Pipe Dreams

Musician blows smoky grooves

Peterson, Castello, Savinelli — blue-chip pipe brands. They are the favorites of saxophonist Ron Blake, 38. Since 1988, Blake has also been a pipe enthusiast.

“I picked up my first pipe — a classic bent with a round stem — with the idea it would help me quit smoking cigarettes. And it looked like my saxophone! I had been performing in Chicago with guitarist Bobby Broom, and he told me about the [UpDown Tobacco Shop] in his neighborhood.”

For Blake, it became a groove.

“When I bought my first Peterson, I discovered the difference between pipes in the low range and those a step up. At the lower end, you can buy, say, a cheap corn cob pipe or a cheap briar in the $5 to $15 range, and it goes on up into the thousands. I’m aware of one that sold for $9,900 recently.

As for tobaccos, Blake has long smoked aromatics — those treated with flavorings, such as vanilla, rum cherry, and whiskey. “Lately, I’ve been trying non-aromatics,” he offers, “particularly the Longfellow blend.” When time permits, Blake visits his favorite New York City tobacconist, De La Concha (www.delaconcha.com) — a family run business.

Pipe smoking, Blake says, is a commitment. It requires time. And at the end of a long day, he enjoys smoking his pipe and letting “life’s daily routine go up in a puff of smoke!”

Blake’s current release, Lest We Forget, is on Mack Avenue Records. Visit his Website at www.ronblakemusic.com.

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