Category: Pit Bull Stuff

Pit Bull Blues T-Shirts/Fort Wayne, IN

New T-Shirts sold like crazy yesterday at the event in Fort Wayne. (Damn good-looking shirts, too, thanks to Claire Flint @ Three Seed Design and Webfoot Printing.)

(Check them out on the “Merch” page.)

They worked me in Fort Wayne, I gotta say — three staggered sets in Midwestern heat-n-humidity. I broke my cardinal rule of “Never play a song twice at the same show.” But things are different at these 6-hour Pit Bull Rescue fundraisers. I played all three of my canine-oriented songs once at the beginning, and once at the end. (Needless to say, I’m appealing to the kids. And by kids, I mean children –young children. Like cigarette companies, I’m cultivating that next generation of Shipe fans, so I can keep doing it ’til I’m old and gray. But, I also sneak in some adult-oriented stuff like “The Beast is Back Again.”)

I had a really nice moment with one of Fort Wayne’s best local artists, Sunny Taylor. She did an amazing version “God Only Knows” (Beach Boys). This is not an easy song to learn or play. Such a beautiful piece and she really nails it. Then, as I was going into my 2nd set opener — the intro notes to Temptations’ “My Girl,” Sunny said, “Hey I almost played that song!”

“Well,” I said, “Do you wanna sing it … key of C?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Modulate to D?”

And she the verses. We sang harmonies during the chorus. I love that impromptu stuff with fine musicians you’ve never met before.

Warm thanks to Kim Sargent of Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition for inviting me out there to Indiana and the almost-anonymous donors who sprung for my plane ticket. (I hadn’t been out to Indy since my Renegade Saints days.) And thanks to Janet & Jerry for taking care of me for 3 days and nights. Thank you all so much.

Shipe SW Tour Days 9 &10 – Race to Austin: gig un-booked!

Insomnia hit me bad after my Thursday night Pecan Grill show. I tossed and turned in an El Paso Motel 6. On one hour of sleep, I was awake at dawn to drive 8 1/2 hours for my opening slot at Gypsy Lounge in Austin.

As I drove out of El Paso, along the Rio Grande, I was suddenly hit by a an unpleasant surprise. Although Mapquest had promised me that I would arrive in time, I hadn’t noticed that the drive time was based on West Texas speed limits! Sure, you can drive 600 miles in 8 hours… going 80 miles per hour!

I don’t like riding my beat up 1990 Toyota Corolla Wagon so hard, full of gear. But what could I do? I’m a professional. I pony-expressed it all the way through “no-country-for-old-men,” freaking out the whole time, listening to my car’s every rattle, whistle, squeak and any utterance of old-automobile pain. By the time I got to Austin, my beloved vehicle had acquired 37% more rickitiness. (Isn’t that the technical term? Or is rickiticity?)

The good thing about the drive is the condition of Texas roads. They are so smooth. Either the great state of Texas has impeccable road priorities, or Rick Perry makes good use of Obama’s Recovery Act funding.

When I arrived at the Gypsy Lounge, guess what!? I was not slated on the bill. In fact, there was no “bill” at all. A dj was scheduled to start spinning at 10:00 pm. For the moment, however, I wasn’t even thinking about performing. I wanted a refreshment. Like range-riding cowboy just off the dusty trail, busting through the saloon doors. “Bartender, give me a drink!”

I played anyway. The owner asked me, “Are you good?”

“Yes, I’m good.”

For the time being, I have no will to get angry at my booking contact. I’m mostly here in Austin for the Pit Bull Events this weekend, hosted by Austin Love-a-Bull.

The V.I.P. Kickoff Party is tonight at 7:00. And the Texas-Size Pittie Pride Parade & Festival is tomorrow.

Shipe Southwest Tour Day 3? 4?

Woke up in a Motel 6 in Blythe, CA. By the grace of desert hospitality (that should be a bluegrass band), I will make my gig tonight in Phoenix at Frank Murray’s Turf Irish Pub.

Yesterday’s Pit Bull fundraiser (at the Franciscan Renewal Center — a real-life monastery) went smoothly, although I was sleepwalking through much of the day. (I shared it with an original band called Arbor Circle, the kind of act that would fare nicely sharing a bill with The Renegade Saints. The singer reminded me of Jerry Joseph, but with a happier vibe.)

Afterwards, I was fixin’ to catch a Greyhound back to Blythe. But a couple of Mayday volunteers had a different idea; they would drive me. (This means 5 hours out of their weekend, after working their assess off for free all day.)

Ducati Motorbike-mechanic-John & Baja-cycling Curt escorted me back to AZ-CAL border, bought me dinner Denny’s while I waited for Blythe Ace mechanics to finish Saturday races at the local speedway and bring my car to Motel room at 10:30 pm. On the way, John & Curt schooled me on motor sports, both of them experts — John working for GO AZ motorcylces. (Did you know that you get sent to Italy to learn how to work on Ducati’s? And by the way, the owner of GO AZ is also the owner of

That’s what I love about this life. Every where I go, I meet all different kinds of folks and learn about all different kinds of stuff. John & Curt tell me that I should write a book. But all I ever learn is just how ignorant I am about what goes on around this huge country.

Superlative APBF concert for Shipe (7/16)

Before I delve into this extensive blog full of delight and gratitude about last weekend’s Pit Bull gala, let me just get one thing out of the way:

Lucky Five. Remember that band name. Lucky Five could become the best rock-n-roll band in the country. I won’t waste time describing them, only to say that if The Allman Brothers had a secret love child with Gnarles Barkley, Lucky Five would blow it off the stage at battle-of-the-bands. For the time being, Lucky Five belongs solely to Charlotte as their darling local band. But if and when they tour, watch out!

Okay, in the wake of the posting of my recent video Pit Bull Rescue Woman, I am aptly impressed by the Sara Enos, the director of American Pit Bull Foundation. This was a large, multi-dimensional event — a 6-act music festival/fundraiser that included vendors and booths outside the venue. (Amos’ Southend.) Although Sara has a bright cadre of volunteers, it’s clear that the buck stops with her on nearly everything. She handles it flawlessly, and pleasantly with no drama.

While driving me to the airport, Sara mentioned to me how “gracious” all the artists and celebrity guests were. I had to let her know that she was the reason we were on our best behavior.

“We artists are like children,” I said. “We need structure.” When we know what is expected, and when the situation is organized & professional, we don’t want to be the cause of it all devolving into chaos.

(Somewhere in there, I think, love of Pit Bulls may also have something to do with it.

I refer to “celebrity guests.” Indeed, I was a little starstruck. Pinups for Pitbulls was there. I found myself circling their table incognito several times before working up the nerve to approach them. I’m normally not so shy, and we already know each other from our online association. But I thought I should change into my stage attire before I met them personally. Plus, I wanted pictures, and I feel awkward asking for such things. It was sort of funny the way I went into my head just then. (It must have been that Southern humidity.)

The Pinups are so sweet you wouldn’t believe it. Lovely, bright, and committed to the dogs. They have wild & crazy tattoos on the outside, down-to-earth wholesomeness on the inside. The three ladies who were representing each have husbands serving in the military — one whose husband was coming home for R&R from Afghanistan the very next day.

Also there was Shorty Rossi, to MC the event. Just in from Nicaragua, en route to Vegas, with his dog Hercules (and assistant Juan), Shorty the Pit Boss was in splendid form for such hard travel. A professional, with a sense of humor.

I mention Ken Foster (author) in a previous blog. He’s from New Orleans, with tales to tell about canines and hurricanes. I had the pleasure of dining with him the night before, so I got a taste of the human voice behind his writing.

And, oh yes, the bands. Top notch, every single one of them, leaving me with the impression that Charlotte has a brilliant music scene.

I’m listening to The Situationals right now. A fine work — excellent songs. But like so many bands, they have more power on the live stage. Loud, with a fine female vocalist and a pair of aggressive Americana guitarists. (I thank Mike for his tuner, ’cause I had no room for mine in my carry-on luggage. Sorry I kept it up there on stage, Mike. I hadn’t expected Shorty to introduce me while I was tuning up.)

Jared Allan & Company. If I had known what they sounded like, I would have asked to sit in. Jared is a singing voice to be reckoned with. (Not many can get away with covering Ray LaMontagne.) With mandolin accompaniment, and being from the South, Jared’s brand of acoustic Americana makes me envious. It makes me wish my family had kept me near the Ozarks where I was born. (I can strain that loose association all I want, but damn me, I’m a Yankee!)

Charlotte has a Reggae band called Jah Fishermen. While they jammed, Situational Mike and I sat outside ruminating over how difficult Reggae Music is to play. It’s simple sounding, but it’s hard to play. Most musicians can’t. They think they can, but they can’t. Jah Fishermen get it right. And a good reggae band is always a peak spot on any multi-band bill.

Porcelain Mary is temporarily deserted by their Germany-bound lead singer, so they were unable to play their originals. Nevertheless, in true “the-show-must-go-on” ethic, they plowed through a set of classic rock covers–as a power trio–including Big Head Todd’s “Bittersweet.” Two things: 1)This guitar is good enough to pull it off. 2)I’ve thought that some of Big Head Todd’s music would be better with a less-busy rhythm section, as this one is.

Lucky Five!

My own set? I frickin’ love playing solo on big stages — especially to an audience who is waiting for particular songs to sing along. (That would be “Pit Bull Blues” and “Pit Bull Rescue Woman”) The question is always, “But will they like my other songs.” I think this audience did. Having been invited to come so far, I really wanted to please. So I didn’t hold anything back. It was honestly the best I could do.

One last thing: Thank you to Sara’s family for the bed in which I got my best night’s sleep in months.

And I haven’t even yet begun to talk about the things I learned at the booths outside the concert. Stay tuned.

All choked up on Flight 2211

The day after the American Pit Bull Foundation Summer Concert. Flying home from Charlotte, North Carolina.

On the flight, I read, in its entirety, Ken Foster’s memoir The Dogs Who Found Me.

This is not a book for a grown man to read in public. Unless such a grown man doesn’t mind being seen with tears in his eyes.

Ken was one of the APBF Concert’s celebrity guests. I found him gracious and forthcoming, I had to dive right into his book before I returned home to the distracting vicissitudes of life.

It’s a big deal for me to be fraternizing in the greenroom with a published working author. (A lot of folks don’t know that I went to college to become a writer… a real writer. But once I started writing songs, I my challenged attention span led me to 4-minute pieces containing a mere 3 verses, chorus, and a bridge. I remain envious of anybody who does the sublime work of authoring an entire book.)

Ken answered my “professional curiosity” questions. Then he accepted in trade 2 Shipe CD’s for his book (The Song Clearance of course, which has “Pit Bull Blues” on it, and Yellow House.)

I tend to be an awkward fan, and I find it hard to ask for autographs and photos, etc. I recounted an embarrassing story about meeting Al Franken, to whom I once gave a Shipe CD and then thanked him “for accepting my CD as a gift.”

So Ken signed his book: “Thank you for letting me give you this book.”

I spent most of the flight sheepishly alternating between laughter and crying. I finished the book, recovered somewhat with a few deep breaths, and struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. I told her that I had just performed at a benefit for pit bulls.

She replied, “I have Pit Bulls. Two rescues. One of them has three legs.”

The combination of fatigue and delight must be getting to me. I started laughing, and my eyeballs abruptly starting squeezing out all of their liquid contents.

Pit Bull Rescue Woman

I said I’d do it, and I did it….finally. My cohort John Grimshaw and I made a video/slideshow out of “Pit Bull Rescue Woman” (Thanks to a multitude of contributors in the world of Pit Bull Rescue, the list of whom you’ll see on the YouTube posting.)

Although the song waxes tongue-in-cheek, I hope the message of gratitude and reverence rings out loud and clear.

I’ve got a confession, though: The seed of this idea does not belong to me. It belongs to Mr. Grimshaw.

Back in April, I had just returned from an event in Phoenix, a benefit for May Day Pit Bull Rescue. I had had such a rewarding experience, and I was so impressed with the woman who ran the operation, that I couldn’t stop bragging about how smart, organized, and authoritative she was. And somewhere in the conversation, the subject came up that she also very attractive… uh…. as a woman…

“Oh,” said John G. “Is she single?”

“Um,” I said. “I don’t know.”

“Well,” said John G. “Maybe next time I could go with you. And you could introduce me to her.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“What do mean?” he replied.

“Well” said I, with unusual thoughtfulness in my reply. “She’s a pitbull rescue woman.”

“What do you mean?” asked John G.

“A pitbull rescue woman,” I replied, “ain’t for the faint of heart.”

“Is that right?” said my friend John Grimshaw.

Moments later, I found myself sitting on the couch in the next room, a little dazed, and wondering why I had said what I just said, as if I really knew what this pitbull woman was like. And suddenly, I heard, faintly from the other room, my friend John Grimshaw strumming lightly on his guitar, and singing: “Pit Bull Rescue Woman, she ain’t for the faint of heart………”

And this reminded me: One of the great secrets to being a successful songwriter is knowing when a good song is staring you in the face. “Pit Bull rescue woman; she ain’t for the faint heart.”

I confess, I’m a little embarrassed, as a songwriter, that I missed the obvious song-hook moment.” But that’s what’s collaboration is all about.

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APBF Pit Bull show / Bill Burr my fave comic

It’s time to spread the word throughout North Carolina of another Pit Bull Benefit where I’ll be performing.

What: American Pit Bull Foundation’s Summer Concert
When: Saturday, July 16th
Where: Charlotte, North Carolina
Venue: Amos’ Southend

Click Here for Tickets

I always look forward to these events. And I’m never disappointed. (My upcoming music video “Pit Bull Rescue Woman” will testify.)

On a semi-related tangent. My favorite stand-up comedian is a fellow named Bill Burr. A consummate, in-the-moment perfomer.
He has a DVD out called “Let It Go.” If you like stand-up, and you like Pit Bulls. You oughtta check this out.
About 48 minutes into his show, he goes into a routine about how he got to know his girlfriend’s dog.
Hilarious and somewhat touching.

Pit Bull News: Rescue Women/Android Petition

Pit Bull Advocacy on my mind this week:

My friend (and former drummer) Dyson has posted a Petition requesting Android to block a Dogfighting App. Click Here.

For the record, I am not an advocate of censorship. However, I am all for pressuring companies to voluntarily make the right moral decisions in the free marketplace.

Also for the record, I am not entirely certain that video games directly cause bad behavior amongst the kids who play them. (As a musician who lived through the anti-heavy-metal crusades of Tipper Gore, I understand the argument “this is only role-playing fantasy.”) However, everyone has their particular outrages, and this is mine. I work with Pit Bull Rescue around the country, and I am aware of the absolute, abject, insane cruelty inflicted upon these canine creatures. If you learn what I’ve learned, you’ll sign this Petition.

Now for something more fun: I’ve got a project going called “Pit Bull Rescue Woman.” And I am need of photos of women who work in Pit Bull Rescue. If you are a foster, a volunteer, an adopter, or the director herself, please send me photos of you and your dogs. But I don’t just want women kissing and hugging cute dogs. I want the full complexity and humanity of women who do this work. From determination & toughness, to compassion & gentleness. From hard-nosed gritty to sweet & soft, to sexy. (But please, this is NOT a request for women to send me sexy photos.) Candid shots are best, especially of woman building kennels, treating sick dogs, training dogs, etc. Better yet, pictures of women with very, very bad-shaped dogs, to reveal just what sort of suffering y’all attend to.

See my contact page for where to send jpegs. Thanks, and bless you.

To avoid complicated legal issues, I’d like to treat the sending of any photo as permission for it to appear in a YouTube slideshow.

In conclusion, sign this Petition that even Michael Vick agrees with.

Mayday Pitbull Benefit Success

Phoenix, AZ

The The Mayday Pit Bull Rescue benefit couldn’t have gone better. It was held at a first-rate venue:The Compound Grill (which is home of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival)

President Jennifer Mazzocchi desired the event to be more of an entertaining, music-centered concert than a quasi-political presentation. I took that to heart, dug down deep to have fun on the stage, and played one of my livelier sets. It meant a lot, because they were so welcoming and gave such great hospitality. They refused to let me pay for anything, from meals, to hotel, to a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum. With that in mind, it was a big relief that turnout was fantastic and generous in terms of revenue. (The last thing I want to do is cost them.)

Ironically, I made more money playing “for free” than I ever make gigging here in Hollywood. How? I sold a ton of CD’s. (Almost all were The Song Clearance ’cause it contains Pit Bull Blues.) When I play a benefit, I like to donate part of the profit, but Jennifer insisted that support was abundant on this particular evening.

Speaking of Pit Bull Blues, my set was planned with a short interlude of before & after videos of rescued dogs (which was both heart-breaking and uplifting.) I would play the song to introduce the video–and again as my closer. This breaks one of my 3 rules: Never play a song twice in a show. But I obliged with delight by busting out a ukulele version. I even raised the key so that women could sing along.

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Shipe Pit Bull Blues on Acoustic Guitar Forum

Googling myself again (for professional reasons, I swear), I ran across a link to the Acoustic Guitar Forum. Someone had posted a YouTube slide show featuring my song “Pit Bull Blues.” The ensuing discussion is quite passionate. Not what you’d expect on a music forum. (But this isn’t an ordinary forum. Other AGF threads discuss random stuff like T.V. Westerns, Charlie Sheen, and The Green Bay Packers.)

I have said before that I am the world’s most unlikely Canine Advocate. When I was younger, I must have had the ubiquitous fantasies about a music career full of idealism and importance to Western Civilization. You know…. power-to-the-people, save-the-world, and all that. But I lost my appetite for conflict and confrontation along the way. (My highest political aims now are to tell stories that evoke “empathy,” which is actually pretty damn political in its way. We’ve seen what a beating that word–“empathy”–has suffered in the media lately.)

Anyway, who’d have thunk that after 300 songs, my controversial impact on the culture would amount to this?

If I get called to the floor to speak articulately about this stuff, I hope I’ll know what to say. A lot of folks care deeply, on all sides.