by Ron Kaminkow, Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture
Last Fall, I spoke with Duncan Phillips – the eldest son of the late folk musician and fellow Wobbly Bruce “Utah” Phillips – who I have known since April 2008, when his Dad’s health was in an irreversible state of decline. Duncan had some interesting news. It turns out that the old caboose-like rail car known as a “flanger,” once owned and rehabilitated by Utah nearly 50 years ago in Vermont, had been put up for sale. We both agreed that we must do whatever it takes to acquire the car, that it should serve as the Bruce “Utah” Phillips Library, and that it should be trucked across the country to the place where Utah would have wished it – the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture in Weed, CA.
So, the great news since then is that Duncan has set up a tax-exempt non-profit 501c3 called The Long Memory, and he was able to obtain the rail car! Now we need to raise roughly $25,000 to prepare the car for the move, build a track pad and other onsite infrastructure, rent the cranes to lift/drop it and the semi-trailers to haul it, and then restore it upon arrival to its condition in the early 1970s when Utah first lived in it. Check out the comprehensive website that Duncan has put together, a virtual treasure trove of information, not just about the caboose/flanger and its history, but about Utah Phillips – his life, music, ideas, recordings, wisdom, poetry, writings, radio shows, and more. Take your time, there is a lot to see, listen to and think about.
I hope you are as inspired as I am about this project. If you are, please consider the following:
1 — Make a donation – no matter how small – to help us bring this project to fruition. You can do that HERE.
2 — Post a Blog entry on the Long Memory website, and share any stories, thoughts, and/or reminiscences that you may have about Utah Phillips. You can do that HERE.
3 — (Musicians) Give a verbal plug from the stage for the project (and possibly pass out flyers) at your upcoming shows throughout this year.
4 — (Musicians) Play a benefit concert in the coming months to help us raise the necessary funds for the transport and rehab of the rail car and to raise awareness of the project.
5 — Join us at the ceremony and celebration this summer at the Bruce “Utah” Phillips Library on the grounds of the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture in Weed, California at the foot of Mount Shasta (tentatively planned for late summer 2017).
6 — (Musicians) Perform on-stage on the grounds of the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture at the ceremony/celebration.
7 — Forward this email to fellow musicians, union activists, Wobblies, historians, and supporters of the arts who might be interested in this endeavor.
For further information see the website and/or fundraiser. Your support, advice and encouragement is much appreciated!