By Graham Warwick
This story begins back in 1964, the heyday of folk music, when a little known twosome in Corpus Christi, Texas. Don Williams and Lofton Kline – aka The Strangers Two – met Susan Taylor, a 17-year old Ray High School student with a quick wit and a voice to die for. She was already a familiar face in town, performing weekly at Mott’s Steak House and Del Mar College hootenannies.
The two became three and they called themselves The Pozo Seco Singers. The trio recorded a song called “Time” which charted number one in the folk-friendly big markets of Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. Columbia Records signed the group and over the next five years, the Pozo Seco Singers recorded four albums. The band was a big deal in Corpus Christi, TX.
In October, Taylor Pie (the name she adopted for herself as a solo performer) is returning home to Corpus Christi for the Ray High School Class of 1965 Reunion. Performances are scheduled Sunday, Oct. 10, on KEDT-FM’s “Some Call It Folk” program; Monday, Oct. 11, at the Burning Bush Concert Series; and Friday, Oct. 15, at the Corpus Christi Art Center. Taylor also appeared at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance in Austin. She returns to Austin on Saturday, Oct. 16, at Austin’s Acoustical Café.
Around 1970, Don Williams struck out on his own wildly successful solo career; but he was not entirely on his own. Taylor co-produced with Allen Reynolds, sang and played guitar on three of his chart singles while co-producing her own solo album, Finally Getting Home, on JMI Records.
Taylor eventually found her way to the folk clubs of New York, plying her songwriting wares in clubs like O’Lunney’s, Folk City, and The Bottom Line, sharing the stage with luminaries like Don McLean, and Tom Pacheco. Her song, “Back in the Bars” caught Bette Midler’s ear and she used it for a skit in her “Clams on the Half Shell Revue.”
As she began to focus more and more on songwriting, Taylor gravitated towards the irresistible pull of Nashville. Artists such as Bette Midler, Tanya Tucker, Mickey Gilley, the Forester Sisters, Terri Hendrix and Don Williams have all recorded her songs. “Just Like Angels,” was nominated for the gospel Dove Award, and “Full Grown Fool” gave Mickey Gilley a top twenty hit.
As many great songwriters do, she finally got fed up with the whole scene. In an effort to separate herself from that rat-race life, Taylor reinvented herself. She started calling herself Taylor Pie. And as all great songwriters do, Taylor took all of the frustration, disappointment, depression and anger, shaped it into poetry and poured into it a mold. The result was a self-produced CD, Long Ride Home.
Austin singer-songwriter Terri Hendrix first heard of Pie from her manager, Dick Renko.
“I received her CD in the mail around 2002 via my agent at the time and he was blown away by her music,” Hendrix recalled. “He knew I would be too.
“I listened to her song ‘Long Ride Home’ about 100 times in a row, so, I had no choice but to record it.” She continued. “I loved it. Her guitar work, lyrics, and vocals are amazing and their depth gets to me with every listen.”
Hendrix also recorded Pie’s “Walking on the Moon”, co-written with Herb McCullough on her children’s CD, Celebrate The Difference. “That song pulled my heart strings as well,” she said.
In 2005, Pie was in Corpus Christi for her induction into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame and reconnected with an old friend and guitar player, Eben Wood, to perform a few dates in Texas. Later that year, Eben ran into another old Ray High School classmate of Pie’s, Katheryn Harrison, at their 40th Reunion from Ray High School and mentioned the gigs and how much fun they both had. This prompted Harrison to contact Pie and encourage her to come down to perform in Texas more often.
With their friendship rekindled, Pie, Wood and Harrison started up a new record company, PuffBunny Records. The company is named after a pipe that they owned in the 1960’s that was used for dubious purposes.
The first product of their collaboration, “So Little Has Changed” is a folk masterpiece. Every song is expertly written, produced, and performed. Pie assembled an incredibly talented and artistic group of picker/friends; beginning with Eben Wood, and including Dave Pomeroy, Kenny Malone, and Russ Pahl. The result is truly magical.
The CD shows Pie’s eclectic, jazzy-bluesy side with the first selection “Jar Full of Kisses”. A jazz “standard” if I ever heard one! “Back to Balsam Blues” is a catchy country bass thumping blues number, and “Full Grown Fool”, as noted above, charted in the top twenty for Mickey Gilley. “Cypress Lake” was made into a Pie video on YouTube. “Dancin’ on the Sunny Side of the Moon” is a light-hearted waltz ending with the enthusiastic if not a little bit crazy Sunny Side Choir.
So Little Has Changed has caught the ears of some Texas Hill Country deejays, namely John Aielli, longtime host of KUT’s celebrated program Ekletikos. “I fell in love with ‘Time’ not only for the tune and words, but for her voice,” Aielli said. Pie’s song “Jar Of Kisses” was also featured on XM Radio’s “The Village” program as one of the Top 2009 New Release Spins.
Fredericksburg’s KFAN, 107.9 – www.texasrebelradio.com – has been wearing out the CD since they received it. Dawn Dale, KFAN’s program director says, “Taylor Pie fully embraces and emphasizes the very spirit of the Americana music genre. Her lyrics are rich and her vocals are fully captivating. Taylor Pie is a Texas rebel, radio-defining artist.”
Her latest project Taylor Pie with Eben Wood Live at Hondo’s, is a live recording of a Taylor Pie and Eben Wood concert at Hondo’s On Main in Fredericksburg, TX.
This collection has songs that are new and some that are previously recorded. The most profound thing about this CD is how solid a live performer Pie is. Each and every one of the songs are performed with grace and style. Eben Wood’s lead guitar is dead-on perfect. Pie’s voice is clear and full, and the audience is clearly enthralled.
Taylor Pie is truly a talented folk artist/tunesmith/performer/producer. Fans of the Pozo Seco Singers and true “folkies” have a chance to see her live in Austin or Corpus Christi in October.
For more info on Taylor Pie go to these web sites:
- TAYLOR PIE DISCOGRAPHY:
• Time (Columbia Records, 1966) US #127
• I Can Make it With You (Columbia, 1967) US #81
• Shades of Time (Columbia, 1968)
• Spend Some Time With Me (1970)
• Finally Getting Home (JMI Records 1972)
• Long Ride Home (Pecan Pie Music 2003)
• So Little Has Changed (Puff Bunny, 2008)
• Live At Hondo’s (2009)
• “Time” (1966) U.S. #47
• “I Can Make it With You” (1966) U.S. #32
• “Look What You’ve Done” (1967) U.S. #32
• “I Believed it All” (1967) U.S. #96
• “Louisiana Man” (1967) U.S. #97
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Kathryn Harrison/Puff Bunny Records
216 E. Austin Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
(830) 739-3244 firstname.lastname@example.org