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Still Looking Up At The Stars

by: Bruce Piephoff

Album Artwork

(Speranza Recordings)

Greensboro, North Carolina, native Bruce Piephoff has been writing, recording and performing songs for over 40 years. His latest release counts as his 21st studio album. Piephoff published his second book of poetry--Fiddlers and Middlers--in 2009.

Over the years, Piephoff has shared the stage with Gregg Allman, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Forbert, Riders in the Sky, Tom Paxton, and many others. During live performances Piephoff also plays the songs of Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Lightning Hopkins, the Carter Family, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Tom Waits and Chapel Hill fingerpicker Elizabeth Cotten.

Piephoff wrote all 18 songs on Still Looking Up At The Stars. Recorded at Sound Pure Studios, this collection was produced by Scott Sawyer. Musicians involved with this session include Piephoff (vocals, acoustic guitar & harmonica), Scott Sawyer (electric & acoustic guitar), Ron Brendle (bass), Bobby Cohen (drums), John Simonetti (bass), Dave Finucane (tenor sax), Mike Babyak (steel guitar) and Adrian Duke (piano & organ).

This impressive album commences with a gem called "Don Quixote Side". The guitar tones on this number really hypnotize as well as Piephoff's way with words. "Carolina Dutch and Broken Backed Ben" would certainly make Townes Van Zandt grin. The title track straddles a Piedmont blues foundation and a barrelhouse shuffle with a sly lyrical delivery. "Another War Is Coming" stands as musical honesty at its finest. "Notes From Knoxville", a soulful song, captures Piephoff's ability to transfer emotion through his lyrical melody.

"Hucksters" counts as a spoken word track. "Wild Party at the Plantation", a loose blues ditty, finds the listener on the edge of his seat. The opening lines of "Whit's Grill" begin with the lines "The secret recipe to Brunswick stew", and vivid imagery follows to the end of this workingman's blues. "Old Crow" travels towards stripped down folk-jazz territory that only expands Piephoff's repertory. "Empty Streets" acts as a musical sedative with a storyline better than any third-rate film saturating people's home televisions.

"For Martin" emerges as another spoken word piece that reminds me of Ken Nordine's word jazz. "Pyramids Pace" ranks as one of this album's finest tracks. "Wind From Newport News" augments all the elements of country and blues music in one streamlined sound weaved together by Mike Babyak's deft steel guitar licks.

The final cut, "Ransom Notes" is dedicated to multi-instrumentalist Greensboro musician Billy Ransom Hobbs that completes Still Looking Up At The Stars with a memorable narrative by Piephoff that resembles a story American indian John Trudell once told. Bruce Piephoff's Still Looking Up At The Stars verifies this is the work of a fine American writer and musician. Hats off to him...

James Calemine


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related tags

North Carolina,
Mystery and Manners,


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