Phil Bowden has been working as a professional performer and instructor in the Seattle area since 1992. He has experience performing and teaching many different styles of music including rock, jazz, latin, blues, funk, and orchestral percussion. Phil has also studied privately under many different instructors, including Mike Gerdes, Mark Mattingly, Walt Hampton, Steve Smith (Seattle Drum School), Dr. Andrew Spencer (CWU), Professor Tom Collier(UW), Michael Crusoe (UW/Seattle Symphony), and Bruce Becker.
Phil grew up in Pasco, Washington, and took up playing drums when he was 10 years old. Mom and Dad were always very supportive and bought Phil his first drum set when he was 13 and immediately signed him up for lessons with Mike Gerdes at a local music store. One of the highlights of studying with Mike was an introduction to playing rock and jazz as well getting a clear understanding of the 26 rudiments and how to count and read music fluently.
In high school, Phil had the opportunity to study with local drummers Mark Mattingly and Walt Hampton, both CWU Music alumni. Mark helped Phil to get a more in-depth understanding of jazz drum set, but more importantly, taught Phil how to practice more efficiently and effectively. Studies with Walt Hampton were more focussed on orchestral snare drum and preparation for studying perucssion at Central Washington University, which Phil attended from 1986 to 1991.
While at Central, Phil continued to study with Walt Hampton and also made periodic visits to the Seattle Drum School to study drum set with Steve Smith. “Steve was a very charismatic and motivational teacher and showed me a lot of techniques that helped shape me into the player I am now,” says Phil.
Phil's junior year at Central was marked by the arrival of new Percussion Professor Dr. Andrew Spencer. Dr. Spencer was an Eastman School of Music graduate and specialized in keyboard percussion instruments, namely the marimba. Phil recalls, “during the first week of Fall Quarter 1988, Dr. Spencer performed some solo marimba pieces for the School of Music students. After hearing him play, I thought to myself 'I want to learn to do that!...and for the next 3 years my main focus was on doing just that.”
Soon after graduating from Central in 1991 with a Bachelor's Degree in Percussion Performance, Phil began his career as a freelance drummer and drum instructor. He first taught privately at Ted Brown Music in Richland, WA, and Talcott Music in Yakima. During this period Phil also served as asssistant to Band Director Dean Immel at Kennewick High School.
In 1992 Phil decided it was time to relocate to the Seattle Area where there would be more opportunities to perform regularly. From 1992 to 1994 Phil played shows regularly on the Spirit of Puget Sound Cruise Ship and taught privately at Kennelly Keys Music in Lynwood, Ted Brown Music in Tacoma, and at Kalles Jr. High School in Puyallup. “In those early years I had very little experience playing gigs outside of what I'd done in college, and, as an instructor, I was just starting to assimilate all the information I'd been given by all my previous instructors. Like many people at that age I struggled to make a living,” Phil recalls. “But I kept at it and took advantage of whatever opportunities came my way.”
One opportunity that came Phil's way during this time was playing in the Show Band on several Carnival Cruise Ships. “Living on a ship was a pretty surreal experience, but having the chance to play six nights per week and having time to practice and study drum set with Bruce Becker was just what I needed at that time.” Bruce Becker, from the Los Angeles area, is a long time student of famous Drum Guru Freddy Gruber, and was able to help Phil get his playing to the next level. Bruce also taught Phil many concepts that are still a big part of his philosophy as player and instructor to this day.
After the cruise ship stint during the mid nineties, Phil settled back into the Seattle area music scene and played with many top local rhythm & blues bands. The highlight of this period was working with Stickshift Annie, Kimball Conant, and with legendary guitarist Isaac Scott. “Playing with Isaac was a real confidence builder for me because he was the first real world class talent who saw the talent in me and took me under his wing.” Also, during this period Phil continued to work on his Master's Degree in Percussion at the University of Washington. After finishing course work at the UW, Phil and his wife, Laura, relocated to Kent in July of 2002.
Since moving to Kent, Phil has continued playing professionally with many different blues, pop, rock, and jazz groups and has had up to 50 plus in the South Puget Sound Area. Currently Phil has been teaching at Hi Ho Music Center in Puyallup, The Rock and More Music Academy in Maple Valley, and out of his home studio in East Hill Kent. Phil also performs regulary with groups from the Live Music & Entertainment Production Company. He plays with L.M.E groups That 80's Show and Galaxy 54, which are currently contracted exclusively at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn every Friday and Saturday night.