A singer/songwriter/activist, Utah Phillips walked the walk of the working man. A teenage runaway, Phillips lived as a railroad hobo first gaining musical attention for songs he wrote that were recorded by Rosalie Sorrels and then his 1973 hit "Moose Turd Pie," a story of life as a railroad laborer. An Army veteran who sang for peace, he took all of his vast life experience and put it into his music. He spent the past 21 years living with his family in Nevada City, California, where he was known as a community activist. His humor, sincerity and honesty kept Phillips connected with younger generations of folk artists, including the late Kate Wolf and Ani DiFranco, a collaboration that earned the pair a Grammy nomination.
Phillips died Friday (5/23) at 73 of complications from the chronic heart disease that he has suffered with since 2004. His ongoing health problems caused him to give up touring in 2007.
This weekend, I went to the Hartville Flea Market and came home with a guitar. As some may remember, I bought a ukulele a few years back that I never really learned to play, mostly because I lack all knowledge in string instruments (pianos are like this - read the note, hit the corresponding key). So, I picked up a starter guitar and we're going to see what happens. I still have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Chris passed on Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen's The Song Train, a book with two-chord songs and CDs so that I can tell when I've completely run off track. Again, this is all an experiment, but I would at least like to be able to plow through some campfire songs by the end of the summer. And I'll find a way to keep my nails while doing it.
To see the entire Live From Folk Alley featuring the Punch Brothers you will have to come here, but we're sending bits and pieces out to the universe through our YouTube account (FolkAlleyDotCom) - which is also the home to Waybacks video and other films we've made of Live From concerts and in-studio Extras interviews. So, take the code and embed away! That's what the Internet is for folks ("education" - posh, pish)!
We ended up sending out three sets of weekend passes to MerleFest last month in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. There were 57 contest entries, making narrowing the list very difficult. One person originally selected could not, in the end, attend and one did not respond to our E-mails. So, the lucky recipients were (in no particular order):
Hank & Barbara Lynn from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Matt & Cathie Davis from Milton, Tennessee
John Osborne from Statesville, North Carolina
As part of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week on American Idol, the final 4 contestants on the music "reality" show had their run of the 500 songs that shaped the rock world. Dreadlocked hippie Jason Castro (who, I swear, is going to put out a Folk Alley-friendly CD in the next year) picked the Dylan arrangement of Mr. Tambourine Man. Halfway through the first verse, everything went south, he hummed a bit and went into the chorus. As much as I would love a singer/songwriter to win this show and bring a folkie bent to the AM Idol tour, I really hope he goes home tonight.
Not at all because I just like writing "Noam Pikelny" (it's like a line out of Lewis Carroll), I found this YouTube gem of Noam poking fun at Punch Brothers bandmate Chris Thile. On the same topic, check out this month's Live from Folk Alley featuring the aforementioned Punch Brothers.