The unbridled fun of cavorting up and down Atlantic Ave. and discovering surprising hidden artistic gems, is a big part of Bixby Knolls’ First Fridays. You may find poets in a realty office, someone painting in a parking lot, or lusty pirates singing sea shanties on a sidewalk. Still, every now and then it is nice to get a heads up about something special, something that you might miss, only to hear about it, spoken in hushed tones, later.
Tonight, for example, you may stroll right by Esquire Barber Shop, located at 4240 Atlantic Ave, and not notice harpist Phillip King. Hailing from Milwaukee, King was a successful music, television and film producer with connections to the hip hop scene.
Four years ago, he sat down in front of a harp. He’d never played one before but, when his fingers touched the strings, music of startling beauty and sophistication came out. It changed his life. The harp, belonging to Eah Herran, was hand built for her as a child.
“I have no explanation as to how I can play the way I do, or the songs that I do,” King says. “I have looked for harp teachers and they all say the same thing. They have no idea what I’m doing, but, without doubt, I have a very high skill level of harp playing. I am just a conduit.”
Herran was so moved by King’s instant and seemingly miraculous affinity with the harp that she gave it to him. King believes that his ability, and the music he creates, are divine in origin.
“The harp is mystically powerful,” he says. “The Holy Spirit flows through me and the songs come back.”
Still, King’s hip hop roots have not been abandoned entirely. “I add beat box to the equation,” he says.
The Bixby Knolls’ monthly First Friday event runs from 6PM to 9PM, with after-hours parties continuing at Nino’s, The Factory and EJ Malloy’s. More information about the event can be found at FirstFridaysLongBeach.com.
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