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.