Craig Philipp
Craig Philipp

Craig Philipp wants to score a musician’s hat trick in Madison. He’s come close a few times, but it has eluded him. (For those not familiar, the term “hat trick” is used in soccer and hockey when a single player scores three goals in one game. Not an easy feat.)
“I’m actually in three different bands,” explained Craig, “and the idea would be to play with each band on three consecutive nights. I need to know about 150 songs to pull it off because there’s almost no overlap between the band repertoires.”
Craig moved to the Madison area back in 2007 to teach chemistry at Hanover College. It was his first foray into academia, having been a food chemist at various companies in his earlier career. Now, after 13 years, he’s firmly enmeshed in the lifestyle and musical culture of our unique community.
“When I first moved here the Electric Lady was still going strong, and the Broadway Tavern. It seemed like any given Friday or Saturday there was live music at four or five places. It made it extremely palatable to move here, knowing the music scene was so strong.
“On a personal level, I have a long history playing in various bands. In high school up in Cleveland I played bass in a rock band that got really popular on the local bar circuit. We were just 16 or 17 years old, playing clubs almost every weekend.
“Then as I moved around, for college and jobs, I was in various groups and duos. Down in Florida when I was in my late 30s I was introduced to the blues for the first time. That started a lifelong love affair with that genre. I was in a blues band for about 5 years down there.
“When I first came to Madison looking for houses to live in, Jim Pruett was showing me around. Making small talk he asks if I have any hobbies and I tell him blues music. Next thing I know I’m playing bass with the Blues Devils, Kenny Guthrie, Brook and Carrie, Leah, Chris Watson. That was an amazing 5 years.
“Which brings me to today and the three bands I’m currently playing in. I’m in Four Piece Chicken Dinner band with Leah Pruett, Joe Perkinson and Chris on drums. I’m in a blues and classic rock band with a bunch of Louisville guys called the Bottle Trees. And I’m part of a group of college folks currently called The Men’s Room.
“The Hanover group is a very interesting project. Another professor there, Bill Bettler and I came up with this concept of inviting a couple of college kids to join us and form a band. The only issue is, as college kids they eventually graduate and move on, so we have to keep finding new replacements.
“We’ve been doing it about 8 years now and we’ve had something like five pairs of different students play with us. The way we do it is half of the song choices come from Bill and I, and half come from the students. So we have to learn each other’s songs. It’s a lot of fun. With these latest students, their songs are actually older than ours!
“We rename the band with each new iteration, but the only rule is it has to have word Room in the title. It’s all guys at the moment, so we’re The Men’s Room.
“Anyway, my ultimate goal is to play three consecutive nights in Madison with the three different bands. I’ve done some two-in-a-row shows, but haven’t been able to line up all three yet. But I will!”
Speaking of hat tricks, it’s very possible now for live music fans to score their own these days in Madison. This last Saturday some friends and I started our evening at Mad Paddle for the solo acoustic show there. We headed over to the Winery and caught Rusty Bladen’s last set, which was awesome, as always. And then we strolled up the alley to the Taproom to see Erik Brunner. He delighted everyone with an upbeat rendition of Disney’s “Let it Go.” Get out there and enjoy people!
On Thursday nights, Hippies Music up the road in Vernon is doing something interesting — an all-evening jam session, starting with bluegrass, then blues, then any style. On Friday there’s a Nashville-quality country show at the Red Bike featuring recording artist Sunny Sweeney. And on Saturday the hot ticket will be the Songwriters in the Round show, also at the Red Bike, with Greg Foresman, John Mann Jon Byrd & Danny Flanigan. If upbeat Irish/Celtic is your jam, go to Thomas Family Winery on Saturday for The Bold Roberts (love that band name!)

Thursday, February 13:

Off Broadway Taproom – Arlie Box
Hippies in Vernon – 6 p.m. bluegrass jam, 9 p.m. blue jam, midnight. open jam
Friday, February 14:
Red Bicycle Hall – Sunny Sweeney
Rembrandt’s – Leonard Miller at the piano
American Legion – The Faze (smoking)
Moasis in Vevay – Falls City Boys
Saturday, February 15:
Red Bicycle Hall – Songwriters in the Round with Greg Foresman
Mad Paddle Brewery – Mack McKenzie (7 p.m.)
Off Broadway Taproom – Amy Noel
Rembrandt’s – Leonard Miller at the piano
Thomas Family Winery – Lance Minnis and the Bold Roberts
VFW – Branded
Sunday, February 16:
Off Broadway Taproom – Davy or Darryl
Up and Coming:
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indy – Guns N’ Roses, Aug. 21, tickets on sale now