Bo Phillips is a good country songwriter and performer, but he might be an even better teacher.
The Oklahoma State University grad turned high school ag teacher turned professional musician considers his little brother as his star pupil.
“I taught him to play guitar while we were growing up,” Phillips said of his star sibling, Stoney LaRue. “We grew up real poor, and the guitar became our coolest toy in the world. We just took off from there.”
LaRue never put down the guitar, but three jobs and a heavy school load forced Phillips to put music on the back burner. Juggling duties as a teacher by day and bouncer by night, Phillips landed a gig hosting karaoke at a Stillwater bar, and it soon became his path back onto the saddle when his between-set original music became the big attraction.
He opted to ditch the teaching job, with no regrets.
“You wake up in the morning and realize you want to do what you love, not what you like,” Phillips said. “It’s been a passion of mine for all my life. Rather than looking back when I was old, we decided to just roll with it.”
The chance has paid its dividends, with Phillips making his way down the path his younger brother traversed years back. He released his debut album, “Dirt Road,” last year, followed by this month’s “Fishin’ with Grandpa.”
“You have your whole life to write your first hit song and 18 to write your next one,” Phillips said. “However, I actually found it easier to write these new songs, and it’s because I had an iPhone. I had a notebook and a recorder right there. I was able to come up with the kernel of the song, write it down and revisit it later. … I never lost anything.”
He’ll finish the year with a slew of Oklahoma dates — including this weekend’s metro pair — before striking out into Nebraska, Kansas and Texas in support of “Fishin’,” which has garnered positive reviews from fans and critics … for a good reason.
“I’m 6’5” and 250, so I don’t get a lot of bad news,” Phillips said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things. I think it’s going to be a great year.”