Burleson, TX native Phil Hamilton has loved music from the time he was old enough to discover Led Zeppelin and Bad Company and he cut his musical teeth on plenty of Tom Petty as well. Growing up in a musical family with a grandma who sang opera and an aunt who sang country, Phil comes about his gift honestly. Though he played a little baseball in junior high school, by the time Hamilton reached high school, it was all music, all the time. He began playing guitar and listening to country music and was influenced by super group Alabama and Chris LeDoux, adding to his eclectic style. During his high school years he also hung out quite a bit with good friend Kelly Clarkson, who performed a lot with him at school functions before launching her “Idol” career.
After a semester of college Phil took a job in construction as a contractor and began working towards the white-picket-fence-type of life, but soon found the pull towards music too difficult to resist. Once he discovered Texas acts like Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, and Charlie Robison, he was hooked, and decided the stage was the place he needed to be. He left his lucrative day job, sold his house, and began the gypsy lifestyle of a road king, playing some initial gigs at the Greenwood Saloon, and building from there.
His following grew with every live gig and during this time he also began wading slowly into songwriting, though his first attempts were admittedly “pretty terrible.” But Phil soon found his voice and began penning songs that quickly became crowd favorites. That’s when he realized he was onto something. “I started writing some originals but it didn’t come natural to me at first,” recalls Phil. “But back then I hadn’t had enough experiences with love and loss and all the stuff that makes great songs. I decided to keep practicing my writing and started taking it more seriously, and that’s when things started to take off. The next thing I knew I was being offered a deal with Winding Road Music to record a full record.”
Phil’s debut CD, Nothing To Lose, was released in 2009 and achieved impressive success, charting two singles in the Top 15 on the Texas charts. His high energy show began to draw bigger and bigger crowds as he and his band toured around the state and even branched out into gigs throughout Kansas and Oklahoma. That same year he was voted one of the Top Three New Country Bands in Texas by the listeners of 95.9 The Ranch and by 2010 he was playing nearly 200 shows a year.
For his sophomore effort, Hamilton enlisted the help of buddy Beau Bedford (Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights) to co-write songs and co-produce the project. The two easily fell into a groove working together, and the resulting CD, Renegade Rock N Roll, which yielded three Number One songs.
“I’ve known Beau a long time, we go back,” explains Phil, “and I knew he was a great producer and just a great artist in general. And I was going through a lot of things personally during that time, and so was he, and so together we wrote that record and just had an amazing chemistry…it was current, it was real, and it just felt right. Beau’s influence with my spin turned out some of the coolest moments in those songs.”
From “Bad,” the chart-topper about a rowdy girlfriend who drinks Bud Light from a coffee cup, to his second Number One “Running,” the album racked up solid sales numbers with its mix of retro country influences and Southern classic rock. Another tune from the album, “Back Of A ‘73,” about the rush of young love, also hit Number One on the Texas charts.
Fresh off the success of “Renegade,” Phil was approached by his label about recording a live record, and earlier this year he rolled tape during one of his legendary shows at Fort Worth’s Whiskey Girl Saloon and recorded the CD one January evening in front of a sold-out crowd at the Texas watering hole.
“I was excited to show what we do live,” admitted Phil, “but my only rule was it had to be real and authentic and 100% LIVE -- not re-cut or re-tracked, and we did it that way, and it worked. It was just a phenomenal experience and we captured the music just the way I wanted,” says Hamilton.
Phil recently returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak, to celebrate the release of his new CD with another packed house of rabid fans. He debuted the set of songs, including several new tracks like “Hold On Tight,” and “Tragedy,“ for the crowd. His nation of “Philthy” fans continues to grow and Phil definitely spends the majority of his time on the road taking his music to the fans. However, when he’s home he still dabbles in construction, doing carpentry from time to time at his lakeside home in Granbury, TX. His real love and passion, outside of music, is the outdoors and he carves out three-four days a week during the season for hunting and fishing. He finds the getaway time therapeutic, not only for his psyche and to keep his head clear, but for his songwriting as well.
“I live on the road, but I don’t write out on the road. There are too many things going on and it’s too tough for me to put my thoughts down out there. Hunting and the outdoors are my main things…when I’m home, half of the week I’m always in the woods hunting or fishing,” says Hamilton.
Whether he is on the stage or in the outdoors, one thing is for sure, Phil Hamilton lives life to the fullest, as is evident in LIVE AT THE WHISKEY GIRL SALOON.