Musician ‘Slate Hill Phil’ dies

While the death of James Brown grabbed headlines, the Charlottesville music scene is mourning one of its own, a young man who helped shape the local blues and bluegrass scenes: Phillip Allen Gianniny, aka Slate Hill Phil.

Gianniny, who founded the Slate Hill Boys and was a member of both the Hogwaller Ramblers and the Hackensaw Boys, died on the morning of December 23 at the home of his grandmother in Charlottesville. A cause of death was not revealed.

A self-taught musician, Gianniny could often be found playing banjo in front of the Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall. In a world of goth and grunge, Gianniny was natty dresser whose crisp white shirts and dark suits stood out almost as much as his deep voice.

"Tears won't fill the hole he leaves, so we'll keep throwing songs into it," says friend and former Hogwaller Ramblers bandmate Jamie Dyer.

An obituary says that Gianniny, 31, died "peacefully" and that he is survived, among others, by a daughter, a sister, two brothers, and his parents, Roger Dale Gianniny and Brenda Steve Sampson Gianniny.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2pm. Friday, December 29, at Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church.

Update: Slate Hill Boys Andy Thacker and Charlie Bell will join Dyer in playing some of Gianniny's music at the service. "I'm hoping that my renditions of his songs will p*ss Phil off enough to make him come back and tell me how I'm [messing] them up," says Dyer.



Hi Cville and beyond-

If you'd like to leave a thought or two for Phil's family, it'd mean the world to them:

man i just can't believe it. i knew phil from the days when he and jerry "brickie" carty would come and play with us at the irish sessions every sunday at the monitcello brewing company. and it was always nice to see him pickin it out on the downtown mall. guess you could say he was instrumental in keeping the street music scene alive in cville. he and i would talk about banjos quite often down there. sure will be a hollow spot down on the mall without him.

my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

I'm sorry. Phil played at our yearly NA campout for us a while ago when I was the special events chairman for the event. He was a very talented young man and shared his gift without regard to being compensated. It was our best campout and people remarked to me how special the music was that night. It was the kind of music they could not only dance to but they could feel it in their bones. He was a very sincere musican and surely will be missed. I feel for your loss.

((((((((Phil))))))) Thanks for the banjo lessons - Rock on!

I met Phil about two years ago. He ate at the restaurant where I work and I immediatly liked him. That was about two years ago. Since then I have always looked foward to seeing him on the mall and to hear his lovely voice. He always put a smile on my face. Last week I returned to work after a year off and was looking foward to seeing Phil again when I heard of his passing. I still can't believe that I'll never see him again. I'm not even sure if he knew my name, but I'll always remember his. I miss you Phil!!! It's not the same without you.

My favorite person to throw out of a bar-- and I mean that in the best possible way. He will be missed, indeed...

Just wanted to say I'll miss Phil... Had a chance to play with him one evening in front of the Paramont. He asked if I could play blue grass and that he had an extra martin sittin over there with nothing to do. We played for half hour or so.. Fox on the run was a crowd hit. I walked away and someone asked how long we had been playing cause yall sound great, just met him. his name is Slate Hill Phil Im the other guy.