by Utah Phillips
The frayed piece of paper below represents a well worn song, sung countless of times in various song gatherings over the years. Utah Phillips was one of our favorite people and he gave us a lot to aspire to. U. Utah Phillips aka Bruce Phillips taught us so much about life, love and conscience as a folksinger, storyteller and singer of the songs he wrote. He could be as tender and romantic as he could be outrageous with the truth and humor of any situation. He could weave the human experience as few can. His instincts were keen and his stories full of immediacy and intuition. He could wield words with the force and depth of a master in his flannel shirt and suspenders - a quick mind and a golden skill with conversation with whomever he met. Utah's fierce and thoughtful performances over the forty years we knew him filled the hearts and ears of all who listened with elements of his quest for truth - legendary for anecdotes and stories that held the listener captive until the punch line (Good though!) after which he would spring into song with a warm voice that sang straight from the gut - and hold the audience right to the end with his brightly sure clear blue eyes and pink-faced beautiful smile, game for life. Utah Phillips was a dedicated friend to the The Sisters of the Road Café in Portland and their work and vision that made it possible to feed so many hungry and homeless citizens with hope, dignity and compassion. Utah headlined the annual Winterfolk fundraiser concert for Sisters at the Aladdin Theater to a full house year after year until his heart played out in 2008 at the age of 73. He will always be remembered with great love, gratitude and countless smiles by those who knew him. His sense of connection with all he met will ring on in the songs he so generously gave us to share and sing along the way. Thank you, Utah!