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Article written by Ken on Monday, Jul 17, 2006 in Awards

Folk Alliance Region West (FAR-West) has announced it’s 2006 Best of the West Awards:

Performer: U. UTAH PHILLIPS Non-Performer: Steve Baker, Freight & Salvage

FAR-West is the western regional chapter of the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance (Folk Alliance). In its second year, The Best of the West Awards are awarded by the FAR-West board of directors, one to a performer and one to a non-performer. The criteria used in selecting the award recipients are:

    1. Excellence in one’s craft.
    1. Enduring presence in the western Folk community for a decade or more.
    1. Embodies or builds upon Folk values and traditions
    1. (Non-performer): Promotes, nurtures, fosters, expands the audience and opportunities for folk music and musicians.

The Second Annual Best of the West Awards will be presented during the 2006 FAR-West conference to be held this year in Sacramento, California on November 17th to 19th. Last year’s inaugural recipients were Performer: Lowen & Navarro and Non-Performer: Roz & Howard Larman of FolkScene.

For further conference information please visit the FAR-West website at www.far-west.org

U. UTAH PHILLIPS

Dubbed by Studs Terkel “A Bard who gives us joy and hope,” Bruce “U.Utah” Phillips, is a nationally known folk artist, singer/story teller, and Grammy Award Nominee for his work with Ani Difranco.

Born in 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, Phillips ran away from home in his teens, riding the rails and bumming along with tramps. He taught himself to play the ukulele and guitar, and began writing songs about the hobo life while supporting himself as a printer, dishwasher, and stock clerk. His experience as a soldier during the Korean War convinced him that nonviolence is the only sane way to live.

Phillips has garnered a store of tales in the style of Mark Twain and Will Rogers, and relates the adventures of labor heroes such as Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood. A promoter of the IWW, beloved as a rabble rouser and individualist, he remains true to unionism in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the strikers of the 1930s.

A national treasure of wit and humor, Phillips, dubbed the “Golden Voice of the Great Southwest,” has earned a small but devoted following for his tales, guitar music, and songs, which he shares among the folk family in the style of a Celtic bard. Phillips has been unfailingly generous in his support for other musicians, especilly the young and aspiring. His performances extol self-reliance and encourage people to stop depending on government or corporatism, and to toss their televisions out the window.

STEVE BAKER of the Freight & Salvage Coffee House

Born in the turmoil of Berkeley, California, in June 1968, the Freight & Salvage Coffee House has become a world famous venue for traditional music, be it folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, world-beat, or gospel.

By 1972 the Freight was the hub of a growing folk and old time music scene so remarkable that traditional Appalachian folk performer, Mike Seeger, documented it with the album Berkeley Farms. In 1983, patrons, performers, and employees formally incorporated the operation as the Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music. Thanks to a solid base of community support, astute business practices, and a little bit of luck, the club was on its way to becoming a secure cultural institution. This is when Steve Baker, a guitarist and “recovering lawyer,” came on board to manages the operation.

Soon the organization settled into its current facility at 1111 Addison Street. Only three blocks from the original storefront, the new facility became one of the best spots in the San Francisco Bay Area to see and hear live music. In 2000, with the help of the City of Berkeley, the organization purchased a new property, in the heart of Berkeley’s downtown Arts and Cultural District, and is currently working on transforming this property into the site of its new home. The club celebrated its 38th Anniversary in June of 2006 and remains a valuable community resource, and continues its eclectic booking policy.

“While we don’t have a standardized approach to things,” Baker confesses, “we remain dedicated to promoting public awareness and understanding of traditional music – music that is rooted in and expressive of the great variety of regional, ethnic, and social cultures of peoples throughout the world.”

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