In 2008, Ani DiFranco and a number of traditional folk singers came together to record a benefit album for labor organizer, soldier, hobo, pacifist, storyteller, and singer Bruce “Utah” Phillips. Phillips, “the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest,” was in poor health and did not live to hear the double CD set, “Singing through the Hard Times: a Tribute to Utah Phillips.” Now in 2009, a number of the musicians who played on that effort will be appearing Friday night at the Washington Ethical Society to salute Phillips via a benefit for Hospitality House, a California homeless shelter that Phillips established. Copies of the CD will also be sold at the show to assist Phillips’ family with remaining expenses.
Ani DiFranco will not be there, but Kensington, Maryland-raised singer/banjoist Dan Schatz, who helped put together the tribute album, will. He’ll be joined by the likes of Elizabeth LaPrelle, who is best known for her high, lonesome old timey a capella vocals; Magpie, a folk duo who sang civil rights songs; and Ed Trickett, a hammered-dulcimer player.
Also appearing will be acoustic guitarist and singer Saul Broudy who played harmonica with Utah Phillips in the early ’70s, and Utah’s sons, Brendan and Duncan Phillips. There is a good chance someone will offer Phillips-style renditions of songs he was identified with, like “The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia,” “Starlight on the Rails,” and “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.”
Tribute to Utah Phillips concert Friday October 30, 2009 at 8 p.m. at the Washington Ethical Society, 7750 16th Street, NW $20 www.fsgw.org 202-546-2228