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Chuck Pyle Link:
Folk Music Society of Huntington, NY
April 7, 2001
Hes been called the "Zen Cowboy" but it is a bit of a misnomer, for what Chuck Pyle truly is, monikers aside, is a great entertainer. Pyles songs do indeed conjure the American west, but in entirely original way. His vision is at once romantic and cosmic, transcribed in melodic tunes that capture the spirit, landscape and cowboy ambiance of life on the prairie with the Colorado Rockies never too far away.
Pyle played to an almost-full house at the Folk Music Society of Huntingtons Main Stage show on Saturday, thoroughly winning the audience over with his smooth, satiny voice, nimble, open-tuning "Rocky Mountain Slam Pickin" guitar style and witty bantera hysterical amalgam of Eastern Zen and Old West horse sense. Performing songs from his various five CDs, with a particular emphasis on tunes from his latest efforts, Endless Sky and Keepin Time by the River, the Iowa-born songwriter has a way of seducing an audience into believing every word he sings. And says.
If there is a more emotive and captivating voice in folk music Ive not heard it. Pyle can lay it on thick, yet his ballads and love songs are never cloying or saccharine sweet, just wise and revealing, made all the more entrancing through the use of drop D tuning that he employed most of the evening. The tuning, which can sound repetitive and dull in the hands of an unskilled guitarist, is perfect for Pyles thoughtful and highly melodic songwriting and he used it with great inventiveness and efficiency.
Tunes he covered this evening like "Colorado,"[RealAudio file from the Chuck Pyle web site] "Endless Sky," "Drifters Wind" and "Sedona Ramona" were truly mesmerizing in their eloquent lyricism and unforgettable melodies. And while Pyles laid-back voice may have seen better days, particularly at the higher registers, he never wasted a note where his guitar picking was concerned.
Indeed, Pyle demonstrated just how expert and versatile a musician he is, picking intricate jazz and blues influenced riffs now and again that revealed a formidable fancy for musical genres beyond folk.
Throughout the evening, Pyle would alternately wear, then remove, his cream-colored, slope-brimmed high crown cowboy hat to reveal a cleanly shaved head, making what appeared to be a costume change of sorts, from Colorado wrangler to Buddhist philosopher. Between those stark, seemingly incongruous sensibilities, Chuck Pyle rides tall in the saddle, guitar in hand, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Ralph DiGennaro