The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #111459 Message #2358281
Posted By: GUEST
05-Jun-08 - 11:06 AM
Thread Name: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
A bump to the top....
I am so glad I was able to be there. I was amazed at how resigned everyone seemed to be-- sad, yes, but ready to move on. It was as if everyone who knew Utah understood that now he was truly a part of them and it was their mission, as he would want it, to follow Joe Hill's words of advice: Don't Mourn, Organize!
Walking through the streets of Nevada City, feeling an authentic sense of the old west, I was so happy to know that this was where Utah spent his free time, and particularly his last year, since retiring from the trade. It was so still at the Little League ballfield on the morning of his memorial service. I looked up at the large fir trees bordering the field, the ceremonial folding chair that the team kept on hand for Utah placed in the spot at which he often sat to watch the kids play, and felt his presence would hang over that field and indeed the town for a long time.
The night before, in an old hall (the Oddfellows Hall, where the Rose Tattoo concert took place), there were loving tributes to Utah from all the performers. Duncan, his eldest son, held it together and did such a great job at both the concert and the service of keeping us all focused on the joy of celebrating Utah's life and spirit, even in the midst of such sadness that he was gone.
The stories and songs that the Rose Tattoo shared were beautiful insights into "Bruce" who, several folks reminded us, only overlapped a little bit with "Utah." And then on Sunday, after the long sadness of the memorial tribute and all the kind words spoken about Utah's work in the town, and specifically his work to keep himself healthy, there was a great gathering in the Miner's Foundry.
The potluck reception continued for a couple of hours and, eventually, a large song circle developed... for another couple of hours, people sang songs written by this man, and a few that he performed or were relevant. To me, it was the perfect ending and the most "harmonious" part of the weekend, because while we were all united in song, we also sensed that we'd never hear the voice connected to those songs again. With that realization, we began the process of carrying on.
With love, and affection, George Mann