Bruce Piephoff | Still Looking Up At the Stars

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Folk: Folk-Jazz Spoken Word: Poetry Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Still Looking Up At the Stars

by Bruce Piephoff

Folk/blues/jazz/poetry from singer/songwriter based in North Carolina
Genre: Folk: Folk-Jazz
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Don Quixote Side
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4:13 $0.99
2. Carolina Dutch and Broken Backed Ben
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3:34 $0.99
3. Still Looking Up At the Stars
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2:48 $0.99
4. Another War Is Coming
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4:33 $0.99
5. Ballad of Robert Pete Williams
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3:20 $0.99
6. Notes from Knoxville
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4:30 $0.99
7. Hucksters
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1:46 $0.99
8. Mad Song
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2:43 $0.99
9. Wild Party At The Plantation
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3:58 $0.99
10. Hope You're Home Tonight
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4:10 $0.99
11. Whit's Grill
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2:54 $0.99
12. Her Habit Was Strong
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3:23 $0.99
13. Old Crow
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5:07 $0.99
14. Empty Streets
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3:36 $0.99
15. For Marvin
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2:12 $0.99
16. Pyramid's Pace
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4:28 $0.99
17. Wind from Newport News
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4:16 $0.99
18. Ransom Notes
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5:32 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
 

Bruce Piephoff has been writing and performing songs and poetry for over 40
years.  He began in Chapel Hill, NC in the late 60's, while a student at
UNC-Chapel Hill, at the age of 19.  Searching for a major, he decided on
English, and followed a life long love of literature.  As a child, Bruce was
a dreamer at heart, and loved the classic comic books of that time.  These
led him to the classics themselves, including Huckleberry Finn, The Count of
Monte Cristo, Moby Dick, etc.  

 

After two years, Bruce dropped out of college to pursue music.  He was
particularly inspired by his dad's collection of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie
records.  His dad also played guitar, harmonica, and sang as a hobby, but
Bruce immediately felt this could be his vocation.  Bruce traveled
nationwide, playing in small cafes and bars.  He spent time in New York,
Nashville, and Los Angeles, before travelling to Europe and playing in the
streets of Amsterdam as a busker.  By the age of 27, he had landed back in
Durham, NC, working at John Umstead Hospital as a music and recreation
therapist, and playing his music on weekends.  

 

From there, Bruce decided to go back to UNC-Greensboro, where he finished
his education with a B.A. in English, and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from
the school's acclaimed writing program.  He studied poetry with Fred
Chappell and Robert Watson before entering the N.C. Arts Council's Visiting
Artists Program.  This program enabled Bruce to become the
Artist-in-Residence in a number of community colleges across NC, including
those in Columbus, Brunswick, and Pitt counties. He then went on to
residencies in Orlando, FL; Danville, VA; Norfolk, VA; and western NC.
Bruce appeared at thousands of performances through this program, at
locations such as schools, churches, and festivals, until the program ended
in 2001.  

 

Since then, Bruce has returned to working as an independent singer,
songwriter, and poet; he has recorded 20 CDs of original material for Flyin'
Cloud Records, and performed nationwide on the folk singer/songwriter
circuit.  He just published his second book of poetry, Fiddlers and Middlers,
in 2009.  Bruce has shared the stage with
Steve Forbert, Riders In The Sky, Greg Allman, Chuck Brodsky, Tom Paxton,
and others,  and has played everywhere from Merlefest to the Kennedy
Center in Washington, DC.
"Still Looking Up At The Stars" is Bruce's 21st CD release and was produced by Scott Sawyer. Scott also plays electric lead guitar on 17 of the 18 tracks.

Bruce Piephoff 
Bruce Piephoff has been recording and performing, mostly out of Greensboro, for several decades. Firmly a part of the Appalachian tradition of story-songs and character portraits, it’s his versatility that makes his music so fascinating. Easily touching both the shores of folk music and poetry with simple, compelling imagery and subtle depth, Piephoff's unassuming voice, ringing with wit and sincerity, steals the show.   

 


Reviews


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Joe Ross

Sheer creative audacity, enlightening perspective, & affirmative spirit
Article first published as a Music Review on Blogcritics – From North Carolina, Bruce Piephoff is a bard whose music will turn a smile from a frown. The dreamer, poet, author, and rambling man has college degrees in English and creative writing. His love of literature and calling to music are apparent.

Piephoff also recognizes the value of music as a tool for therapy, a cure for nearly every ill. The songwriter uses melody to bring his introspective poems and haunting truths to life.

Indefatigable and prolific singer, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player Bruce Piephoff has released over 20 albums. While his voice shows some sounds of aging on this release, it doesn’t detract from his telling of sly stories with matter-of-fact delivery and wry humor.

Songs like “Carolina Dutch and Broken Backed Ben” and “Ballad of Robert Pete Williams” provide many personal observations. They aren’t on quite the same plane as Townes Van Zandt’s “Mr. Gold and Mr. Mudd” or a clever tale of two outlaws, “Poncho and Lefty,” but Piephoff clearly has a sharp mind and keen ear.

The title cut has a rollicking country beat. “Hucksters” is presented as a spoken poem, and “For Marvin” is also spoken as a tribute to a departed friend with understated moody sax, guitar, and brushes. A similar avant-garde eulogy is heard in “Ransom Notes,” a spoken story tribute to a lovable, gentle soul and fellow musician (Billy Ransom Hobbs) who tragically passed about 2008. Piephoff promises that the two will meet again “backstage” when he gets there. Elsewhere, “Mad Song” is a romantic statement that concludes “the songs still shine, and the words still rhyme.”

Despite the able instrumental support of seven other musicians (Scott Sawyer, Ron Brendle, Bobby Cohen, John Simonetti, Dave Finucane, Mike Babyak, and Adrian Duke), most of the arrangements seem spare and pensive. Sawyer and Piephoff first met about 1975, but it wasn’t until 2009 that they reconnected on stage. Sawyer’s electric guitar is the primary instrument filling the gaps between verses, and I wish that the 18-track project would’ve incorporated at least a tad of vocal harmony.

The album evolves into some jazz-infused offerings like “Her Habit Was Strong,” “Old Crow,” and “For Marvin,” with Finucane’s tenor sax featured. “Wind From Newport News” is a showcase for Babyak’s steel guitar, as Bruce sings about being “out there fighting lions where the lions ain’t been.” I can’t help but wonder if the song isn’t somewhat autobiographical, as he refers to “laughter in your poetry, turning darkness into light.”

The album will be embraced with earnest by the fans of Piephoff's music and poetry. I would also recommend it for those who might like to discover his sheer creative audacity, enlightening perspective, and affirmative spirit. (Joe Ross)