Old Black Epiphone by Paul Marhoefer

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

I thought I knew about music. I considered myself a bit of an expert and maybe a music snob. I didn’t know shit. That’s because I didn’t know about Paul Marhoefer. My guess is you didn’t either. Mr. Marhoefer sent me an email thanking me for what I was doing as far as getting the word out about Americana and roots music, specifically my review of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s concert.

That developed into a bit of a correspondence and Paul sent me some tunes he was working on. I get a lot of songs from people and most of them do not strike a chord with me. Not that they are bad, it’s just that I have limited time and resources to review albums and do interviews. One song in particular Paul sent was called Bessemer To Birmingham. That song literally gave me chills and made me a little emotional. So Paul, I should be thanking you for moving the needle forward with your music and picking me to share it with. It is that good.

Bessemer To Birmingham starts out with a nice little fiddle intro and some harmonica. Then Paul starts singing. The voice cuts to your soul. The words are so expertly written and delivered with such conviction, it is impossible for this number not to touch you. I know I say quite often that albums are good or even great. This is in a class by itself. A great plus plus class. Time will tell, but this I am convinced will have staying power for me. The song, in my interpretation, is about following your dream. In the immortal words of the Sex Pistols, “Never Mind The Bollocks”. Strictly speaking, forget the bullshit and do what it is that moves you. Whatever it is. Here, read for yourself:

“Lighten up, you’re too hardcore,

You know I’ve seen your kind before,

Fightin’ your own private war,

With God and the Queen.

You’re blamin’ everything on your folks,

They ain’t the wheel, they just the spokes,

But you can’t row cuz’ you’re bitter and broke,

I think I know what I mean.

But if you wait too long,

Before you mess around and give a damn,

You’ll be stuck on that short haul,

From Bessemer to Birmingham.”


Not only is the song very easy on the ears, the words are prophetic. Stop blaming others for your station in life or not doing what it is that makes you want to get up every morning. If you do continue that course, you will end up with the short end of the stick. Marhoefer, a trucker by trade, is speaking from the heart. He is following his muse and his dream and you should too! I am following mine. This I song is so powerful, but not the least bit preachy. I think I could write a whole review about this one song, Wait, I just did.

Part of it is selfish for me as well. I want to listen to new material and find that buried treasure, that diamond in the rough. Thanks to Paul Marhoefer, I did. I found Blackbeard’s treasure. Paul is gracious enough to share it with us. So again, thank you Paul. Here is your chance to get part of the treasure here.

Here are two tracks from the album:

Alabama Here I Am 

Bessemer To Birmingham



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