Saturday, January 3, 2009

2 CD tribute to Utah Phillips!

From Dan Schatz
December 29, 2008

It is an absolute joy to announce the upcoming release of Singing Through the Hard Times - a Tribute to Utah Phillips, a double CD on Righteous Babe Records. Musicians include Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Emmylou Harris and Mary Black, John McCutcheon, as well as several Mudcatters, including Kendall, Jean Ritchie, myself, Big Mick, Mark Ross, and more. The official release date is February 24, but it should be available from Righteous Babe a few weeks before that.

It all happened like this:Last winter, when Utah Phillips was very ill, a number of folks were planning benefit concerts for him. At a gathering in Maine, I started talking with Kendall and Jacqui Morse about maybe putting together a benefit CD - a little CD-R, perhaps, of songs by and for Utah from various friends and admirers. The funds would go to defray the medical expenses.Jacqui went into the kitchen, tapped Gordon Bok on the shoulder, and said, "Gordon, I wonder if I might have a word?" Two minutes later she came back and said, "Gordon says he'll do Goodnight Loving Trail." An hour later Will Brown and Cindy Kallet had agreed to do "Going Away," I'd put myself down for "Queen of the Rails," Kendall for "Phoebe Snow," Kat Logan for "The Faded Roses of December," and Jacqui and Kendall for "Miner's Lullaby."Kendall wrote to Pete Seeger, and Tom Paxton, who both said "Yes." I talked to John McCutcheon, Si Kahn and Cathy Fink. Mark Ross joined us, and a slew of Rose Tattoo Folks. Mick Lane said yes. Rosalie Sorrels said yes. Magpie said yes. Jean Ritchie said yes. Art Thieme said yes. And Emmylou Harris and Mary Black agreed to donate a rare recording of the two of them singing "The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia" as a duet.

Utah suggested talking to Harry Tuft, who said yes. Ani DiFranco donated a fabulous instrumental version of "The Internationale" and offered to release the album on her label, Righteous Babe Records. Charlie Pilzer agreed to master. Everyone we asked said yes - in the end we completely filled two CDs with 39 tracks of amazing music.Of the 39 tracks on the CD, all but 10 are brand new recordings - and many of the 10 are fairly rare. The title song, "Singing Through the Hard Times" is an ensemble piece with Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Magpie, Emma's Revolution, myself and a host of others. Like a few songs on this compilation, it's never been recorded before. There's even a recording of Utah's son, Brendan, and his band Fast Rattler singing a never recorded Utah song from long ago.All proceeds go to Joanna, Utah's wife, to help with the many remaining expenses, and anything she doesn't need will go to organizations that help musicians in need.

I can't even begin to express the amount of love, care and generosity from so many people that went into this recording - especially Kendall and Jacqui Morse, who worked very hard to turn this from a small project to a Big Deal. There were lots of folks, too, who heard about the project and offered to send recordings, but sadly, we'd already filled up. They too deserve thanks.

So that's the story. I'm heading out to California, and am planning to debut the CD in a KVMR - fm radio show this Friday or Saturday.

Here's the complete track list.

1. Magpie, Dan Schatz, Emma's Revolution, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer and Friends - Singing through the Hard Times (3:26)

2. Will Brown, Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen - Going Away (4:55)

3. Emmylou Harris and Mary Black - Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia (3:36)

4. Si Kahn - Dump the Bosses Off Your Back (1:39)

5. John McCutcheon - All Used Up (3:16)

6. Saul Broudy - Starlight on the Rails (4:18)

7. Lisa Null - All About Preachers (3:12)

8. Harry Tuft and Jack Stanesco - She'll Never Be Mine (3:01)

9. Larry Penn - The Popular Wobbly ( 2:44)

10. Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer - Room for the Poor (5:08)

11. Sparky and Rhonda Rucker - Reuben's Train (3:11)

12. Fast Rattler - Paddy Welcome Back (4:39)

13. Magpie - Michael (4:52)

14. Ed Trickett - The Telling Takes Me Home (3:36)

15. Kendall Morse - Phoebe Snow (3:18)

16. Faith Petric - If I Could Be the Rain (2:40)

17. Dan Schatz - Queen of the Rails (3:11)

18. Judy Cook - Kid's Liberation (2:23)

19: Pete Seeger - Or Else! (One-a These Days) (3:23)

Disc 2:

1. Gordon Bok - Goodnight Loving Trail (3:43)

2. Rosalie Sorrels - The Soldier's Return (2:38)

3. Tom Paxton - I Remember Loving You (4:17)

4. Elizabeth LaPrelle - Jesse's Corrido (3:37)

5. Bruce Brackney - Hood River, Roll On (2:40)

6. Pop and Bodie Wagner and Dakota Dave Hull - Old Buddy, Goodnight (3:19)

7. Mick Lane - Hallelujah I'm a Bum (2:44)

8. Ani DiFranco - The Internationale - instrumental (2:46)

9. Kat Logan - The Faded Roses of December (3:27)

10. Jay Peterson - Daddy, What's a Train? (3:36)

11. Ray Bierl - Bill McCarran (3:20)

12. Finest Kind - He Comes Like Rain (3:29)

13. Mark Ross - Look for Me in Butte (3:19)

14. Jacqui Morse - The Miner's Lullaby (3:28)

15. Rik Palieri - Larimer Street (3:19)

16. Jean Ritchie - Old George's Square (3:05)

17. Taylor Whiteside - Rock Salt and Nails (3:41)

18. Art Thieme - The Hobo's Last Ride (2:40)

19. Caroline Paton - Singing in the Country (3:00)

20. Emma's Revolution - Hymn Song (3:45)

The CD is listed by Righteous Babe at a VERY reasonable $15.98 and if you buy directly from Righteous Babe Records, all the proceeds will go to the benefit! They haven't gotten it up on their website yet, but you can call them at 1-800-ON-HER-OWN (716-852-7978 for international customers) and ask for the Utah tribute – item number RBR065-2-CD. Even better, you can e-mail them at

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