniably his beat. With some of the featured artists on the record like Sims, POS, Dessa, Aby Wolf, Kristoff Krane, Cecil Otter, and Medium Zach, I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite track from Punch Bowl. “Howl” featuring Sims is tremendous, and I would love to see that particular song live with its fervent incantations and blistering high hats. “Heaven Wakes” featuring Kristoff Krane is quite a good heady rap by Krane caressed by the beautiful melodies of Amy Hagar and perfectly accentuated by Van Phillip’s percussion.
If the featured artists on the record are the punch’s ingredients, then Van Phillips himself is the bowl that helps to shape them. His drumming creates a seamless journey through the many varied voices featured on the record. The release show at Icehouse on Thursday, November 30th should be amazing with all the high caliber collaborations–who knows who’ll show up onstage?
Punch Bowl secures Joey Van Phillip’s place in Minnesota music infamy. You can’t hear the Minnesota Hip Hop sounds of the 21st century without bearing witness to his percussive domination. Do yourself a favor, drink the punch.
Tickets for the Album Release at Icehouse with K.Costra.
Listen to Punch Bowl
~Rebecca Marx, Photo Credit Tony Nelson