Flabby Hoffman Radio Extravagonzo

Chicago's Que4 Radio (airwave and online) features The Flabby Hoffman Radio Show every Saturday.

It's one of the more unpredictable shows on the air and the host is an edgy, smart, funny, and straight-from-the-hip advocate of the arts with a spirit to fight the mainstream at all costs.

To listen to the show featuring Phil Circle, Darin Jellison and Shenendoah Thompson of Guilt By Association Records, CLICK HERE.

Flabby's support of projects like GBA Records is well known in Chicago's vibrant music scene.

Artist First Radio Network

This was a live interview with Phil Circle, Darin Jellison and Shenendoah Thompson of Guilt By Association Records.

This hour long discussion digs deeply into the nature of the record industry and how GBA Records and this team of artists hope to change the landscape forever.




Beat Media

Phil Circle is an independent musician based in Chicago. In his album Recircle he reveals some of his lesser known recordings, partly for existing fans and partly for those who are new to his music (like me). The fact that there are only 100 copies of this CD makes it feel special—as though this is a gift for those loyal fans who have stuck with him and follow him closely enough to know about this release. The insert which comes with the CD feels like it is written directly to you—the reader. That intimacy in writing is a talent of Phil's and also comes through in his book An Outback Musician's Survival Guide

As for the tracks themselves: I like to listen to this CD whilst I'm working. The album overall has a mellow feel which makes it ideal for maintaining motivation and siphoning away stress when faced with an inbox full of 130 customer emails!

The song "Better Way" kicks off the track list with a laid back and slightly hollow feel that makes it sound like an incomplete journey. It catches the mood of trying to get somewhere. The guitar solo sounds half-familiar: An echo of something I left behind on my brief stay in Nashville. When I close my eyes and listen, those endless, wide American highways fill my mind. "The answer you are looking for just around the bend"—except you never quite seem to get there as the miles and miles and miles of road pass under your wheels. So you lose yourself in half-fulfilled dreams made tangible by the music instead.

"Except for Today" sounds more like something you might hear in a jazz bar. It demonstrates Phil's ability to capture the essence of his message purely in the sound of the music. This track sounds a little like a merry-go-round and when you listen to the lyrics and read the story behind the song in Phil's insert, you can see why. It is born out of the artist's own experiences, but I think it catches something of the transience, frustration and disillusionment of modern life in general. You can appreciate that with or without concentrating on the lyrics and that's what makes it a relaxing song to listen to.

For something a little more punchy and upbeat, I like track 5; "Roger Charlie." There are some cool lyrics in this one and a light touch of humour: "Your tongue is like a trampoline," for example—something that anyone who's had a bad relationship can relate to! It's one of the jobs of a songwriter to capture universal elements of the human experience and distil them down into something tuneful which lasts about three to five minutes. In this song there is definite cynicism, but the very fact that the music and lyrics combine to make a punchy, bouncy sound suggests resistance in the face of other people's contrary actions. It's a good one to use for personal therapy by turning up the volume and yelling along with spirited off-key vehemence when your spouse or a close friend has really done a number on you.

By contrast, "It's Only You" looks at the beauty of love with real wistfulness and gentleness. I love this track for the images of Autumn leaves and nostalgia which it conjures up when I listen. It's a song for daydreaming to, or for putting on the headphones when out for a long Autumn walk involving wellies, leaves and lots of wind. It's also good for imagining to, for creating stories or images of your own. I would love to see more of this side of Phil's music. I think there's a wealth of creativity which can be explored in this vein.

Lastly, I want to comment on "Belief." In Phil's explanation he says it came from a dark place. The impact of it, though, is far from depressing. It's another one which speaks to universal experiences. We all long to lose ourselves in anonymity and become invisible once in a while. And all of us have times when we want to run away or life seems too much. It can be very helpful to hear someone else expressing this for us when our own words fail to describe the very real truth of that shut-in place.

If you like the sound of Phil's music and want to explore it for yourself, you can find it here.

Muzique Magazine

Friday, August 24, 2018

Muzique Magazine Interview with Singer-Songwriter-Guitarist and Author Phil Circle

Interview With the Multi-Talented Indie Artist and Author, Phil Circle

Muzique Magazine. When did you start making music and taking it serious?
Phil Circle. I grew up in a musical household. My mom was a musician, producer, and music writer. My five siblings and I were all required to pick up an instrument. I went through a few other instruments before I convinced my mom to buy me a guitar. I didn't begin taking it seriously, or at least approaching it with the right mindset, until I was 22. I found myself hospitalized from exhaustion that triggered a near fatal asthma attack. I'd been chasing the almighty dollar, working three jobs and barely sleeping. Partly, it was 1988 and that was the cultural climate. Partly, I thought that money would make music happen for me. After that experience, I realized I needed to be focused on the art itself. I've been trying to maintain that balance ever since.
Muzique Magazine. Would you prefer to be independent or signed to a major?
Phil Circle. The only thing that would coax me into a major record deal would be if it were strictly a distribution deal. That is, I'd have the label handle wider distribution than I can handle on my own. They'd be nothing more than a wholesaler. In my book The Outback Musician's Survival Guide, I spend one chapter on the business. In this chapter, I illustrate how an independent artist can make as much selling 40,000 units as a major label act makes selling a million. And nobody owns you when you're an independent. The standard major label contract really sticks it to the artist, I'm afraid. I know they try to justify it with expenses and such, but in most contracts, the artist's cut pays those, too! If you go platinum (One Million Sold), you get $138,000. The label gets $6.9 million. You're getting 2.9%. That's pretty lopsided.

As an independent artist, I make a middle class living doing what I love to do. I maintain control over the what, how, when, and where, of my work. Of course, it all falls on me to get things done, so I have nobody to to blame if things go wrong. But, I also get to take full credit for a job well done, ha. Frankly, you can't even get a major record deal until you've established yourself to a degree. Every musical artist has to be an entrepreneur for at least awhile, before they can even get signed. That's okay. If you think about it, it gives you time to understand the business you're getting into, and to establish how you'd like things to go. You're a whole lot less likely to sign an unfair deal if you know how things really work. It's well worth it.

Muzique Magazine. Who was your inspiration?
Phil Circle. The intrinsic motivation of all human beings, unless they're sociopaths, is to solve problems and help each other. That is, we naturally enjoy making other people feel good. We get off solving problems, simple or complex, depending on who we are. Music not only gives people a solvent, a medicine, for the ills we feel. It also offers a feeling in the moment that we're experiencing it, that something has been explained to us about the human condition. It's our on-going answer in the moment, and a universal language. It's like laughter. Have you ever noticed how, when you laugh, in that moment of laughter you forgot everything else? As I found answers, even partial or temporary ones, in music, I became interested in more. I began writing to understand. So, my basic inspiration was to understand. I still don't entirely. That's good. I need more to write about. These are things I also talk about in my book.

Muzique Magazine. Tell us about your new project.
Phil Circle. My latest widely available musical release is a single called "What I Mean." It's a slight departure from my more blues-based progressive folk style. It's a ballad of hope. It wasn't planned, but it could be the title song for my book, if it was made into a movie. Any takers? I've got several albums out and a few of them have produced popular singles among my listeners, but this is my first actual release of a single. I like albums. I enjoy piecing them together. I just released a Limited Edition CD and booklet, too. It's called ReCircle. Most of the tracks are no longer available elsewhere, were never released, or are alternative takes. The songs span my career. The booklet tells the story behind the track; where it was recorded and when, and what I was writing about. It's only available through me directly. Copies are numbered and signed. Once they're gone, that's it. Next up? I'm getting ready to start a vinyl release. Then, of course, there's my book. After years of being told I needed to write down my stories, I finally did. I made a simple collection of stories without much thought to whether they were one overall story. I included my thoughts on the business and craft of music, crazy stories from touring, and various other personal experiences related to my being an independent musician. People liked it well enough, but asked for more. After my life turned one more corner a couple years ago (I turned 50), I sat down and reworked the stories. I threw a few out, added some more personal ones, and arranged them into an proper storyline. It became my life so far. 

Muzique Magazine. What does it mean to you?
Phil Circle. The book? It means a lot. It's about more than survival. It's about hope. It's about personal passion and maybe even a sense of mission. It's about thriving in spite of oneself. Whatever happens to the major label acts, happens to folks like me. You just don't read about our hardships in the media. You don't read about our victories, either. But we experience both. Judging by how beautifully critics are responding, I guess I struck a nerve, in a good way. I couldn't be more grateful. It's made my personal struggles over the years so much more worth it. That's as live should be. My single touches on all this, too.

Muzique Magazine. What was your biggest risk taken in your career?
Phil Circle. When I started out, Indie/DIY music was something you couldn't get an agent or manager or you were simply nuts, or perhaps a stubborn kid. I know I was the latter. Realizing that the eclectic nature of my music would make it hard to get signed, I had a couple choices. I could conform my music to what the mainstream liked or I could find a way to do it on my own. Two things factored in. While my mom was in music, my dad was in business. He was a very successful entrepreneur. He also raised me to follow my passion. So, I had already dabbled in my own businesses. How was this business different? I was certainly going to find out. A second factor was that I read of someone in a major magazine who was previously unheard of. She was breaking the mold by producing and managing herself, and it was working for her. I figured if she was doing it, others were, and I should. That was Ani DiFranco. 

Muzique Magazine. What suggestions do you have for other artists like yourself?
Phil Circle. If they're really like me? Watch out for you ego, ha! We may feel visionary and unique and brilliant at the very moment an idea occurs to us. But, I guarantee it's occurring to others, too. That's not a bad thing. It's nice to not be alone. Seek out like-minded people and pool your resources. You're never truly alone. Reach out and ask fans, friends, and family for help. When that fails, reach out to somebody you see who's doing what you want to be doing. Once again, humans actually do like to help each other. You'll be surprised. Mostly, be sure you believe in your purpose. If, like most of us, you don't know your purpose with any certainty, just know that you have one. Hell, you wouldn't be driven to create without purpose. Keeping this in constant mind and believe in yourself, and it gets easier. I saw a book once. It was called The Magic of Thinking Big. I didn't have to read it. The title said everything. Also, you're an entrepreneur. But that word isn't what you think. The actual definition of entrepreneur is "someone who undertakes an endeavor without any guarantee of future returns." But that's just the business end. Because, as an artist, you will always experience returns beyond your wildest dreams. Every day you create. Each person that says they like it, it's like a big, fat, warm hug. It truly is.

Muzique Magazine. How can potential fans find you?
Phil Circle. Search for Phil Circle or The Outback Musician's Survival Guide. I'm everywhere books and music are sold online. I'm also on Patreon at patreon.com/philcircle. I'm @philcircle on most social media, philcirclemusic on Instagram. And my main page is philcirclemusic.com.

Phil Circle Contact Info

Phil Circle Music
The Outback Musician's Survival Guide
Guilt By Association Records
@philcircle #philcirclemusic

Muzique Magazine

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Phil Circle's First Ever Release of a Single

After eight album releases, Phil Circle has begun work on his ninth, and this time it's going to be available on vinyl (with download cards included), CD, and of course via download.

After completing the release of his now critically acclaimed book The Outback Musician's Survival Guide, Phil got to work planning for this next album release. There was only one problem; his local Chicago fans were bothering him for one track in particular that he's been playing at all his shows. It had become so familiar that some people were even singing along with it. In one case, the host of a radio show Phil visited was singing along by the end of her first listen!

Phil responded by making this song the first he recorded with his longtime Chicago band, in collaboration with the same producer who recorded his 1997 debut and his most popular album to date, Minutes To Circle (2009). The result is a powerful ballad of hope, What I Mean.

With this single, and as a result of new attention being paid to his older material, Phil is also pushing out one track (Except For Today) from his debut album Guilty-Extenuating Circumstances (1997) and two (Backing Down and Take Me Baby) from one of his many acoustic releases All That I Am (2010).

Here's further proof that Phil Circle's performances appeal to entire crowds of dissimilar listeners, ensuring that he’ll be enjoyed for many more years on this long, winding road (Gainesville Gazette, 2010). With thirty years as an independent Chicago-based singer-songwriter, Phil Circle's work is being enjoyed by a wider audience than ever and his beloved hometown treats him as a respected veteran of the music industry. Have a listen to the old and the new and here's hoping you feel the same way as so many listeners. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Chicago Music Guide

The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide, One Guy’s Story of Surviving as an Independent Musician by Chicago songwriter Phil Circle isn’t your average how-to book. It’s an intimate look at the ways and means of independent touring, and the intangible art of connecting with people through music. This isn’t a guidebook, it’s a journey to share in.

Circle’s decades as an independent songwriter include challenges and victories, which he weaves intricately and effortlessly with stories of friends, meeting blues legends, adventures making it to gigs, and personal soliloquies that entertain and endear, and provide the spice that makes this a great read. Circle says, “raconteurs run in the family.”

It reads like a Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson novel: full of grit and realism, written in the fast pace of life. This is because when giving guidance to musicians, Phil Circle’s approach is as it is when he is writing songs…to tell his story.

What makes Circle one of the few ‘professional indie musicians’ (where the phrase isn’t an oxymoron) is not only his tenacity, but his inherent fluidity with performing, and a zen-like understanding of what it means to be a songwriter.

“I get sick to death of playing my songs at home, the only time they’re really alive to me is standing in front of people. As a performer [in front of an audience] you’re expressing more or less on their behalf.

We all have songs in good times or bad — or a song you hear maybe for the first time and listen to it ten times because it touches us so deeply,” Circle shares in this video made about a decade ago. The words still ring true.

“We’re never thinking what the songwriter was thinking or feeling when he wrote it, we [don’t] give a shit…it’s how it touches us, how it affects us.”

Currently, Circle teaches guitar and songwriting, and performs in the Chicago area and nationwide in his ongoing Little Blue Honda Tour (an example of his work ethic is that in 2010, Circle covered 8,000 miles and 25 states in 6 weeks), plus he has about a dozen albums available. Purchase the book here and purchase music here

Here’s an interview with Phil Circle about his new book:

What made you write this book? Were the stories and ideas knocking around in your head for awhile or was there a specific catalyst that set it off?

Many of the stories in this book are ones I’ve shared in various venues like parties, after hours at shows, during lessons, or in abbreviated form on stage. The thoughts on the craft, the business, and teaching, are all things that have been rattling around in my head for years and evolving with the changing business and my increased experience. I’ve also used some of what you find in the book for articles I’ve written over the years. Others of the stories were never shared before I put them to the page for this book, especially the darker ones.

How is this record particular to the times you operate in? How are your experiences as a musician the same or different as a musician from other eras such as the 1950s or the 1850s?

Certainly, the business aspect of music has forever changed in ways that people in the 1950s wouldn’t have likely imagined. In the 1850s, the only real business of music that would have been relevant to my approach as a singer-songwriter would have been a two-fold thing; I would have probably gone about publishing my songs in print for others to play, while also putting together some sort of traveling musical show Most likely, these two things would have been something someone else would’ve done with me as their marketable product. Of course, recording wasn’t to happen for another 50 years, so that was out of the question.

What’s most remarkable is the way in which the digital age and the overwhelming growth of worldwide communication in multiple forms have altered the world for the independent artist. It can be tremendously confusing and even intimidating trying to navigate the endless possibilities, but with a little clarity of thought and action, and a ton of patience, it can be done and be done quite effectively, even profitably. In my book, I quote an email conversation I had some years ago with Derek Sivers (founder of CDBaby) in which he talks about making grassroots efforts at building your career. That’s exactly what I’m finding works. In the 1950s artist development was up to a record company. Now it’s up to the artist. In the 1850s, it was up to a publishing or traveling production company. Now it’s up to the artist. If the artist so chooses.

How has the Internet changed independent music?

Once iTunes really kicked the access to music online into high gear, the entire world changed for independent artists. I remember my first thoughts were that I actually stood a chance of being heard throughout the world without the “benefit” of a major record deal. I put benefit in quotes for the obvious reasons. Major record success is about as rare as being struck by lightning and hurts just as much. As I just stated, we’re finally in control; But only if we’re willing to do the work. You see, the world of a successful musician is hardly any different from the world of any other successful person where the work required is concerned. If you work hard, develop the skills (business and creative), and stick with it, you’ll see some level of success if what you have to offer is reasonably well liked by more than a handful of people. The internet presents new tools. The business is still there and relatively as frustrating, but the new tools alleviate some of our suffering. It’s a question again, of whether we’re willing to take it on. Look at many of the greats in popular music over the years. Prince didn’t change his name to a symbol just to get out of his label contract. It was a business move designed to draw attention to the bad deals rampant in the music business and it drew new attention to his work. If I’m not mistaken, Ray Charles had one of the best record deals in history. They didn’t offer it to him. He demanded it. He knew he was only a product to the label, so with a little Jiujitzu he used it against them. They couldn’t live without his product line. That’s business. It sucks for most artists. We’d like to be spending our time working only on the art. With the new power we have to build our own little business through the internet, however, there’s a great deal more opportunity for us to be free of the day job and fulfilled in our lives more than would have been possible for most of us just a handful of years ago. Much of this is in my book in more detail, of course.

How much of a filter did you put on what stories you chose to include? Did any stories not make the book?

Plenty of stories didn’t make the book. My friend from The Chicago Tribune, who gave it a final read before publication, told me to get ready to write my next book, however, so I guess many that didn’t make the cut will make it to another set of pages. Mainly, I looked to the stories and anecdotes that best fit to the overall message and fell easily enough into the thread I had in mind.

What was the criteria for the information you shared in this book?

After having made a very loose collection of stories somewhat available under the same title, and receiving some feedback from those, I was able to step back for a couple years and let things germinate. Ultimately, I needed some endpoint for the book and didn’t have it. I’m okay with open-ended stories, but if this was to be a story, it needed some sort of final place to sit. Even though it leaves things open to more, even though it’s my story and I’m still creating it, still living it, it needed some thread. Once my life turned a couple more corners, I was able to see that thread emerge and went back to the writing process. I pulled the sections apart and placed them in piles based on how they related, what they related to primarily. Then I ordered the piles into chapters and began rewriting. Gradually, the story of my life so far grew from the pages. It seemed to have a combination of curiosity and discovery, early innocence turned jaded, and a desire for growth and change and hope. I let these various ingredients guide my voice and trusted my creative instincts. I hope it worked.

Who is the ideal audience for this book?

That’s a tough one to answer. I’ve had a copy editor who uses music as a hobby read it and love it. I’ve had an estate attorney with a book of his own read it and enjoy it, too. Several musicians have dug in, of course. My first professional review was by a writer with no background in music and she saw it as a celebration of life and began using my exercises for songwriting in her creative writing. I’ve heard from a psychologist, a political activist, and a computer scientist, all of whom liked it. I guess the main theme that everyone drew on was the life changing stories within it. They saw this tragedy unfolding amidst all the laughter and partying and touring. They hoped for more and apparently got it. A fellow Chicago songwriter shared that she couldn’t wait to get home and read more. I was thrilled to hear that. Raconteurs run in my family and I wouldn’t want to disappoint. I guess that ultimately, it’s more a story for those who are looking to be entertained and inspired than anything else.

What this book is NOT is a numbered list of what to do or not to do as an indie musician– what made you write this as a story rather than an advice or how to book? Is the effect the same?

Well first; No, the effect is not the same. Then to the whole question; It’s funny you should ask why I went the way I did. About 20 years ago, I came up with the title of this book. That’s all, though; just the title. I had it my head to write a how-to, a numbered list as you say. It was a rare occasion however… I realized I didn’t know it all and so I never got around to it, ha. Also, I saw the rate at which the industry was changing and knew books on how to do anything would be obsolete as quick as they hit the shelves. As far as it being a story, I’ve always used storytelling and anecdotal evidence in my teaching. While this book has some information on the craft and business, these are incidental to the fact that I’m a musician telling his story. I guess I can’t help telling story when I’m sharing information to press home a point, and I can’t help sharing information when I’m telling a story. As for which one’s more effective? All the best pieces of history I recall, from the volumes of history I’ve read, have stuck with me in the writers’ voices who told the stories within and surrounding the dates and occurrences. Humans had the oral tradition long before we gave a shit about what date it happened and the actual numbers involved in whatever happened. We’re more easily swayed by the emotional attachment to something. We need to feel a part of something or it is just so many facts and figures.

Readers' Favorite

The Outback Musician's Survival Guide is a non-fiction autobiographical account by author Phil Circle, described as ‘One Guy's Story of Surviving as an Independent Musician’. The book is compiled as a series of stories, some in a storyteller, fictionalized style whilst others are more anecdotal and directly addressing the audience. There is a common thread of the development of a very creative individual throughout them, and Circle always returns to the music and influences that his past and present life have on his work. The tales of struggle are certainly not watered down, but there’s a great sense of hope for aspiring indie musicians and advice to be taken from a strong voice of experience. 

As an independent creative myself, I really appreciate the candor with which Phil Circle writes. It’s no easy business pursuing your craft when you don’t have (or want) the backing of the big machines which rule creative industries nowadays, and that struggle to get your voice heard is really prevalent in Circle’s work. The Outback Musician's Survival Guide, however, does what it says in its title, giving helpful insight and a clear reality check to those attempting to follow Phil Circle’s path. I particularly loved his message of passion and pursuing your art for the love of it first, then taking any success beyond that as a bonus. We tend to think this is only reserved for artistic people, but I believe Circle’s candid writings expand this metaphor as a way of living in general, and it’s an important message that everyone should hear.

A.V.A. Live Radio

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Phil Circle has always preferred to pursue his career on his terms, mostly by disregarding the much sought-after “record label” in favor of his own, booking more intimate venues that appreciate the musician and his work, and receiving radio play on stations all over the country and world that look for independent talent.

Live Interview 

Episode #596: A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jaxhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2018/06/07/episode-596-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax

Interview by Jacqueline Jax 
host of A.V.A Live Radio

Artist: Phil Circle

Song name: What I Mean

Music: Singer-songwriter/ Folk-rock / Adult contemporary
Chicago Songwriter

Conquering despair, resilience, survival. It’s when that little glimmer of hope, that last barely burning ember, is all you’ve got left, and yet that’s all you need. You pull yourself through, stand up, and say, “Well, I made it through once again. I guess I’ve got it; that drive, that hopeful spirit, that sense of a deeper reason for living.”

Link to play:: http://philcirclemusic.com/music_listen__buy/a/what_i_mean1


Singer-songwriter-guitarist Phil Circle has always preferred to pursue his career on his terms, mostly by disregarding the much sought-after “record label” in favor of his own, booking more intimate venues that appreciate the musician and his work, and receiving radio play on stations all over the country and world that look for independent talent.


Phil Circle is by no means your ordinary songster picking away quietly on his acoustic guitar. He manages to blend elements of rock, jazz, blues, folk, and even classical, to seamlessly create a style truly his own. Add to this his often flawless and always energetic live performance, and he lands far away from what most people think of as “Singer/Songwriter.”


Phil’s debut release in the 90s was hailed by In The Mix as “just what the doctor ordered” and they pointed out that his music “defies rock, jazz and blues” saying his songs were “from the master class.” 20 years later, Illinois Entertainer referred to his latest full band effort as proof that Phil is “one of our town’s most unique voices.”


“Phil Circle’s prolific songwriting and powerful performance make him a staple of Chicago music.” – Centerstage Chicago Who’s Who in Music


After 30 years of doing this…
I’ve realized I don’t need to explain myself anymore. I’ve always written whatever came to heart, but then I’d stress on whether it would be acceptable to my listeners.


Now, I continue to write what comes to heart, but with a sense that I’ve made it all these years with an intact listening audience. Who am I to guess what they’ll like or not? Clearly enough people have enjoyed my work.


Coincidentally, this new single is getting the most response of any song I’ve ever released. A lot of people are saying it’s the most mainstream tune I’ve ever written, ha. Go figure. Free yourself from constraints and you’ll appeal more widely? Who knows.


Click on the photo to review the book. 

I’ve also written a book, “The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide: One Guy’s Story of Surviving as an Independent Musician. If there were a song that could sum up the overall arc of the book, “What I Mean” would do the job nicely.


“If it sounds good, it IS good.”
Duke Ellington said that, and it was conveyed to me by a mentor of mine who worked with him.


Website & social media links:
@philcircle on Twitter
#philcirclemusic on Instagram

Middle Tennessee Music

Interview with Phil Circle – The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide

Phil Circle-The Outback Musicians Survival Guide

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Phil Circle has always preferred to pursue his career on his terms, mostly by disregarding the much sought-after “record label” in favor of his own, booking more intimate venues that appreciate the musician and his work, and receiving radio play on stations all over the country and world that look for independent talent.

Phil Circle is by no means your ordinary songster picking away quietly on his acoustic guitar. He manages to blend elements of rock, jazz, blues, folk, and even classical, to seamlessly create a style truly his own. Add to this his often flawless and always energetic live performance, and he lands far away from what most people think of as “Singer/Songwriter.”

In this interview spotlight, I chat with Phil about his latest project, motivations, challenges and much more.

Full Q&A along with music and links to his book below.

Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)

 I’m from Chicago, born and raised. My music career initially cut its teeth while I lived in New Mexico, however, back between 1989 and ’92. That’s when I started playing professionally more often and did some of my first recordings. I was in my early twenties. I also recently spent nearly six years in northern Wisconsin, where my wife is originally from. We landed there after a tour ended and we had no place to stay. We moved in with family for what we thought would be a season. I ended up needing a hip replacement and ran into various other health issues that aggravated any attempts at returning home for awhile. Then in 2016, we made the jump back to Chicago and it’s here we’re gonna stay. Chicago has always been my base, my home, and the biggest influence on my music.

I’m a singer-songwriter-guitarist with definite roots in blues and rock. Still, Latin styles crept in here and there, as did country, folk, and jazz. Mostly, the styles blend into each other. I just write, you know? I don’t sit down and say, “Oh, I think I’ll write a song in this or that genre.” Certainly, I may gravitate to an initial structure or chord choice, but that’s about the end of the thinking. I just let the right brain lead the way and use my skills and knowledge of music to piece the song into something complete. So, maybe I’m just another version of Americana, but less mainstream?

What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?

As the youngest of a large family, and with my mom having been a classical musician, I was exposed to a lot of music from the get-go. My dad loved folk stylings, especially from his home in Appalachia. My five older siblings were all listening to The Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, and the like. The week I turned seven, the whole family took a trip down to New Orleans. I remember walking down Bourbon Street and clutching the rungs of the fence in front of Preservation Hall, mesmerized by the jazz. I was surrounded by music and the people who played it. Thing is, I was kind of shy in front of people, and I really liked writing and drawing more than practicing my instruments… piano and trumpet were my first. But some time in high school, I started to really take to the guitar and eventually put together a song from a few chords and a poem I’d written. There were other factors involved in the final leap into music as a full fledged career.

I graduated high school in 1984. The eighties were a funny time. Entreprenuerialism was becoming the thing. It grew out of so many major companies, especially in manufacturing, downsizing. People who had trouble finding work started their own businesses, joining the previous minority of the self-employed. Suddenly, everyone with a few bucks and an idea wanted to be their own boss. I was one of them. For a time, I had a fairly lucrative little business of my own selling sundries to gas stations and convenience stores. I figured I’d make a bunch of dough and then use my nest egg to propel my music forward. Instead, I exhausted myself to the point of hospitalization a few times, and eventually said, “That’s it! I’m doing music and nothing else, screw the money.” I moved to New Mexico to slow it down and recover my health. After a few years, I was back in Chicago getting my music degree at Columbia College and was immersed in one of the most vibrant music scenes anywhere for virtually any style. It was, and still is, invigorating. I’ve never looked back.

It hadn’t occurred to me back then, that I’d still be an entrepreneur. It does occur to me that I still am. In essence, every musician seeking a living as an original artist has no choice now. No record label is going to sign you until you’ve shown you can grow a following and market yourself, be responsible, that sort of thing. That’s why I’m building on my work to begin mentoring aspiring independent musicians. I just started a page on Patreon to get people involved in helping out. It’ll provide scholarships and help build on my plans for a little record company co-op. Anyone can get involved for any amount, and they’ll have a say in the overall direction of things and reap the rewards. The page is:


How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?

Last year, I published my book The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide: One Guy’s Story of Surviving as an Independent Musician. In it, I share my story, for what it’s worth, of more than 30 years in the American music industry. I was Indie/DIY before they coined the term, and I’ve made my living on my own terms, and just as often in spite of myself. A writer at The Chicago Tribune called it a confessional. So, it’s not a “how-to” so much as a “what happened.” Around the time that I put the book out (it’s self-published, of course), I wrote this song reflecting on hope and survival against the odds. It’s more of a ballad and less rooted in my more bluesy off-the-beaten-path style. So, that and the coincidental subject matter matching my book’s overall arc, made it unique enough for me to release it as a single. I’ve never done that. I have eight albums and a few songs from them have made their way to greater popularity with those who know my work, much like singles. But, I’d never said, “Hey, I’m gonna release a single.” Until now. And it’s almost a companion to my book. If someone made a movie from the book (any takers?), it’d be the theme song, ha. Was I trying to accomplish anything specific? Nothing more than my usual, I don’t think. That is, I wanted to finish a song to the best of my ability in that moment. Did this one feel especially potent to me? Absolutely. I’ve been delighted by the response it’s received, too. I’m deeply grateful.

Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?

Some of the challenges are minimalized by the ways the technology helps. For instance, where a major label puts two million dollars behind a mediocre act they hope will be drilled into the collective American ear until enough people break down and buy, I can put 100 bucks behind a single and see it picked up every week by smaller stations without a whole lot of trouble or effort on my part. Thanks to the multitude of entrepreneurs that have lept into the modern music business, I can hire somebody to submit my work to the best possible outlets for a fraction of the time and money the major label still puts behind it. If my work is actually put together well, people may even appreciate it more than the mainstream material they hear. Consider the incredibly low overhead required for a new release and the quality you can achieve, too. My debut full length album in 1997 cost me $24,000 to record and promote and CDs had to go for $15 to really see a profit. in 2009, I spent a third of that on another full band album and the CDs cost 99 cents a piece. Now it’s even more affordable. All of my music makes it to every outlet for streaming and downloads for dirt cheap and in a matter of days. This single was on iTunes two days after I okayed it for distribution. For that, I used a service. It cost less than $500 to record it and make it available to the world.

I talk about this, in the one chapter on the business, in my book. I give this example. If you sign a standard contract with a major label and go platinum, you make $138,000 to their seven million. After taxes, you’re down to about $88,000. As an independent musician, you could make that same money on a whole lot less than a million records sold. And nobody owns you. You choose what and when and where with everything related to your work. You’re an entrepreneur. Engaging in business without an assurance of the profits that will be derived is the distinguishing feature of an entrepreneur. We do this for the love of it, but hope for profit. We need to eat and pay bills. Patronage can help. Well paid gigs, too. Ultimately, however, we independent musicians are engaging in an enterprise that now more than ever is difficult to derive a profit from. Why? Nobody really knows which formula works. Record labels make money by continually signing new artists. They’re seeing very little actual profit. It’s like a fast food chain saying they’re making more money by opening more locations when the individual locations are have declining sales. One day they’re going to turn around and realize they’ve lost huge sums of money. GE just did that. I had to laugh, as unfortunate as it is for the jobs of so many. They just looked up one day and said, “Gee, we lost $8.6 billion and have no idea how!” This happens when you’re not adapting, not paying close attention to what people are responding to. As artists, we have no choice but to pay attention to how people respond to our work. We’re also sensitive to new ideas by nature, adaptable by necessity, and as for thinking outside the box? Naw, we think without a box. All of these factors and more point to a tremendous set of opportunities for the artists to take the reigns of an industry that’s in its death throes. Not liking business, and so avoiding it, isn’t an option. Find someone you really trust and exchange ideas with them, get them involved. Business is really just a creative use of time, money, and ideas. Who’s more creative than the artist? I think we have an amazing opportunity before us. I’m excited.

Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?

My music is available everywhere music is streamed or sold online. My book is also available everywhere in ebook or print form.

My website is philcirclemusic.com.

I’m @philcircle on Facebook and Twitter, philcirclemusic on Instagram.

My new Patreon page is patreon.com/philcircle for those who really want to get involved.

I’ve also just opened a page for my label on Facebook. It’s @guiltbyassociationrecords and I’ll be promoting it soon, but it’s live now. I respond to any and all messages.

Anything else before we sign off?

You have my heartfelt thanks for including me in your work. I’m really grateful to be doing what I do. There were times I wasn’t sure I’d survive. But I’m here to say, it’s worth every hardship when you do what you love. Just remember not to lose focus of that one thing… you’re doing what you love. Thank you kindly.

Radio One Chicago

Chicago based singer-songwriter-guitarist Phil Circle has been surviving as an independent musician for 30 years. After a generous amount of friends and fans bothering him to write down the stories he tended to tell before, during and after shows, he broke down. In 2014 he compiled a collection of non-linear anecdotes and advice in a home-printed and bound book and titled it The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide. He thought he was done. He sold some at shows and people responded; they wanted to know more, they wanted the dark stuff too, they thought something was missing, it was too non-linear.

After a hard fought recovery of his health at the end of 2015, Phil sat down and began a complete rewrite. His rough collection became what a writer friend from the Tribune called a confessional. His story unfolded into a real book this time. The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide became available August 3rd, 2017 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book sellers. The first review came from Oxford, UK and stated:

Towards the end of the book, Phil says, “I don’t have some profound message.” In fact, by sharing his humanity and his failings as well as his high points, he has created a profound message. It is often in mere survival that we create greatness, although we ourselves don’t know it at the time. The touch of human grief amidst all of the adrenaline pumping adventure makes this book something of a celebration of what it means to be human.

As Phil Circle continues promotion of the book and struggles with what his writer friend said… “get ready to write your next book”… he remains an active private music teacher from his home studio in Rogers Park, and is getting busy booking new local venues after a solid run of about 50 shows in 13 months, at many of his old standbys. With plans to get back in the studio and record a vinyl single, he’s clearly not slowing down anytime soon.


A Guide to the Outback Musician's Survival Guide

A Review of Phil Circle's Musical Journey

I have always said that a successful piece of writing is one which achieves its aim and justifies the subject matter. Phil Circle’s book The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide is a successful book. The blurb on the back declares that Phil is here to tell us “what it’s really like for 99% of America’s music industry people.” In doing so, he takes us on an adventure through a lot of his own experiences: humorous or painful or a mixture of the two. On the way, he reveals quite a lot of very useful advice for artists of all kinds as well as music-specific insights, guidance and practical instructions. This book will rid you of any illusions you have been fed by the media, that to be in the music industry is to be a stylish millionaire who is constantly followed by cameras and wins glamorous awards every second day. For this reason, it should be standard reading for those, all those who would like to start a career in music or for those who have already tried to make it but are feeling jaded and uninspired. Phil’s delight in music and his deep commitment to the art of making it pour out from every page. It is impossible not to be swept away on his current of passion.

Far from being a book that renders music exclusive and mysterious, "Outback" focuses on the universal nature of creativity. "We are all creators," says Phil and creativity is absolutely necessary to all of us as human beings. Being a writer, my work is often less spontaneous than that of an actor or musician, but reading The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide has helped me to grasp a little more of the spontaneity of a musician and I have begun to bring an element of that to my writing.

Phil’s tone throughout the book is conversational. I really enjoyed the combination of wisdom and anecdotes. It feels as though you are sat across the table from him in a pub, just chatting. And because the ups and downs and changes in atmosphere echo the peaks and troughs of real life, it is a book that the reader travels with. It is the perfect companion to a journey, whether that be an actual, physical journey or a more creative, spiritual one. It is a book to be read in transition — between railway stations, perhaps, or in the small hours when sleep won’t come and the world seems huge and full of possibilities.

Towards the end of the book, Phil says, “I don’t have some profound message.” In fact, by sharing his humanity and his failings as well as his high points, he has created a profound message. It is often in mere survival that we create greatness, although we ourselves don’t know it at the time. The touch of human grief amidst all of the adrenaline pumping adventure makes this book something of a celebration of what it means to be human.

For those of us who are both artists and outsiders, this book is an encouragement. It inspires us to take greater risks, to live adventurously with our art and to enjoy it without shying away from the painful moments. Those painful moments are often the times of greatest creativity and honesty. Honesty, says Phil, is the single most important ingredient in any work of art and I agree with him. 

I would also recommend this book as an excellent entertainment for those who don’t normally read, or for those who read a lot but need a refreshing break from heavy academic or literary texts.

Chicago Acoustic Underground

This brilliant singer/songwriter has returned with the strength of conviction, the joy of performance, and the wiry Irish infused humor that has always been a part of his observations on Life. Come join us and you too will enjoy the powerful return of Phil Circle.

Exposed Vocals

Exposed Vocals: What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?

Phil Circle: Needless to say, the ability to potentially be heard throughout the world via the internet is a great thing. We’re able to hook up multiple social networking sites, then Tweet something and have it go to all of them. That’s a ton of work that we used to have to do separately. What a great time saver! I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years, and it sure makes life a crapload easier! As to giving away music for free…I do have multiple free downloads on my sitephilcirclemusic.com. Mostly, they are either live recordings from shows or covers I’ve recorded in the studio, but when I record anything new, I offer it free for a time. The tricky thing about this business is, well, it’s a business. While I do this for the love of it, I also need to eat and pay bills and such. Not to mention that getting a degree in music at Columbia College Chicago ain’t cheap, ha. I believe it’s not too much of a stretch for someone to pony up a buck for a download when a cup of coffee costs more than a gallon of gas. It’s also important to not devalue one’s music. Use free downloads as a perk for something else people pay for or as a promotional tool. It’s a common sense thing from song to song, really.

Read the full interview... click here

WGN Radio

This is a live interview and discussion of the first publishing of a collection of stories called The Outback Musician's Survival Guide that later morphed into the autobiography published on August 3rd, 2017.

Listen to the entire show on Chicago's WGN Radio... click here

Volume One, Eau Claire, WI

After years of touring across the country, Eau Claire singer-songwriter Phil Circle has decided to release his first book. Titled The Outback Musicians’ Survival Guide – Stories, Anecdotes & Philosophizing on a Life of Music, the journal-like publication details Circle’s experiences on the road.

Ever since he finished traveling, Circle said he began writing articles for magazines and online publications chronicling his experiences. Along with that, he said mentoring young adults for the past two decades gave him time to reflect and helped shape the journal.

The self-published survival guide takes an honest look at some of the most humorous and serious situations Circle has faced since entering the music business. Partially meant to aid aspiring musicians, the journal contains a variety of stories ranging from late-night after parties to a 9-year-old Circle writing some of his first original lyrics.

Circle said the 150-page work only took two months to complete since he had already put a number of his memories on paper. It just took time remembering all the details and editing the book with the help of his wife, Megan.

Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, WI


Veteran singer-songwriter and relatively new resident of the Chippewa Valley Phil Circle has seen a lot of changes in the way people perform and appreciate music over the years.


One thing he noticed that remains constant, however, is the vast amount of musical talent passed over by audiences for the cookie cutter pop songs of modern radio.

On his forthcoming album "The Unsung," set for release with a performance Friday at The Plus, Circle puts the spotlight on mostly unknown artists that inspire him with new takes on some of their songs.

In addition to tracks by Mark Taylor, Michael McDermott and Lem Roby, Circle also got permission to redo the lesser-known Neil Young track "Harvest Moon" ukelele style.

"I wanted to remind people of the people that are unsung," Circle said in a recent interview. "There are songwriters you've never heard, whose music is as good or better than what you hear on mainstream radio. Why don't you listen?"

One of the tracks from the album, "No Closer To Home," was written by a former student who studied voice and guitar under Circle in Chicago before Circle moved to Eau Claire about a year ago.

Mark Taylor, who has since gone on to pursue a career as a professional musician, said he was honored that his teacher was impressed enough with the song to include it on "The Unsung."

Taylor said the song was mostly inspired by a John Wayne movie, but was later reworked to better fit the rest of the songs on his album.

Given that it's a bit of an anomaly in his collection, Taylor said it's interesting Circle connected to the song like he did.

"I myself am still analyzing what that (song) means to me, but obviously Phil found some meaning in it and that ultimately is what you want as a songwriter, for somebody to find some connection and meaning in it," Taylor said. "That's how it goes. You write songs. Throw it out there and people find their own meaning.

"It's really cool and humbling to have somebody cover your song. Obviously popular songs get covered. But it was kind of surreal and cool and I like the way his (version) sounds."

In many ways, music education and success stories of former students like Taylor inspire Circle almost as much as actually creating music himself.

His passion for education seems a natural byproduct of his upbringing in a northern suburb of Chicago. Raised in a neighborhood made famous by the films of John Hughes - the church from "Home Alone" was just a few blocks away and "Breakfast Club" was shot at Circle's high school - music was always in the home, as Circle's mother worked in the music department at Northwestern University.

"We were all required to learn an instrument, but I was the only one dumb enough to make it a career, try to," Circle said with a laugh.

As Circle cut his teeth playing gigs around Chicago, it seemed like an influx of bands and venues was continuously lowering the pay for working musicians and teaching music became almost a necessity.

"I just kind of made my way the best I could," he said. "I worked day jobs for a while, and then it wasn't long before I was teaching and then that became the main thing."

Circle met his wife Megan - a former UW-Eau Claire student - while doing theater in the Chicago area, and the couple eventually moved back to the Chippewa Valley.

Since then, Circle has released an album and is teaching at the Eau Claire Music School.

Each year the school offers a scholarship program for local students who show promise. And while releasing a record independently can be costly enough, Circle has pledged 30 percent of the proceeds from "The Unsung" to the scholarship program.

Volume One, Eau Claire, WI

A little less than a year after the release of his album Living in the Chippewa Valley, local songwriter and teacher at the Eau Claire Music School Phil Circle has been working on another musical project that not only showcases his message and abilities, but also benefits our community. His newest album, The Unsung, is all about “celebrating music no one has heard,” and features a variety of covers done in his own true Chicago-style blues, including “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young. 
“Other than Neil Young, which is an obscure Neil Young (song), everybody else that I picked are people that I know personally who are astoundingly good songwriters,” Circle says.

In producing the album, Circle worked with another local that he met at open mics around town, Evan Middleton, who has worked with other Eau Claire artists such as Jeff White and Acoustihoo and who has lent his name to a music scholarship at Pine Hollow Audio south of Eau Claire.

Circle says, “I like an engineer that is a producer of objectivity. I like people to hear me. I don’t need to hear me.”

In addition to producing an album with a different perspective than usual, Phil has also joined this project with a fundraiser via Indiegogo (a crowd-funding website where people can raise money for the arts) he began to give back to the community: “Well, because I’m going to take time off and I have no means to give back to causes I care for, I put together this Indiegogo fundraiser where a percentage of money raised on there, which also goes to producing this album and such, goes to the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic – which is very personal to me. … They’ve been very good to me, (and) taken care of my health in quite a few ways.” Funds raised will also go toward music scholarships at  the Eau Claire Music School.

The overall goal is to raise $3,500 by Feb. 15. You can donate to this amazing fundraiser and the community by visiting Indiegogo.com/TheUnsung, by following the link on Circle’s Facebook page, or attending the release show.

Why should you listen to this album? According to Circle, “Listen to the songs, listen to the variety of styles that happen on one album, don’t feel like it all has to be homogenized. Go listen to their versions; you might like theirs better, who cares. … Go look for the good music.”

Volume One, Eau Claire, WI

Phil Circle seems to have found his place among us in the Chippewa Valley. After an unexpected move from Chicago in 2010 with EC native and wife Megan Corse, Phil was more than pleased to find our rich music scene. Over the last couple years here, he’s been hanging out with locals, drinking cheap beer, soaking up the Eau Claire landscape and lifestyle, all while absorbing inspiration for his 10th and latest album, Living in the Chippewa Valley. Circle’s musical tastes encompass a broad range, but this album may be his most “consistently stylistic” yet, featuring a ballad and some underlying folk rock, but mostly making his roots in true Chicago blues prominent. Songs burst with saxophones and intoxicating guitar solos alongside his smooth, genuine vocals. The five-track album includes three songs that were largely improvised, recorded live, and put together “like the Grateful Dead” with a variety of local musicians. What really stands out is Circle’s insatiable passion and love for both the music he creates and the place he’s living right now, two things that collide on the title track. The track Just the Blues, Ma’am is another close to his heart, about recently losing a longtime friend – and the person who inspired his love of blues. As Duke Ellington would say, “If it sounds good, it is good.” And this does, so check it out. Also available at The Local Store.

Volume One, Eau Claire, WI

A windy city transplant is making his mark on our soundscape here in Eau Claire after an 8,000-mile tour that encompassed 31 cities in 21 states. Phil Circle, a blues/country/rock musician, spent 20 years cultivating his singing, guitar playing, and songwriting skills in Chicago, playing constant gigs as well as completing 130 recordings. He also performed at fundraisers for Obama’s presidential race and Hillary Clinton’s senate run in which the Chicago-affiliated politicians were in attendance.

“I had a reputation for advocacy (for independent musicianship) in Chicago,” said Circle, admitting that his “unplanned” move to the north woods occurred when arrangements in Austin, Tex. fell through. Yet he’s been surprisingly stimulated by what he calls a vibrant music scene here in Eau Claire, the former home of his now-partner Megan Corse. “You walk three blocks downtown and hit six music venues. For the area and per capita, it’s bigger than Chicago. It was an unexpected scale,” he said.

Within two days of residency just outside Eau Claire, Circle had already booked a gig at the Acoustic Café and snagged a teaching position at the Eau Claire Music School. “I’ve met a lot of welcoming musicians,” he said, citing Jeff White (open mic host at Bottle & Barrel) as a particularly helpful kindred spirit. Besides guitar and voice lessons, Circle will delve into the instruction of songwriting and “making it as an indie musician.”

His latest CD, Minutes to Circle, covers Santana-esque “electric blues” territory, veers into softer urban beats reminiscent of early John Mayer, then finishes with a sound that is distinctly Irish, including a fiddling cover of the wistful Will You Go Lassie Go. Throughout the 11 tracks, his husky vibrato is a constant, lending an unexpected bit of world-weariness to songs about new love. Allow some straight-from-Chicago sultry blues to move you, too.

“This is my base of operations. I’ll tour regularly, but I’m settling here – this is where I’m going to be. I’ll build on my teaching here, and I’m getting some radio attention from WHYS. We got a house in the woods – what more could a guy want?”

Gainesville Gazette

Joshua Bauer

Staff Writer
Posted: 07.28.2010

Five minutes into a conversation with Chicago born musician Phil Circle and you’ll know there are some who still put their soul into music, who do it for the love of the show and the joy of the crowd.  Bringing a classically trained hand and blues/jazz/jam band roots to Backstage Lounge on Wednesday June 28th, Phil puts yet another mark on a tour summer tour calendar that’s gone from his new home in Texas to Nashville, New Orleans, and stops all over the Sunshine State.

Doing it all from his little blue Honda, this is a man who’s lived several musical careers in his 40 some odd years, travelling now to try and infuse some independent spirit into a music scene that has degenerated into radio replay of the same top pop.  Working for enough money to travel town to town, encouraging and mentoring younger musicians along the way (often over beer and cigarettes in the smoky aftershow hours), he serves to remind that your love should never be relegated to a hobby.

For more years than most can hack it, Phil has been playing for any who’ll listen, sometimes giving it a little more Grateful Dead, sometimes a little more Willie Nelson, but always playing with great enthusiasm and talent. Whether it’s an Irish themed ditty (complete with fiddle accompaniment) or a more bluesy/countrified, steel guitar sound, the years of practice have birthed a sound to please most any musical palette and the dust from years on the road has given his voice a world-wise/weary sound that works across the musical spectrum.  With such an eclectic style, his performances appeal to entire crowds of dissimilar listeners, ensuring that he’ll be enjoyed for many more years on this long, winding road.

Check out philcirclemusic.com to hear more, to donate to this nomadic musician, and to encourage him to continue bringing his acoustic guitar driven, cross-genre sound to stages across the country.  The man says it’s all he knows how to do and, man, does he do it well.



MINUTES TO CIRCLE (CD): Chicago musician Phil Circle's 8th disc. 11 mostly solid guitar-powered songs brimming w/ élan.

Adeli's Music Blog

Phil Circle is a musician I first saw perform about eight years ago in what used to be the legendary CBGB’s in New York City. And I’ve been a fan ever since!

The Chicago native plays all the local clubs in and around the windy city and has a great onstage presence.

His most recent CD Minutes to Circle is an eleven-song set of original tunes. His voice and his guitar talent make this a great CD to listen to over and over again.

All the tunes are worth repeat listens, but I especially like “Surreal Life,” “Lipstick & Whiskey,” “Down to the Sea,” “There’s a River” (great guitar solo), and “Psychosis.” The last two tracks “Everything I Touch” and “Will You Go Lassie Go” have a touch of the Irish.

The Illinois Entertainer

Minutes To Circle is singer/songwriter Phil Circle’s eighth CD, and it’s a nice surprise to hear both how much he still has to say and the diverse yet delightful manner with which he relays his musical message. There are a couple of duds among the 11 tunes — most pointedly the pedestrian “Surreal Life” — but much of the guitar-driven melodies are imaginative, especially the languid, country-flavored “Lipstick & Whiskey” and the bluesy “There’s A River.”

Center Stage Chicago

Founder of the critically acclaimed rock-jazz-blues progressive crossover band Guilty and an extremely busy solo performer, Phil Circle's prolific songwriting and powerful performance is a staple of Chicago music. Circle also recently joined with world famous blues fiddler Ruby Harris for a live album recorded at a Chicago venue, that has drawn attention a new musical medium.

After Guilty albums--two studio, two live--a new solo effort, and the "Live at The Gateway" CD with Ruby Harris, Phil Circle is now beginning production with other local artists in an effort to empower them in their own promotion through Guilt By Association Records.

In 2009, Phil Circle released a new CD entitled Minutes To Circle

Chicago Acoustic Underground

Phil Circle (Episode 88) is an amazing singer/songwriter and an excellent guitarist. His songs range from heart rendering songs of loss to bawdy outrageous stories from the "Edge". He will make you laugh and cry and then laugh again.

In The Mix Magazine

Did I just put in Poi Dog Pondering by mistake? While Chicago has been host to musical visitors from another world (Hawaii), it is interesting to find a band that includes all the same eclectic styles that make crossover music so popular with people who really know and love music. And, boy am I feeling Guilty!

Phil Circle is a guitarist/singer/songwriter who leads a host of very talented musicians without the benefit and detriment of agents, managers, promoters or record companies and the executives that chain themselves to the people who really have talent (am I grousing?). Guilty contains the best of all worlds and defies the labels jazz, rock and blues because they are all in there. If the United States has anything to contribute to the stage of world music, music like this is it.

Circle is joined by concentric circles of talent moving from the interior. At the core of the band are percussionist lnderjeet Sidhu and vocalist Laurel Holman, along with Josh Piet or bass, Susan Lansford on fiddle and electric violin, Ted Aliotta (yes campers, that Aliotta) on har-

monica, Bill Bucholtz or keyboards, and Dave Grilly on all the horns. In the next wave out are other musicians who appear on Extenuating Circumstances and/or sit in at shows. They include James Cornolo on bass, Doug Wolf on saxophone, flute, or anything he can get his hands on, Klaus Mayer or saxophone, Matt Steinmetz on harmonica and, well, the list goes on and on.

The music is lush, beautiful, danceable, it swings, it grooves, it's just what the doctor ordered. The CD has 13 songs all from the master class and, since I spent so much space listing the musicians, you'll just have to trust me that I can't name favorites when they are all this great.