Chuck Pyle and Bill Parsons

With Eric Weinberg

7 p.m. Sunday

Reston Community Center

At Lake Anne

Make all the puns you want -- Om on the Range, the sound of one hoof clapping, Zen gallon hat -- but Chuck Pyle's title as the "Zen Cowboy" actually makes a lot of sense. Pyle's engaging repertoire, which will be on display Sunday evening at the Shenandoah Coffeehouse at Reston's Lake Anne Village Center, combines Eastern philosophy with Western themes, fusing folk music, humor and storytelling into his own Southwestern acoustic blend.

Chatting on the phone from a "cowboy poetry gathering" in Denver, Pyle genially explained that Eastern wisdom mixes quite nicely with the life of a ranch hand, which includes a "live and let live" mind-set and a great concern for living things. "Some of the best conservationists are ranchers," he said, "very respectful of the land and of animals."

And while old-fashioned images, or stereotypes, of Western heroes may have changed -- "now you buy cattle online and drink latte" -- the true cowboy spirit is alive and well, he asserted. "The integrity of the cowboy, the desire to do what's right. . . . That lives in people everywhere."

Pyle, a native of Newton, Iowa, has lived in Colorado for more than 30 years but has traveled much of that time, playing theaters, festivals, colleges and coffeehouses.

He has seven albums to his credit, the most recent 2002's "Affected by The Moon," and his songs have been recorded by performers such as Jerry Jeff Walker, John Denver and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Pyle's guitar style, which he calls "Rocky Mountain slam picking," combines rhythm strums and lead guitar lines, making his solo shows sound practically like duets.

Also appearing is Bill Parsons, who will share the stage with his frequent collaborator Eric Weinberg. Parsons has been on the North American folk circuit for 10 years, performing with the likes of John Gorka, Odetta, Tom Paxton, Martin Sexton and Dar Williams.

Parsons writes songs both smart and silly, sentimental and sarcastic. Fans of public radio may have heard his acoustic interpretation of Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science" on "The World Cafe" or "The Acoustic Cafe," and his musical parodies, co-written with Weinberg, are regularly heard on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." (You can check out the recent "Enron-Ron" at

Born in New York City, Parsons is now a D.C. resident. He once served as an aide to Ralph Nader. Besides being a regular columnist for Performing Songwriter magazine, Parsons is an accomplished martial artist.

Martial arts and Zen philosophy -- not your typical hootenanny.

-- Marianne Meyer

The Reston Community Center at Lake Anne is at 1609-A Washington Plaza, near Village Road and North Shore Drive. Tickets are $10 and are available when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. For information or directions, call 703-689-3550 or visit Coffee and other refreshments are provided; feel free to bring your favorite beverage mug. The Shenandoah Coffeehouse Series is smoke- and alcohol-free and open to all ages. Visit for more information on the full series.

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Eastern philosophy and a cowboy spirit come together in the music of Chuck Pyle.