BEST BETS: Country singer Parsons on rise to Tom’s Bullpen

Phillip Michael Parsons is a rising country music artist with an ever-growing fan base.

And he has his alarm clock to thank.

Born in Gainsville, Florida and moving around to a variety of places before settling in southern Maryland with his family, the young Mr. Parsons could only listen to Christian music growing up.

“My family was very strict. We could really only listen to hymns. But my parents never realized that the alarm clock in

Southern Maryland singer Phillip Michael Parsons will perform with Sam Grow in a Country Christmas concert Saturday night at Tom’s Bullpen in Dover. (Submitted photo)

my room had a radio,” he recalled.

“So from the time I was about 11 or 12 years old, I would go to sleep at night listening to WKIK and that’s where I fell in love with country music. It was really only one of two stations that came in clearly.”

Listening to ’90s artists such as Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks set him on the path he is following today.

That trail leads him to Dover Saturday night when he and his buddy Sam Grow will perform at Tom’s Bullpen in a Country Christmas show.

Raised by a mother who was “super musical,” Mr. Parsons picked up the guitar at 14 but never really got serious about it until four years ago. He had other priorities in life.

Due to family circumstances, he helped raise many of his nine siblings.

“Some of them lived with me and I took care of others,” said the 32-year-old Mr. Parsons.

His family life changed for the better a couple of years ago and he was able to get a clearer picture of the future.

“I just thought ‘What am I going to do for the rest of my life?’” he said.

Performing the music that he grew up with, he begged for a free gig on a Wednesday at a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in southern Maryland.

“I thought I did OK but if I watched it now, I’d probably laugh,” he said.

A couple of weeks later, he wrote his first song “Circle 8,” the title track on his first release. The four-song EP took him and music fans by surprise, reaching 33rd on the iTunes Country Music Charts only three days after it became available in May of 2016.

“That surprised me a bit. We promoted it with a few minor videos. It felt like beginner’s luck with people saying ‘Let’s check this guy out.’ People ended up liking it and sharing it and it just spread,” he said.

His next three-song EP “Nights We Never Had” was released in October and he has another album set to go for March.

A frequent collaborator, Mr. Grow, another southern Maryland country singer who has a large local following, has helped Mr. Parsons in immeasurable ways.

“He’s the reason I started writing songs. I had opened for him as a single acoustic act before I had my band. He hit me up saying ‘We have a singer-songwriter showcase coming up where we play nothing but original music and I think you’d be perfect for it. We take turns and play three or four of our originals,’” Mr. Parsons said.

“I said to him ‘That would be great but I only have one original song’. He said ‘The show is a little over a week away. You better get writing. We have you down for the show.’

“Those were the songs that resulted in the first EP that did so well. And I give Sam credit for that.”

Mr. Grow recently started a management company and took Mr. Parsons on as his first client. These days, the two split their time between Nashville and the Mid-Atlantic area.

His last album was recorded in Mr. Grow’s Nashville home studio.

“He just said ‘I need you down here.’ We do a lot of writing together. We don’t perform down there. There are so many songwriters and so many connections to be made in Nashville,” Mr. Parsons said.

He thinks his songwriting has matured over the years.

“My biggest goal is making my songs as real as possible. I want people to know and understand me and my life and the circumstances where I came from,” Mr. Parsons said.

“With the first album, I was just trying to write good songs. But with the last several songs, I’ve been trying to write in order to give people a window into my life.”

For more than 10 years, Mr. Parsons worked for the Department of Defense. In April of this year, he left that position to be a full-time musician.

“It’s been working out so far. I’ve been able to make my bills every month,” he said.

Downstate Delaware music fans have been key to his success, he said.

“Delaware has been huge for us,” he said. “I think I have a bigger fanbase in Delaware than I do in my hometown. There I think they view you as a local boy and maybe don’t take you as seriously. But Delaware folks have really opened their arms to us. It’s been very awesome.”

Tickets for the 9 p.m. show are $20 and can be purchased through MissionTix.com or by calling 410-982-0799.

There will also be a holiday bazaar with vendors and Christmas drink specials.

Tom’s Bullpen is in the Hamlet Shopping Center, 1035 Walker Road in Dover. Only patrons 21 and over will be admitted.

Christmas Cantata

The Combined Choir of Calvary Baptist Church will present Saturday the Christmas cantata “All is Well,” under the direction of conductor Dion LeMon and minister of music Henry A. Green. (Submitted photo)

Also Saturday, the Combined Choir of Calvary Baptist Church will present the Christmas cantata “All is Well,” under the direction of conductor Dion LeMon and minister of music Henry A. Green.

Doors open at 5 p.m. with the program starting at 6. Organizers urge patrons to arrive early as the church will fill to capacity.

The cantata will feature a live orchestra, drama team and dance ministry. The evening will also serve to welcome the church’s new pastor, Bishop W. James Thomas II.

Calvary Baptist Church is off Del. 8 at 163 Victory Chapel Road in Dover.

For more information, contact the church office at 736-6554.

First State Symphonic Band

Staying in the holiday spirit, The First State Symphonic Band Christmas Concert will be held tonight at 7:30 at the Smyrna Opera House.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. A cash bar will be available.

Selections include “Joy to the Season,” “Holy Night, Silent Night,” “Sleigh Ride,” “A Christmas Festival,” “A Home Alone Christmas,” and many more.

Tickets are $8 to $16 and available at SmyrnaOperaHouse.org, by calling 653-4236 or at the box office at 7 W. South St.

Seeing double

Twin brothers Paul and Robbie Rescigno bring “The Rescignos: Holiday Twinn Live” show to the Milton Theatre Saturday night at 7.

Milford natives, they both graduated from Milford High School in 2002 and attended Syracuse University where they each received degrees in acting. Now they are living and working in New York City while performing their own cabaret theatre.

The Rescignos had its first performance in 2006 at Syracuse University. Since then, they have been developing the show, and have performed regularly to sold-out crowds in New York City’s cabaret rooms, winning both the 2011 Nightlife Award and the 2011 Bistro Award.

The show features signature original music and song parodies, leading an ensemble of eight actors including their sister and fellow Milfordian, Tricia Rescigno.

Tickets are $20 to $25 and available for purchase online at MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038, or at the event itself.

The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and the animated film “Ferdinand.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the epic film “Dunkirk,” “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” Jennifer Lawrence in “Mother!” and Jake Gyllenhaal in the Boston Marathon drama “Stronger.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment