Singing Through the Hard Times: A Utah Phillips Celebration
This double-disc tribute collection to Bruce "Utah" Phillips was curated by Dan Schatz, and Jacqui and Kendall Morse and issued by the last label Phillips recorded for during his lifetime: Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe. Phillips was a prolific performer, who played benefits, strikes, organizing drives, and the like, for most of his adult life, and was an inveterate traveler in the wake of his heroes like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Cisco Houston -- he lived during a time when he was able not only to admire them but to be able to perform with them. This double-disc set collects 38 performances of songs either written by Phillips or closely associated with him by as many artists. While folk enthusiasts will be familiar with some of these names -- Gordon Bok, Tom Paxton, Rosalie Sorrels, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Si Khan, Pete Seeger, and John McCutcheon -- others will be new to all but the most ardent fans of the genre. There is also a truly wonderful collaboration between Emmylou Harris and Ireland's Mary Black, whose reading of "Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia,," written as a collaboration between Phillips with Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, is one of the true highlights in a set that is brimming with them.