About Phil

"Go down yonder, I want you to tell that big hat man. You go down yonder, I want you to tell that big hat man.”

About Phil Wiggins...
Phil Wiggins was born in Washington, D.C. in 1954 and spent his childhood summers at his grandmother’s home in Alabama, where he listened to old-time hymns sung in church in the traditional call-and-response style. Phil was attracted to the blues harp as a young man and began his musical career with some of Washington’s leading blues artists, including Archie Edwards and John Jackson, and attributes his style to his years spent accompanying locally noted slide guitarist and gospel singer Flora Molton.

Wiggins' harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Phil also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith). Besides being a renowned harmonica player, Wiggins is also a gifted songwriter and singer whose material has helped to define the duo’s sound.

As a harmonica-guitar duo, Cephas & Wiggins are uniquely able to exemplify the synthesis of African and European elements which co-exist in the blues. Much of the melody and imagery is Western, of course. However, the call-and-response interplay between the harmonica and guitar, the complimentary rhythms, and the microtonal slurs generated by “stretched” guitar strings and “bent” harmonica notes are all quintessentially African.