R.I.P. Utah Phillips


One of the great hobos, labor organizers, union men and singer/writer/mentors Utah Phillips passed away on Friday night. He was 73 years old and I suspect any reader of Songs:Illinois will be well aware of the work of Utah. Newer fans may have heard of him first though his work with Ani DiFranco. In fact it’s this association that has always kept Ani in my good graces despite her uneven output. If you’ve never heard of him, think of him as an older, saltier, American version of Billy Bragg.

He was loved by the hundreds of performers he encountered, tutored, befriended and mentored. He’ll be sorely missed. And impossible to replace.

Source. / Songs:Illinois.net. Go there for links to “Talkin’ NPR Blues,” “Moose Turd Pie,” “Railroading On The Great Divide,” and “Stupid’s Pledge.”

Also go to Austin Vets for Peace Fete Folk Legend Utah Philips
/ The Rag Blog

Thanks to Carlos Lowry / The Rag Blog

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3 Responses to R.I.P. Utah Phillips

  1. bobby nelson says:

    Utah was a friend of mine. He stayed with me when he was in Austin and would often sit at the dining room table practicing his current favorite story. He taught me a lot about political history of the Northwest. I will miss him. But we still have his music and stories. Joe Ely does a wonderful cover of Utah’s Rock, Salt and Nails.

  2. Larry Piltz says:

    I was at that emmajo’s show in 1981 or 1982, I think. what a treat.

    the small club (later an Indian restaurant and now a taqueria, names escape) between Thai Kitchen and Wheatsville was full, and it seemed everyone realized what a golden memory it would be. and it is. what a kind presence he bestowed. what fun.

    emmajo’s was started by Martin and Bobbie (last names escape, my bad), great wonderful people who had managed the Alamo Lounge at the Alamo Hotel at Sixth and Guadalupe, before it was closed in a yuppie demolition project. they booked all the best local and traveling folkies as well as others at both locations and were like an ideal cool mom and dad who happened to run a fantastic scene. Townes and Mickey played at both places often (speaking of treats), and I’ll stop there because the list is so long and honorable. Martin’s and Bobby’s home in south Austin on Cardinal Lane was also a welcome stop for many musicians and parties and even hangers-around like myself.

    Thanks, Mr. Philips, from someone who was grateful to hear you play.

    And thank you, Martin and Bobbie.

  3. T.G. Fisher says:

    Looks like Utah’s biographers forgot to ask him some details. Most say he was a Korean war vet. He was 14 (one month away from being 15) when the war started. When he enlisted in the army, they didn’t say. The war ended on 7/27/53 when he was two months away from being 18. Still he could have been there. Then there is one account that he was “released from the army in 1959 after the Korean War.” Sure was after the Korean War. I was there in 1959. IF he was in during the Korean War and was released in 1959 he must have reenlisted. No one mentions that. Judging from some of his lyrics (style, meter, timing) he might have influenced Arlo Guthrie as much as Woody did.

    T.G. Fisher

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