Only a true-blue, work-shirt-clad folksinger could pull off what U.Utah Phillips does: for recreation he periodically takes to the rails and lives the life of a hobo. Once he even managed to get paid for it, landing a grant to study and document the life-style. Though Phillips lives out west–where men are men and guns are God–he’s a card-carrying Wobbly, consistently preaching socialism, pacifism, and anarchy. He’s got the usual bag full of earnest proletarian anthems, cowboy lullabies, and prairie ballads, but in a honky-tonk setting he can come up with a set of world-weary country weepies that would depress Leonard Cohen. He’s a true believer–unabashedly and tirelessly dedicated to the folk ideals of social justice, equality, and human liberation–but he’s also irreverent and funny as hell, and he refuses to take himself too seriously, which is probably why he’s survived for as long as he has. Old Town School of Folk Music, Saturday, 8 PM, 909 W. Armitage; 561-7561 or 525-7793.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rick Steiger.