Utah Phillips’ rail car to be restored

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!

Shelby Bottom Duo Joe Hill Roadshow (Tennessee)

“For those who wonder about the lineage of Woody Guthrie’s celebrated songs of social conscience and labor activism, the Shelby Bottom Duo & Friends have provided a compelling answer with the Joe Hill Roadshow—a collection that places top notch musicianship and heartfelt singing at the service of songs as meaningful now as they were when Hill wrote them a century ago.”  —Jon Weisberger, International Bluegrass Music Association Songwriter of the Year and Print Media Person of the Year.  

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, 4 pm, House Concert by Shelby Bottom Duo and a talk by art historian Gail Levin about the paintings of Edward Hopper.  308 Oxford Street, San Francisco. Limited space.  Please contact bernellalevin@gmail.com if you plan to attend.

Tuesday, Feb. 21 2017, IBEW Local 175, Chattanooga, TN

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, Midsouth Peace & Justice Center, Memphis, TN

Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN

Saturday, April 15, 2017, Louisville, KY Shelby Bottom Duo with John Paul Wright, locomotive engineer, community organizer, union organizer, labor singer, poet and djembe player.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, UAW Local 737, Nashville, TN

April 2017, AFL-CIO of Knoxville, date pending.

February, March and April 2017 dates pending for Nashville Musical History shows.
For more information, contact bernellalevin@gmail.com.

Joe Hill & Wobbly Gifts for all Seasons

We have a wide array of Joe Hill and labor-oriented material suitable for gifts, including:

Bucky Halker: Anywhere But Utah (Songs of Joe Hill)

A Full Life: James Connolly The Irish Rebel

2017 Solidarity Forever Labor History Calendar

Direct Action Gets the Goods women’s cut T-shirts

Joe Hill centenary T-shirts

Fred Alpi singing Joe Hill and other labor songs in French

The Shelby Bottom Duo singing songs of Joe Hill

Joe Hill’s letters and other writings

the definitive biography of Joe Hill, by William Adler  (the site lists it at full price; we have a large quantity of discounted copies arriving shortly which will be available in quantities of 3 or more at very attactive prices; drop us a line at iwwhlf@gmail.com if interested)

and full color Christmas Cards drawn by Joe Hill in his Salt Lake City jail cell

Two Joe Hill shows in Nashville, Tennessee

14788453_1475036769-0384_funddescriptionTuesday, Oct.  25, 2016. Musical History of Joe Hill & the Early Labor Movement Tour with the Shelby Bottom Duo (Michael August and Nell Levin) United Auto Workers Local 737, 6207 Centennial Blvd, Nashville TN, 2 pm.
Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. SPECIAL ALBUM RELEASE SHOW! Musical History of Joe Hill and the Early Labor Movement Tour with Shelby Bottom Duo, Nashville Peace & Justice Center, Friends Meeting House, 530 26th Avenue N., Nashville, 7 pm.

Support Joe Hill CD/Tour

Nashville-based Shelby Bottom Duo (Michael August and Nell Levin)  have launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $5,000 to fund their Musical History of Joe Hill and the Early Labor Movement Tour and a companion CD of Joe Hill songs.

The project includes live performances of Joe Hill songs recorded on the CD along with a talk about Hill’s life, early labor struggles and the influence of the IWW’s innovative organizing strategies on movements today. Their goal is to share this vital slice of labor history with a wide range people so that we can all better understand why the revolutionary creativity exemplified by Joe Hill and the Wobblies is still relevant.

To support the project, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/shelbybottomduo

Joe Hill Roadshow in Lansing, Michigan

The Joe Hill Roadshow makes a return appearance in Lansing Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. at the MSU Community Music School. Tickets are $18, $5 for students.  Performing are Magpie (Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino), Charlie King and George Mann.

If you haven’t heard these songs before, you’ll be surprised how funny and singable they are—and how much the lyrics ring true today.

“The IWW has always seemed to me to be remarkably free of ideological blinders,” King says. “They were clear-eyed about the owning class and the working class, and knew that at times of crisis your worst enemies may be found among the latter. They have been consistently pragmatic in their strategies—and their songs reflect that.”

“Joe Hill created a body of very practical, well-crafted songs that wear very well a century later,” says Charlie King. “The 1% are as tenacious as then, and the 99% need the demystifying reminders found in Wobbly songs. An injury to one is still an injury to all.”

 

The IWW in its Heyday

Eric Chester, author41t31ijmpdl-_sx325_bo1204203200_ of The IWW in Its Heyday, will be speaking about the book at three East Coast events.

Saturday, September 24: Somerville Public Library, 2 pm. 79 Highland Avenue, Somerville MA.

Wednesday, September 28:  Off the Common bookstore,71 S Pleasant St.,  Amherst MA, 7 pm .

Tuesday, October 11: Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St., Philadelphia PA, 7 pm.  (Cosponsored by Bindlestiff Books)

Centenary of the Easter Rising

jamesconnollycoverIt is good to see this graphic account of the life of James Connolly, the socialist and fighter for Irish freedom who also defended the rights of women to revolt. He was one of the inspirations in the late 1960s when early womens liberation groups started to form. His ideas are as needful today as they were in the twentieth century.

  Sheila Rowbotham

May 1916 marks the centenary of the execution of IWW/labor organizer James Connolly by British authorities for his part in leading the Easter Rebellion. The IWW Hungarian Literature Fund is commemorating the occasion by publishing, in collaboration with PM Press, a graphic history of his life by veteran comic artist Tom Keough, followed by a modest selection of Connollys writings and an afterword by labor historian (and editor of the graphic history The Wobblies) Paul Buhle.

Copies of the 42-page pamphlet A Full Life: James Connolly the Irish Rebel are available for $4.95, or three for $10.00, post-paid to U.S. addresses. (Inquire for international postage)

To order, click here or visit our Shop page.

“Tom Keough and Paul Buhle have put together a terrific graphic remembrance of a giant among working class heroes: James Connolly.  I hope that it will serve as an introduction to many, and foster a greater understanding of the depth and intensity of Connolly’s contributions to the labor movement and socialism.”  — Anne Feeney

There are a number of online collections of Connolly’s writings, including:


James Connolly, “Facets of American Liberty”
Workers’ Republic, December 1908 (excerpts)

“Where Liberty is, there is my country.”

So said the enthusiastic 18th century revolutionist. But if he lived nowadays he would have a long search for his country – where Liberty is. The only liberty we know of now, outside the liberty to go hungry, stands in New York Bay, where it has been placed, I am told, in order that immigrants from Europe may get their first and last look at it before setting foot on American soil.

You see, it would be decidedly awkward for our Fourth of July orators to be orating to the newcomers about the blessings of American liberty and then to be asked by some ignorant European to tell where that liberty is to be found.

Some ignorant, discontented unit of the hordes of Europe, for instance, might feel tempted to go nosing around in this great country in search of liberty, and his search might take him into the most awkward places.

He might go down South and see little white American children of seven, eight and nine years of age working in our cotton mills enjoying their liberty to work for a boss at an age when other children are still compelled by tyrannical laws to stay on wrestling with the dreadful problems of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

He might have visited Alabama and seen American citizens out on strike, driven out of their homes by the power of the capitalist mine-owner, and when they erected tents upon private land granted by a charitable farmer for that purpose, he might have seen a Democratic governor order in the state militia to cut down the tents and drive the American workers back to the mine at the point of the bayonet.

He might, being an ignorant European, visit Florida and see men lured from the big cities to the railroad construction camps and kept there on a hunger diet, compelled to endure blows and foulest insults, and when they attempted to escape he might see the power of the state detective force employed to arrest them as if they were criminals and take them back handcuffed to their slavery.

This ignorant representative of the scum of Europe might have visited Colorado in 1904 and seen armed militia invade newspaper offices and imprison printers and journalists alike without legal warrant or pretense at trial, trade union meetings suppressed, duly elected public officials compelled to resign under threat of lynching, respectable men taken out of their beds in the middle of the night and without [being] given a chance to even put their shoes on marched under armed guards across the state lines, hundreds of men thrown into cattle enclosures and kept there for months without trial, and Pinkerton detectives employed to manufacture outrages in order to hang innocent men.

This pilgrim in search of liberty might have learned from the coal miners of Pennsylvania that their state is dotted over east and west with localities where union miners were shot down like dogs whilst peacefully parading the streets or roads in time of strikes, he might have learned that practically every industrial center in the country from Albany, N.Y., to San Francisco, Calif., from New Orleans to Minnesota, has the same tale to tell of the spilling of workmen’s blood by the hirelings of the master class, and he might have attended the unemployed demonstration in Union Square, New York, and have seen the free American citizens rapped on the head for daring to ask a job collectively, instead of begging for it individually. …

The Liberty we have in Bartholdi’s statue is truly typical of liberty in this age and country.

It is placed upon a pedestal out of the reach of the multitudes; it can only be approached by those who have money enough to pay the expense; it has a lamp to enlighten the world, but the lamp is never lit, and it smiles upon us as we approach America, but when we are once in the country we never see anything but its back.

‘Tis a great world we live in. …

 

 

 

Dedicated to IWW songwriter Joe Hill