Friends, fun and fantastic music in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – When good friends call, Glen Phillips generally says “yes.”
That would explain why he’s joining his friends Vienna Teng and Alex Wong Saturday for a show in Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center.
Phillips fronts Toad the Wet Sprocket, a successful 1990s band.
“I’m good friends with Vienna and Alex and when they call to ask if I can play, I always say yes. It’s always a good time,” Phillips said.
Phillips will play a set with both Wong and Teng, a set with Teng and a solo set.
He expects the Vilar show to be a fairly unstructured affair.
“It’ll be a whole bunch of songs – Toad songs, solo songs, some covers – and whatever random stories pop into my head,” Phillips said.
Vienna Teng is a musical goddess. C’mon, listen to her. Look at her. She is, without a doubt the most successful former computer software engineer the music world has ever known.
Just months after quitting her engineering job in 2002, she was being interviewed on NPR and performing on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
She learned to sing in the shower and in school choirs, but mostly from getting on stage and doing it.
“I finally got the hang of using my voice as an instrument. I took some lessons here and there, which amounted to paying $40 to $150 a week to be told that I was doing it all wrong,” Teng said.
Her parents are Chinese from Taiwan. She was born and raised in California.
“Rumor has it that I am also Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and/or hapa. Rumors are amusing, especially when they get me booked to perform for Korea Day at a university which will remain unnamed,” she said.
She earned a bachelors degree in computer science from Stanford, and worked at Cisco Systems for two years as a programmer.
“These days I remember exactly enough to crash whatever computer I’m working on,” Teng said.
Wong’s and Teng’s first studio album, “Inland Territory,” was released in April 2009 to glowing reviews. On stage, they play every instrument they can imagine, and they can imagine some amazing stuff. You’ll also hear looping pedals and effects, but never pre-recorded tracks.
Then there’s Phillips and Toad the Wet Sprocket. They announced last month that they’re putting the band back together and will record their first album since 1997’s “Coil.”
Toad the Wet Sprocket is an American alternative rock band. They started young. Phillips was a 16-year-old Southern California high school kid, attending San Marcos High School outside Santa Barbara, where he still lives. They started with guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss – all 17 at the time.
Their first public appearance was an open-mic talent contest in September 1986. They lost. But after that they had lots of success, recording their first platinum album in 1991. They broke up in 1998. They were young and they were a successful rock band. Their artistic differences occasionally became animated.
But they didn’t lose touch. In 2006 they went back on the road, playing small venues and short tours.
“We tentatively played a few shows here and there. Usually if we tried to extend it to anything else, we’d fall back into some of the same tendencies. It’s a band, after all,” Phillips said.
Time passed and life happened. Some of the stuff that used to set them off doesn’t any longer.
“In 2009 we did a bunch of shows. We were all getting along and having a good time for a change, so we decided to give it a try,” Phillips said.
So far so good.
“We’re looking toward the future for the first time in a long time,” Phillips said. “The fans seem supportive and everyone seems happy about it. The reaction has been generally positive.
“On the other hand, the people who always gave us crap will still give us crap,” he said.
In the interim, Phillips has been working on solo records and raising three children. The youngest wants to work with children through music therapy. The older two think music is far too tame as a vocational choice. Right now, they’re aerialists – trapeze and stilts.
He says he’s having the time of his life.
“I have teenage daughters and I love it,” he said.