Riffs celebrates the solstice with Utah Phillips tribute
June 14, 2013
Recycle Utah Executive Director Insa Riepen feels a sense of kinship with the late singer-songwriter Utah Phillips, who was known as the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest."
Phillips, who passed away in 2008, was an activist for labor unions and was a member of the Industrial Works of the World. He sang about the struggles of the working class and recorded albums about his adventures as a train hopper.
"He was rouser," Riepen said during an interview with The Park Record. "He was a man who wanted change. And that is so much like what we do here at Recycle Utah. We want change in how we take care of our world to be sure there is something left for our children and our children’s children."
Riepen is thankful to Riffs Acoustic Music and owner Larry Hart, who is producing a Utah Phillips tribute concert on Friday, June 21. Tickets are $20.
The concert, which will feature Phillips’ son, Duncan, and fellow acoustic musicians Kate MacLeod, John Davis and Morgan Show, will begin at 7 p.m. and is a fundraiser for Recycle Utah.
"This is now our third benefit concert with Riffs," Riepen said. "Larry is known to support local nonprofits, in particular the Park City Foundation, the Peace House and Recycle Utah, and he has a wonderful local venue, and they hold these wonderful concerts. I mean the artists are right in your face and they have no place to hide."
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Riepen said Duncan Phillips will not only perform, but will also talk about his father’s work. He and will read his poems and tell some stories.
"I liked the fact that Utah Phillips wanted to effect change, which is something we try to do at Recycle Utah every day," she said. "Right now one of our biggest projects is to advocate a ban or a phasing out of single-use plastic bags."
During an interview, Hart said Duncan Phillips sent him an email that got things rolling.
"He sent me a blind inquiry back in February if he could do a tribute concert for his father, and it sounded intriguing," Hart said. "We hold one concert a month, which is part of our Full Moon series, and I was looking to book May and June."
Shortly thereafter MacLeod sent me a little note about the show, and I had actually booked her for the April show just a few weeks prior," Hart said. "So, I knew it was going to be good, but I wasn’t too familiar with Utah Phillips’ work and didn’t know how it would go over."
Somewhere in the correspondence, Phillips told Hart that since the show was a tribute, he wasn’t looking to make money.
"He said if the show made any money how about donating it to a charity," Hart said. "I immediately thought of Recycle Utah, because in the past two years, we have done fundraiser concerts for them in April, which is Earth Month and Recycle Month.
"Because we had already booked Kate for April without using her show as a fundraiser, we decided to make the May concert the benefit and Duncan was great with that," Hart said. "We actually picked a date in May, but there were scheduling conflicts so we changed it to June."
While the concert is being billed as the "Life, Times and Songs of Utah Phillips," Hart said the younger Phillips wanted to make sure everyone knew that his father’s life focus was on his music and efforts.
"He told me that ‘Dad was never about himself,’" Hart explained. "And I have learned he was very much the activist. He was very outspoken and quite liberal, and I put him in the same ilk as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, who were always on the road, telling those stories and encouraging everyone to stand up and be heard about the things they believe in."
The show will have all those elements, Hart said.
"It’s acoustic and has a message," he said. "That’s the core. It’s folk music. It’s traditional and people better be ready for some great stories and activism within the songs."
In addition, Hart wanted to emphasize that the concert is set up like a private party and guests need to RSVP.
"We will also have some treats and the concert is BYOB," he said. "Anyone who wants on the guest list should call and make reservations."
Hart said he enjoys presenting fundraisers like what’s on tap for the Summer Solstice.
"It is important for me to offer an outward-facing element to the business," Hart said. "Riffs is close to the Peace House, the Park City Foundation and Recycle Utah, and I would like to add a fourth into that mix, but haven’t decided which, yet."
Riffs Acoustic Music, 1205 Iron Horse Dr., will present a Summer Solstice/Full Moon Concert on Friday, June 21, at 7 p.m. Admission is $20 and proceeds will benefit Recycle Utah. For more information, visit http://www.riffspc.com . To RSVP, call Riffs at (435) 647-1940.