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Sitting at the feet of elders to hear stories about the olden days seems to be out of fashion with almost everybody these days, but I'll still give credit to the 60s folk revival for providing a model for teaching countercultural youth their history. Utah Phillips, a 70-year-old singer, storyteller, labor activist, and ex-hobo, has enjoyed something of a revival in the past decade thanks to the respectful attention he's gotten from neofolkies. He's released a couple of collaborations with Ani DiFranco, and Amy Ray's Daemon label has just put out Starlight on the Rails: A Songbook, a four-CD set that exhaustively documents the rambling, narrating, agitating, and occasional singing that he's done for the past three decades. The narrative bits that precede many songs might make for tough going if you prefer your music uninterrupted, but stick with him: this is how he does it, and he has a finely honed poetic voice both as a singer and a speaker. Like another great rambling American poet from a prior century whom Phillips slightly resembles, he contains multitudes. John McCutcheon opens. Phillips also performs at "Fan the Flames of Discontent," a concert celebrating the centennial of the Industrial Workers of the World, next Saturday (6/25) at 8 PM at Preston Bradley Center. Thu 6/23, 8:30 PM, Hothouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $25.

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