“Dobro master Stacy Phillips, who died Tuesday at the age of 73.Watching Stacy Phillips contemplatively smoke his cigars in baggy pants and a T-shirt outside his Alden Avenue apartment or pass the hat between sets with his “bluegrass characters” at the Outer Space, you might not guess he won a Grammy.You might not know that he played with some of the leading lights of the acoustic music revival of the 1960s and 1970s. You might not guess that he wrote books on music or that he had spent decades studying the intricacies of musical genres ranging from Hawaiian to hillbilly, from klezmer to gospel, from Ukrainian to Middle Eastern. You might not know that he was considered a master of the Dobro guitar on top of playing a mean fiddle.
Stacy Phillips didn’t consider himself a big shot. He scraped together a living here, gigging with multiple New Haven-area ensembles, teaching students, and writing books for more than three decades. With an easygoing demeanor that masked an intense commitment to the highest standards, he kept old-time music alive, imbuing it with new meaning. And he inspired fellow musicians and roots-loving audiences alike.
That all came to an end Tuesday when Phillips died in St. Francis Hospital in Hartford after lying in a coma for three days, according to bassist David Chevan, whom the family designated to speak publicly about the death. Phillips was 73 years old.
My casual friend and talented associate in contra dance music Stacy Phillips passed away yesterday. He was an extraordinary bluegrass fiddler and dobro player and author of music books. It was a privilege to hear him perform. We will miss his music and mirth. My condolences and love to his close friends and family.