Cliff Top is among newest rising talents in the state of Oklahoma.
The members spent the time of the pandemic restrictions honing their songwriting skills and their vocal harmonies. Cliff Top is ready to play, with members displaying an eclectic range of day jobs.
Phillip Wilson, is a general contractor from Coyle, OK. While attending Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Phillip was busy writing and picking his guitar something he started doing in the 1970s. His cousin, Nat Stuckey, gave him the desire to write in a story-telling style, but it wasn’t just Nat that influenced Wilson. Chip Davis, pianist for Alabama, and Tim Minor, singer-songwriter and music producer, also had a vital impact on Phillip’s approach. He took his story lines, and created musical interludes that will have you closing your eyes as you “feel” the moment. He writes 90% of all Cliff Top’s original music.
Growing up in central Oklahoma, Elizabeth Venegas has spent the majority of her life performing classical violin. Her disciplined approach has opened the doors to several opportunities. She has played with the Painted Sky Opera, The Mozart Orchestra of New York, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Enid Symphony, Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra, and the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. Liz, as she likes to be called, is the General Manager of Oklahoma Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, and the Program Manager for Students and Families of Oklahoma Youth Orchestra. Her passion and drive for music is the foundation of Cliff Top’s structure. Liz is a master of violin performance, but depending on whether she is wearing a black dress or blue jeans, she can alternate to bluegrass style.
Courtney Duncan’s heartstrings are tied with musical notes. Her father was a high school choir director, and she also sang in the church choir. Duncan studied voice at the University of Central Oklahoma. Her love for traditional bluegrass began off of Route 66 at a weekly jam. Her voice leaves you with a pleasing visual combination whether she is singing lead or harmony.
Nick Fedder had studied double bass at the University of Central Oklahoma. Fedder has not only musical education but experience in performance. He is familiar with a number of genres, with a background in jazz. These days he has tackled bluegrass and his interest has exploded.
Joe Kahlden, also an “Okie,” began playing the guitar at the age of 12. Kahlden spent the majority of his teenage years traveling and playing with the family band, Blood Kin. Although one might say that bluegrass was in his soul from a family upbringing in music, his adult endeavors have clearly proven that to be true. Joe also plays the mandolin, as well as the dobro. He was the runner-up in the 2018 Oklahoma State Flat Picking Championship. During these times, when Joe is not playing his guitar, he is employed as a police detective in Noble, OK.
Sam Conrey hails from just outside of Memphis. Self taught, Sam fell in love with the blues. As fate would have it, Sam’s job brought him to Oklahoma. He attended a jam at an Irish pub, The Patriarch, and instantly fell head over heels into bluegrass. Purchasing a mandolin was the next step, and with his strong singing, he makes a powerful contribution to the group.
In 2021, Americana Media Gigspot connected Cliff Top with noted Hee-Haw fiddler, Jana Jae. She booked the group, along with The Baker Family, to play at her American Heritage Festival. Now 2022 holds some great opportunities for this band. They will be performing at the late Byron Berline’s, Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, which is held October 6 -8 in Guthrie, OK, as well as the Tallgrass Music Festival in Skiatook, OK October 14-15.
Recently, Cliff Top and Barry “Bones” Patton, the world champion bones player – and nephew of Byron Berline – met at The Music Room in Edmond, OK. That meeting led to the EP, Fiddle & Bones. This group of bluegrass and old time music lovers had set out to produce a single video for Red Haired Boy, and it grew into a four track EP in less than two hours. L.G. Hamilton engineered the project, which is available in streaming formats, under the label of AOK.