House Blend | Episode 18b: Phil Parlapiano
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Phil Parlapiano is a versatile musician whose musical journey has followed several unique directions. Born in New York City and raised by his musical parents, Phil learned to play the piano at the age of 4 from his talented grandmother, who also played mandolin and guitar.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Phil first toured in 1983 with folk icon Joan Baez to support her Live in concert: Europe release playing piano, synthesizer and singing background vocals. As the tour progressed, his talent led him to being named musical director.
Parlapiano followed his musical path as a founding member of The Brothers Figaro. Signed to Geffen Records after a bidding war, the seminal folk rock duo began to record their full length album, Gypsy Beat, with veteran producer, Pat Moran. Though critically acclaimed, the year was 1989, a full five years before the “acoustic Americana” explosion occurred. “They didn’t even have a format for us at the time,” explains Phil. “We were promoted on alternative radio with bands like Danzig and Guns N’ Roses.”
After opening for John Haitt, Billy Bragg and Jill Souble, the Brothers called it quits but continued playing together backing folk legend, John Prine. This led Phil to a nine year stint with Prine, touring and recording CD’s including the Grammy award winning release The Missing Years and co-writing “Leave the Lights On” for the CD Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings. In 1993, Phil was asked to play on the Rod Stewart’s pivotal Unplugged and Seated album, which led to a one and a half year touring stint with the rock icon. Parlapiano continued to work in the studio as a first call accordionist and keyboardist with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Lowen and Navarro, Alanah Myles, Iris Dement, Carlene Carter, and Jude Cole.
In 1996, Phil was drafted into the smooth jazz world by saxophonist, Dave Koz, which culminated in co-writing a Chanukah song, “Eight Candles,” featured on the Grammy nominated December Makes Me Feel This Way. Movie goers saw Parlapiano in the blockbuster film The Titanic as an accordion player during the memorable scene in the lower decks when Kate and Leo are dancing. In 1999, Parlapiano and Bill Bonk from the Brothers Figaro were called on board to join alternative faves, Grant Lee Buffalo, for their Jubilee tour. GLB toured America, part of Europe and Australia promoting their alternative radio hit, “Truly, Truly.” When their bags were barely unpacked, Parlapiano and Bonk began touring with Shawn Mullins, also crossing America and Australia. Arriving home, the pair then started to write and produce the Bill Bonk CD, Eveningshade which included songs that were featured on the TV shows: “Alias,” “Felicity,” Dawson’s Creek” and “Joan of Arcadia.”
As the new millennium began, Phil started to tour with Americana sweetheart, Lucinda Williams. This led to a featured spot on the famed Martin Scorsese documentary, The Blues as well as a VH1 Crossroads program backing up Elvis Costello on keys and accordion. As 2003 rolled around, Parlapiano was asked to join the Let It Rain tour with Tracy Chapman, touring around Europe and the states concluding with the well-known Austin City Limits program. Through the present, Phil continued to tour and record with folk rockers, Lowen and Navaro and seminal punkers, Social Distortion, and is featured on the soundtrack of the movie, Lords of DogTown.
Parlapiano was featured on John Prine’s Fair and Square which was number one on the Americana charts and number 2 on Billboard’s independent release chart the first week it was released in April 2005.
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