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Oceanside ‘Music Man’ honored at OMFest

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation named Phil Burns, Oceanside’s music man, as its 2010 Honoree.
Burns will be recognized for his outstanding performance and lasting contributions in promoting music and the arts in North County at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at the John Steiger Memorial Performing Arts Scholarship Gala at the Oceanside Museum of Art.
The gala is the kick-off for the ninth annual Oceanside Music Festival, known as OMFest. The gala event will feature music by Steam-Powered Giraffe, Damsels in Dis Dress, top student vocalists, Katey Norris, Sammie Duffy and the El Camino High School Music Theatre Ensemble with selections from “Forbidden Broadway.” Entertainment and ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. with the food and wine reception at 6 p.m.
Burns began his music career at age 5, studying with a local piano teacher, and learning as well from his grandmother who was a concert pianist. His father and uncles’ Burns Dance Band inspired him, and later on Burns jammed with them at family get-togethers. Surprisingly, music did not turn out to be his career. For 30 years he taught mathematics and physics at Fallbrook High School. There, he continued his love of music by playing with faculty combos at school dances.
Upon retiring from teaching, Burns went back to school at MiraCosta College, and declared himself a music major. Since then he has completed almost every music course the college offers. For the last 23 years, he has played stand-up bass with the MiraCosta Guitar Ensemble. He continues to audit vocal as well as instrumental music classes, and accompanies other students when needed. Throughout his life he has studied and played, violin, ukulele, guitar, alto sax, clarinet, trumpet and bass.
Burns’s first paying gig came when his daughter suggested he apply for the pianist’s position at a local Chinese restaurant in Vista. Over the years Phil has played with a number of “Big Bands” including Hy Martin’s band, the Oceanside Society Orchestra. At one time he was the “piano man” for three different bands, and Burns and his trio were regulars at many of the social functions around the tri-city area. He is also plays bass, and sometime piano for the Carlsbad Choraleers.
Burns has always played for the love of the music. He demonstrates this by donating his performance pay to the Oceanside Museum of Art, or the MiraCosta College Music Department and other arts organizations.
For more information about the John Steiger Memorial Performing Arts Scholarship Gala Oct. 12 at the Oceanside Museum of Art or to purchase $30 tickets, visit or call (760) 433-3632.