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Phil Zimmerman
Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals

I was born in the mid-West (Indiana) and grew up in Nebraska and Illinois. As a toddler I listened the the WSM Farm Show which featured Flatt and Scruggs, Red Foley, and Tex Ritter. I had the serious misfortune of being given a trumpet to play in 2nd grade, when all I wanted was a violin. Such is life. But the urge to feel strings under my fingers was irrepressible. I learned to play guitar and banjo in high school. I played solo coffeehouse gigs in college to earn spending money and work on my instrumental and vocal chops. My role models were Peggy and Mike Seegar, The New Lost City Ramblers, Doc Watson, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and, eventually, Bob Dylan. After a friend loaned me some Bluegrass albums, I quickly began to focus in that direction. I started with Flatt and Scruggs and soon worked my way back to Bill Monroe. After that discovery, I had to have a mandolin. At University of Rochester I met Peter Craig and together we learned all we could about Bluegrass.

After graduating, I moved to Long Island, where I had the incomprehensibly good fortune to meet and make music with Ernie Sykes, Sr. (Ernie's son, Ernie Jr. was Bill Monroe's last bass player). Ernie Sr.is a native of Bluefield, Virginia, an incomparable singer (on parr with Bobby Osborne), a consummate teacher and band leader, and a real gentleman. I learned vocal phrasing and part singing as a member of Ernia's Suffolk County Boys.

After picking and singing with Ernie for a few years, I moved to Connecticut. In a parking lot jam at a Country Gentlemen bluegrass festival, I met Tom, who suggested we get together to make some music. Before long, Last Fair Deal was born. The original members included Bill Dailey on banjo, Robin Kincaid on guitar, Gene Brown on bass, Tom on fiddle, and me on mandolin. From the very beginning, we gave equal importance to vocal and instrumentals, unlike most northern bands who gave far greater weight to picking.

The original LFD perked along for a couple of years with some notariety and a few personnel changes. In 1974(?), we had a major reorganization. Tom wanted to break new musical ground within the traditional string band form. I concurred. I asked my college buddy, Peter Craig, who was in Boston at the time, to join us. "Last Fair Deal II" was born. We soon realized we needed to be doing original compositions, and we wanted to add another voice as well. We advertised in the underground press, auditioned several very strange candidates, and finally found Paul. What clinched the decision for me was Paul's great original song, "Whole New Ride," which became the title cut of our first album. That was about a hundred years ago. And as they say(who are they, anyway?), the rest is history.

To see Phil's award-winning bluegrass photography
published by Smithsonian, Folkways, Rebel, and others.
Visit Phil's Bluegrasstime.com Website

Email: phil ~ at ~ lastfairdeal.com

(photo by Marcia Goodman)

1974-2016 Last Fair Deal. All rights reserved.