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Music has been a central element of my life since childhood. Whether it was banging away on a toy guitar to “Pretty Woman”, figuring out movie soundtracks on my Casio keyboard, or playing my accordion on our front porch for hours at a time, I always had music in my head. I performed my first piano recital at 2 years old, (I assume it was horrible) and began taking guitar lessons in 1st grade.


          One of my early influences was watching the Tom Hanks movie, “That Thing You Do”. I have a very fond memory of going to the Galaxy Theatre with my dad and becoming completely enamored with the drums because of that film. That movie inspired me to play percussion in the school marching band, which taught me a lot about developing rudimentary skills as well as good practice habits.


          My guitar teacher, Larry Jasinski, was another important influence on my life. Not only did he teach me to play guitar along with music theory, but he introduced me to one of the bands that changed my idea of what music could be, Black Sabbath. Up until this point I had grown up on my mom’s Country music tastes, and my dads preference for Tejano music. As interested as I was in performing music, my awareness of musical genres was pretty limited. The first time I heard Black Sabbath I remember thinking, “Why does this woman have such a shrill voice and why is she singing so high?!”. I’d never heard of Ozzy Osbourne, or heard anything like Black Sabbath . After a few listens I was completely hooked and realized that this music resonated with me in a way that none other had to that point.


          As I grew older and became aware of the many different genres of music, my tastes began to change. Growing into my twenties I began to play acoustic guitar as opposed to electric. This opened up an entire new world of musicality for me. Playing the acoustic really helped me gain a sense of touch when playing the guitar that I hadn’t learned from hard rock. I started getting into artists like The Beatles, Dylan and U2.


          After playing guitar in several bands during my early twenties, I started playing as a solo musician. I feel this is where people really started to take notice of my singing, and when I began to believe that I could make a living with music. I became a full-time musician when I moved to Austin in 2010. I started out playing every night in the center of Austin’s music district, 6th street.


          The majority of my wildest stories have occurred on 6th Street. One of the more memorable instances I can recall came while playing my regular spot at the time, Bat Bar. I used to play there five nights a week. One evening I recognized a man that had stopped by for the last three nights wearing the exact same clothes and a black backpack. He came up to the stage and prostrated himself on the floor in front of me for about three straight songs. After what seemed like an uncomfortable eternity, he finally came to his feet, came up onto the stage, and quietly asked to shake my hand. I was already very wary of him, but not wanting to be rude, I reached out my hand. He immediately pulled me in close and with a steel grip began screaming directly into my face “Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior! Repent and allow him to remove you from this den of debauchery!” He would not let go of my hand and just kept yelling at me. Once the man realized a bouncer was running toward us he took off, trying to leave the venue by jumping over a side railing on the stage. The man miscalculated how far the drop was and fell on the cement floor, knocking himself unconscious. The police and paramedics showed up so I ended up cutting my set short.


          Even though I’ve had some uncomfortable run-ins during my time as a musician, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The majority of the people I meet continue to be nice, caring, and genuine. Between touring across the US and broadcasting on Periscope, I have been able to connect with so many people I would otherwise not know if it hadn’t been for music. I’m currently writing material for a new album and look forward to meeting many more people down the road.

Phil Luna

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