“In Fancy” by Toby Fitch

In Fancy

(after Enfance)

why on earth would i blow open the safe
of childhood? as lord of metallic silence
sitting pretty & blue-balled in a stairwell
twiddling thumbs for the building to succumb
to its own foundations meanwhile comets
moon & sea generate a new mythology outside
think of the thickness of the globe red &
black monstro-cities clogging the way back
to the Gulf the long distance my life takes
root here in tongue-tied smoke a phone in
my wrist gleams there will be no headlines
tomorrow what a relief! but i will have to pay
some serious rent to re-carpet this womb

Toby Fitch is the author of various chapbooks and the full-length collection of poems Rawshock, which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry 2012. His latest collection is Jerilderies and he has a book of inversions forthcoming with Vagabond Press called Bloomin’ Notions.

Born in London, Fitch grew up in Sydney, Australia, attending the University of Technology as an undergraduate, and the University of Sydney for his Doctor of Arts for which he wrote his thesis on the concepts of play, rebellion, and ghosts in contemporary Australian poetry.

He is an editor for Southerly, a secondhand bookseller at Gleebooks, and he runs a monthly poetry reading series at Sappho Cafe.

An Interview with Wayne Nelson of Little River Band

Wayne Nelson playing for St. Jude's.

Wayne Nelson playing for St. Jude’s.

Wayne Nelson is best known from his work as the lead singer/bassist for Little River Band. Founded in Australia in 1975, the band has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, and are the first band to achieve the record of having Top 10 hits for 6 consecutive years.

When did you first discover your love of music?

My earliest memories are infused with music. My parents constantly had music in playing in our home…Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, et al from my mom, and marching music from my dad who was a drum major in college. And both loved Broadway music and plays. They also both sang in the church choir, and were active in local theater groups. So I went with them to rehearsals and services. Rhythm, harmony, and composition were in the air on a regular basis.

Who were some of you earliest influences?

Once I was able to choose new music that I wanted to hear, I loved the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Turtles, and Dion…lots of vocal harmonies and great songs. Next came Motown, The Beatles, The Stones, and Cream. Then horn bands like Chicago, BS&T, EWF, and Chase. From there I started listening to jazz and more esoteric music like Yes, Weather Report, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Spyro Gyra, and Michael Walden.

What was it like to have had the chance to hone your musical skills in Chicago? Do you feel privileged to have had the chance to play in an area so rich in rhythm and blues?

Chicago was a great town for seeing bands and soaking up live music. Although there was a lot of blues on Lincoln Ave at the time, it hadn’t become as commercialized and popular as it is now. I spent more time seeing CTA and Styx and Cheap Trick at clubs and college venues. What was very hard for any young band in Chicago was to play R&B, which is what all of my friends and fellow musicians were into…Stevie, Motown, EWF, etc. And it was never an easy town to work in…6 sets a night, loading in and out with wind chills of -10, ice on the pavement and at the doorways. Chicago was boot camp for me.

Where do you think you would be today if you hadn’t have become a musician?

In college I became fascinated with Audiology…how our ears work, how important to us they are, how they get damaged, and how to help people overcome that damage. I was studying for my Masters, but had to give up playing music to concentrate on the course load. It became obvious real quickly where my heart was…so I chose the music. Had I not, I’d be an audiologist.

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

Surprised? I am not sure about that. From a musical perspective, people might be surprised that I never wanted to be a lead singer…or really sing very much at all. I’m a bass player at heart, and have loved the few opportunities in my career where I could just stand next to the drummer and play without having to think about singing. But they’ve been few and far between. Otherwise, I’m a pretty quiet homebody when the band isn’t touring.

How do you think the music industry has changed most since you first started your career?

Without a doubt technology has turned the industry inside out. Recording can now be done virtually anywhere, with files shared over the internet and overdubbed by others to create music. Live performances can be streamed for free or for a fee. Individual songs or whole CDs can be downloaded. Bands can exist and market themselves on a virtual basis…if you don’t want to tour, you can have a virtual following and stay home. It’s changed how bands interact with record labels and the public. Gone are the days when you HAD to get in a van, sleep on the gear, play endless gigs and hope that a label or agent saw you and got you a recording contract, and booked you into a studio with a producer that you never met. In many ways it frees up the whole process…but for old school musicians, the change in structure to the music business can seem very random and frightening.

What advice would you offer the musician of today in regards to cultivating a lasting career?

Play what you believe, write your own music, and practice your craft so that when an opportunity comes your way you’re ready to step in and make a contribution. The more times that happens, the wider your perspective becomes and the more valuable you become to your peers…and to yourself as a solo artist.

How did you come to be a member of Little River Band?

I was in Jim Messina’s band, and we opened for LRB for two weeks straight in 1979 while they were recording a live CD called Backstage Pass. Having the same opening band for the whole West Coast helped every day to run smoothly for the recording process. We were playing some interesting latin rhythms in Jimmy’s new music, and singing over the top of those. LRB’s bass player had left the band earlier that year, and they were touring with a substitute. So they saw an opportunity to add a singing bass player to the band and augment the live vocals. In April of 1980 I went to Australia for rehearsals and a subsequent world tour.

Wayne Nelson on Tour in Ohio 2015

What have you loved most about the experience so far?

The opportunity to sing in such a great vocal band was and is a constant thrill. And we’ve travelled the world and worked with some of the greatest bands in rock and roll. Meeting fans and hearing their personal stories about what the band’s music has meant to them over the years is always wonderful, and continues to be humbling.

Do you have any interested stories you are at liberty to share with our readers?

There are so many…but one that never leaves my memory is the experience of performing behind what was then the Iron Curtain. One of the venues in East Germany was an amphitheater actually built for Hitler to make speeches…the original podium was still there. After having seen so many different countries, I was struck by how different the earth looked when we crossed into the Eastern block. The land truly looked depressed and sad. And when we left the venue that night, there were on lights on in the nearby city. Total darkness…no candles or lights to read by…no street lights…no porch lights. It was very sobering.

Do you still enjoy touring as much as ever? How has your touring style evolved over the years?

I do still enjoy the show as much as ever. Every night is another crowd of people that connect the music to their memories and we have a ball with them. However, the travel will always be a nuisance. Airports and vans are not our favorite ways to get around, but sometimes we’re stuck with them. Busing is still our preferred mode of travel because we’re able to determine our own schedule and rest between cities. A lot of bands ask us “why are you still on a bus”? Our answer is “why are you still waiting at an airport”?

What does it take to put in a truly good show?

I think the primary component to a good show is to remember who we’re there to please…the audience. So the show needs to be engaging and interesting to them, while still challenging and fun for us. There’s nothing more boring than watching a band go through the motions when you know they’re not really enjoying themselves…or if they’re too self-absorbed to relate to the crowd. The last element is being able to physically do the job and present a quality performance. So we have to take care of our health and our voices and show up ready to play and sing with energy and quality.

What do you think it is that separates the wannabe musicians from the professional ones?

Being a professional means you get paid for what you do. In this business that takes a lot of determination and confidence…there’s always someone ready to reject you or your music. A certain level of talent and competence can’t hurt, but even people with mediocre skills can put together a song or a presentation that strikes a chord with their audience. And people with great skills might never leave the basement because they don’t want to devote the time to the chores of being a musician. The drive to keep going plus a bit of luck are key elements.

Do you have a dream project you’d most like to accomplish?

A solo CD is something I’d like to create. I enjoy the process of writing and recording, but get very little time to do either while LRB is touring and traveling as much as we do. Some artists can constantly lock themselves away and use spare time for studio work. I’m not one of those, so the solo CD will be something I focus on when there’s less time spent touring.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’m the tour manager for the band, so my daily project is getting us to and from shows and making sure all the travel details are covered…hotel rooms, ground transport, buses, meals, etc. LRB is 40 years old this year, so there are a lot of extra requests for interviews and such that I also coordinate with our publicist. My guess is another new band CD is on the horizon for year 41.

Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?

Just that it’s an honor to be part of this band’s history…and that our show is a lot of fun!! I promise that you’ll hear songs that you forgot were ours, that your scrapbook will get opened up, and we’ll have you singing before you leave!

”Rare Rubies” by Ali Znaidi

Rare Rubies

To sever one’s ear is something akin
to the rejection of an established grammar.
Hear,ear. To sever one’s ear begins with
listening to internal howls. To sever one’s
ear begins with smashing the palette against
the passive time. Screams ready to be set free.
Blood gushes in torrents in every direction
till it clots. {No linearity.} Red spots here &
there.—Rare rubies for the nude prostitutes
of the ungrammatical night.

Ali Znaidi lives in Redeyef, Tunisia, where he teaches English. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals worldwide. He authored four poetry chapbooks including Experimental Ruminations(Fowlpox Press, 2012), Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems (Origami Poems Project, 2012),Bye, Donna Summer! (Fowlpox Press, 2014), and Taste of the Edge (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014). He also wrote a book of fiction titled Green Cemetery (Moment Publications, 2014) which is in fact the first Tunisian flash fiction collection originally written & published in the English language.Some of his poems have been translated into German, Greek, Turkish and Italian.You can see more of his work on his blog at aliznaidi.blogspot.com.

An Interview with Alex Anders

alex annders

Alex Anders came onto the music scene as a singer/guitarist in his teens. He has since went on to add harmonica, organ, and drums to his repertoire. While he prefers to perform county music he has also worked in rock, alternative, and acoustic genres. His debut release This Memory can be found at digital outlets everywhere from Potomac Records. The new single Those Were the Days can be found on iTunes and all digital media outlets Tuesday March 17, 2015

Since there isn’t much known about you yet, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am 22 years old, born and raised in Northern Virginia, and currently residing in Fairfax, VA. Since I can remember, music has always been my passion and what I’ve always gravitated toward – to escape from routine as well as to let my creative juices flow. Music has always provided a sense of belonging, and singing and writing is part of who I am – to put it in simpler terms, music simply defines me. I have been pursuing a musical career since my teenage years, with a clearer definition, goal, and a stronger determination now that I’m in my twenties. I love music, I just want to perform, write, and always make music.

What did you love most about growing up in Northern Virginia? What are some of your most fond memories from that time in your life?

The thing I definitely loved most about living in this area was the amount of family I had growing up here. My aunts, uncles, and cousins always seemed to be just down the street from one another. It was nice never having to travel more than 10 minutes to get to one another’s home. It always made for awesome holiday get togethers, birthday celebrations, cookouts, and many other family events. It was really nice knowing the people that meant the most, were always so close to me. This enhanced the fact that Northern Virginia has a very diverse culture, vast history, wonderful attractions, and activities that appeal to a worldwide audience. In addition there is its growing music scene which has contributed greatly to shaping me into the artist that I am today. Northern Virginia is also the home of Potomac Records, who are doing an amazing job in cultivating and supporting the local music scene, including myself. Putting all this together, Northern Virginia has been and will always be the best place in the world for me.

Can you recall what you very first favorite song was?

I have always loved music and how it made me feel, but it wasn’t until I heard Bruce Springsteen’s Rosalita ,The Dance by Garth Brooks, and Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind, who are admittedly one of my favorite bands, that I got more and more interested in the wonderful world of music.

When did you first become interested in guitar?

I first remember wanting to seriously pursue guitar after seeing my older cousin play her guitar. I was always going over to her place and seeing her strum along and sing to popular songs on the radio. I had always been infatuated with guitar and drums and wanting to learn how to play an instrument of my own from a pretty young age. But it was probably around 10 or 11 when I really decided that I would pick it up and start teaching myself. I haven’t put it down since.

How does your work now as a solo musician differ most from your past work in various bands?

Well, it has been quite some time since I’ve been part of a band, but if I can think back far enough, one of the main differences is not having to be crammed up in a small, smelly, spare bedroom with three other guys, a bunch of instruments, equipment, and no working air conditioner.

In all seriousness, working as a solo artist has given me flexibility and freedom to create. It gave my songs and work, a clearer identity. However,having experienced both now, my goal is to put together an awesome band with a wide variety of influences to make great music and entertain the masses, or the small crowd at a local bar. I feel that the time I’ve spent on my songwriting and recording, has been a better path for me to take and explore my boundaries, and take things to the next level.The time is here and the time is now.

Were you excited to be signed to Potomac Records? Do you enjoy working with the staff there?

I was super excited to be signed by Potomac Records. Potomac Records has been great. It really almost came out of nowhere. Literally, a year before I signed my first contract with them, I was working at a hole in the wall coffee shop in Clifton, VA 6 days a week, playing an acoustic gig on the patio every weekend for a few bucks and tips here and there. And a few months later, Mike Bailey, Potomac Records and my now close friend and Producer, Jeff Brasfield, came knocking on my door to let me know they had heard of me and were interested in working with me. They’ve been helping me get a career started in what I have loved doing my whole life and I’ve had a blast working with each and every one of them over there. I appreciate all they’ve done, and I can’t wait for all the plans and ideas we have in store for the future. This year is going to be great; I really feel it.

alex anders2

Is it true you prefer to perform country music? Why do you think that is? Do you think the country of today lacks some of the soul the legends possessed back in the early days of country music?

Country music is where my heart is. I can play and sing just about anything, but everything I write and everything I sing comes out with a country flare to it. It’s just who I am. However, it wasn’t really until I was going into my sophomore year of High School that I really got turned on to it. I remember Dierks Bentley’s Free and Easy being one of the first country songs I heard and I immediately got hooked from there. After that one song, I was constantly on iTunes or the radio trying to find the latest hit or previous songs that had come out before I got into it. And I can tell you the thing that made the genre stick with me was how real and vulnerable it could be. But, at the same time that it could go on and just not take itself seriously at all. From super intimate songs like Live Like You Were Dying, The Dance, and Whiskey Lullaby to just straight out goofy and fun songs to party and dance to like Friends in Low PlacesJack Daniels by Erich Church, and The Countriest by Adam Hood. It just always seems like there’s something for everybody here, and it doesn’t discriminate. To me, it’s the everyday person’s genre.

As far as the country of today lacking the soul that some of the legends possessed back in the day, It would be hard for me to argue that the artists, and what you hear on the radio now, are anything like what it was 40, 30 or even 15 years ago. It’s completely different. For better or for worse, it’s different. Nowadays when the vast majority of what you hear on radio, regardless of if it’s a Top 40, Hip-Hop, Rock, or Country station, is very injected and infused with pop influences, and almost seems formulaic, I feel like there’s going to be a sense of authenticity lost there, and along with that, I feel like you might lose a bit of soul also. Now that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with pop music, cause there isn’t. Pop is just short for popular and there’s a reason it’s popular; people like it. And it’s also not to say that the artists of today aren’t putting their soul into what they’re singing and writing, or that they’re any lesser than some of the artists from country’s early days, but it’s undeniably different. There are also so many artists now days in country,from Brad Paisley to Miranda Lambert and Garth Brooks, and even lesser known like Sturgill Simpson and Caitlyn Smith that have just so much talent and versatility and they all bring something different to the table, and with that, I think it’s hard to compare today’s country to the “good ‘ol days”. It’s like comparing Aaron Rodgers to Terry Bradshaw. They’re both winners, but the game has changed so much; you can’t just look at the stats and say one is better than the other.

Can you tell us a little more about your song This Memory? What inspired you to write that particular piece?

This Memory actually came about after my producer Jeff Brasfield and I first decided to meet up for a co-write. We got together and started throwing ideas out at one another, and he showed me this guitar riff and lyrics for a chorus that he had been sitting on for a while. It was pretty ironic that the first idea that he threw out to me were the lines for the chorus of This Memory, since right around that same time, I had been going through a breakup of my own. It couldn’t have been more perfect timing for me to be able to help finish this song and kind of get some of the stuff I was feeling off my chest. I can only hope that when some people hear it, they might feel the same way.

How do you hope to see your career as a performer evolve as the years go by?

There are so many different directions in which I could only hope and dream that my career ultimately goes. I’ve always maintained that as long as I’m making music, it makes me happy and I can make my fans happy, I must be doing something right. If I can make some new friends along the way, make enough to put some food on the table, and have enough energy to go on to the next show, then I’d be just fine by that.

Do you have a dream project you’d most like see become a reality?

I’d have to say cutting a track with either Deirks Bentley or recording a duet with someone like Kacey Musgraves or Miranda Lambert one day would be huge and a total dream come true for me. Touring with any one of them would be pretty insane. But hey; I met Jon Pardi a couple months ago, and told him that he could open for me in 2015 when I go on tour. I was joking, of course. I am a huge Jon Pardi fan, and it would be an honor to hit the road with him this year. I just want to play.

What projects are you working on these days?

For the past few months we’ve been busy on cutting a few new tracks that I’m really excited for everyone to hear. Those Were the Days is my second single being prepped to be released in the next coming weeks through Potomac Records, along with a music video to go along with it. Right after that will be Fill Up My Damn Mug, which has been going over great at the bars. Over the next few months, I’ll be putting together a full band. We’re talking about a possible tour this summer, with a trip through Nashville. I can’t wait.

Potomac Records just wrapped up a string endorsement with Aurora Strings for me, which I’m thrilled about. Shout out to everyone over at Aurora, be sure to go check out their strings(laughs). They’re definitely helping to lower the damage my wallet takes. There are also a few things in the works that I can’t tell you about just yet. But if they happen, it’s gonna be big stuff.

Anything you’d like to say before you go?

I’d like to say thank you, first and foremost. I really hope everyone reading this got to know me a little better and I invite you to stay tuned for what we have in store next. There’s nothing in this world that I would rather do than to make music and make other people happy by playing that music for them and I really hope that this is just the very beginning of bigger and better things to come.

For more information please see Facebook and Potomac Records.

“Now Will You Let Me Go?” by Kimberly Biggers

Kimberly Biggers

Kimberly Biggers

 

I got pulled over because I guess I wasn’t flying right—

Uh, oops, I mean driving right—

And the man with the badge blinds me with his flashlight

“Why are your eyes so dilated?” he asks

And I say, “Because I just had a strong cup of coffee.”

Then he checks my pulse and wants to know why

my pulse rate is so high

“Because you’re so cute, officer,” I reply

He laughs and I’m positive he’s going to let me go

But then he says, “What is that on your nose?”

With his flashlight, making me hold my head back,

He looks up my nose

And I say, “It’s flour, from cooking all day.

I sneezed and the flour went up my nose.”

And he laughs

So I say, “Now will you let me go?”

But he says, “No.

We have some more tests to go.”

“Okay,” he tells me, “I want you to stand with both feet together,

Tilt your head back as far as it will go

And touch the tip of your nose with both fingers—

For no longer than thirty seconds.”

I say, “Yeah, I can do that.”

I thought the real test was one of equilibrium

Yeah, that’s what I thought it was

But the real test was doing it in no longer than thirty seconds—

Even if after five minutes I’m so proud of myself

Because I finally did it

And I say, “Look, I did it!”

And they’re looking at me all right

And that’s when it hits me like a ton of bricks

Because after five minutes of not falling over

And getting both fingers to touch the tip of my nose

There are a bunch of cop cars here that weren’t here before

And I say, “Oh-oh, here we go.

The real test was supposed to be one of listening

And doing it no longer than thirty seconds, huh?”

“Uh-huh,” he says—and whips out a pair of silver bracelets

“Oh, no, officer,” I say, “I prefer gold

And, by the way, I sure like your nightstick.”

All the cops bust up laughing

And he says, “We got a comedian here.”

So I say, “Now will you let me go?”

And he says, “Oh, no,

Now it’s time to go—

Put your hands behind your back.”