“Constant Creation” by Jack Freeman

Constant Creation

I.

The stool on which I sit is crooked,
leaning left, making the room slope
like a ship sailing the North Sea
in winter when there’s only ice,
no land or sky or shore. Someone
made this stool and made it crooked.
He might’ve been an ex-soldier, half-blind,
missing his left leg from the kneecap.
Sometimes in the early morning when snow
flows in the streetlight out the window
he might feel it, the heat of the Marine-brand
he earned and lost down a Mosul side street
in April 2008. The day was clear and green.

II.

When the professor gives his lecture on
constant creation, the guy to my right
leans over and stage-whispers “Bullshit.”
He wears a flat-billed ball cap; his tank top
exposes a tricolored eagle tattooed across
one bicep, a fiery skull on the other. He shakes,
he smells of tobacco and copper. I see
the professor’s eyes flicker, but he continues
on Descartes. The guy to my right returns
to his cell phone. Thousands of miles away
the sun dips below the Pacific horizon.

III.

I stare at the flame of a candle
rising motionless from the wick. From
the window a drum roll of rain roams in.
Beyond, the clouds don’t break. I watch
as the fire descends through the wax,
and the wax flows down the column
of the candle. It drowns the charred match
strewn across its base. The tempo of rain
slows in a cool ritardando, but the candle
still burns. Light too falters until only
the candle shines. I’m asleep when it dies
in a dampened hush. I dream of the desert.

Jack Freeman is an undergraduate student studying history and creative writing at Wichita State University after spending a year abroad. His poems have appeared in Mikrokosmos, Off the Coast, and Old Red Kimono, and he has a poem forthcoming in New Welsh Review.

An Interview with The Boxmasters

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The Boxmasters is an Americana Rock and Roll band currently made up of Billy Bob Thornton, J.D Andrew, Brad Davis, and Ted Andreadis. Their fourth album, Somewhere Down the Road was released on 101 Ranch Records, April 7, 2015. It was an honor to sit down with the band for a glimpse at the men behind the music.

What were you like as a child growing up? What is your most fond memory from that time in your life? Did your love of music develop at an early age?

Billy Bob Thornton: My love of music developed when I was 3 or 4 because we used to listen to music around my Grandma’s house. It was mostly what was on the radio at the time, especially Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis. A lot of Sun records. My mom loved Jim Reeves and Ray Price and people like that, so that was my earliest influences. I was a kid who loved baseball and music. And then I saw the Beatles in 1964 on Ed Sullivan and started playing drums because I wanted to be like Ringo.

J.D. Andrew: My family constantly listened to music. We always had the radio on and we loved listening to a radio show on the “oldies” station called “Solid Gold Saturday Night” and I would make cassettes of the songs and listen to them all week. I started singing in a church group when I was 6 or 7 and from then on was always in a singing group of some sort.

Ted Andreadis: There was always music in my house growing up. My Father played the mandolin. I started on the accordion when I was around 10 years, then picked up guitar.

Brad Davis: I was a loner and one that enjoyed being around older folks. I loved playing music with my family. I was a music student at the age of 5 learning bluegrass by ear.

Do you happen to remember your very first favorite song?

BBT: My very first favorite song was probably He’ll Have to Go by Jim Reeves.

J.D.: Mine was probably Surf City or Dead Man’s Curve by Jan and Dean or Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys.

Ted: That’s a tough one.

Brad: Trailers for Sale or Rent by Roger Miller

When did you first know you wanted to seriously pursue a life of music? Does a little determination go a long way when dealing with the various rejections you encounter along the way, etc?

BBT: Well, I knew that I wanted to be in music right away when I saw the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five on Ed Sullivan. I had little bands that would play 3 or 4 songs like House of the Rising Sun and Hanky Panky. I played in bands later that played VFW clubs, high school proms, and college fraternity parties all the way up to opening for huge acts at coliseums and festivals by the time I was in my early 20’s. Then I went to California to seek my fame and fortune. But I never looked back. I always just thought tomorrow’s the day and rejection never deterred me.

J.D.: I had sort of an epiphany that I wanted to make records in college. I was always fascinated with equipment and loved setting up equipment for high school dances and parties starting in junior high. I had a band in college, but it was not my intention to be an artist. I was quite happy striving to be the most famous recording engineer in the world. And while I’ve had minor rejections, I’ve always believed that this is what I do, so I’m not going to be doing anything else.

Ted: I knew what I wanted to do [like most kids] when I saw the Beatles. As far as making it last you have to believe in yourself and know when it’s working and when it’s not. And when it’s not working and you’ve tried that’s probably the time to say Eh I gave it a good shot.

Brad: At the age of 10 I knew that I wanted to have a career in music. And I have had many failures but most all of those failures have led to amazing opportunities.

What is your favorite track off the new album and why?

BBT: I think probably the sentiment of What Did You Do Today is my favorite, and my favorite “sounding” song is This Game Is Over because it reminds me of late 50’s and early 60’s rock and roll songs. It’s really Roy Orbison-y-esque which I really like.

J.D.: Somewhere Down the Road is probably my favorite because it is one of the songs that I really remember writing. Vividly. I remember the A-Ha! Moment of when we decided to add the chorus after the pre chorus part, which we hadn’t been thinking about. It was just a really joyous moment when that song all came together. I’m also very jealous that I wasn’t there when Billy and Brad wrote, This Game Is Over. They wrote it and Sometimes There’s a Reason in a hotel room in Austin on the same day.

Ted: I like What Did You Do Today cause it‘s a song that rings true for everyone.

Brad: I like too many to pick just one.

What do you hope the fans take away from this album?

BBT: I hope they get something out of the music, but I also hope that they get the message out of the lyrics. I don’t think lyrics are paid as much attention to these days, so hopefully they will pay attention to what the songs are about and get the messages.

J.D.: I hope people take away that this is a serious fucking band that writes some serious music. We have all dedicated years to this band, going on decades. We don’t do this because we make any money, or because we think that it’s a fun vacation from our other jobs. We do this because we love it. We love our music. We love being in a band with each other. And we all respect each other and love what each other bring to the sound and camaraderie of the band.

Ted: That the Boxmasters are a group to be reckoned with.

Brad: I hope the fans take the emotional energy that we felt when we wrote these songs in hopes that it will transport them to a special place in time.

When can we expect to see the videos filmed for this one? Which songs does that include?

BBT: We’ve recently shot a video for What Did You Do Today that is currently in the editing phase, so that one will be first.

J.D.: What he said.

Ted: Right now we just got done finishing a video for What Did You Do Today.

Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?

BBT: I love to watch curling as meditation.

J.D.: Most fans know nothing about me so everything will probably be a surprise. But I was in a show choir in college at Kansas State and did a lot of “jazz hands”.

Brad: I am an NRNPSBB and this means I am a non-religious, non-political, saved bible believer that loves to rock!

Is there any particular moment from over the course of your career so far that stands out most in your mind?

BBT: I got to play a snare drum behind Porter Wagoner in L.A. right before Porter died. I was recruited along with Dwight Yoakum by Marty Stuart to play snare drum and bass behind Porter, so for one night I got to be a Wagonmaster.

J.D.: We played the “Ramble At The Ryman” with Levon Helm. Just the thought of playing the Ryman almost made me want to throw up, plus playing with Levon was just unbelievable. I’ve also played poker with Willie Nelson, which I mostly remember.

Brad: The first time I realized that I discovered my very own original guitar technique I call the Double-Down-Up

BoxmastersFinalsGroup

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

BBT: Family first, career second and if you can look back and say that you did it your way, mistakes and all, that you were true to yourself and to realize that you may have regrets but it is all part of what makes up a life. You have to look at every bad thing as something that makes you learn a lesson. And it also helps you write songs.

J.D.: Do what you enjoy. Read. Have an open mind. Understand that other people have different views on things than you do. Listen. Learn your history. Realize that most “entertainment” is just a distraction from what is really going on in the world.

Ted: Enjoying every minute, being thankful, and Love All.

Brad: For me it’s knowing that I have eternal security based on what Christ did on the cross and to share that kind of love with all

Are there any dream projects you’d most like to bring into existence before your time is up?

BBT: I just want to keep writing and recording as long as I’m here. I don’t know if there is a dream project other than seeing our rock opera Dinosaur see the light of day.

J.D.: I would like for us to have our own studio again sometime and be able to make records constantly. And someday have a power trio with my 2 boys.

Ted: I would love to play in a Blues Band with Billy Gibbons.

Brad: I have always wanted to record a solo instrumental record with a record label that would gain international distribution and as of May 2015 my record label Bluegrass Valley records and Sony Red Music group are giving my that opportunity for my 3rd contracted record for the label.

What do The Boxmasters have in the works for the future?

BBT: Much, much more.

J.D.: We never stop working so there is always something going on. We are going to start releasing our back catalog stuff on our website www.theboxmasters.com and we will always be writing. So there will always be more. We have 5 finished LP’s besides the one we’ve released now and a couple of hundred other songs that haven’t been grouped together for an album.

Ted: More Records.More Touring.More Everything.

Brad: We have future plans to finally formulate, for all to hear, who we really are musically.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

BBT: Stay between the lines and keep looking forward.

J.D.: Let’s stop hiding behind our phones and computers and get out and enjoy life as a society Does saying mean things about people in a comment section really make you feel better about yourself? Does being a bully to children really make you feel better? There is brilliant art, music, and culture being brought forth all over the country that needs an audience to survive. If we don’t support it, it will die and we’re all going to die with it.

Ted: When you go to the website to buy the latest record, don’t forget to buy a t-shirt.

Brad: I just want to say thanks to my band mates for their continual positive energy and to all the fans for being there to capture the moment with us!

An Interview with Ron Thal a.ka. Bumblefoot

BUMBLEFOOT Press Photo (primary)

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal is a guitar virtuoso, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He is likely best known for his stint as lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses. His tenth album Little Brother Is Watching features Dennis Leeflang on drums. With over 20 years of experience in the music industry Ron has collaborated with some of the most iconic musicians of our time. Most recently he has collaborations with DMC (Run DMC) and Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, Art of Anarchy). Bumblefoot also has music appearing in TV, film, and videogames. He works with U.S Embassies around the world on cross-cultural music programs and works with dozens of international charities visiting orphanages and children’s hospitals.

Do you happen to remember what you very first favorite song was?

Probably the theme to Sesame Street. (laughs) I started listening to music very young.

What was it that first sparked your interest in music?
I heard a lot of classic ’60s and ’70s rock as a child, but it was hearing the KISS Alive! album for the first time that made me want to play music and follow that path. By age 6 I had a band together, we were writing songs and playing shows.

What is it like to work with the US Embassy to encourage musicians from all cultures? How did you first become involved in that?

I was doing workshops and charity work a lot on my own, working with musicians from all around the world. Two years ago I was approached by an organization that thought I’d be the right guy to do these things with US Embassies around the world. I met with delegates from around the world, we chatted, told stories about my travels, and we hit the road. I’m writing this on a plane heading home from Southeast Asia after weeks of concerts, workshops, playing at children’s hospitals in Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia with super-talented local musicians and singers. I’m coming home with wonderful memories! (smiles)

You also work with several charities. Do you think it is important that those in a position to help others do so?

Every bit helps, any time we can all get together and combine our efforts for a greater good…  Music is a motivator, and if I can do what I do to help others, then it’s worth doing what I do.
What do you love most about being a musician?

That. Helping kids’ needs, medical research, and of course teaching. Someone gives you a gift, they teach you how to do something that changes your life and others enjoy – pay that gift forward. Share the gift you’ve received, teach. Seeing a student go on to do great things, then they teach others and those students get out and play, charity and teaching, the best parts of being a musician.

What advice would you offer those wishing to pursue a career in the music industry?

Be as self-reliant as possible, get experienced in as many aspects as possible. Besides the independence it gives you, you’ll discover a lot more aspects of the business that you may enjoy and also want to pursue. Being a musician is much more than playing on stage.

When did you first develop your style of fretless playing?

I got my first fretless in ’98, after a year with Vigier Guitars (www.vigierguitars.com). I started writing and recording with it, and one of the first songs I recorded became the theme for That Metal Show.

BUMBLEFOOT Press Photo (Secondary)

Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I think they probably know more about me than they want to know (laughs). I don’t know what would surprise people, hmmm…one of the first times I ever sang, I was probably 4 or 5, it was the opera Carmen.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Not being afraid.

What was it like to have the chance to collaborate with DMC and Scott Weiland recently?

I love making music with people, and am happy to have so much music being released this year – new Bumblefoot album Little Brother Is Watching, Art Of Anarchy album (with Scott on vocals), playing on & producing the DMC / Generation Kill rap metal song releases.

Can you tell us a little about the album Little Brother Is Watching? What influenced you to create it when you did?

Influences all came from personal stories, personal experiences. Everything from mortality to relationships and interactions. This one is a lot more melodic with longer songs than my past albums, more space, dynamics, harmonies, production. I like to have the audience singing along at shows and wanted to capture that aspect, when the album was nearing completion I got together with 100 people at a venue in NY and had a listening party where everyone sang parts of songs all together, and included their singing and chanting in the song recordings. There’s videos of it and ‘Making Of’ videos on YouTube at http://bit.ly/bbfnow. There’s a little MP3 sampler at http://www.reverbnation.com/bumblefoot , and the album is available on CD at http://bit.ly/bbf-merch and on iTunes at http://bit.ly/bbf-itunes

What projects are you currently working on?

Been doing some guest solos for different artists, and will keep putting out music with DMC / Generation Kill throughout the year, perhaps some shows and video as well. The Art Of Anarchy single Til the Dust Is Gone has been hitting radio and the music video is now on YouTube (http://youtu.be/HFT1tW3XsL4), as well as the Little Brother Is Watching music video (http://youtu.be/VmwLc6MiZY0). I’m looking to do more videos this year.

What direction would you most like to see your career take next?

Just want to keep doing what I’m doing, more of it (smiles). I’d like to do more to support the independent music scene globally, I have a plan for a festival that would bring attention to international independent artists, but that’s a big undertaking and will require a strong team.I’ve also been doing more film music, for indie horror films and have been taking on some acting roles in them as well – just finishing filming for one called Clean Cut (http://www.facebook.com/cleancutthemovie) which will be out 2016.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

A big thank you to everyone for being such a big part of my life, I look forward to seeing you all soon! I’ll be at Corfu Rock School (http://www.CorfuRockSchool.com) August 1st – 8th. We spend a week at a resort together on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu, doing guitar workshops in the morning, then spend the afternoon at the beach and relaxing, a chef prepares lunch and dinner, and in the evening we work on songs and then we play gigs together at local pubs, jamming all night. I’ll also be doing 2 days of workshops at Raleigh Music Academy (http://raleighmusicacademy.com/2015-rma-summer-guitar-workshop/) June 12th & 13th in Raleigh, North Carolina – hope to see you all, thanks so much!

BUMBLEFOOT Press Photo (extra)

Billboard.com debuts “Little Brother Is Watching” music video
http://blbrd.cm/i1PCXx

New Bumblefoot album “Little Brother Is Watching” now on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/album/little-brother-is-watching/id964582062

 Bumblefoot headlines Pattaya Bike Week festival in Thailand for children’s charity, raises $163,000

http://t.co/lpk5PjEpbn

 Bumblefoot on BBC

http://t.co/uOLEBut9SB

 Bumblefoot on playing and giving

http://t.co/OqIbVlNXcZ

 Bumblefoot dazzles all ages at free SXSW show

http://t.co/FycvRTmCPq

 Bumblefoot visits orphanage in Jakarta

http://youtu.be/pJHDBlcBLX4

 DMC (Run DMC), Generation Kill, Bumblefoot release rap metal collaboration

http://itunes.apple.com/album/lot-lizard-feat.-bumblefoot/id976176756

 “Art Of Anarchy” supergroup to release album ft. Scott Weiland, Bumblefoot, John Moyer

http://bit.ly/1FK32xF

 Bumblefoot: Behind the Scenes ~ That Metal Show (VH1Classic)

http://youtu.be/L71H4Lp2x_E

Watch ‘Making Of’ Bumblefoot “Little Brother Is Watching” album on YouTube

 http://bit.ly/bbfnow

 

www.bumblefoot.com

www.twitter.com/bumblefoot

www.facebook.com/bumblefoot

www.instagram.com/bumblefoot

www.youtube.com/bumblefoot

www.reverbnation.com/bumblefoot

 

Try JamPlay for FREE – complements of Bumblefoot

jamplay.com/bumblefoot

 Bumblefoot Guitar Cases

bit.ly/bbfguitarcase

 Bumblefoot Hot Sauces

bit.ly/bbfsauce

 BBF Merch store

bit.ly/bbf-merch

 BBF iTunes

bit.ly/bbf-itunes

“Bird on a Wire” by Michael Xavier

Bird on a Wire

I was told when I was very young
That I suffered from too much native fire
And this would, in fact, explain over the years
why the world inside me turned at a different rate

Why I would notice a universe unfolding amongst what others would consider trivial things:
Like the distance between two birds on a wire,
for example.
I have witnessed respect and love suspended,
no human I know dare dream of.
Or why while others looked at the ground while walking
my eyes always curl to the sky and write the story of two sparrows passing in flight
Making them return to each other in spring
After the fall
After the long winter journey southward.

They also said
When I was young
That this affliction would cause others to burn
That my native fire was too much to show at once
That my goal was
temperance
and caution
and patience
I have found over the years this to be true
And I’ve left a trail of embers to prove it.
I have told those weak of heart and low on imagination to keep their distance-
I have explained from the start that I feel too much
and my heart doesn’t quit-
Ever.
I go on to explain this affliction I own-
This over abundance of fire,
This thing that has kept me rising through the toughest parts of my life
and will burn long after I’m gone-
Is something that is sacred;
Something that I’m saving for one who can handle it with native gloves.
And if they move me, then I write for them.
And I say that I am much safer on the page.
Keep me there-
Here, where it’s safe . . .
But they don’t listen.
They want to know.
They want to see where the words come from.

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“Pop” by Rodney Eastman

Pop

You just can’t take ’em seriously Son
And lemme tell you why
They wake up and they paint their face
Their beauty is a lie
I pondered what my Father said
I guess it could be true
But she don’t paint her face at all
So now what do I do…

Huh?

I wanna be the kinda man
You once wanted to be
before the liquor and the pain
Was all that you could see
I never thought that I’d grow up
and be a guy like you
But sometimes your words
fall from my lips
And some of them ring true
But I’ll never lay a hand on her
Or criticize while drunk
You say it’s weak to let her win
Does that make me a punk
So Pop you think I’ve fallen short
of your measure of the man
But if you heard her voice
And saw her eyes
I think you’d understand…

Right?

One day the two of you might meet
At the bottom of my drawer
Of memories and photographs
Of things I’ve done before
Cause everything that’s good must end
Thank God the bad ends too
One day I may miss her as much
As I wish I could miss you…
Pop.