Utah Phillps, Folk Singer

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Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips

By Eli Marcus

I was at the Winnipeg folk festival in the summer of 1977, and I got to hear all sorts of great music, and even to do a little jamming here and there. But the most important thing I got out of that weekend was spending an hour walking the grounds of the festival with Utah Phillips the folksinger. Utah took me literally "under his wing" placing his arm on my shoulder as we walked, and explaining to me his view of life as an individualist and an anarchist - his personal form of anarchy which allows him to be free and independent by doing thisngs for himself and not waiting for some corporate entity or govt. authority to do it for him.

It was Utah who told me that one is best looking up to dead heroes since they can't go and disappoint you anymore - at least not like a live hero who can still screw up pretty badly. I think I was telling him about my disappointment in seeing one of my boyhood idols - Rambling Jack Elliott the night before get onstage drunk, and then cut his set short since he couldn't really perform....

Well, that one hour conversation with Utah Phillips both inspired me and filled me with wisdom that I carry with me to this day.
Eli Marcus is an Israeli blues festival producer and blues radio show host. Contact Eli Marcus.

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