Saturday, February 21, 2009

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It meant a lot to him that his songs would continue to live for years to come.. Yes its true.

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