Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Human Condition

Over the years music has been used to express the human condition. Ranging from working conditions and politics to war and human tragedies, events through history have left their mark in song. Minstrels have often taken the lead in delivering these messages of solidarity against oppression to the populace.

Tonight I bring you a collection of these songs.

Direct links to the individual videos:

Springhill Mining Disaster – U2

Working Man - Rita MacNeil

Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot

Canadian Railroad Trilogy - Gordon Lightfoot

There is Power In The Union – U. Utah Phillips

Daddy What’s a Train? – U. Utah Phillips

Wreck Of The Old 97 - Roy Acuff

Buy A Gun For Your Son - Tom Paxton

Who Speaks For Me - Tom Paxton

Ramblin' Boy - Tom Paxton and Pete Seeger

Which Side are You On – Pete Seeger

Solidarity Forever - Pete Seeger

Waist Deep In The Big Muddy - Pete Seeger

Union Maid - Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie

City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie

Deportees - Arlo Guthrie and Emmylou Harrris

Hobo’s Lulabye Woody Guthrie

Pastures Of Plenty – Woody Guthrie

House Of The Rising Sun - Woody Guthrie

Blowin' Down The Road - Woody Guthrie

House Un-American Blues Activity Dream - Mimi & Dick Farina

I Ain’t Marching Anymore - Phil Ochs

Joe Hill – Phil Ochs

What are you fighting for? – Phil Ochs

One More Parade - They Might Be Giants:

Universal Soldier – Donovan

A Soldier’s Dream – Donovan

Oh, Freedom - Joan Baez

What have they done to the Rain – Searchers

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Bob Dylan

The Times They Are A Changin' - Bob Dylan

Masters Of War - Bob Dylan

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - Bob Dylan

Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan

Desolation Row - Bob Dylan

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - Joan Baez

Sunday, May 25, 2008

U. Utah Phillips
In Memoriam

Updated 5/28/08 - Added Democracy Now Video
[Photo - Christopher Dunn]

With this Saturday’s post nearly completed I learned of the passing of one of my favorite folk singers and song writers. Born the son of union organizers, Bruce Duncan Phillips took the name U. Utah Phillips from the state of Utah where he settled after life riding the rails.

Hobo, folk singer, anarchist, social reformer and a man of the people, Utah passed away this past Friday, just days after his 73rd birthday.

Story teller extraordinaire, Utah wrote songs about the troubles of the working man and railed against the government that kept them down. He describes an Anarchist as “someone who doesn’t need the police to tell him what to do”.

He even ran for President, but never voted. He professed that one votes with their body – it is the good deeds that one does for others that is your vote.

Being a fairly short distance from here I was able to see him on a number of occasions and it was always a treat.

Coincidently my original post was about the Human Condition and Utah was one of the featured artists. That program has been shelved for a later date and instead I have assembled this tribute to one of the great American Folk Artists. The first sequence is from one of Utah’s many local performances in his hometown of Nevada City, California where he joins a group of local musicians. This is followed by his show at the Strawberry Music Festival – Both shows are from the spring of 2007.

Below the videos is the official press release from his family

Democracy Now program from 5/27/08 featuring an hour long interview with Utah from 2004.

Rest in peace Utah, you deserve it for you’ve served us well!

Press Release for immediate release Saturday May 24, 2008


Molly Fisk, 530.277.4686

Jordan Fisher Smith 530.277.3087

“Folksinger, Storyteller, Railroad Tramp Utah Phillips Dead at 73”

Nevada City, California

Utah Phillips, a seminal figure in American folk music who performed extensively and tirelessly for audiences on two continents for 38 years, died Friday of congestive heart failure in Nevada City, California a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains where he lived for the last 21 years with his wife, Joanna Robinson, a freelance editor.

Born Bruce Duncan Phillips on May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of labor organizers. Whether through this early influence or an early life that was not always tranquil or easy, by his twenties Phillips demonstrated a lifelong concern with the living conditions of working people. He was a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as “the Wobblies,” an organizational artifact of early twentieth-century labor struggles that has seen renewed interest and growth in membership in the last decade, not in small part due to his efforts to popularize it.

Phillips served as an Army private during the Korean War, an experience he would later refer to as the turning point of his life. Deeply affected by the devastation and human misery he had witnessed, upon his return to the United States he began drifting, riding freight trains around the country. His struggle would be familiar today, when the difficulties of returning combat veterans are more widely understood, but in the late fifties Phillips was left to work them out for himself. Destitute and drinking, Phillips got off a freight train in Salt Lake City and wound up at the Joe Hill House, a homeless shelter operated by the anarchist Ammon Hennacy, a member of the Catholic Worker movement and associate of Dorothy Day.

Phillips credited Hennacy and other social reformers he referred to as his “elders” with having provided a philosophical framework around which he later constructed songs and stories he intended as a template his audiences could employ to understand their own political and working lives. They were often hilarious, sometimes sad, but never shallow.

“He made me understand that music must be more than cotton candy for the ears,” said John McCutcheon, a nationally-known folksinger and close friend.

In the creation of his performing persona and work, Phillips drew from influences as diverse as Borscht Belt comedian Myron Cohen, folksingers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and Country stars Hank Williams and T. Texas Tyler.

A stint as an archivist for the State of Utah in the 1960s taught Phillips the discipline of historical research; beneath the simplest and most folksy of his songs was a rigorous attention to detail and a strong and carefully-crafted narrative structure. He was a voracious reader in a surprising variety of fields.

Meanwhile, Phillips was working at Hennacy’s Joe Hill house. In 1968 he ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. The race was won by a Republican candidate, and Phillips was seen by some Democrats as having split the vote. He subsequently lost his job with the State of Utah, a process he described as “blacklisting.”

Phillips left Utah for Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was welcomed into a lively community of folk performers centered at the Caffé Lena, operated by Lena Spencer.

“It was the coffeehouse, the place to perform. Everybody went there. She fed everybody,” said John “Che” Greenwood, a fellow performer and friend.

Over the span of the nearly four decades that followed, Phillips worked in what he referred to as “the Trade,” developing an audience of hundreds of thousands and performing in large and small cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. His performing partners included Rosalie Sorrels, Kate Wolf, John McCutcheon and Ani DiFranco.

“He was like an alchemist,” said Sorrels, “He took the stories of working people and railroad bums and he built them into work that was influenced by writers like Thomas Wolfe, but then he gave it back, he put it in language so the people whom the songs and stories were about still had them, still owned them. He didn’t believe in stealing culture from the people it was about."

A single from Phillips’s first record, “Moose Turd Pie,” a rollicking story about working on a railroad track gang, saw extensive airplay in 1973. From then on, Phillips had work on the road. His extensive writing and recording career included two albums with Ani DiFranco which earned a Grammy nomination. Phillips’s songs were performed and recorded by Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Tom Waits, Joe Ely and others. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Folk Alliance in 1997.

Phillips, something of a perfectionist, claimed that he never lost his stage fright before performances. He didn’t want to lose it, he said; it kept him improving.

Phillips began suffering from the effects of chronic heart disease in 2004, and as his illness kept him off the road at times, he started a nationally syndicated folk-music radio show, “Loafer’s Glory,” produced at KVMR-FM and started a homeless shelter in his rural home county, where down-on-their-luck men and women were sleeping under the manzanita brush at the edge of town. Hospitality House opened in 2005 and continues to house 25 to 30 guests a night. In this way, Phillips returned to the work of his mentor Hennacy in the last four years of his life.

Phillips died at home, in bed, in his sleep, next to his wife. He is survived by his son Duncan and daughter-in-law Bobette of Salt Lake City, son Brendan of Olympia, Washington; daughter Morrigan Belle of Washington, D.C.; stepson Nicholas Tomb of Monterrey, California; stepson and daughter-in-law Ian Durfee and Mary Creasey of Davis, California; brothers David Phillips of Fairfield, California, Ed Phillips of Cleveland, Ohio and Stuart Cohen of Los Angeles; sister Deborah Cohen of Lisbon, Portugal; and a grandchild, Brendan. He was preceded in death by his father Edwin Phillips and mother Kathleen, and his stepfather, Syd Cohen.

The family requests memorial donations to Hospitality House, P.O. Box 3223, Grass Valley, California 95945 (530) 271-7144

Jordan Fisher Smith and Molly Fisk

The U. Utah Phillips Website.


List of Links

Folk Alliance 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award

Utahs’s Blog – With a message from Utah a week before his passing.

An Interview with Utah

[Photo - Christopher Dunn]

Saturday, May 24, 2008

SplashCast Demise


This past Sunday evening, when I checked my email before going to bed, I found:

The Letter

Most of the videos linked here were created using the SplashCast interface. They were built of links to YouTube videos assembled into a player which had the ability to play the videos sequentially.
SplashCast has yet to answer my question of what will happen to my videos, but I figure they will be lost after June 1st.

This has hit the Video Vault hard. This will leave about 50 of my shows dead. I will leave the posts up as I try and find another means of making these presentations. At some point I started listing the direct links to the videos so you can access them that way.
I thought YouTube playlists would be the answer, but if the player gets to a broken link it just stops without ever skipping to the next video without human intervention.

Check back occasionally as I try and find a new format.


UPDATE 6/7/09:

I have recently found a new service called EmbedR which is very similar to Spalshcast in that it can assemble the links into a stream. I have begun using the player for my new shows and over time I will convert the old shows into the new format.

UPDATE 5/08/09:

From time to time the SplashCast videos come back to life, you may get lucky, or you may get a black box where the video should be.

[Actual date of post 5/24/09]

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Monsoon

I was first introduced to this band about a year ago by the Right Reverend Agent 99 the Undefeated of Fiddlehope in the Marsh

Tonight's band - masters of the jam band genre, will take you along as they wind their way through space and time.

So come along and hook the groove, take flight with New Monsoon!

New Monsoon Website

New Monsoon MySpace


At Live Music Archive – Free, legal, band authorized concert downloads

Direct links to the individual videos:

Velvet Pouch

On the Sun

Potato's Mission


Bron Y'aur Stomp

Eminenece Front Pt1

Eminenece Front Pt2

The Sound

Blue Queen

Other Side Pt1

Daddy Longlegs Pt1

Daddy Long Legs Pt2

from GrooveTV - 4-17-03

Stagger Lee – with Honkytonk Homeslice

En Fuego – with Honkytonk Homeslice


from the Hood River Windjam

Come on Home to Me – with Honkytonk Homeslice

One Step Ahead of the Blues – With Dan Leboetz

at the Mad Frog 2007-07-25

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Here’s a selection of songs sure to tickle the funny bone!

Direct links to the individual videos:

Aunt Beula's Roadkill Overcoat – Antsy McClain

Tiny Little Moustache – Stephen Lynch

Don't Mess With Me – Four Bitchin Babes

Prozac Made Me Stay – Antsy McLain (of The Trailer Park Troubadours)

Quando Caliente El Sol – Smothers Brothers

WhateverAsylum Street Spankers

Payday Blues – Dan Hicks

Skinny Women Ain't Hip – Trailer Park Troubadours

Let’s go Smoke Some Pot – The Dead Milkmen

Boil That Cabbage Down – Smothers Brothers

Viagra in the Water – Camille West

Winning the War on DrugsAsylum Street Spankers

The Divorce Song – Stephen Lynch

Liberace on the Smothers Brothers’ Show

The Crack of Don – Trailer Park Troubadours

Poor Wandering One – Smothers Brothers

The Thing That Only Eats Hippies – The Dead Milkmen

If I Had a Million Dollars – Barenaked Ladies

Frodo, Don't Wear The Ring – Flight of the Conchords

I Fell in Love at the Honkytonk – Honkytonk Homeslice

The Daughter Song – Tom Wilson

Living In Aluminum – Antsy McLain (of The Trailer Park Troubadours)

If I Were Gay – Stephen Lynch

Stonehenge – Spinal Tap