Talent comes out at Open Mic nights in Ramona
By A.J. Bess
When Phillip Twitchell played at an Open Mic Night in Ramona, it was mesmerizing.
Fast forward 10 days later, in his music room. The walls are covered in original art, some done by his roommate and fellow musician Derrick Streibig, the rest by other artists. Incense fills the room, various instruments line the walls. “Call me Twitch,” he said.
There were several rumors about where Twitchell came from. Though he isn‘t from Ramona originally, a talent like his, even in spite of his meekness, is bound to get noticed sooner or later. It had been said he was somewhat of a drifter who had meandered his way out from Detroit, or maybe Chicago. He hears this, and laughs.
“I like that,” he said. “I like the rumors.”
Truth be told he comes from Missouri. The 24- year-old made his way to Ramona three months ago to meet up with Streibig, another St. Louis native. Asked to play something, Twitchell smiles and humbly shakes his head, as if he’s nervous about it not being very good. But Twitch never passes up a chance to play for someone. The song is an original called “Get Away.”
He begins softly, feet together, steadily tapping out the beat with his heels, his voice labored and howling, yet controlled. The soul of acoustic folk rock. One doesn’t witness this kind of passion and focus very often.
Twitchell does all his recording from home.
“In your home you feel more comfortable,” he said.
But studio work is on the horizon. And while to most it may seem like Twitchell should be making records for a major label, he’s not as interested as one would think.
“Any corporation, there is something bad…..I don’t want any corporate, I want the fellowship of musicians, the fellowship of people,” he said.
Though he may not be chomping at the bit for a spot on MTV, he’s not opposed to getting paid. But money isn’t everything.
“Five years from now I may be a bum on the street,” he said, “but I’ll still be playing music.”
Twitch’s influences range from Bob Dylan to Stevie Wonder, even Lead Belly.
“Beck would definitely be number one, though,” he said with a laugh.
His lyrics are as moving as his performances. It’s always interesting to find out where lyrics come from. Like most songwriters, Phillip keeps a lot of songs hidden away until they’re ready.
“There’s always gonna be a diary, and then a journal,” he said.
Not bad for a guy who made up his own silly language. As talented as Twitchell is, he remains humble. “I still consider myself an amateur.”
Twitchell was born in a suburb of St. Louis. His mother was a factory worker, and he began working in a restaurant at age 9. He never knew his father.
He started playing guitar at age 17 after spending several years singing in a choir. He also spent time living in The Delmar Loop, the St. Louis district once home to the likes of Miles Davis, Ike Turner, and Chuck Berry, to name a few.
Twitchell and Streibig have been wanting to start a band for years, and their various projects keep them plenty busy. Twitchell’s project, “Tell Ah Vision,” is constantly developing, while Streibig is wowing audiences at Sundance and working on his project, “Festival.”
While Twitchell’s future remains uncertain, music will always be the number one focus.
“All I want to do is play music,” he said. “It makes me a better person.”
- If it’s Thursday, it’s Open Mic Night at Kenrix Sushi & Co.
- A time to give thanks
- Boys open basketball season with a victory
- Services today for mother killed in head-on crash
- Ramona Town Hall Open House on Sunday afternoon
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