And Austin saw the formation of The Gretchen Phillips Ministries, her popular country/gospel band co-starring Jo Walston and Andy Loomis, folks with whom she’d rocked the hardest and now saw fit to reconfigure as a Christian youth group.
In 2004, Gretchen spent six months living in Paris, France, working on demos for her next solo album. She ate some great food and played in Paris and Croatia to enthusiastic crowds and returned to Austin to make that epic album. Working with Rob Halverson, she completed I Was Just Comforting Her and then set her sights on finally finally finally, thank God, finally reissuing the first Two Nice Girls release on CD. Yes, the original album plus two bonus tracks and copious liner notes.
Around 2006, Gretchen began performing solo again, this time with a more theatrical bent. Songs are interspersed with readings from her memoirs and ruminations on current events. In a fancy venue she’ll have a screen and PowerPoint presentation that goes along with the readings. In a non-fancy venue she’ll wear a nice outfit and sing and read and occasionally perform an interpretive dance. She enjoyed a nice, sold-out run of Don’t Stop Believing at the Throws Like a Girl series at the Off-Center in Austin, as well as performing it at Dixon Place as part of the Hot Festival in 2007.
Due to her constant quest for new musical adventures, in 2006 Gretchen formed A Joy Division Cover Band whose sound and repertoire is self-explanatory. Ever searching for even more sensation, she finally realized a long-cherished dream and formed Gretchen’s Disco Plague (It’s Infectious!) in 2008. This is an ever-changing band of precious like-minded cohorts who all join in improvising disco songs on the spot. The beloved Yamaha DJXII is at the center and who knows what’s going to happen around the amazing pre-sets designed by brilliant Japanese engineers?! Vitamin bottles filled with miscellaneous stuff are passed around to the audience to use as shakeys. Audience participation is encouraged and costumes are a must.
And 2011 will see the release of a new album of original disco anthems for middle-aged queers by Phillips&Driver entitled Disco Dance Party 2000. For the first time in 20 years she’s putting something out on vinyl.
Perhaps an uncompromising approach to the inherent politics of pleasure coupled with a ceaseless desire for fun is the reason Gretchen Phillips is a “fringe legend” according to Texas Monthly, January ’99. Perhaps. Maybe it’s just the good music. FIN