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Dan Weber, The Grodie Brothers join show at Park Place on Aug. 15



Bliss Hippy, the husband-wife singing duo of Richard and Maureen Hall, may someday be credited with inventing a new musical genre — alternative religious tunes.

The Rolla, Mo., based couple play Park Place Cafe, 1288 S.E. 182nd Ave., at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, and note their psychedelic folk music can touch on some deep topics in unconventional ways.

Take “Drinking with Jesus,” which is not about Jesus Christ, but about a somewhat profane guy named Jesus in a bar who nonetheless spouts some suspiciously gospel-like rhetoric in between draining drafts.

“To me what it says is you can find truth and beauty anywhere you look,” Richard says of the tune.

And then there’s “God’s for Everybody,” which argues for a deity who loves gays and straights, Muslims and Jews, sinners and saints equally.

“It’s really about religious tolerance,” Richard adds during a phone interview he and Maureen gave, noting the song can raise a few eyebrows.

“There’s places we’ve played in the Ozarks and rural areas where we don’t always get the best response with that song,” he says with a chuckle.

One group of people who like both songs are the organizers of the Great American Song Contest, which gives out monetary and other prizes annually to amateur and semi-professional songwriters. Bliss Hippy won “Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting” awards for both “Drinking with Jesus” as well as “God’s for Everybody” in 2013.

“We’ve been entering a number of songwriting contests,” Maureen says. “It seemed like a really good way to get feedback on your material. It’s fun to get feedback.”

Indeed, the couple has gotten feedback from such figures as Steve Cahill, the Great American Song Contest’s executive director.

“Bliss Hippy’s songwriting is deceptively simple, childlike and often funny, yet at the same time surprisingly profound,” he notes.

Love story

The Halls first met when Maureen was a student in a college psychology class taught by Richard. The couple did not date until well after she was done with the class, but when they did start courting, they found they both loved music.

They both play guitar, and Maureen plays violin and viola whereas Richard plays banjo and harmonica.

“As soon as I learned to play three chords, I started writing songs because it was hard to play other people’s songs,” Richard says, noting he’s been influenced by Neil Young, Mumford and Sons and classic rock.

Bliss Hippy released its first album, “Sidiosynchrasies and Hallucinations” in 1994 and have since released three other albums, including 2014’s “Buddha Face.”

The Halls joke that their tunes are fueled by beer and Buddhism, and through Bliss Hippy, the Halls offer musical Buddhist talks and full day retreats.

Maureen has taught Buddhist meditation for more than a decade and Richard supports her work with music. The couple has worked with Venerable Pannavati, an African-American female Buddhist nun, on retreats as well with her efforts to improve the lives of India’s untouchables, lower caste Indians who sometimes suffer discrimination and abuse at the hands of more privileged Indians. Pannavati also works with homeless young people in North Carolina.

“She is a very compassionate, intelligent wise being,” Maureen says. “She goes through the world easing the suffering of other human beings and is a great example to me.”

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