Utah Phillips Tickets
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Hailed as a Golden Voice of the Great Southwest, Bruce Duncan Phillips was also a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and the. Phillips was born on May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio. Philips attended East High School in Salt Lake City. Since his father, Edwin Phillips, was a labor organizer, thus his parents' activism influenced much of his life's work.
Self-identifying as an anarchist, Philips described the struggles of labor unions and the power of direct action. He often promoted the Industrial Workers of the World in his music, actions, and words.
Philips served in the United States Army for three years beginning in 1956. Witnessing the devastation of post-war Korea greatly influenced his social and political thinking. Following his service in the United States Army, Philips returned to Salt Lake City, Utah and joined Ammon Hennacy from the Catholic Worker Movement.
They were struggling to establish a mission house of hospitality named after the activist Joe Hill. Phillips worked at the Joe Hill House for the next eight years. He met folk singer Rosalie Sorrels in the early 1950s, and remained a close friend of hers till his death. It was Sorrels who started playing the songs that Phillips wrote.
Through Sorrels, Philips music began to spread. In late 1960s, he left Utah and went to Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was befriended by the folk community at the Caffe Lena coffee house. Philips worked there as a staple performer throughout that decade. In recent years, perhaps no single person did more to spread the Wobbly gospel than Phillips.
Philips was a tremendous interpreter of classic Wobbly tunes including Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, Preacher and the Slave, and Bread and Roses. His countless concerts were, in effect, organizing meetings for the cause of labor, unions, anarchism, pacifism, and the Wobblies.
Utah Philips was a gifted storyteller and monologist. His concerts generally had an even mix of spoken word and sung content. Philips attributed much of his success to his personality. He often said, self-deprecatingly, It is better to be likeable than talented.
When Kate Wolf grew ill and was forced to cancel concerts, she asked Phillips to fill the void. Since she was suffering from an ailment and it became more difficult for her to play guitar; Phillips hesitated, citing his declining guitar ability. She responded Nobody ever came just to hear you play. Phillips told this story as a way of explaining how his style over the years became increasingly based on storytelling instead of just producing music.
An avid rail-fan, Utah Phillips recorded several albums of music related to the railroads. He took mainly the era of steam locomotives as subject for his several albums. Good Though! is one such example. The album contained tracks like Daddy, What's a Train? and Queen of the Rails as well as what may be his most famous composition, Moose Turd Pie. Moose Turd Pie tells Philips tall tale of his work as a gandy dancer repairing track in the Southwestern United States desert. Inspired by his anger at the first Gulf War, he recorded an album of song, poetry and short stories, called I've Got To Know.
I Have Got to Know was released in 1991, spawning a single Enola Gay which was his first composition written about the United States' atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Utah Phillips was a mentor to Kate Wolf and recorded songs and stories with Rosalie Sorrels on a CD called The Long Memory in 1996.
The CD was originally a college project from 1992 'cold-drill Magazine' Boise State University. He also recorded with Ani DiFranco for his two CDs, The Past Didn't Go Anywhere (1996) and Fellow Workers (1999). For his work with Ani DiFranco, Philips was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Utah Philips Green Rolling Hills was made into a country hit by Emmylou Harris. The Goodnight-Loving Trail also turned out to be a classic, being recorded by Ian Tyson, Tom Waits, and others. Though known primarily for his work as a concert performer and labor organizer, Phillips was a proud member and strong supporter of the Industrial Workers of the World.
He was more of a Christian anarchist and a pacifist, so found the modern-day Wobblies to be the perfect fit for him, an iconoclast and artist. A pacifist, he was a member of Veterans for Peace and the Peace Center of Nevada County.
Philips was a member of various socio-political organizations and groups throughout his life. In solidarity with the poor, Philips was also an honorary member of Dignity Village which is a homeless community. He became an elder statesman for the folk music community, and a keeper of stories and songs that might otherwise have passed into obscurity.
He also enjoyed a status as a member of the great Traveling Nation, the community of hobos and railroad bums that populates the Midwest United States along the rail lines. Philips is often regarded as an important keeper of Midwest United States history and culture.
In his personal life, Utah Phillips enjoyed varied hobbies such as Egyptology; amateur chemistry; linguistics; history (Asian, African, Mormon and world); futhark; debate; poetry; and gardening. Phillips lived in Nevada City, California for 21 years where he worked on the start-up of the Hospitality House, a homeless shelter, and the Peace and Justice Center.
He married Joanna Robinson on July 31, 1989, in Nevada City and the two had two sons and a daughter. Philips also played host to his own weekly radio show, Loafer's Glory: The Hobo Jungle of the Mind.
In August 2007, Phillips announced that he would undergo catheter ablation to address his heart problems and would no longer tour due to his health problem. He died on May 23 in Nevada City, California, at the age of 73.
The night Philips passed away, local newspapers reported an unusual thunder storm. He was survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons.