STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater musician Bo Phillips is seeing his songwriting and work ethic pay off as a song from his latest album has reached the top of the Texas music charts.
Phillips released “Fishin’ for Grandpa” in 2011. The album’s first single, “Red Dirt Girl,” speaks of the popular musicians and acts who played in the area and began playing more in Texas, but still have roots in Stillwater, Phillips said.
“There’s a lot of people who have found comfort in the song,” he said.
Phillips has played tour dates and participated in social media and radio interviews to push the song. He said he was hoping to see the song grab a spot on the charts.
“Honestly, when the song hit top 10 (on the Texas Regional Radio Report), that was my goal,” he said. “If that was going to be done, then that pretty much validated my beliefs in music and made me believe in the music a little bit more and renewed my faith.”
The song climbed to No. 4. Phillips continued to support the song and his work paid off.
In early August, following a round of shows in Texas, Phillips was waking up when he saw that he had multiple text messages.
“I was like, ‘Someone died or something,’” Phillips said.
However, the messages were to congratulate him. Phillips checked the report and saw “Red Dirt Girl” had made it to the top.
“I did the happy fat kid dance,” he said.
Phillips said he feels validated after 81⁄2 years of performing.
“It made me feel like all the hard work is absolutely paying off and any ideas of folding or moving on are out the window now,” he said.
Phillips is reaping the benefits of his success.
“We’ve been jam-packed with booking calls trying to get us booked up and everything,” he said.
Several days after the song went No. 1, Phillips had 25 booking calls. He said it has helped him and his band get into venues and markets they have wanted to get into for a while.
“I want to play to the areas and to the people who want to hear what I’ve got to play,” he said.
Red Dirt stretches beyond the borders of Texas and Oklahoma. Phillips recently played a concert west of Chicago where the turnout was more than what many may expect.
“There are Red Dirt fans in Chicago, Illinois, and we played just a little bit west of Chicago just this last week actually and there were 200 people singing along to my songs that live 600 miles away that I’ve never met before and you wouldn’t think that Illinois would be big fans of the stuff,” Phillips said.
He said it “renews his faith” that it’s not about the states, it’s about the music.
Phillips was also given the chance for another first in his career.
“I got a call that Sept. 27, they asked me to sing the national anthem at the Texas Rangers game,” Phillips said.
He said he’s not nervous about performing.
“I’ve never ever been nervous performing music,” he said. “There’s been times that I should have been, but I never have. It seems like home. But when 50,000 people are looking at you, I’m sure it may be a little different.”
Phillips said he doesn’t have any plans to leave Stillwater. He only hopes to get as big as he is accepted to be, he said.
“I don’t want to play the Ford Center or whatever it’s called this week and there only be 200 people there,” Phillips said. “I want to be able to be in an element where I’m as big as the bowl that I’m in.”
Phillips is no stranger when it comes to paying his dues at venues around Stillwater. However, times have changed, he said.
“Stillwater used to be a huge town for live music,” he said.
He said that when he was in school, bands such as Cross Canadian Ragweed, his brother Stoney LaRue and Mike McClure used to play many nights a week along The Strip on Washington Street.
“You could go down The Strip any night of the week, any night of the week, and hear live music in two or three of those bars,” he said. “You can go down The Strip now six days a week and you’re not going to hear a thing but a jukebox.”
He said the music scene has suffered because bar owners have become “complacent” and the lack of live music teaches students to expect no live performances. With the exception of a few places, he said, Stillwater is the only college town he has ever played that doesn’t have live music on weekends.
“I think that all the bar owners need to get together and I know that there is a competitiveness; it’s not like I’m asking K-Mart and Wal-mart to come together and put a sale together,” Phillips said. “I’m not asking that. I’m just asking them all to get on the same page and support the music that made Stillwater as hot as it is right now. There are people out there, there are great musicians here in town that are up and coming. There are great musicians that came from town that would love to come back and play.”
As for Phillips’ music, he is working on selecting his next single.
“We have a couple of songs that we’re debating on right now,” he said. “We’re going to wait for ‘Red Dirt Girl’ to completely fall off the charts before we release the new one.”
Another song Phillips has written was with the idea that it would be used for pre-game music at Oklahoma State University football.
“I’ve emailed everybody I know in the athletics department and I’ve not been able to get a response back from them, but I think the feel of the song was written to be a real powerhouse song,” he said.
Phillips said the success of “Red Dirt Girl” is “pretty amazing.”
“You see so many people failing at things and giving up, not necessarily failing but giving up before success is reached I guess and I’m too stubborn to give up,” Phillips said.
For more information, visit www.bophillipsband.com.