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Phil Bellante comes from a long line of politically aware, socially relevant, musically adroit, and vocally unpredictable singer-songwriters like Neil Young,

Harry Nilsson, Perry Farrell, Bruce Springsteen, and their deep-thought freeworld-rockin’ brethren. Think Edwin McCain backed by the Cowboy Junkies.

“I was inspired by the way Tracy Chapman addresses social issues in her songs,” says Bellante, “with lyrics that are meaningful and relevant without being preachy.”

Raised in Cleveland, Bellante grew up in a musical family, studying both piano and guitar. “My grandmother was playing piano right into her 90s,” he says, “and that made her one of the coolest people I knew. My mother was a poet, and that has always influenced my lyrics.”

After graduating from college and arriving in San Diego with business degree in hand, Bellante says, “The only business I was interested in was the one called ‘show.’ Luckily, I found a musical partner right away in drummer Aaron Redfield [Switchfoot].”

Bellante and his band perform at the San Diego County Fair on July 5.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

1. Tool, 10,000 Days. “I admire the band’s outside-the-box style and unique sound. Songs like ‘Vicarious’ and ‘Right in Two’ have very relevant messages.”

2. Daughtry, self-titled. “I have a pretty similar style with music arrangements, and there are several great songs on this first release of his.”

3. U2, The Joshua Tree. “A timeless masterpiece with a lot of good songs…not just the one or two hits.”

4. Third Day, Revelation. “I’ve been listening to this group since the early ’90s for their uplifting spiritual music and catchy choruses.”

5. David Gray, White Ladder. “Another classic end-of-the-day type of CD that’s great to just relax and chill out to. Good boat and beach music.”

MOST VISITED WEBSITES?

1. Amazon.com. “Everything under one roof, and no increased California sales tax.”

2. FaceBook.com. “A bunch of my friends try to indirectly brag about themselves [using other names].”

3. Craigslist.com. “Even though people on there are trying to sell pre-owned stuff at above-retail prices, and there are a lot of vehicles for 85 percent off from some military sergeant in the U.K. that just needs me to pay the tax before delivery.”

4. Market-ticker.denninger.net. “It has independent commentary on the financial markets and the government — with a lot of sarcasm.”

CARE TO RATE PRESIDENT OBAMA’S PERFORMANCE SO FAR?

“They [politicians] are all the same when placed within the system. At least this one speaks a lot more eloquently than George W.”

WHAT VIDEO GAME ARE YOU PLAYING?

“Rock Band, because that’s all I do — play in a rock band.”

FAVORITE LINE FROM SPINAL TAP?

“This pretentious ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question ‘What day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn’t He have rested on that day, too?’ ”

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Comments

Jay Allen Sanford June 25, 2009 @ 4:54 a.m.

Outtakes:

MAC OR PC? “Oh sure, I’m a PC. I just love viruses and blue screens. Being very sarcastic myself.”

WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THE POWER TO SEE THE FUTURE? “Grab my guitar and write more songs in three months than Bruce Springsteen did in 40 years. Except I would be too scared to listen to those songs!”

BEST PLACE IN SAN DIEGO TO SPOT CELEBRITIES? “Channel surfing.”

GREATEST ADVICE YOU EVER GOT? “Let the fear of regret be the force to overcome the fear of not going after your dreams.”

AND WHO GAVE YOU THAT ADVICE? “Uh, okay - I just made that up.”

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS? “In my past life, I was a King and had lots of money. A sarcastic King. Who makes stuff up.”

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lisayumi June 29, 2009 @ 2:52 p.m.

Phil and his band are performing on Sunday July 5 at the San Diego County Fair. 8pm on the Plaza Stage.

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