Utah Phillips, the folk musician with the big white beard and the great stories, has been having some health issues recently. Last Wednesday his son, Duncan, posted a letter from Utah here — the gist of which is that Utah Phillips is doing better, but still faces major health challenges.
Like many of his fans, I like Utah Phillips not just for his music and his hilarious stories, but for his integrity and for his commitment to social justice, and yeah, I’m proud to claim him as a co-religionist (he’s part of the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Nevada City). Looks like I won’t get a chance to hear him in concert again, but at least he’s still alive and writing songs and podcasting.
People across the country are hosting benefit concerts for Utah Phillips — Pete Seeger and Dar Williams held a benefit concert for Phillips back in April, at which time Seeger pointed out that folk singers don’t get health benefits as part of the job. There’s a benefit concert coming up in Chicago on June 14, and no doubt more to come.
I almost never post other people’s videos on this blog, but — in case you’ve never experienced him live, here’s a taste of Utah Phillips singing and telling stories at what must have been one of his last appearances before he stopped performing. The story about his daughter (about five minutes in) is hilarious:
Or you could listen to this, his most famous story.