Bruce Piephoff

Anson County

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The 1993 release by this Greensboro, NC, singer/songwriter starts off with a plane crash, a river in flames, and children screaming for their mothers. It continues to hold attention after that, but it is no Hollywood disaster movie. This is a quite sincere, often vividly drawn collection of original songs, some based on events, people, and places. It is songwriting, playing, and subsequent recorded documentation that is among the best this region has to offer, firmly a part of the Appalachian tradition of story-songs and character portraits. Yet there are songs here that could never have been written by a country hick, such as the delightful "Mr. Garibaldi." In such a song there are traces of a different kind of intellect and cultural influence, but the combination of that and a kind of country or folk music sentimentality works perfectly. In the years between this release and the previous Bruce Piephoff effort, Hamburger Square, the artist seems to have solidified many aspects of his talents. His voice is more soothing, the material is breathing with less of an obvious attempt at making a good first impression. "Oasis," in under two minutes, is a brilliant piece of music, its descending line captured in a manner that is like a book about the simple magic acoustic guitars can create. "Wadesboro Blues" comes from the genre of protest tunes inked about mill conditions and holds it own against vintage recordings on this subject as well as the better-known work of Si Kahn from down the road in Charlotte. Distributed mostly on a regional basis at the time of its original release, Anson County has been reissued as part of a CD and deserves to be heard by a wider audience.