As the leaves are changing and swirling to the ground here in N.C. in November, I’m feeling like a road trip to the mountains after being battered by TV political ads and phone calls from strangers for weeks and weeks. Reading Herbie Hancock’s new memoir “Possibilities” and taking long walks in the neighborhood with Alex and his 2 dogs. My old friend, Michael Parker, the novelist and teacher in UNC-Gs MFA creative writing program weighed in with a few words about my current CD, Soft Soap Purrings(see below). I was happy to learn from Jason Richmond(co-producer) that the CD made it to the Grammy Ballot this year. Of course that’s a long ways from a final nomination but still it’s nice. After 23 recordings, this is my first time on the Grammy ballot. Working on a few things for the rest of this year and next including some shows with David Childers and Scott Sawyer. We had a good experience playing at Scuppernong Books and hope to do more across the region. Hope to play more shows with Scott and others similar to the Steve Forbert show we did at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro or the Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba show or the Scuppernong show; performances for good audiences that are centered on the music listening experience. All in all there’s a lot to be grateful for and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you sometime soon!
With “Soft Soap Purrings,” Bruce Piephoff once again proves his ability to defy category. These songs range from the jazz-inflected jams of Troubadour-era J.J.Cale to the plaintive twang of Doug Paisley and The Everybodyfields. As literate and erudite as these songs are, they always prove that, as Keith Richards said, Rock and Roll is music “for the neck downward.” Lament and boogie, elegy and woogie: Bruce, once again, has written a stellar collection of thought-provoking songs you can’t help but toe the floor in time to.
Michael Parker, novelist
These dog days of summer remind me of the mid-70s when I was traveling across the country with my friend Billy Ransom and we pulled into Nashville, TN. We hung out that afternoon in the big park which I believe was called The Parthenon. That evening we headed to Bishop’s Pub which was a little corner bar that had different artists perform 3 songs each. In between acts, they would pass a basket or hat for contributions to the singer. They called em basket houses. Well, Billy and I had signed up to play a set and we’re sitting in a booth when in walks Townes Van Zandt, dressed in all leather; pants, moccasins, jacket. He has a seat by chance at our booth and orders a coca-cola on the rocks. He was on the wagon at that time and had just had “If I Needed You” recorded by Emmylou Harris. I told him I thought it was a great song and that I liked Doc Watson’s version too. He said, “Yea, that was a pretty good song.” He explained that he had written it in his sleep and that songs just came to him so he didn’t feel any great responsibility for writing them. That evening Townes did 3 of his songs and we also played our set. It was a great evening and I remember David Olney was the cook there and came out from the kitchen to play 3 of his great songs. I believe one was “Illegal Cargo”. In the back room of the joint was a pool table and I remember shooting a game of 8-ball with Townes and he had a fiddle he would play a little bit between shots. A few years ago I wrote a tune, “Shooting Pool With Townes Van Zandt” about this evening in Nashville.
As the dog days come around again, I have been working on a new batch of songs that I’ve done demos on tentatively titled “White Knuckle Wandering” With the rapidly shifting quicksand of the music industry, I’m not sure what I’ll do with them. Does it make sense to release CDs anymore? Hard to make it these days playing music but I do have some interesting gigs coming up in Sept. I’ll play my annual Labor Day show at Grove Winery in Gibsonville, NC at Swirlfest with Scott Sawyer joining me on electric guitar on Aug. 31. Rain Date is the following day on Monday, Sept. 1. On Sept. 12 I’ll open with Scott for a 45 min. set at Steve Forbert’s show at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC. You can find my full schedule here at my website. Enjoyed playing with Claire Holley when she swung through Carolina last month and hope to play again soon with Lynda Dawson and Pattie Hopkins and Aaron Ballance, the dobro player who has moved to Boone, NC, up in the mountains to teach English at Appalachian State. They all played on the new CD, Soft Soap Purrings, with me. Well, until we meet again, enjoy the homegrown tomatoes, squash and peppers from the garden and keep on stokin’ whatever fires keep you going.
Father’s Day 2014
It’s been almost two and a half years now since Dad passed on yet it seems like only yesterday. I’m thinking of him today on Father’s Day. I have a few of his possessions that were passed on to me; several of his wood carvings of the Grand Canyon, a hunting knife, a 1968 D-35 Martin guitar, a leather jacket with a Navy pin on the lapel and a Levi Denim Jacket. A few weeks ago I wrote a song about that jacket which brings me comfort to wear now. Last time I saw Dad he was waving goodbye, saying he loved me and advising me to go out and have some fun in this world and not worry so much. This Thursday I’ll be doing just that as I head up to Saluda(near Asheville) in the mountains of N.C. to play at a venue called The Purple Onion with Aaron Ballance joining me on dobro, guitar and lap steel. I’m gonna eat, drink and be merry with Stony and Susan and play my songs for all the good people up there and I’ll wake up in the mountains on Friday to cooler temperatures and good coffee. Dad would like all that. Happy Father’s Day to you all, my friends!
Daddy’s Levi Denim Jacket
Ain’t got much to remember the old man
A hunting knife and a D-35
But I still wear his old Levi denim jacket
The arms are a little short
The back’s a little tight
But the fleece lining’s warm
On a cold winter’s night
So I still wear his old Levi denim jacket
He was a weightlifter and he ran the mile
Listened to Caruso and he had a nice smile
An aerial gunner’s mate
In the Navy in WWII
So I still wear his old Levi denim jacket
His ashes took flight in the middle of the night
On a Harley Davidson to his favorite sight
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The place where he felt right
And I still wear his old Levi Denim jacket (2)
words & music by Bruce Piephoff, Piephoff Music, ASCAP