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Grant Peeples Adds Poetry to his Playlist

Steve Circeo

A legendary North Florida singer/songwriter is finding some of his words don’t need music to make their point. Grant Peeples said he never knows where or when the muse might strike, or what may prompt it.

“I was actually listening to WFSU television about a year ago and the whole Ebola thing was going on and somebody was interviewing an economist,” he remembered. “I don’t know what brought it up or what made her say it, but she said, ‘In the light of the Ebola virus….’ And right there at the traffic light I started writing a song called ‘In Light of the Plague.’”

Which Peeples said led to his sixth CD; a dozen-track collection entitled, “A Congress of Treasons”.

“It’s an acoustic record. There’s not one electrical instrument on it and that makes it different from any other record I’ve ever made. And it’s produced by Elizabeth Williamson who’s kind of my main guy, friend, mentor, musical associate…so it’s produced by a woman, which I’m very proud of.”

There are also a number of women, including Williamson, Sarah Mac and the New 76ers’ Kelly Goddard helping out with vocals on many of the cuts. “One (is) called ‘Breakfast in the Gulag’, there’s one called ‘If the Truce Holds’, another called ‘Shine, Republik, Shine’ and (the title track)’Treason is the Reason,’” Peeples said, adding, “I put a couple of poems on there as well.”

“But let your spirit rest assured, Jackie, that the recipes for stews and casseroles, which you so carefully typed and filed for posterity upon this very conveyance, will better stand the test of time than any of my pedantic rants and ravings.”

That’s Peeples reciting one of his poems at his combined home and studio on Ridgeway Street in Southwest Tallahassee. He said he started posting his verse on Facebook, but quickly found that format too restrictive in terms of both size and presentation.

“And they didn’t look right,” he said. “They weren’t giving me my page breaks and everything, so I said I know what I’ll do, I’ll print it out on a piece of paper like a picture of it and then I just started putting little objects with them. The idea what I’m working on now is taking the printed word and collaborating it with imagery and trying to make poems into art.”

Such as a poetic tribute to his 85-year old dad, the text of which is printed in reverse. There is a mirror mounted above the page from which the poem must be read. But a watch and ruler positioned next to the poem appears reversed in the mirror to symbolize his father looking backwards through the space and time of his life. Peeples now brings some of these works along when he plays out as additions to his merchandise table.

“I told someone the other day, it beats the hell out of selling koozies,” he laughed.

Last Friday (12/18), Peeples opened his studio to all comers for a public showing of his works. Meanwhile, he said he’s rethinking his approach to music. For instance, “A Congress of Treasons” was a full-blown studio work.

“This might be the last where I hire the producer and hire the studio and there’s thirty musicians – maybe not thirty but a lot – playing on this thing and I don’t think I’ll ever make another one like that.”

One more reason to check out Peeple’s latest – and possibly last – studio recording, as well as his unique mergers of poetry and found objects.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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