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.
Bruce Piephoff

About Bruce Piephoff

“Bruce Piephoff is a delightful poet and musician with a talent for composing poetry of fine clarity and immediate appeal; his art is cheerful and open and he has a real feeling for his subject matter. He is of admirable personal character and has been courageous in pursuit of his genuine vision.” – Fred Chappell (Poet Laureate of North Carolina; 1997-2002)