One of the great hobos, labor organizers, union men and singer/writer/mentor Utah Phillips passed away on Friday night. He was 73 years old and I suspect any reader of Songs:Illinois will be well aware of the work of Utah. Newer fans may have heard of him first though his work with Ani DiFranco. In fact it’s this association that has always kept Ani in my good graces despite her uneven output. If you’ve never heard of him, think of him as an older, saltier, American version of Billy Bragg.
He was loved by the hundreds of performers he encountered, tutored, befriended and mentored. He’ll be sorely missed. And impossible to replace.