3 min readJan 20, 2021

Kahlil Sabbagh, The Phuss Performer by Gerry Fialka

Kahlil Sabbagh, The Phuss Performer by Gerry Fialka

Because the great Kahlil Sabbagh is too busy to write his own bio, I am laying on my laptop in a semi-catatonic state and dreaming up this one to irritate curators, sorry, I mean, to impress bookers of potential gigs.

Although he was hell-bent on his twins having the middle names Cannonball and Jellyroll, Kahlil’s musical hero is, without a doubt, Frank Zappa. Kahlil has performed with many Zappa associates including Dweezil Zappa, Eddie Jobson, Don Preston, Ike Willis, Bobby Martin, Tommy Mars, Arthur Barrow, Ray White, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and Bunk Gardner.

Kahlil Sabbagh was born December 27, 1969 in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a multi-instrumentalist, professional music educator, performer and athlete. He started on piano and drums at age 8. He excelled at sports and music equally, eventually playing both soccer and basketball at NCAA Division 1 University of Louisville while majoring in music there in the well-known Jamie Abersold Jazz Studies Department.

His high school band, Whipper Station, were good musicians playing the worst music of the 80’s. Then he formed the two-person Avant-Rock band Naked Entrepreneurs (Zappa meets the Dead Milkmen meets the guy who cuts the meat at the grocery store) and opened for The Tubes and Dead Eye Dick among other semi-known groups.

Upon moving to Los Angeles, Kahlil joined The Boners with Bill Burnett and Suzy Williams He become the band leader for Suzy’s 8-piece jump blues-swing band, Suzy & Her Solid Senders. Suzy, Bill, Kahlil and Ginger Smith, Kahlil’s wife, soon became The BackBoners. Michelle Phillips, of The Mamas & the Papas, was a guest performer with The Backboners in 2008. Kahlil also played with the preeminent accordionist, Nick Ariondo and Suzy in the early 2000's.

Kahlil and Ginger wrote the original musical The Terrorist and The Whore, based upon their being stereotyped within the L.A. acting industry. Kahlil and Ginger then formed Hardshine (Female-fronted Rockabilly/SRV/Stray Cats), a four-piece blues-infused group that performs Ginger’s original songwriting and Kahlil’s musical directing and arranging. Kahlil and Ginger also have a successful L.A.-based corporate/private-events cover band Paper Moon. Along with their children, Kylan and Samaya, Kahlil contributed the theme song to the feature film The Brother Side of the Wake by Gerry Fialka.

Kahlil’s deep interest in music technique and theory, as well as being around people in general, has helped him excel in music education as a music teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Under the auspices of LAUSD, he has nurtured the youth in part by forming a 60-person jazz choir, The Jazz Cats, and the 20-person DrumLine. Their yearly concerts are high-praised.

His master thesis partly entailed extensive interviews with Frank Zappa associates including Bobby Martin, Ike Willis, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Eddie Jobson, Emil Richards and Mark Volman.

Kahlil has performed with four Zappa cover bands:

Project-Object in 2002

The Rondo Hatton Experience in 2008

Eddie Jobson, headlining Zappanale, in 2011

Dweezil Zappa in 2018.

On Jan 17, 2021, Kahlil played over 90 minutes of Zappa songs on solo marimba on the Venice, California Boardwalk.

“Kahlil enjoys music, sports and arts and crafts.” His love and devotion to music makes the world a better place.

Contact: Kahlil Sabbagh 310–482–9250

Hardshine Facebook Page:

Gerry Fialka worked for Frank Zappa for 9 1/2 years, and has interviewed many FZ associates including Mike Keneally, Warren Cuccurullo, David Ocker, Don Preston and Steve Vai.