Monday, February 20, 2012

Spoken Word: Ransom Notes

Bruce Piephoff: Ransom Notes


Bruce Piephoff is a North Carolina bard with an affinity for both music and poetry. With college degrees in English and creative writing, his calling is clear. The indefatigable and prolific singer, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player has released over 20 albums.

Bruce Piephoff also recognizes the value of music for therapy, a cure for nearly every ill. With melody, the songwriter brings his introspective poems and haunting truths to life. But, on occasion, he simply uses the spoken word to tell a sly story (such as “Hucksters”) or to pay tribute to departed friends (in cuts such as “For Marvin” and “Ransom Notes”). These songs are heard on Bruce Piephoff's 2011 album called “Still Looking Up at the Stars,” produced by guitarist and arranger Scott Sawyer who performs on all 17 album tracks.

With matter-of-fact delivery, personal observations, and a dash of wry humor, Piephoff cleverly relates the story of his bud, Billy Ransom Hobbs. Accompanied by understated moody sax, guitar, and brushes, “Ransom Notes” is an avant-garde spoken eulogy about a lovable, gentle soul and fellow musician (Billy Ransom Hobbs, aka Hobo Billy) who tragically passed about 2008.

Piephoff promises that the two will meet again “backstage” when he gets there. Besides being a poet and musician, Piephoff is an author. “Ransom Notes” first appeared in his second book of poetry, “Fiddlers and Middlers” released in 2009. Thanks to You Tube video of the song, we even get to see these guys hanging out in North Carolina in the early 1970s. There’s Billy “the grassroots Buddah … in a black leather motorcycle jacket, jeans and long curly black hair.”

What a fitting way to remember a good friend!

Guest Post by Joe Ross

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