Episode 97: Phil Parlapiano

Air date: 12.11.2013

Phil Parlapiano Photo by Frank Drennen

If you want to play a lot of music, don’t learn how to play the guitar.  The thing is, everyone knows how to play guitar.  From Eddie Van Halen on down to the bartender at your local pub (who might be as good a player as Eddie without the lucky breaks), they all know how to play the guitar.  It’s no wonder; the instrument is affordable, portable, versatile and powerful.  Learn three chords and you’re off to conquer the world.  But this ubiquity makes it hard to get a paying gig as a guitar player, so the people who chisel out a decades long career in music often find a niche for themselves by playing other instruments.  Bass players get gigs.  Piano players get gigs.  Pedal steel players really get gigs.  The cornerstone of Phil Parlapiano’s long and successful career in music started because he knew how to play an instrument that used to be the punch line to numerous musician jokes – the accordion.  When combined with his chops on more traditional keyboard instruments like piano and Hammond organ, Parlapiano and his squeezebox became a first call go-to guy in the early 1990s and he never looked back.  He has a list of credits that includes some of the best in the business - John Prine, Rod Stewart, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Tracy Chapman, Lowen and Navarro, Joan Baez, Jon Bon Jovi and Toad the Wet Sprocket to name just a few.  He released a new solo album of original material in 2013 called The Mordacious Mr. Squeeze and continues to back up household names on stage and in the studio.  Other players might be advised to stand next to him in hopes that some of that talent rubs off them.  Oh yeah, he plays guitar, too. 

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