Phil Zimmerman has been a performing musician since high school, and brought a musician's sensibility to his career as a photographer. Born in Indiana, he grew up in Nebraska and Illinois listening to the WSM Farm Show as a toddler; the WLS Barn Dance in elementary school; and in high school, the late night clear channel beacons of what was then known as hillbilly music, KXEL, WWVA and WCKY. Television cowboys Uncle Tom Chase in Omaha, and singer-songwriter Bob Atcher in Chicago, as well as the “singing cowboy” movies of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers all contributed to his lifelong dedication to picking and singing.

In high school Phil learned to play guitar and banjo from a friend who was taking lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and attended concert performances of Peggy, Pete, and Mike Seeger, Doc Watson, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, The New Lost City Ramblers, and other pivotal performers of the folk revival. During his senior year, a friend loaned him a bluegrass album and he was hooked.

In college, he played solo coffeehouse gigs to earn spending money and to work on his instrumental and vocal chops. A visit to a picking session of Rochester bluegrass musicians Ronnie Knatt, Bill Dailey, and Jerry “JS” Schneider reinforced Phil's growing interest in old-time Appalachian music and bluegrass. Phil graduated from the University of Rochester in 1966 with a degree in history. Unbeknownst to the university registrar (and his parents), he actually majored in bluegrass, with a minor in photography.

In 1965, Phil made the pilgrimage to Cantrell's Horse Farm in Fincastle, Virginia, to attend Carlton Haney's Roanoke Blue Grass Festival, the first ever multi-day bluegrass festival. He brought his banjo and borrowed a camera, but ended up helping Ralph Rinzler document the sounds of the event while Ralph managed the backstage logistics. Since that time, Phil has been attending bluegrass events with an assortment of musical instruments and cameras, often torn between picking and picturing. As a bluegrass musician himself, he wanted to capture the intensity of live festival performances - the focus of the lens revealing the focus of the performers, releasing the shutter to the backbeat of the mandolin chop.

Eventually, Phil was playing with bands on a regular basis, realized he had to make a choice between performing and documenting the performances of others, and chose to play music. Many of the greatest musicians performing during the 1970s and early 1980s are represented in this collection. Some are not - either because they weren't at the festivals Phil attended, or because he was off picking when they were on stage. Done is done, and gone is gone.

Phil Zimmerman lives in New England with his wife Marcia Goodman, and children Jeremy and Kathrin. He teaches banjo and mandolin privately and in group workshops, and performs regularly with the bluegrass, old-time, and Americana groups.