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Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA

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GUEST,Mark Ross 23 May 08 - 10:04 AM
Big Mick 23 May 08 - 10:06 AM
GUEST 23 May 08 - 10:08 AM
Dan Schatz 24 May 08 - 09:46 AM
jacqui.c 24 May 08 - 01:12 PM
kendall 25 May 08 - 07:26 AM
Art Thieme 25 May 08 - 09:52 PM
Deckman 26 May 08 - 12:21 AM
open mike 27 May 08 - 12:24 AM
GUEST,Larry & Nicole 30 May 08 - 06:23 PM
Joe Offer 30 May 08 - 07:30 PM
open mike 31 May 08 - 01:03 AM
open mike 31 May 08 - 11:49 AM
Big Mick 31 May 08 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,John Robinson 01 Jun 08 - 08:02 AM
Francy 02 Jun 08 - 01:08 PM
Dan Schatz 02 Jun 08 - 10:17 PM
Franz S. 02 Jun 08 - 10:19 PM
Franz S. 02 Jun 08 - 10:30 PM
Big Mick 02 Jun 08 - 11:38 PM
open mike 03 Jun 08 - 01:58 AM
kendall 03 Jun 08 - 07:23 AM
Mark Ross 03 Jun 08 - 09:39 AM
Art Thieme 03 Jun 08 - 11:03 AM
Francy 04 Jun 08 - 11:03 AM
Dan Schatz 04 Jun 08 - 01:33 PM
GUEST 05 Jun 08 - 11:06 AM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 08 - 11:17 AM
open mike 05 Jun 08 - 04:16 PM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 08 - 05:42 PM
Rapparee 05 Jun 08 - 05:54 PM
Art Thieme 05 Jun 08 - 06:10 PM
open mike 14 Jun 08 - 12:10 AM
Mark Ross 14 Jun 08 - 10:45 AM
Mark Ross 23 Jun 08 - 10:10 AM
Art Thieme 23 Jun 08 - 01:14 PM
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Subject: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31
From: GUEST,Mark Ross
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:04 AM

A loving tribute to U.Utah Phillips will be staged in Nevada City California, May 31 at the Oddfellows Hall there by his friends and compadres of the Rose Tattoo.

Appearing(in no particular order) will be;

Kuddie(The Feather River Kid), from the San Juan Ridge
Bob & Diana Suckiel, from Kansas City
Bruce Brackney
JB Freeman


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:06 AM

I sure wish I could be there with you, buddy. Good luck.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31
From: GUEST
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:08 AM

Didn't get to finish, hit the wrong key. Sorrry about that.

Mark Ross,
Eddie Jeff Cahill
Bodie Wagner
Brendan Phillips(Utah's son)

Also, a handmade Canadian mandolin is offerred in a raffle to benefit our old friend. The show is at 8PM. Hope you all can be there.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 24 May 08 - 09:46 AM

Excellent musicians, all. I wish I could be there!

Dan


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31
From: jacqui.c
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:12 PM

Ditto that Dan.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: kendall
Date: 25 May 08 - 07:26 AM

Utah invited me to join the Rose Tattoo, but I kept putting it off. The dirty needle idea held me back, now, it's too late. I will, however plant an oak on my front lawn in his memory.

I would dearly love to be there Mark, but it's impossible. Remember me to the gang, eh?


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 May 08 - 09:52 PM

And all you folks know I want to be there as well.

I'm just having a tell of a time realizing he's gone---and not simply off to another gig.

Sing a few for me.

It's strange, for some reason it's just a few succinct lines from the man that keep going through my mind today.

Now, I don't kbnow much about what ya call class,
But the upper and middle can all kiss my ass!!!


Art


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Deckman
Date: 26 May 08 - 12:21 AM

JW told me he'd be singing down there also.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: open mike
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:24 AM

There is a chance that this might be broadcast on www.kvmr.org --
Let's hope so!!


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: GUEST,Larry & Nicole
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:23 PM

The website says the memorial will be at the Little League park, not the Odd Fellows hall, at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

We're 500+ road miles away, near Palm Springs, but we'd drive it if we didn't have a dear relative near death for whom we're on call. These things always come in three's, which worries me.

I wrote a remembrance of Utah for today's blog -- www.lawrenceofthedesert.com www.lawrenceofthedesert.com -- and welcome your comments. I found a snapshot of him from 1971, and it's there, too.

Utah was the best proof ever that you can have values AND fun.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 May 08 - 07:30 PM

Click here for an index of articles about Utah Phillips in the local newspaper. This article (click) gives details about the memorial service, which will be from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Nevada City Little League field in Pioneer Park.

In addition, "Trains, Tramps & Traditions," a celebration of the music of Phillips will be held Saturday (May 31) at 8 p.m. at the Odd Fellows Hall, 212 Spring St., Nevada City.

Odd Fellows Hall isn't very big, so I'm wondering if everybody will be able to fit in. I always feel like I'm going to fall off the dance floor and down the stairs when we go to contra dances there. I have another commitment, so I'm going to have to miss it.

-Joe-

Concert information here (click). ADMISSION: $15 in advance at Gold Rush Records, BriarPatch, Record Connection and in Auburn at Cherry Records. $20 at the door.


Directions: Odd Fellows Hall, 212 Spring St. (upstairs; near the rear of the National Hotel)


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: open mike
Date: 31 May 08 - 01:03 AM

We will also be celebrating Utah's life at our annual folk music camp out in Butte County, a couple of hours north of Nevada County. I have
printed out several song sheets of his songs from the D.T. and the song book on his web page, and we shall sing in his memory! That is what he
would want us to do..he was always great about getting sing-alongs going
--what a great organizer he was!!


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: open mike
Date: 31 May 08 - 11:49 AM

I recommend everyone where ever they are send a thought at
8pm on Saturday and at 10am on Sunday for our dear Utah and
his loved ones and friends who are gathered in his memory.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Big Mick
Date: 31 May 08 - 06:51 PM

Would you mind doing the same for us in Grand Rapids on June 18, from 8:00 until 10:00 Eastern US time? We have a whale of a lineup and hope to raise substantial dollars for the family to add to the pile we raised in Ann Arbor.

Thanks,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: GUEST,John Robinson
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 08:02 AM

http://www.democracynow.org/ had a feature on Utah in their May 27, 2008 show. It is still on their website in their archive.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Francy
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 01:08 PM

How did things turn out in Nevada City?   Frank of Toledo


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 10:17 PM

I've talked to a couple folks who were there - but I think the members of the Rose Tattoo are mostly still out there or on their way home. What I heard is that it was a good, sad time.

Dan


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Subject: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Franz S.
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 10:19 PM

Okay, I guess I'll start it, though I feel pretty presumptuous in doing so.

Saturday night at the Oddfellows Hall in Nevada City CA, a dozen or so members of the Rose Tattoo and about 200+ friends, family, and fans gathered to pay tribute to Utah Phillips. It was a long and emotional evening. The music was fine and the memories good and the tears flowed, but it didn't really seem that most people were sad. People choked up a lot, but we were celebrating. Utah's sons Duncan and Brendan had just been inducted as the newest members of the Rose Tattoo.

At the memorial on the Little League field Sunday morning a few hundred people sang and listened to (and told) stories, and there were even some that I hadn't heard before. The Little League team threw the first pitch and later autographed the ball. John McCutcheon made a truly beautiful and elegant speech.

"To you, beloved comrade, we make this solemn vow:
The fight will go on. The fight will still go on."


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Franz S.
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 10:30 PM

I just started a new thread on this, since no one else had. See "Utah Phillips Memorial remembered".


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Big Mick
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 11:38 PM

I envy you all of your memories, and your collegial associations (howzat for hyperbole????) in the Rose Tattoo. I am grateful that I got to be a phone friend with him in the last three months, but I really wanted to take a ramble out to see him this summer and sing a song with him. It is my only regret with regard to Utah. But the conversation with him regarding the benefit concerts, and the one coming up, will stay with me always. This wonderful hero was humble and grateful in the way that only the truly great can be. I am certain that for the rest of my performing life, I will be throwing quotes in from him. God be good to him.

I wish I were there with you, but I hope that the recollections get posted here.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: open mike
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 01:58 AM

At our folk music camp out we sang Goodnight Loving Trail, Green Rolling Hills of WV, Rock Salt and Nails, Queen of the Rails, I've Got a Home out in Utah, and I am gathering up music to play on my radio show this sunday. Especially Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin's Heart Songs.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: kendall
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 07:23 AM

Right now it's easier to mourn his death than to celebrate his life, but I'm sure they will swap places in time.
I keep being reminded of his quote to me some years ago, he said; "It's better to write one Kendall than to curse the dark."
I need to take his advice. Tomorrow, Jacqui and I are going to record Miner's Lullaby for the new CD. If there is a better way to honor my dear old friend, tell me what it is, and I'll do it.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Mark Ross
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 09:39 AM

I just returned from Nevada City last night. It was an emotional week, with my fellow tramps, members of the Rose Tattoo, family, myriad friends, and copious amounts of alcohol and tears, cermonies and remembrances that will be forever seared into my brain. Utah was borne to his final resting place, high on a hill, in a plain pine coffin, carried on a black carriage drawn by two beautiful matched Clydesdales, and laid to rest in the far corner under an oak tree. It's within walking distance of the house, so Joanna will not have to go far, and will be able to visit him every day. The memorial on Sunday was attended by over a thousand people, sitting in the sun at the Little League ball park, one of Utah's favorite places in town. Just thinking over the events of this last week is a little too much for me, so I will end this and try and write more later.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 11:03 AM

Mark and everyone,
Thanks to all for making it feel like I was able to be with you there. Utah was so alive! And the sleep is so long---and final... It's the quiet that surprises me so much. I'm still tempted to pick up the ophone and call him.

As with folk songs, his creations and doings are our own now to carry randomly in order to enrage, enlighten, and grace with hillarity those lucky enough to hear, and who are ready and able to recieve those many gifts.

Peace,

Art


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Francy
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:03 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 01:33 PM

There are now photos posted of the service, along with a very nice entry in Duncan's blog.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 11:06 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 11:17 AM

Thanks for sharing these memories.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: open mike
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 04:16 PM

Here are excerpts from a letter by KVMR radio show host in Nevada City.
Wesley Robertson wrote this open letter to a music festival list:
.....KVMR had been Utah's home community station for the last 20+ yrs and since his death has been a vehicle to help inform people of his passing and to get the word out about his memorial service ect..
Since Utah passed KVMR and Nevada City in general has been in a
collective state of mourning over Utah. Due to Utah's history with
KVMR people like Michael Moore and John McCutcheon have been calling
in doing interviews ect....KVMR programmers all rose to the occasion playing unique snippets from Utah interviews and special songs by him, Kate Wolf and the national folk community. One programmer played an interview that he had hosted with Utah and a Vietnam Vet. They were talking about the horrors of war (of course Utah was radicalized by what he witnessed in Korea). I found myself crying like I had when the interview was first aired a few years ago.

My own little contribution to KVMR's emersion with Utah's final days had me doing a tribute to Utah the Saturday before he died. I had planned a few months ago that I didn't want to wait for him to die to do a tribute to him. I chose May 17th to dedicate my two hour show to him as he turned 73 on the 15th. I had several local folkies to be in the studio to play Utah songs and share stories. With the Rose Tattoo guys poised to head to town I interviewed a couple of them to promote the show and they of course told Utah stories. Utah was listening in
to the broadcast and when he heard Che Greenwood say Utah's trips to the Kate Wolf Festival were over Utah took offense and called the studio to correct Che. I asked Utah if he would mind if I put him live on the air to correct Che and he said no problem. He then did about a 15 minute interview letting us know how he was in training to attend Kate Wolf Fest. again this year. He also shared how he had recently found a folder with lyrics he had written but not put to music and that was a project he was excited about finishing. I'm proud of the fact that he heard all the nice things that everybody was saying about him.

His memorial service last Sunday was amazing. It was at the little
league park Utah used to go to regularly to see the games. It was one of the last places he was seen in public at. I just heard moments ago on KVMR that there is a movement to rename the ball park in honor of Utah....a beautiful setting the park...Large pine trees surrounding it, ... With him being from Cleveland his favorite team was the Nevada City Cleveland Indians. That team kind of hosted the service and passed out the Memorial Programs.

John McCutcheon, Amy Goodman, Ramblin' Jack and lots of Utah's Rose
Tattoo fraternity were there. Like Amy Goodman, The Rose Tattoo family had been booked to be in the area for their annual gathering long before Utah took the westbound less then a week before they all arrived. It was some stunning cosmic dance that all the pieces were in place for these folks to be arriving in Nevada City in time for the memorial!! It was one of the most moving emotional roller coaster rides I've ever been on. Tears to laughing and then more of the same!!!

The service started with the little league team throwing out the opening pitch. About two thirds of the way through the service they stopped for the 7th inning stretch and had people sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" although the anarchist were encouraged to sing any song they wanted to!!! Even though it was mentioned how the staff that ran the concession stand at the park had been warned to not serve Utah any hotdogs due to his condition he would still try to order hotdogs only to be told that they were out even though he was the first to get in line. His sister confessed to Utah's wife that she did sneak him some chili dogs at the park!!!

I think it was Utah's sister that also shared how Christmas was very
special for Utah. A tradition that he enjoyed was each year he would
look forward to receiving a rocket from somebody somewhere as it was
known that he loved launching a rocket. Without fail before Christmas
a rocket would arrive. The family would then go to Pioneer Park (where the little league is located) for the launching. With the men folk gathering around to prepare the rocket for launching the woman folk-
referred to as the Rockettes-would stand close by to encourage the process and tradition!! For the memorial service they then revealed a rocket to be launched for the occasion!!! Unfortunately after a dramatic countdown the rocket didn't blast off. Not to be thwarted though an impromptu gathering of men folk gathered around the rocket and secretly prayed that the universe rescue this mission.......they then tried again.......and then again.....on the 3rd effort...it was airborne!! I'm convinced that Utah had mischievously stalled off the launching as long as he could but then acquiesced as he knew the little league park needed to be cleared for a game at 3pm!!!!!

Someone mentioned how that before there was Google there was Bruce! He
had such a stunning memory.

The local librarian mentioned how he told her he had his library card
hidden in a book that he knew nobody would ever check out. She begged
that she didn't want people rummaging through the library looking for
his card. I suspected that maybe that was a way to get people to go to
the library.

One person after the next told the most amazing, moving and cute
stories. One of the nurses from his cardio-vascular unit shared a
typical Utah moment. She shared the story of her first meeting with Utah when he became a patient. She had recognized his name but it wasn't until he arrived that she then realized he was this guy she had seen around town. She said that right after she was introduced to him that he showed her a locket that he had and he opened it to reveal
what he said was his mother's ashes. He then faked a sneeze and blew the dust everywhere. With Utah appreciating the stunned look on her face he doubled over laughing!! She said she always brought him sand from her desert visits to him after that so he could re-load.

It was also shared how Utah went to weekly meetings with the other
patients in his cardio-vascular unit. These meetings must have been very interesting as talk sometimes meandered to current events as this group had older members of the Nevada City area, most of which that had more main-stream America views on the war ect.. compared to Utah's very
progressive left wing positions. These meetings were known to get a
little heated but Utah was usually very calm and polite with how he
interacted with his fellow patients.

John McCutcheon shared how Carl Sagan had said once that the universe is so vast that in-spite of the time that had elapsed since Jesus had
ascended that he would still be in our galaxy-ascending. McCutcheon then suggested with that in mind that every song that had ever been sung on Earth was still lingering in our galaxy and so Utah's voice
was able to intertwine with all of the powerful voices through the ages. He also suggested how cool it would be for Woody Guthrie to be able to show Utah around to his new community!! McCutcheon then led the crowd singing , "So Long, It's Been Good To Know Ya"!!!!

People from the Peace Center of Nevada County and the Hospitality House
(for local homeless folks)-both of which Utah helped to create-shared
some powerful stories. It was mentioned how Utah had attempted to create homeless shelters in the past but had been unable to get the critical mass of support necessary together to make such a project manifest. In Nevada City, Utah found a community that had the core energy in place that could take Utah's ideas, hopes and aspirations and give them life!!!! Utah loved Nevada City and Nevada City loved Utah!!!!!!!!

Utah's wife , Joanna, came out at the end of the service. She said that
she certainly wasn't the gifted speaker that Utah was and how even
though she sometimes could be an eloquent speaker she wouldn't be at
that moment. She then proceeded to say some some eloquent things. She
was very poised considering the occasion. What a gracious woman!!
Utah's son, Brendan, then led the gathering in a Hymn that I think they
said Utah wrote with Joanna and Utah's son Duncan (whom had acted as
the host for the service, with great dignity) on stage with him. It was
such an appropriate farewell hymn. The crowd was singing along....at
about the end....Utah's son got choked up and couldn't continue with the lyrics as he started sobbing......he continued with playing his guitar though....I think the crowd willed him a collective surge of strength and he then was able to finish the song as he then collapsed to his knees on the stage!!!! The service was done.

A local singer songwriter and player of crystal bowls told me after the
service how she saw this arrangement of Angels in a circle above the
ballpark. She said they formed this circle with their wings touching
wing tip to wing tip. She said their was this circle of energy circling
up from the ball park up through the middle of the Angel's circle.
Towards the end of the service I looked up into the sky and I laughingly saw what I thought looked like Utah's face. It was a kinda large pure white cloud formation with what I could make out as his long white beard and some other facial features. As I continued to focus on the cloud it rapidly-like a time lapse video sequence-disappeared within about 2 minutes. A large cloud formation and quickly....gone!!!!! ...I was not under the influence of anything
!!!!!!! The whole service was just so magical.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:42 PM

Thanks, Open Mike. I read every word.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Rapparee
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:54 PM

When did this happen?

I go away on vacation for a couple weeks then this when I return.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:10 PM

Rapiere.

The obit thread has been closed. Find it and the sad story will all be there.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: open mike
Date: 14 Jun 08 - 12:10 AM

a couple of you tube links to remember utah
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W9vA4py23E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks-LmHAGouQ
and there are many others on that page too.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips memorial remembered
From: Mark Ross
Date: 14 Jun 08 - 10:45 AM

Also check out the Google video, LABOR BEAT: REMEMBERING UTAH PHILLIPS and DEMOCRACY NOW, Amy Goodman broadcast a long interview with Utah from 2004 tha had never benn aired.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Mark Ross
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 10:10 AM

Here is John McCutcheon's eulogy at the memorial service.


    Dear Friends -

       Here is John McCutcheon's eulogy for Utah which was
    offered at the memorial celebration in Nevada City.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


   
My friends, my sisters and brothers….Fellow Workers!

When Joanna called me last week and asked me to speak today about Utah's place in folk music I realized I would have to start out with a confession. One that Utah would have made. One that will probably come as no surprise to you all. It was never about folk music. Oh, don't get me wrong. Utah Phillips was and is one of the mighty pillars of American folk music. He left us a body of songs that will be sung for millennia to come. He was an exquisite guitarist, something that those who came to Utah late in his life might never have known. He entertained us and incited us and confounded us and pissed us off his entire life. But it was never about folk music. It was all about possibility.

First time I saw Utah I was 19 years old and attending my first folk festival. There he was, as usual, talking about the invisible among us: the hobos and bums and tramps, the makers of history ignored by historians, the writers of songs you rarely hear, the characters who frequent the fringes of this world. They were the center of his. He was railing against the bosses, inciting us all to rise up, instructing us in the fine art of freighthopping, feeding us copious shovels of mooseturd pie and playing like a devil and singing like some sort of broken-winged angel. I remember thinking, "I've never seen anyone like him!"

Music was that excuse…that shill, he'd call it…that suckered the public into little dark rooms with him and then sent them back out from those rooms into a world that would never…could never…be the same. They'd been on a ride that they hadn't expected and maybe didn't even want. But live performance…and Utah understood this better than most…was about coming out the other side a different human being. Changed, in however small a way, and seeing life through a new lens. One that included the invisible…past, present and future. It was all about possibility.

It was about the possibility that maybe…just maybe…this was all about more than applause and a paycheck. That maybe it was about gathering people together for a couple of hours and have them leave longing for that kind of connection beyond those two, stage-lit hours. It was about the possibility of community.

And the leap from possibility to reality is action. He stayed in the houses, slept on the sofas, ate at the tables, lingered long after the encore. He was creating a template for the folk music community. He was creating a template for America.

And that sense of possibility informed how he related to his comrades in the Trade. In a field in which the Industry bids us treat other musicians as competition, he fostered cooperation. Some of the first work we did together was the nascent effort to organize folk musicians in this country. To provide them with the dignity, the respect and the benefits that workers in other trades fought for, won, defended, and enjoyed. Benefits that, alas, come to fruition just a little too late for Utah to take advantage of.



But like all his work, the political was the personal. He knew that each fellow worker was, first and foremost, a human being. At the Vancouver Folk Festival he bypassed one of the legendary post-concert performer parties to organize a father's shower for me when he heard my first child was about to be born. He was the first to volunteer for a benefit to aid musicians felled by illness or hard times. He walked his talk and leaves a trail future folksingers ignore at their…and our…peril.

The astronomer, Carl Sagan, opined that if Jesus, when he ascended to heaven, were traveling at the speed of light, he would still be in our galaxy.

And every human song ever sung…from the first musician's instinctive caterwaul to Utah's last musical breath…traveling at the relatively glacial speed of sound, is still here: resonant and real.

Death doesn't rob us of our voice, then, it gives us a place in a great cosmic choir, one that means Utah is finally singing in time w/Joe Hill and Big Bill Haywood, with Haywire Mack McClintock and Mother Jones. That Woody Guthrie is introducing himself, at long last, to an heir he never had the chance to meet. And Aunt Molly Jackson is asking when that wonderful young hussy, Rosalie Sorrells, is finally gonna make her way up yonder. And that Utah is confounding everyone with even more bullshit than he ever had a chance to spin down here.

"The long memory is the most radical thing in America," he often reminded us. He was our community's genealogist: crafting our family history before our eyes. He named our ancestors and told us about who we are. And exhorted us to think and act about who we might be. It was all about possibility.

I last spoke to Utah on his birthday, just a few weeks ago. And I last saw him this past January at our annual, post-KVMR concert breakfast. As usual, he was talking about the invisible among us, railing against the bosses, inciting me to rise up yet again, serving up copious amounts of mooseturd pie (version 2.0) and plotting about making non-violence the focus of the rest of his life's work. "We need to do this, John. We need to do this," he implored. I remember thinking, "I'll never see anyone like him again."

So, Fellow Workers, he has gathered us here together one more time. And we stand here, pregnant with possibility, his community, our community, a template for America. We gather here to commend the tired bones of our dear comrade to the earth. Go to sleep you weary, hobo. You earned your rest. There are other hands to take up the plow, the hammer and the guitar. You are now a part of that Long Memory. Yet, somehow, I know your rest will not be a quiet one. When Californians feel the very earth beneath their feet tremble and move, there will be a new understanding of why that might be. Death is not the end. It's all about possibility.


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Subject: RE: Utah Phillips Tribute May 31 - Nevada City, CA
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 01:14 PM

Some good thoughts there, but generally John missed the real and exciting value of the pure romance that Utah loved, represented with his entire presentation, and fostered in so many of us purely on that level. Possibility and community are laudable many times. But the individual out there with a huge dream can be a big motivating factor for many of us. PaulGeremia's song "Uncle Sam's Back Yard" I think it is called points this up admirably.

When ya got nothing to eat, moose turd pie might taste fine. Utah loved great humor just for the isolated gem-ness of it. A found nugget. Even when it was on a topic close to his heart and to the Wobbly preamble---just for the halibut--he'd drop it like a mini-bomb on the audience.

I was never a joiner. When folks were goose-stepping in favor of things I believed in like peace and justice for all---often I'd walk away because I really dislike chanting mindless unthought out slogans. Maybe it's a flaw in me, but I can live with it.

Art Thieme


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