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Why retirement didn't last for Kansas City band The Elders

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The Elders Well Alright Then
Courtesy of The Elders
The death of guitarist Steve Phillips brought The Elders out of retirement to make an album featuring the last recordings Phillips made with the band.

In 2018 The Elders retired, but they didn't stop writing music including founding member Steve Phillips. When he died in 2020, the band looked at those songs and felt 'we can't just stick that on a shelf.'

After decades of performing live and being on the road, The Elders may have felt they were truly deserving of the name. In 2018 the band did a farewell tour and with a couple of exceptions stopped playing for audiences.

That didn't mean the music stopped. As lead singer Ian Byrne explains, "We used to go up, still, up to the studio on Tuesdays and we'd write . . . and all of a sudden there's 30 songs done."

The goal was always to produce another album and The Elders began laying down tracks and making demos, including guitarist and vocalist Steve Phillips who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis. When Phillips contracted COVID-19 in 2020 it proved to be too much and he died on September 29.

Ian Byrne remembers, "He worked up to the last second on some of these songs. His guitar parts, and mandolin parts, and even vocal parts. Right up to the end."

The resulting album, "Well Alright Then," will be released on April 29.

  • Ian Byrne, lead singer and percussionist, The Elders
  • Kian Byrne, multi-instrumentalist, The Elders
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