Essential Listening, Chapter Six
Compiled by Richard Burkett
featuring Rodger Phillips, banjo maestro
Here is Chapter six of our "Essential Listening." series.

Rodger Phillips is well known in the bluegrass world. He is an LA area banjo player whose long-running every-Saturday-night gig at Vincenzo’s Pizza in Newhall, CA is legendary, featuring an amazing mix of stellar musicians who have played there in his band, The Grateful Dudes, over the 35 years since the first version of the band was formed.

The list includes frequent Dudes such as Herb Pedersen, the late Bill Bryson, Phil Salazar, David Dickey III, and Dennis Fetchet, with occasional appearances by bluegrass greats like Roland White, Pat Sauber, Chris Hillman, and many more. Watch the Dudes playing Herb Pedersen’s “Wait a Minute” at Vincenzo’s:


What was one of your first influences in bluegrass music?
Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Dillards

Who is a recent influence?
Jim Mills

Can you recommend an essential recording that you feel bluegrass musicians and fans should hear? Why? What makes it essential?
Foggy Mountain Banjo - the sound of the music is pure bluegrass, it’s richness and groove is perfect.
Listen to Foggy Mountain Banjo

For a beginning bluegrass musician, whose music would be a good start for listening and learning?
Any Jim Mills album
Listen to Rebecca from Mills’ album: Bound to Ride

Who do you recommend for listening for the best instrumental, vocal, or band sound?
Vocal - Ricky Skaggs
Guitar - Tony Rice or Clarence White
Mandolin - Sam Bush
Bass - Erin White
Fiddle - Kenny Baker

What’s an obscure band or recording that you feel is an essential listen?
The Dillards
Listen to The Dillards' There Is a Time:

Thanks Rodger!

Visit Rodger and the Grateful Dudes on Facebook:

This chapter of Essential Listening was originally published by SDBS on August 14, 2021. All rights reserved by SDBS and Richard Burkett.