Before he was a red dirt musician, Bo Phillips was a red dirt music fan.
The Stillwater singer-songwriter expressed his unabashed affectionate for the homegrown music scene when he penned his most recent single, “Red Dirt Girl,” which pays tribute to red dirt standouts like The Great Divide, Red Dirt Rangers, and the late Bob Childers. He even name-checks his younger brother, Stoney LaRue.
“I didn't write it for anybody but me. I mean, I was just trying to make a statement about Oklahoma music and it just happened to be about a girl. It's just one of those deals where if you fill the seats with girls, the guys are gonna come and try to see the girls,” Phillips said in a recent phone interview from Commerce, Texas, where he was getting ready for an acoustic show with LaRue and Bleu Edmondson.
“It just happened to work out to where it was a song that people could really relate to ‘cause I've heard (from) hundreds and hundreds of people — men and women, actually — who tell me that that song says everything exactly how they feel about red dirt music. I was just writing a song about my view on Oklahoma music and it just happened to be in the same vein as everybody else.”
Last month, the former high school agriculture teacher got the thrill of notching his first No. 1 hit when “Red Dirt Girl” reached the zenith of the Texas Regional Radio Report's Texas Top 100 Chart.
“When you rattle off all these artists that people are already big fans of, it definitely raises some heads,” Phillips said. “Of course, the verses are talking about not being a big fan of mainstream music and being supportive of something that's written right here and sung by people you know. ... You don't have to travel three states over to get good music.”
In fact, he and Red Dirt Rangers singer/mandolin player John Cooper will play an acoustic set Wednesday night at a legendary Stillwater venue, Eskimo Joe's. Phillips' busy tour schedule also includes opening up The Great Divide's two-night College Days festival Sept. 21 at Stillwater's Tumbleweed Dancehall.
“I've always been a fan of music in general. Growing up, we listened to country music. That was the only station we picked up. Then when I went to college, my ears were introduced to other styles of music,” he said, adding that he taught LaRue to play guitar when they were youngsters.