Phoenix Sigalove Shares His Story & Music
Jacksonville is incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful Britt concert this Friday, October 5th. Phoenix Sigalove, now a resident of Jacksonville, is a super-talented guitar player and storyteller. But more than that, he is one of those unique and special people…
His story, told in a humble, calmly enthusiastic way, is fascinating and teaches us about life – its drastic lows, highs and the lovely balance in-between. Topping the list for me, though, is the story of how he met his wife – at a Britt Concert!
To start more at the beginning – in 1999/2000, Phoenix took a year-long horseback journey from Montana to Mexico with his dog, Blues. Why? “I was having a difficult time in my life,” said Phoenix. “Nothing was helping, except being out in nature – where things seemed to make sense. I read a book called ‘The Crossing’ by Cormac McCarthy, which was about characters taking a journey across the country, and thought, I should give that a try!” “The ride, and the transition,” he continues, “Brought me into the present. Sometimes you need to focus on one thing, and separate from the cycle that you’re on.”
His subsequent travels playing music brought him to the Rogue Valley, and he moved to Ashland from the Bay Area two years ago. He said, “I felt a wonderful connection with this place and the community. It is a place where people look after each other, and the arts are celebrated. I felt an immense amount of appreciation here.”
As for the excellent Britt romance story: Phoenix explained, “Two years ago I went to the Ray LaMontagne concert at Britt (yes, the one where Ray had his outburst!). It was really dark at the concert, and I felt a woman sit next to me – I could feel her near my arm and shoulder but couldn’t see her, and we had this energy connection going on. I didn’t see her until the end of the concert, and we fell in love! The night of the concert, we spoke for four hours on the phone, the next day, we had a picnic with her four-year-old daughter, and we’ve been together ever since.” Phoenix and Kelly married in March of this year and moved to Jacksonville.
Okay – more about the show – Phoenix Blues. Phoenix grew-up listening to all kinds of music, and started playing guitar at age 4. After his horseback journey, he found his own voice, and started writing his own songs, and a year later, had his first album. Phoenix pursued music from 2003 while living in New York then the Bay Area. Some of his recent muisc influences are Ben Harper and Dave Matthews. He says, “It wasn’t until I moved to Southern Oregon that my music career took off.”
While in Ashland, he teamed up with a friend, named The Poet Pistachio, to create a variety show of music, poetry, storytelling and dance. Claudia Alick, of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, attended one of these shows, and Phoenix collaborated with Claudia for three months to create Phoenix Blues. He performed the show in March at OSF and Britt Music Director, Mike Sturgill, who attended, asked him to perform at Britt. When I asked him about the Britt opportunity, Phoenix responded, “It is the most incredible honor to play at Britt and the highlight of my career!”
Phoenix Blues is a theatrical piece of storytelling and song. There will be new songs, written just for Friday’s show. I asked him about the value of connection with the audience, and he responded, “It’s essential. It’s everything.” He appreciates the audience – the fact that they pay for a show and take the time to care. “Music is communication. It’s the universal language – we use it to connect.”
Friday’s show, he says, “Is a story of friendship between me and my dog, Blues. It’s about traveling horseback through the American West, about Native culture and recovery from depression. It’s a story of redemption – the ultimate transition from lost to found.”
Phoenix has the unique ability to take what sounds like a heavy subject and make it light, joyous and memorable. His awesome, guitar-playing talent, combined with his gracious and caring attitude, will make Friday’s concert an intimate, special and unforgettable evening. Don’t miss it.
Phoenix shared a little of his playing at Pony Espresso on his 1930′s steel-bodied guitar – a National Style O. At his show, the audience will be seated on the Britt stage, and the backstage area will be turned into a lobby/lounge. Tickets at www.brittfest.org/performances/phoenixblues or by calling 541-773-6077.