The stage was quaint and simple. The crowd was cheering, excited, there was this overwhelming feeling of expectation. The whole place had a raw yellow glow and earthy, woody smell that draws you in, soothes you like an oversized blanket, immersive. At the center of all the buzz, under the stage lights stood Mr. Piper.
I went to see Mr. Piper, a special education teacher here, at Eagle Rock, performs his new album, Trail. The songs are like little pictures, paintings snit bits of his life. He doesn't want to classify his music; he wants it to be independent, its own thing. “I never felt like I fit very well on a shelf but this past album, Trail, they asked me to choose. They gave a whole list of choices and I saw something called progressive folk and I checked off that box, so we will leave it at that.”.
When he talked about his start in music there was a wistful look in his eyes, he smiled and laughed at the memory, “I’d been rooming with a guitar major in college. He had guitars all over the room so, I just started to pick one up and play. Every time he saw me sitting in the room he’d walk right back out again. I wasn’t very good in those days, but that's where I really started to play. Nineteen I think?”.
Despite the fact that he started playing in college, his real passion for music came from his dad “He had a good singing voice. He was always singing old folk tunes, Wabash Cannonball old stuff like that. I loved listening to him. He had a great voice.” Mr. Piper has an ecstatic sense of self. The way he writes, the way he sings is echoed in everything he does, his candor, the way he tells stories even the smile on his face when he revisits the past.
The first thing that will strike you when you meet him is his demeanor; he has this calm, silent gaze that seems to take in the world around him. His voice, his lyrics mimic his disposition, there is something completely him in every note. The way he phrases things in daily chit-chat translates into such an amazing portrayal of the human experience, what it means to love the simple things and grieve over the complex. The subject of his songs ranges from the simple love of Pecan Pie, and Mole to the more complicated subject of suicide. The way he addresses his topics makes his music great. He attacks difficult situations with a sense of humor, a new outlook; he provides a different perspective.
His music comes from some internal truths, personal revelations. His inspiration comes from his everyday life; his songs are about his reality. “If it speaks to you, listen to it, and that takes work- to learn how to listen, because there is so much stuff coming into our ears, coming out of our eyes. You have to learn to listen to your own voice, inside. You have to allow it to speak, to listen to it, to sit with it, practice your instrument and see where the voice inside you meets your own ability, your instrument, your voice because somewhere in there, somewhere down the road if you keep at it they'll meet up and that's where you start. That's where the magic happens. That's the way it is for me anyway.”
His love of music is a part of him, and from the looks of it, that's not changing any time soon. “ It doesn't guarantee fame or fortune you know? I'm not famous. I just happen to have a craft that I love and I’m glad that I do. It gives me satisfaction in my life that I wouldn't have otherwise.”