Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hello, it’s been awhile.

After dad died I spent a lot time trying to figure out what to do next. For awhile I thought I might just carry on my normal life and talk to folks about dad when they asked. But that’s not really me. I also pondered the idea of a book, not about dad and his life but instead about the two of us and getting back together after being apart for so many years but some of those chapters are still being written. Instead I came to the realization that I have to figure out away to keep dad’s work out there and among the people. Not being much of a singer or musician myself I made the decision to break new ground and branch out into the unknown. Over the last few months I have been playing dad’s old road worn Guild and with the help and encouragement of some great friends begun working on a tribute show for dad. My plan, thanks to Tom May is to try it out this February in Portland at Winterfolk. Winterfolk is one out the trips dad and I looked forward to the most every year. It will be nice after a short absence to be back in Portland and hang out with everyone at Sisters. I hope to see some of you there.

We’ll see how it goes I really don’t know what to expect I just know I have to try it.

Now about the song we started a few months back. It’s mostly finished. I say mostly because It’s the first version, no rewrites, I leave up to anyone who wants to change it as they see fit to do so.

The verse about the light being on at the top og the stairs comes from the first few days after dads death. The first day he lay in a state of rest so folks that wanted to could say good bye. There was a small floor lamp by his bedroom door that was on so folks could find their way up the stairs. The next day when the mortuary came and did what they do I saw that the light had been turned off. It’s funny how the smallest of things can be so sad, I mean it’s just a light. I turned it back on because, know matter were we may find ourselves it's always comforting to know that when we need it the most ,some where there's a light on to show us the way back home.

Untitled

Far away on the Western slope

where the golden waters once roared.

On the darkest of nights she lay alone

and softly whispers these few words.

The lights on at the top of the stairs

rest your head my sweet love and linger no more.

Jungle angles sing your refrain.

and I’ll miss like the dry earth misses the rain.


Fire burns at the end of the yard

the stewbum stares Into the flame.

Lonely and cold with no place to go

he softly whispers these few words.

Your life was boom, your life was bust.

Your life was filled with the wanderlust.

You tramped the world with a worn out heart

but now old friend it’s time we part.


High on a hill in a house built by greed

he dusts off a forgotten old friend.

No longer bound by want and lust

he plays up an old gentle tune.

Oh how your songs they sing to me.

Your words set me free.

I’ll pick up my hammer and nail

on your wooden ship I’ll set sail.


Over the plains the Rattler rolls.

With a tug of the chain the whistle it blows.

Through a wide open door Chico sings aboard

shakes out the dust and offer a few words.

We know not what lay over the hill

might be some wobblies or a scissorbill.

But I tell you this my old friend

we’ll be coupling cars at our journeys end.


Down where the black oak

shades your grave from the searing sun.

I wipe away the last few tears and

whisper these few words.

Lord I know, how I know

how hard it is to let go.

You faced your end with courage and grace

and I will forever remember your

tender face.

The lights on at the top of the stairs

rest your head my sweet love and linger no more.

Jungle angles sing your refrain.

and I’ll miss like the dry earth misses the rain.



See ya in Portland

Duncan



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Howdy
A brief note. Keith Bendar if you still check the blog please send me your e-mail address.

I am finishing up on the song we started on the blog a few months ago. I will post it this weekend
along with some updates and pics
Thanks
Duncan

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mark Ross sent this along. Thought you might enjoy it.

Utah's Speech

Friends and Brothers, for many years now we have all understood that railroads exist solely to carry persons such as ourselves from one place to another. The business of transporting freight simply helps to defray the expense of this noble and much needed endeavor. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly commend the Union Pacific,Burlington-Northern, Denver-Rio Grande and Western and similar charitable organizations for their benign efforts on our behalf and to offer heartfelt thanks for affording us the opportunity to spend so many carefree hours watching the pleasant landscape flow by. Oh, the rich pageantry! The bracing mountain air, sparkling lakes and snow-capped peaks spread out before us like a handful of jewels. Lulled into blissful reverie by the gentle swaying of our noble chariots, we gaze enraptured at the panoramic splendor of America.Exaggeration? Ah no, my friends. I cannot believe that so heady a delight as we have enjoyed for lo these many years could simply be the result of economic necessity. Surely the Almighty has penetrated the hearts of railroad executives, and through them his divine purpose moves: that we homeless vagabonds are permitted to advance that spirit of adventure for which our mothers bore us and which is so firmly rooted in the very heart of our great Republic. Indeed, I affirm without fear of contradiction the belief that God, Motherhood, The Founding Fathers and the Railroad are committed to permitting the hobo his humble existence.I hasten to add, however, that all is not rosy and bright with our Brotherhood of the Road. On every hand villains and assassins assault our way of life, indeed our very persons. High-binders and cut purses sap our meager resources as the necessities of life (wine, a humble crust and a quiet corner in which to enjoy well-earned repose) continue to soar in price. Organized authority (which any sensible person must assume was constituted for our protection) now falls upon us cloaked in the foul disguise of "custodians of law". Where, I ask, will it end'? Will we, in the final extremity, be forced to abandon our historic mission of bringing the divine law of "Freedom in Mobility" to the benighted heathen cringing meekly in factory and barnyard? Will we (oh dire presentiment!) be driven to join them in that abomination against our class and kind- WORK? No, I Say, a thousand times NO! Take heart, noble companions! Share with me a sacrament of our sacred beverage, shoulder your bindles and once more plunge into the fray, secure in the knowledge that we carry with us the future of the Republic, indeed the hopes and dreams of all mankind. Let us sing.(Speech to be delivered at the 1976 bicentennial Hobo Convention in Britt,Iowa, where I intend to be elected King. Campaign staff positions are now being filled and all donations are gratefully accepted and can be forwarded to Philo Records. They are, of course, tax deductible.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hello,
Well it's been a while. The tribute show for dad last night went well. It was a Small but intimate crowd that was primed and ready. I emceed the show and after coming to an understanding with the audience as to my singing ability sang a song or two. I sang " Daddy What's A Train" with Gigi Love who was nice enough to come up from her home in Durango for the show.......she was kind enough to play in the key of "off " because that's the key I sing in.

We all sat in assorted kitchen chairs that gently arced across the stage with dad's stage set up in the middle. It felt both comforting and familiar to sit in dad's chair, surrounded by friends and swap songs and stories with everyone. I opened with a couple of stories and a poem I wrote for dad Anke Summerhill, followed with "Star Light on the Rails" it was beautiful. Mike Iverson sang "Johny Thurmond", Doug Wintch sang " Queen of the Rails" , Kate MacLeod sang " The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia" and Kyle @ Weston Wulle closed the first set with " All Used Up " The second set was more of the same and we closed with Dad's Hymn song. It's hard to say how things went from the stage but judging by the laughter, appropriate somber silence and applause, folks enjoyed the show. I know I did.

After the show and the everyone had fled to the comfort of their homes the auditorium was empty and quiet. I sat on the edge of the stage and soaked it all in. I was filled with an ease and peacefulness and left thinking, what's next?

Sunday, August 24, 2008



Hello,
Some folks have asked about directions to the cemetery where dad is buried so I am posting a link to directions from downtown Nevada City. There are two cemeteries on red dog, Forest View is on the Left or North side of Red Dog. Dad is in the back North East corner towards a blue house that boarders the cemetery.

On to other news. some of the folks here in SLC are planning a tribute concert for Saturday Sept. 27, at the Fine Arts Theatre on the University of Utah campus. Maybe I'll see some of you there.

Ken Sanders and I are still working on republishing dad's old song book. The only thing holding up the project is myself. I can't seem to make my self sit down and write the new forward and pick out some photos to add to the song book. Mostly because I have been spending my spare time learning to play and sing. I know it sounds odd that up until now I haven't played or sang much. I know dad always wanted to see and hear me on stage but it was something I just couldn't make myself do. When I was much younger I never saw the logic in learning something that was one of the things that kept dad and I so far apart ( kids logic) and as I grew older I thought " how can I possibly measure up". But now that I have dad's old Guild I think with it comes a certain obligation. So I must play. Ben Pearl myself and Mark Ross are going to do tribute set at Winterfolk in Portland this winter. Sisters of The Road, Portland and Winterfolk was the road trip dad and I looked forward to most every year. I think 04 was the last time we made it, might have been 05, either way it's been far to long.
It will be nice to see our old friends again. I hope the show doesn't turn out to be a poor mans Gallagher show and I throw up on the first row.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hello everyone, It's been a long time.
I had a thought, I've had a song rumbling around in my head for the last few weeks and instead of polishing it off myself I thought I would post a verse or two along with the chorus and and let folks contribute their own lyric to the pot and see what we come up with. So here we go.

Untitled

His Life was boom his life was bust.
His life was filled with wanderlust.
He tramped the world with a broken heart.
But now old friend it's time we part.

Chorus
There's a light on at the top of the stairs.
Rest your head weary hobo and linger no more.
The angles of the jungle will sing your sweet refrain
and we'll miss you like the dry earth misses the rain.


Please feel free to add whatever you wish. If you are more comfortable sending some thing by e-mail I will post it for you.

Duncan

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Poetry and music collide in the hands of Kell Robertson.

There is an idea of the Southwest that lives in the collective mind. It is embodied through stoic figures that represent unsympathetic landscapes where little is spoken. Poet and songwriter Kell Robertson was drawn to the Southwest by idealized images of the black-and-white films of his youth. His poems—published in more than 13 books—speak like the ghosts of another time.


Don’t call Kell Robertson a beatnik, just call him a writer.

In his poem “The Old Man Goes Home,” Robertson writes, “All I can see is what we’ve lost.”

It is this sense of longing for his childhood home in Elk City, Kan., that informs the memory of his friend Utah Phillips. Phillips was an enigmatic singer-songwriter, poet and labor organizer cast from Woody Guthrie’s America. Phillips, who died earlier this year, harbored no avarice, no reason to be something he wasn’t. It is an attribute that endeared him to other artists such as Tom Waits and Ani DiFranco, who would eventually cut two records with Phillips, one of which, Fellow Workers, earned a Grammy nomination.

Robertson headlines a celebratory event in memory of Phillips and his friendship. It is a fitting tribute filled with poetry, music and memories.

SFR: How did you first come to poetry?
KR: Probably with Percy Bysshe Shelley. My mother was an avid reader. By the time I went to school—at around the age of 8—I had read Shakespeare. I was lucky. She had the works of Shakespeare and the complete works of Zane Grey, so I had that influence.

That’s quite a reach from Shakespeare to Zane Grey.
Well, yeah…sorta…kinda, maybe, in a way. I went into the military and I got out of it because I hated it; I hated war. I hated the whole thing, so I grabbed my guitar and headed to Mexico and hung out here for a while and eventually hitchhiked across America. Writing became such a natural thing to me. I’ve read all the poets. I know all the stuff. I’ve read all the critics and all the academic jerks.

You’ve been called a beat poet. What do you think about that classification?
Well, you know, it’s very funny. On one of my books Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote a blurb, ‘Kell is one fine cowboy poet.’ I’ve been called a beat poet, a



KELL ROBERTSON WITH JOE WEST, KENDALL MCCOOK, MITCH RAYES, RICHARD MALCOLM, GEORGIE ANGEL AND PATRICK HOULIHAN

7 pm
Monday, July 14
$5

Santa Fe Brewing Company
35 Fire Place 424-9637
New Mexico poet…good God they’ve called me everything. I’m a guy who writes. Sure, I knew some of those people. Lawrence is a good friend. I was not a friend of Kerouac. I was in a skid row bar called the Mars Hotel on Third Street in San Francisco and Kerouac was in there. I went in and sat down. I recognized him and said, ‘Hey man, you’re Jack Kerouac.’ He said, ‘Just shut up and I’ll buy you a beer. Don’t say a goddamn word about it.’ So I didn’t. We just got drunk and that was it.

How did you meet Utah Phillips?
I met Utah in San Francisco years ago with Rosalie Sorrels, his singing partner at the time. He’s a reformed alcoholic, and I’m a perpetual drunk. The two of us walked around each other over the years. He would run into me and say, ‘Hey Kell, you still drinking?’

Utah never diverted from who he was…
No, he was a Wobbly all the way. He clung to those old ideas and I agree with him. He told stories better than anyone I’ve ever seen. He would talk about the old days with the Wobblies, the labor unions, traveling on box cars, about living as a hobo, fighting the cops. It was a time and a place that really happened. He could get really into what he did, which was talking about working people and being poor in America. He was the genuine thing.

You’ve lived in a lot places. Have those regions influenced your writing?
I grew up with poor people. I have an eighth-grade education, that’s it. The rest of it I got on my own, self-taught all the way. I love this country. I’m in the Southwest because I like the people and I love Mexican music. My mother took me to see Hank Williams [Sr.] in Shreveport, La. He dropped the microphone; he was drunk and he just blew everybody away. I looked at him and said, ‘I want to do that.’ And then I heard Dylan Thomas read and I said, ‘I want to do that.’

You think that kind of experience can still be had with young people, with poetry?
I don’t know; I worry about it. I don’t know if it’s possible at all. There’s about a million slam poets and poetry drill teams…I’m not sure if that does it any good. I think it’s something that you have to uncover on your own.

William Faulkner once said about his work, ‘I’m just a farmer who likes to tell stories.’ I’ve read some of your poems and I’m curious if you think people tend to over-think or overanalyze them.
Those stories in the songs and the poems are personal. I did most of those things or at least I knew people who did. Of course, in the back of your head, if you have a sense of language and understand rhetoric, line, meter and all that crap…the poem or the song just comes to you.

© Copyright 2000-2008 by the Santa Fe Reporter

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 4, in Nevada City










I drove from my home in Salt Lake to spend a long relaxing weekend with Joanna, Morrigan and my new adopted home, Nevada City Ca. Normally I drive I80 only because it is faster than US 50. But when I gassed up in Wendover I could not resit the urge to head down 90 to Ely Nevada turn right and drive out US 50. I spent the night in Ely at the Nevada Hotel, thirty five bucks for a room, give me a break what a great deal. I left late Thursday night so when I rolled into Ely at almost midnight a beer some blackjack and a good nights sleep hit the spot. If you have never driven highway 50 put it on your things to do list. It is billed as the loneliest road in America and indeed it is, I passed only a smattering of cars and trucks along the way and because of the lack of traffic the road itself is in great shape and perfect for cruising. I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't make the usual stop in Eureka for lunch and a visit to the Opera house, maybe next time. I did stop a Shoe Tree. For those of you not familiar with shoe tree it is a huge tree of the North side of the road adorned with shoes hanging form every branch. The story of I heard ( from dad ) was that a young couple ran away to elope and threw their shoes in the tree for good luck. Anybody that knows dad knows t was a much longer story but you get the idea. If any body out there has a different tale please do post it. Highway 50 seems longer than 80 but actually it's only adds 60 miles to the trip which equates to about two hours drive time because the winding nature of the road and the amazing vistas and views along the way.
I got to Nevada City later than normal but in tome to enjoy a tasty bar- b-que chicken dinner With Joanna, my little sister Morrigan, Molly Fisk and Kuddie. We sat around the patio table munched on chicken and of course corn on the cob, after all it was the 4Th, caught up on things and enjoyed the smoke free night. Smoke free nights have become rare in the summer nights of California.
It sure was nice to be back in town with family and friends. Later in the evening we took the shuttle to the fair ground for the fire works show. After the drive it was a long day but one I would have gladly walked to California for.

The next day Ben Pearl and his girl friend Mia drove up from Davis for a visit, Ben sang Sweet Briar at Dad's funeral and has become a good friend since our first meeting in Portland several years back when we were up there for Winterfolk.

The day was topped off with dinner Jordan's house. Joanna and I dined with his wife Susan, daughter Emma and son James and of course Jordan. After a magnificent pasta dinner we sat on the front porch sipped Port and smoked cigars under a faint sliver of moon. It was my first encounter with that end of a cigar but it truly was a special occasion and a fitting tribute.
The night ended and morning came far to quickly. before I knew it I was once again on the road headed for home. The few short days felt like a month and were just what I needed to recharge my batteries.
More later
Duncan

Tuesday, July 1, 2008





I'm headed to Nevada City for the weekend and hang out with Joanna and Morrigan. I don't like the idea of shelling out two days pay for the gas but it shore will be nice to them. I will post from the little green house over the weekend. There is a lot of stuff in the works and plenty to catch up on. Mark and Jenny sent some nice pictures from the Rose Tattoo Rendezvous last month that I will pass along.
Duncan

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hello


Over the last several months when folks were putting together benefit shows dad would call in at some point during the show. So when I had to chance to fill in for dad last week and call in for a show Mick Lane was producing.....I'm not sure what the appropriate phrase is but I was looking forward to calling and talking to the crowd. Alas it didn't work out, there were some technical glitches that made a phone call impossible. So I am posting what I had intended to say. I know it's not the same and a day late but what the hell.

Hello.....I know you all were expecting to hear from Phillips Number one but you'll have to settle for Phillips Number two {cheap attempt at comedy}.

Like a master potter Utah's words and deeds were the potters wheel and over time he gently molded pieces of wet clay into a community a community that he knew in the end would not forget and you haven't....thank you.


Dad had had a line when he opened his shows. He would sit in his chair, lift his favorite Fedora from his head and place it on the back of the chair in a notch he carved for just such a thing, slap his hands on his knees and say "I come to in troubled times".
well I do indeed come to you in troubled times. George bush is still in the white house, were enduring a war with no end and on May 23, we lost one of our great elders. I say we because it was not just a loss for my self and my family but a loss for everyone around the world as well as a loss for the people that did not yet know of Utah or his great works.

Some deaths carry with more significance, they hang heavier in our hearts and linger far longer. Utah's death is one of those.

His heart may have worn out but it never failed him and it will forever beat in the homeless and the poor, it will beat in his fellow workers and the working class, it will beat in those who strive to defeat social injustice and his will forever beat in each and every one of us.

In every well planed civil disobedience there are people waiting in the wings to replace the people on the front lines that are taken away.

It will take more than any one person to replace Utah, it will take all of us.

So I say we take this night to mourn, memorialize and celebrate and when the morning comes we go out into the world and push our selves beyond what is normal.

Thank you and goodnight

Monday, June 23, 2008

One more thougth

After reading the post from Joanie it reminded me of being on the road with dad and walking the lobby before his shows. Dad always, I mean always walked the lobby before shows, mostly to meet and talk but also to size up the crowd and see if the show he had prepared was the right fit. When ever he saw young folks in the crowd he would nudge my elbow and say " those are Ani's people" he was so proud of their friendship. So whenever I am fortunate enough to meet warm and soulfull people like Joanie and her friend Jewls it reminds me of how many hearts and minds he touched and it reminds me of that rye smile and look of gratitude he got whenever Ani's people graced the audience.
Thanks

Sunday, June 22, 2008

From A friend and fellow Anarchist


For Utah

We talk of him now
in the past tense
the is of a moment ago
has become was
the physical
now is spirit
it is time
the great distiller
reducing and refining
the stuff of lives
into essence
so
into the ether he goes
leaving the now
for the long road
of memory
Hello,
Yesterday JB Freeman and his lovely wife Juanita came to SLC for a visit. After lounging around the yard we trekked downtown for dinner at Lambs Grill on 2nd and Main in downtown Salt Lake. Whenever dad came to town we shared at least one meal at Lambs, usually the meal of choice was Lamb Chops and water with no ice accompanied by a side salad with lemon. In true fashion JB & Juanita held to tradition. As for me I find it hard to eat anything that I can pet so I ordered dads runner up, Cesar Salad with blackened chicken.

After dinner we walked over to Library Square for the Ani Defranco show. Karla at Fleming's was kind enough to arrange tickets for us. It was the perfect diversion.
The city library has a very nice Amphitheatre for concerts. Made up entirely of grass
that gently slopes towards the stage with the Wasatch Mountains as aback drop. The night was slightly over cast and warm with a gentle breeze, a perfect Solstice night.
The show started a little late because Ani's tour bus had some tire issues in Telluride that set them back a few hours, I don't think they got into town until 4:00 p.m. Her crew did an amazing job getting things set up in such a short period of time.

There is something about out of door shows that perplexes me. I think some folks come to socializes while others come to hear the artist. when you have such power full poets and song writers of social conscience as Martyn and Ani something gets lost in the sea of people chatting to their neighbors. I don't get it. Other than that the show was just what one would expect of two such word smiths, both power full and timely.

We had a chance to chat with Ani for a few minutes after the show. She is so kind and thoughtful. Because of the tire trouble in Telluride the whole tour was sliding further behind schedule. but she still took the time to visit with us. She stood there with her beautiful daughter Petah in her arms obviously tired and a little weary and one of the firs things she said was "hows Joanna". Now there were any number of things she could have said in such a situation but it was obvious that she knew what Joanna is going through. What else would you expect from the woman dad often referred to as "The woman with the most powerful intellect he ever knew"
She is amazing.

Until next time
Duncan

Saturday, June 21, 2008






Hi Keith,
Well it's been four weeks. To be truth full I don't think I have started the full on mourning process. I am, sad... very sad at times and melancholy but I was always used to going long stretches with out seeing or talking with dad. But as the days and weeks go by I'm starting to get that heavy feeling that no, he's not just on another road trip and will be back at home soon but he is in fact gone.

JB Freeman and his lovely wife Juanita, two of dad's old friend from the Rose Tattoo are arriving in town today for a short visit. Coincidentally Ani is playing a gig in town so were going to catch the show. The great singer song writer Martyn Joseph is opening up for her. We first saw Martyn at the Vancouver festival in 04. He is amazing, him being from Wales I used to refer to him as the Welsh Bruce Springsteen but some how that seems a serious injustice to Martyn and how phenomenal he rally is. If you get a chance to see him perform, do yourself a favor and check him out.

Other news.
We are still working out putting a bench at the cemetery. We are trying to put our own bench at the grave site and not have to but one from the mortuary. It will be far more inexpensive and much more sentimental. If it works out I will build a simple wooden bench to go under the Black Oak dad is buried under.
I am also still working with Ken Sanders on republishing "The Star Light on the Rails" book of songs from the early seventies. For the most part it will be the same book with a couple of added songs and maybe some photos of dad over the years.

Caffe Lena is also working on a tribute show down the road. I am hoping to be able to travel to Saratoga for the show. The last trip I took with dad was to New York. He did a show at Lena's and a couple of days later we drove to Homer were he did a show at an old church that had been converted into a community center.

That's all for now.
Duncan

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kate wolf Festival


We dedicate this year's festival to
Our Dear Friend, Bruce Utah Phillips, who passed on at home in his sleep Friday night (May 23rd).
We hope you will join us in sending loving thoughts and energy to his wife Joanna and the rest of the family.


And to Utah, may your journey on the rails take you everywhere you want to go,
with the fresh air blowing peacefully across your soul.

We'll miss ya bro'...you were a one-of-a-kind, a real special one-of-a-kind.


We will name the Revival Tent in honor of Utah's memory and call it "Utahpia"
Safe Journey...and in the words of Wavy Gravy, "Good Grief"

On Saturday, June 28, at 5:30pm there will be a one hour sing "Remembering Utah Phillips" at the Old Songs Festival in Altamont, NY. Several singers will lead his songs in between some of Utah's own printed words and his life story. When he came to Saratoga, NY in the 1970's we were also there at the Caffe Lena leading a folk community sing called the Pick'n and Sing'n Gather'n. In an interview by J. Arem on Aug. 9, 2005 he remembers his first encounter with organized folk music.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chicago Benefit

We are in the homestretch.
It is tomorrow at 9 pm at the Heartland 7000 N. Glenwood, Chicago,IL with Larry Penn, Otis Gibbs, Kathy Greenholdt,Larry O.
Dean,Paul Caporino,
Mike Felten,Joseph Bella, Scott Dekatch, Corky Siegel and Jim Tullio. Silent Auction items from John Prine, Wilco, Myke Adams.

Proceeds to benefit the Phillips family and the Hospitality House shelter in Nevada City, CA
Be There.

Sunday, June 8, 2008










Memorial Service Last Sunday











The memorial service for dad was held at the little league baseball field in Nevada City Ca. Dad had a great love for little league baseball, he admired the pure and simple way kids played ball. He attended most every game and even traveled a couple of times with the team to away games, I can only imagine the conversation on the road with the kids. Dad's favorite team growing up was the Cleveland Indians. the Indians is also the name of the little league team in Nevada City.

It was a perfect day for a memorial, bright blue sky, mid seventies and almost no wind.
The ball field in rimed by towering pines with a dirt infield and the typical signs adorn the out filed fence. The memorial had a very distinct baseball flavor. The base lines were freshly chalked the home team Indians dressed in uniform passed out the programs for the memorial and latter when it got warm they passed out water to the crowd that numbered 800 0r more that filled the out filed and bleachers of the ball park, the concession stand was open and the most popular item was the" Utah Special", a chili dog and a warm bottle of water a close second was the Hobo Special, a bowl of chili and a warm bottle of water, dad preferred his beverages warm.

There was a small eight foot riser just behind home plate for the speakers. It was nicely decorated by Amigo Bob with pine tree branches
I had the honor to MC the event which began with the singing of the peoples national anthem. For those who don't know the peoples national anthem is.... everyone sings his or her favorite song at the same time. Then the Indians hurler Zach White threw out the first pitch to his trusted catcher Michael Skerak. It was a perfect pitch, high and tight in the strike zone. Then the announcement was made....play ball!

My little brother Brendan spoke to dads love of base ball. My little sister Morrigan spoke and read a lovely Wendel Beery poem. John Mccutcheon delivered a eloquent tribute and sang so Long It's Been good to know Ya. Some of the other speakers were John cloud, John spoke about dads vast knowledge. Tony Rohrieg from the Salt Lake branch of the I.W.W. and Mark Ross talked about dads union involvement. Dads Dr. Doctor Lang and cardiac Robin wright talked about dads heart condition. Poet molly Fisk read a poem and spoke of dads love of poetry. Joanna's son Ian Durfee read a beautiful passage and talked about Bruce the adventurer. Librarian Mary Ann Trigg spoke about dads love of books and how he used to hide his library card at the library in a book he knew know one would ever check out. Dad's booking agent and long time friend Jim Fleming spoke about Utah the performer and Steve baker and Mikhail Graham spoke about dads involvement in community radio and his radio show , Loafers Glory the Hobo Jungle of the Mind. Dear friends Brack, Bob, and Kuddie from the Rose Tattoo reflected on riding the rails and dads tramping days. Dads sister Deborah Cohen Lead the seventh inning Kvetch, we played take me out to the ball game and launched a model rocket into the summer sky. Actually the first attempt at launching the rocket was not so smooth in fact in didn't launch at all. I think it was one of the little leaguers, with a little prodding from his friends that fixed the problem. The second attempt was a success and the rocket soared into the air and believe int or not when the chute deployed the rocket dropped to the infield next to home plate. After the seventh inning Kvetch Joanna's other son Nicholas Tomb touched on dad's impeccable style. Nory Fussell talked about the towns peace center and dad's hand in it's beginning and sang a song. Janice O'Brien spoke about Hospitality House Shelter . The shelter dad and Joanna along with the help and support from many, many wonderful people in Nevada City and Grass Valley shelters about forty people a night. Dad's dear wife Joanna Robinson reflected on their life together and Brendan closed the show with dad's Hymn song.

I know I am missing some details but the whole thing was and still is kind of a blur. It was sad, touching, funny and beautiful. It was a fitting memorial to a truly remarkable man, a man that I am honored to say was my father.
If some of you read this and have more to contribute about the tribute please do post it or send me an e-mail and I will post if for you.
A pot luck at the Foundry followed the memorial maybe one of you can touch on pot luck. The whole day was overwhelming to say the least. I am still trying to process the whole thing.
Thank you, everyone , for the help and support it was an amazing event that could not have happened with out you, it was a real community effort and dad would have been proud of his home town Nevada City.

Duncan
I first saw Utah with Rosalie Sorels at the Cherry Tree Music Coop
in Philadelphia. Second date with my singin' partner of 35 years in 1973.
We looked forward to all the times we saw him again.

The first time we spoke together was between two terrific sets at the Old Towne Crier
in Beekman, NY. (I think it was in 1981.) Utah was trying to interest the little ones in the crowd about the yo-yo he had carved. They weren't interested, but I was.

When he went out to take the night air on the front porch, I started up a conversation, which eventually centered on exactly why writing is so hard. It's the beginning, he said. It's always been that way. I felt the same, that after the train started leaving the station, chugging faster and faster, the words came out of the pen so much easier.

Why was it so hard to begin? Was it the teachers who put all those red marks on the page to "correct" us? Was it fear that it wouldn't be so good? Were we just plumb lazy? We concluded nothing, but it was a fruitful thing for me -- I wrote songs more consistently after that discussion than I had before.

When I met him again at the Bear Mt. Festival in 1982, he looked like a tanned slimmed-down version of himself. I hoped he remembered me, and he did. He looked at me and my 2-year old daughter riding in a backpack, and said, "Hi, good to see you. But what's that horrible growth on your back?" Talked about how he was trying to eat right and get healthy. He sure did look like he was trying really hard!

My daughter Sara (soon to be 28) barely remembers the night she inadvertently got him back for the gibe at her. We took her to the Towne Crier to see Utah. She was dancing in the center aisle with her arms raised, interacting with the grownups; we were trying to get her to sit down. Utah was tuned, seated on the stage and ready to begin, and the li'l upstart was stealing his thunder. I could see steam coming from his ears like a freight train engine's stack as it roars into the station. He leaned forward in his seat with an imperious look on his face, and addressed the little squirt: "Hey! ... Are you a kid, or are you standin' in a hole?"
Sara didn't understand him, so she turned around towards the crowd, cocked her head, and drew a gale of laughter, which stole even more thunder! He laughed, waited for us to grab her, and gave all he could give to the crowd. Great show.

This Friday night, we'll sing a passel of Utah's tunes, and we'll continue to all our lives. He's touched us in ways no other person ever did. I'm gonna sing "Daddy, What's a Train." It's Utah's song, so by way of introduction,
I'll start with these lines:

"He sat down on a stool, a guitar in his land
He told us of the characters he's met throughout this land,
He sang a song he'd written a dozen years before,
About the trains he knew so well that rode the tracks no more.

Spoken: Y’see he used to ride the rails ...in the windy rain and hail
A drifter spinnin’ tales along his way.
His son is now all grown, has a family of his own,
But when he was small, old Utah heard him say.

"Daddy what's a train?....."


Fair Winds,
Steve Kaplan