Bruce Dalzell is the patriarch of the Athens music scene. He is a craftsman, constructing delicate and thoughtful folk tunes that cut through all the pretense of the modern music industry to hit listeners at their core. Although his catalogue of tunes is not without dark or mournful underpinnings, his songs always glow out of that dark night, with the soft but steady warmth of Bruce.
His personal musical achievements are enviable enough on their own, having been recently nominated for a WAMMIE award for his song “Tocoi Light,” and having graced the stage of West Virginia Public Radio’s much-celebrated “Mountain Stage” roots music radio program. His legacy is also manifest in his studio (I Love Brucie studios), his family, all musically celebrated themselves (his wife and sometimes musical partner, Gay is a member of The Local Girls, and their adult son Harlan is one half of The Princes of Hollywood), and his unflappable commitment to playing pro bono A&R man to the scores of hopeful, novice singer-songwriters who clamber to his long-running open mics at Baker University Center’s Bunch of Grapes room Wednesday nights, and The Front Room on Friday nights. Sensing that he could offer even more, he took it upon himself to create Singer-Songwriter showcases at Donkey Coffee for emerging local talent, which eventually bore a child in the form of an ongoing CD series.
No matter how bad the new arrivals to the open stages are, no matter how many times he has heard the same cover song, he always gently taps his feet, and he always earnestly claps. For this, he has garnered neither fame nor fortune, but he does have the enduring respect of hundreds of strummers who left Athens better musicians than when they arrived.