The Devil Strip Originals | Front And Centre with Phil Anderson

A year later, Phil Anderson is Front and Centre

By Floco Torres


Artwork by Vincent Weber

A lot can happen in a year and that’s certainly the case for Phil Anderson. Last April when I spoke with him, he was happy to be back home in Akron after experiencing life in Chicago, Austin and New York. While he left Akron to seek out “more musical opportunities,” he’s found himself creating those opportunities right here in the city.

His main focus when he touched back down was to find ways to package the scene more cohesively. The goal of curation hasn’t changed, it’s only shifted mediums. The plan started with featuring artists through his own band Bluelight on their albums and creating shows in unique spaces featuring artists from the scene with Sofar Akron. Phil has combined all of these efforts into one project and it’s the Front And Centre Sessions. (Full disclosure: I’m featured in an upcoming episode and the series is produced in partnership with The Devil Strip.)

Front And Centre Sessions is my newest endeavor for shining a spotlight on what makes the scene great here,” says Phil.

The Front And Centre Sessions are designed like a season on Netflix. It’s 12 episodes that were all recorded, produced and edited by Phil. Each episode is a different performer from or in the NE Ohio area, people who are active and that you may know and some that you don’t know, yet. Phil says he “wanted to bridge the gap between a produced video and a live experience.” You’ll be invited into a session with Gretchen Pleuss, Jeri Sapronetti (Time Cat), Jul Big Green and more. Each episode is one song, one take and uncut. It’s an intimate and raw showcase that celebrates spontaneity and imperfection rather than scolding it. The full season will be available for you to binge on The Devil Strip’s YouTube channel but if you can’t catch them all in one sitting, TDS will be pushing out an episode every two weeks starting June 5.

Photo by Brent Veverka

The first episode will feature Phil Anderson and a stripped down performance of Bluelight’s new single “Birds and Bees” off their forthcoming album, HOME.  After their last EP TVNNELS, the band got right back to work on the new album and have been working on it for a year. HOME is an hour’s worth of content dissecting the concept of what “home” is to the band and what it could be for listeners. From your address, to comfort in your relationships, to an endless search of a place you can call your own, Phil thinks “you’ll find something that speaks to you on the record.” Fans of Bluelight can expect the same genre changing within songs and the huge dynamic contrast that they enjoyed from the first two projects. The ear candy will be in the post production process as that’s where the band really pushed to experiment with their instruments and overall sound.

For Phil, coming back to Akron was about taking pride in his hometown and doing what he could do to help elevate the music scene. In 365 days, he’s been able to get right in the thick of the resurgence all while becoming a father and a husband. We’ll have to wait and see what he does next.

Season one of Front And Centre will be available on The Devil Strip’s Youtube page in it’s entirety starting on June 5th. If binge watching isn’t for you, follow The Devil Strip on Facebook or Twitter to catch a new episode every two weeks.

Bluelight’s new single ‘Birds and Bees’ is out now and their new album HOME will be released on June 24th. They’ll be playing a live interactive show to celebrate the release as well. Location is TBA.



(featured photo by Brent Veverka)