Saturday, February 21, 2009

I guess I might ass well let everyone in on a project that has been rattling around in my mind for awhile now. I have been trying to figure out away to keep dad's work and songs going forward and also get the chance to meet so many of dad's old friends that are strewn about the country. So, I have come up with " Bums on the Plush " a kind of one man co-op with the idea that were ever I am I could play some of the small old places dad played with some of his old friends. It would be my own sort of roving tribute to dad. Why Bums on the Plush you may ask. Well in a way we are all bums on the plush in that we benefit everyday from the work and labor of those who went before us. Trust me I know that I get the chance to do the things I do because of who my dad was and I have no grand allusions of storming the world just busking my way around for a few weeks next winter, getting a taste of the road and meeting some of you in person.

But first things first.

Now being green as corn I know that I have a lot of work to do before I am ready for such road trip. If you would like I will keep the blog updated as I go through the next few months getting ready for the Kate Wolf Festival in June. I have to be honest,I have know idea if this is something I can do let alone be good at and I have know idea where this train is headed. But as long as folks are kind enough to give me the opportunity to test the waters I know that it would be regretful not to try. So there you have it. Please do keep in touch along the way. All of the kind words and support from everyone truly are the foundation for my next adventure.
For more information, contact Anna Kapechuk or Susan Tanner
at Righteous Babe Records – phone 716-852-8020 /
label website:
Album release date: February 24, 2009

Folksingers Honor Bruce “Utah” Phillips with New Double CD

In his life, Utah Phillips was many things – soldier, hobo, activist, pacifist, union organizer, storyteller, songwriter. He was an oral historian who documented the events of the working class and turned them into stories and songs. And in the folk tradition, he passed them on to others.

On February 24, Righteous Babe Records continues that tradition with Singing Through The Hard Times, a two-CD set that celebrates the music that Utah sang and loved. Included are performances from Emmylou Harris and Mary Black, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, John McCutcheon, Rosalie Sorrels, Gordon Bok, Ani DiFranco, Magpie, Jean Ritchie and many others – folksingers whose music springs from the same rich vein of the people’s history that Phillips chronicled throughout his life.

Of the thirty-nine songs on the album, all but ten are brand new recordings, and many of the older recordings are rare. While most of the songs were written by Phillips, some, like “Dump The Bosses Off Your Back” (sung by fellow songwriter and labor organizer Si Kahn) are folksongs relevant to Phillips’ life and passions. A few have never been recorded before, including the title track, which Utah wrote in 2003 for his local Peace Center in Grass Valley, California. The song’s lyrics, about facing hard times together, ring strongly in the face of current events:

And when the war clouds gather it’s so easy to get angry
And just as hard not to be afraid
But you know in your own heart no matter what happens,
You just can’t turn your back and walk away.

So hand in hand together we help each other carry
The light of peace within us every day
And if we can learn to live it – to walk and talk and give it
That world of peace won’t be so far away

We are singing through the hard times, singing through the hard times,
Working for the good times to come.

The project itself started as a way to help Utah through his own hard times. Last year, folksinger Dan Schatz spoke with fellow musicians Kendall and Jacqui Morse at a musicians’ gathering about putting together a CD to help Phillips defray medical expenses. Phillips had been ill for some time when the project began, and died in May of 2008. “It was a blow to lose Utah,” said Schatz. “It gave the project a wistful feeling, knowing that he would never hear the final result of so much love, or hold the CDs in his own hands. We do know that he was very pleased and excited about what was going on. It meant a lot to him that his songs would continue to live for years to come.”

All purchases of Singing Through the Hard Times continue the folk tradition of creating community through music. All proceeds from sales of Singing Through the Hard Times directly benefit Utah’s family.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Sorry for the slow updates, as soon as the show was over I could tell that I was no longer going to be able put off getting sick. I spent most of last week on Brendan's sofa sleeping and nursing some sort of chest cold. Finally on Thursday I felt well enough to make a dash for home so I could spend the next three days on my own sofa. Thankfully today I feel much better. I do recall if dad got sick on the road usually it was at Winterfolk.

As for the show and other news.
The show went well. The entire show was a tribute show for dad so it was the perfect place to try something on stage. When I first heard that we were going to close the show so Rosalie could get ready to head of to the Grammies I was a little concerned but in reality it turned out to be the perfect spot for us. The plan was for me to take the stage first, tell a short story about dad and I getting back together and set up the rest of the set. After Tom introduction I took the stage but the sound guys weren't ready yet so instead of just sitting there with dead air I took my camera out of my vest pocket and snapped a picture of the audience. Tom looked a little confused when the flash went off while he was still trying prolong the intro.

It worked out well though it gave me a way to ease in to the set with a quick laugh.
I though best to be honest with the audience so after the opening story I explained that "I am neither a singer nor a musician but that were always two things that dad wanted to see me do. One was to be arrested the other was to perform on stage" The I introduced the rest rest of the guys. My Little brother Brendan(played the Banjo), Mark Ross (played Guitar and Dobro) and my good friend from Davis Ben Pearl also played guitar. We did " Daddy What's a Train " for the first song. I elected to just sing since having only been practicing by myself I am not used to playing with more instruments so it made it easier ( some what )for me to keep time. I know most folks would recommend against closing a show in front 650 plus folks for the first time to sing in public but to me it felt like the right time and place and I think we pulled it off. For me that simply means I remembered all the words and didn't get arrested by the music police although if I had it would have covered the other part of dad's want list all in one night. Next Brendan played and sang " ships Gonna Sail" one of dad's newer songs. It was amazing dad would have been proud. After that I sang a song that I wrote for dad several years ago Called " Long Gone " I was a little rough and not exactly like we rehearsed it but I guess that's why one has to hearse be fore you can rehearse. We close the set with Dad's long time old friend "Smokestack" Mark Ross telling a couple of stories and singing "Hallelujah I'm A Bum" followed by the "Hymn Song". All in all I think it went well and looking back I don't think that I was nervous. After working and thinking about it for so long I was both excited to finally get to do it and glad to get it over with.
So what's next you may ask. Well it looks like Cloud Moss is going to let us come down to the Kate Wolf Festival in June and do a tribute set for dad. I"ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Headed to Winterfolk

I'm headed to Portland today to meet up with Little Bro. Brendan, Mark Ross and Ben Pearl at Winterfolk. It will be the first time that I've been back in Portland since 2004. Dad and I used to go up there every year for Winterfolk until his heart condition took over the road managing duties. It will be nice to see everyone again. We were originally going to close the first set ( the spot dad always played ) but since Rosalie's new CD " Strangers in Another Country" was nominated for a Grammy she is going to close the first set so she can fly out early and we are going to close the show. Hardly what I was planning on for my first gig but what the hell. As I used to say while hurling my self down the ski slopes, go big or go home. wright?
Please do check out the Sisters web site it is one the many places that held a very special place in dad's heart. when we drove up he always made sure we left early enough to get to the Sisters cafe for lunch. He loved to sit and talk with every and anyone. I gotta hit the road I'm going to Marks place in Eugene for a couple of days to rehearse. I will post more with some pics later in the week.
I have posted some links on the right side of the page for Winterfolk.
Take Care