Utah Phillips | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Utah Phillips 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Born in Cleveland in 1935, Utah (born Bruce) Phillips helped shape American folk music for the generations following the WWII-era ascent of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Like those two icons, Phillips emphasizes working-class tales; a card-carrying Wobbly, he's performed and written countless pro-union tunes. But Phillips's politicized approach, a product of his experiences in the army during the Korean war, is paired with a rich sense of humor that Seeger and Guthrie usually reserved for children's songs. Phillips's combination of smirking, Twain-like storytelling and serious subject matter has influenced three generations of singer-songwriters, right up through Ani DiFranco, with whom he recorded a pair of jazz-folk albums in the late 90s. Those collaborations raised his profile, but a better place to discover him is I've Got to Know, a 1991 album reissued last year by AK Press and Daemon Records. Stuffed with antiwar rants, songs, jokes, and poems, it bolsters his argument that folk is as much an editorial form as a musical one. Heart Songs, a 1997 collection of Phillips tunes interpreted by Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin, shows his skill as a composer. At this show Phillips will likely talk as much as he sings; luckily, he's a virtuoso at both. Bodhi Busick opens. $25, $21 for seniors and kids. Friday, September 10, 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Mark Athitakis

  • Stranger things have happened . . .

    A conflict of interest on the Stranger's music blog leads to the departure of two staffers.
    • Oct 17, 2006
  • Chris Abani

    Mark Athitakis reviews Chris Abani's novella Becoming Abigail, the follow-up to the Nigerian-born writer's breakthrough novel, GraceLand.
    • Mar 30, 2006
  • Margo Jefferson

    • Feb 16, 2006
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Tempel Lipizzans Tempel Farms
June 19
Performing Arts
20,000 Leagues Under the Seas Lookingglass Theatre Company
June 06

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories