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Meet the Musicians

Richard Phillips & Friends

Bill Smith


H.W. "Bill" Smith has been a musician for more than 50 years and a participant in the performing arts for close to 60 years. Bill was raised in Waukesha, Wisconsin by his mother, Connie Smith, who was a singer, actress, theater founder, and playwright. He has toured nationally with the Montana Repertory Theater as a pit musician and has also played in pit orchestras for the Missoula Community Theater, Waukesha Civic Theater and Penny Players. 

For a number of years Bill toured as a musician/storyteller with Roadside Theater, an internationally known Appalachian based storytelling theater troupe. he has also appeared in feature films, most notably, "Gods and Generals," and has acted in more than 50 productions of all types.

Bill has been a life-long musician and has worked in many different bands ranging from folk to rock-and-roll and blues. He plays numerous instruments including string bass and other bass instruments, guitar, fiddle/violin, mandolin, banjo, and several others. He is also an accomplished song writer.

Before moving to Southwest Virginia in 1994, Bill served as the technical director of the University of Montana School of Fine Art and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from that institution. He was also the first executive director of The Crooked Road, Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.

Currently, Bill performs with Richard Phillips and Friends and teaches beginning banjo in the Scott County Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAMS) youth music program. He also performs traditional Appalachian Mountain Music with this wife, Nance and lives in Powell Valley near Big Stone Gap, Virginia. 

Roger Bullock

Bass Guitar

Roger Bullock has been a performing musician since high school. His early success with the group, Velvet Haze, was punctuated in 2011 when Guitar World Magazine recognized their 1967 original single, "Last Day on Earth," among the songs that led to the heavy metal genre, just behind "All Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks and ahead of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." Roger co-wrote the blues flip side of this iconic single, "Bad Women." For 14 years, starting in the late 90's, Roger was the rhythm guitarist and later bassist for one of Northern Virginia's premier rock and roll cover bands, The Sock Monkeys. 

 He has played in most of the major venues in the Northern Virginia, including RFK Stadium. He has met and became friends with many nationally known musicians, including founding member and still touring Box Tops bassist, Bill Cunningham as well as famed luthier and guitarist, Wayne Henderson. Roger worked for NASA for many years and continues to provide consulting services to various agencies. He has also taught computer and business classes for Northern Virginia Community College for over 40 years.

He plays several instruments, including guitar, twelve string guitar, and bass, and a little banjo and mandolin. Roger currently performs with several groups in the Northern Virginia area, including an old time string band and an acoustic rock band with Eddie Harness (Eddie From Ohio) on percussion. He also teaches in Mountain Empire Community College's Mountain Music School which is offered each July to teach students to play old time, traditional music. He also records and performs with Richard Phillips and Friends every time that he can.

Tommy Clements

Rhythm Guitar & Cajon 

Tommy began his musical journey playing drums and percussion in middle school but he cut his teeth on traditional music at the same time as a stage musician playing guitar in the stage band for Virginia's Official State Play, "Trail of the Lonesome Pine." During college, Tommy played with different bands focusing on popular music. He never lost his feel and love for folk, blues, and traditional music and continued to play these songs after college.

Currently, Tommy performs with Richard Phillips and Friends. He plays guitar, bass, and cajon, which is a wooden box played as a drum. As a master craftsman, he also builds the cajons that he plays.  

Dr. Richard Phillips

Guitar & Mandolin

Richard began playing music in his teens at church and in the community, often writing original tunes. After high school in played in a few rock type bands but found that his real interests were in acoustic country blues, folk and traditional music, and song writing.

Richard played in the musical rich, singer/songwriter atmosphere at the clubs around Texas A&M University during the late 1970s and early 80s which spawned the careers of Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. In the late 70s he also played with one of the nation's top old time country guitarists, Dr. Tom Spencer; i.e., "The Ole Perfesser" in Muncie, Indiana.

In the Southwest Virginia area, Richard has been playing at Natural Tunnel's "Lighting of the Tunnel" for 21 years and was the first person to play at this annual event. He was also the first person to play at their prestigious "Candlelight Series." He has also played for many of the past 21 years at the Southwest Virginia's "Lunch on the Lawn," a summer event at which he was also the first performer. He also continues to play annually at Home Craft Days, an annual event held in October to celebrate old time music, crafts, and traditions. He is also a regular at "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine," the Virginia State Play. He currently performs with Richard Phillips and Friends. These friends are Tommy Clements, Bill Smith, and Roger Bullock.

Richard has recorded seven studio CDs (four of these are currently available from CDBaby and his web site and you can also follow him on Spotify) and continues to perform regularly at various events and festivals in Southwest Virginia. He also teaches intermediate/advanced guitar each summer at the Mountain Music School hosted by Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Richard's original songs explore historical and social issues as well as the life issues that we all face. Intermixed with humor, pathos, and optimism, these songs are a broad brush look at the human condition. You can read more and listen to his music at his web site: