Artist: Bruce Piephoff
CD: Slaughterhouse (Flyin’ Cloud Records)
Home: Greensboro, North Carolina
Quote: "Think Johnny Cash with a Dylan delivery".
By Jennifer Layton
What I liked most about this poet/storyteller/songwriter was how his laid-back
drawl sounds just as appropriate singing about New York City as it does the
small towns of North Carolina.
Most of these songs and poems were written in New York, and Bruce Piephoff
burns living images into my mind in Streets of Queens. Pawn shops,
subway sax players, children playing, pill popping, curry smells, the feel of
your new heart beating. Then he turns right around and heads back south in tracks
like The Flood, a folk tune about a hurricane that tore his home
state apart. Floyds mighty big, and hes meeeean, he
warns as he describes the damage in cities I know well, including Kinston, where
I went to high school.
Slaughterhouse is Piephoffs tenth CD, and its impossible to walk
away from. Think Johnny Cash with a Dylan delivery. Add a Ph.D. in literature.
I dont know if Piephoff has that degree, but I felt quite cultured after
hearing Dante and Villon, the guitar and harmonica tale of the two
artist exiles in a bar, drinking to poets and outlaws who died to be free.
Piephoffs music is homey, bluesy, front-porch atmosphere music, even
when hes singing about the city. And his poetry is just plain, honest
talk with a great way of dropping you right into different surroundings. 45-41-40
Street is a one-minute travel diary of his chaotic arrival in NYC. I love
his description of Joe, the King of NYC, who crosses busy streets, parting traffic
like Moses in the Red Sea. The image contrasts perfectly with the colorful character
of When Terry Barry Ran For Mayor, who is king of his own little
He sings of migrant workers and hypocrites. (To walk out of darkness,
you wouldnt cross the street, he accuses sharply in Refuge
From The Rain.) He muses of writing and country folks and the blues. Hes
also slyly funny on occasion. Put this on the stereo, close your eyes, and do
a little travelling with him.