An Interview with Alex Anders

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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.

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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.”

An Interview with Oswald “Ozzie” O’Connor

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Oswald “Ozzie” O’ Connor has been serving hard time since being arrested for trying to buy marijuana for his cancer stricken father. Charged with 2 felony charges, possession, and possession with intent to sell he now resides in State Prison. In this exclusive interview we are bringing you the reader a glimpse into what drives a man to crime.

What was your childhood like? What was it like growing up O’Connor?

Nothing unusual to report. Indian Guides, Pinewood Derby, some sexual contact with a teenage neighbor who was baby sitting. Once I found a baby Possum near my house. I convinced my mother to help me nurse it back to health. We fed it milk from an eyedropper but ultimately we discovered it had rabies.

What was running through your mind when you were first arrested? Was it a set up or just an honest mistake?

It was a confluence of things. My father told me he had cancer and needed marijuana to treat his side effects. I didn’t know this at the time but his cancer was self diagnosed using google. It turned out he did not have cancer but I didn’t know that at the time. Using an old high school friend’s contacts, I procured 2 ounces of pot. I was pulled over for a traffic violation and the officer found it. The judge thought my father’s cancer story was a lie I was making up. My father was called to testimony denied memory of the whole thing. The judge threw the book at me and the rest is history…or will be after I write my autobiography.

Are you yourself an advocate for the benefits of marijuana?

I don’t know. I suppose. I was in California before I was arrested and I had some medical marijuana there and it freaked the shit out of me. I mean Jesus Christ! In college we would smoke it up and watch Dune. Now you have one hit and it’s like you’re tripping on acid re-evaluating your life with your skin turned inside out. It just goes to show you that Tesla was right — “just because something is better doesn’t mean it’s good.”

Are there any little known things about you that our readers might be surprised to learn?

In 7th grade I visited my friend in Florida. We went to the beach when it was kind of stormy and I was stung on the ass by a man o’ war. It hurt like hell. Its tentacle somehow went right up my crack and stung the hell out of my scrotum and taint. My friend knew that there was some household product that neutralizes the poison but he forgot which product. He poured a bunch of meat tenderizer on the affected area and I can report without a doubt that meat tenderizer is definitely NOT the remedy for man o’ war poison. I later leaned that is ammonia.

Were you surprised to be sentenced to time in state prison? Was that a particularly terrifying experience? Do you think 20 months is a long time to serve for such a mild crime?

Are you serious or are just trying to rile up an inmate like they do on that horrific MSNBC show hoping I will freak out and a bunch of screws with electrified shields will burst into my cell and put me down? Uh duh, yeah I’m surprised, yes it is fucking terrifying, and yes 20 months is a HELL OF A LONG time to be locked down for trying to buy weed for your cancerous dad! On another note, it is weird how time changes in here. I mean I used to have emails in my in box that were 20 months old. But damn in here it’s like a snail on a razor blade. BORING!

Did you find it hard to turn whatever God throws at you into lemonade when you first were incarcerated?

No. I am blessed as a glass half full guy and I know that this is merely an opportunity to learn, grow, and make new friends. I will be a better man because of this experience even if I am shanked and bleed out in a dirty public shower. I am that kitten on the poster in my 5th grade class: “when you are at the end of your rope just tie a know and hang on ’til Friday. Of course I mean a Friday in 2016.

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What does it feel like to be stabbed in the neck with a screw driver? Does that sort of puncture wound take longer to heal than your average stab wound?

Well first off it is called a shiv. Oddly I was stabbed by screw driver in 7th grade (another story) and I can tell you I’d prefer a shiv anyday. A screw driver is dull and it takes a lot more force to puncture the skin whereas a shiv is sharp as hell. Since my cellie hit an artery, it’s hard to say how much it hurt as I went into shock almost immediately but overall I would say it hurt like a mother fucker. Treatment for this kind of injury, according to the prison nurse is to put some antibacterial salve on a long q-tip and stick it down the puncture. I think I have a scab starting to form.

What was it like to have to share a cell with Roger? Were you surprised to learn to he had murdered so many people? What do you think drives a man to do such thing? What did that whole ordeal teach you?

Yes I was. My barometer on people outside was: if they present themselves as a kind considerate person then they probably are. The problem with that strategy is that it does not account for severe mental illness. Still, in the end, Roger did not kill all those people because he was a “bad” guy. Obviously he was raised improperly. I’ll tell you — prison is a real opener in terms of whether I ever want to be a parent. Boy you can really screw things up big time. By the way Roger makes an excellent prison wine.

Do you think it’d be fair to say that swallowing your former cellmates stash that resulted in that transfer is one of the highlights of your stay behind bars so far?

Oh my gosh yes. Although I should point out that I also won the prison wide chess tournament. I tell you in all confidence that winning the semis in cell block D was a cake walk. In three of the four games I played I was able to walk my pawn down unscathed and turn it into a queen. I mean… really?! Come on guys! There was talk of a t-shirt as a first place prize but it never appeared. I think someone must have pocketed it. It’s not easy running an organized event in a building populated with criminals. Jeez.

Do you think inmates and those who work in the prison system seem a little closed minded when it comes to discussing political issues?

Oh lord yes. I’ve discussed the failure of “No Child Left Behind” until I am blue in the face and none of my prison compatriots seem to give a crap. Believe me, if the schools they attended spent a little more time on project based educational activities instead of all the wasted time teaching to the standardized tests we would probably have a lot fewer heads chopped off at the necks by my friends. Know what I’m saying?

What ever became of the PeePee and Ozzie gang project?

Sadly we were both unsuccessful in joining a gang, which is a HUGE problem in prison. We tried to fit in with the transvestite group but they felt strongly that we just didn’t have the required tools to be one of the team. Pee Pee has some Hawaiian blood in his genealogy so we approached the Asian Triads but our nunchuck training was a complete failure. In the end we formed our own gang. We named it “The Falcons” but it didn’t really seem to stick in the yard. Most people refer to our gang as “The Losers” or “The Punks We Beat the Crap Out of When We Feel Like it.”

Were you surprised he didn’t come to your aid during that beatdown in the yard?

Look let’s not kid each other. If he had joined in then we would have had two people in traction in the hospital wing for two months instead of one. I mean have you seen him? He’s not the smartest thing on the block. I once saw him trying to make a shiv out of a bread stick in the cafeteria for a half hour before he realized it would probably be better to try a different material. The first time I met Pee-Pee he was hanging from his underwear on a hook in the shower. I helped him down only to discover his privates were coated with Nair. Hilarious, right?

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After your last experience with drug trials would you ever consider that again? Was it a little scary to have to walk around in such a state considering you are in prison? How long did you have to deal with all of that?

Who would have thunk a quick punch to the crotch would alleviate an erection problem? I certainly wouldn’t but I owe a great deal of thanks to the nurse who took it upon herself to treat a very serious problem. I mean all of those ED (erectile dysfunction) drugs say that if you have an erection for more for four hours you should get treatment immediately. Mine was approaching the 16 hour mark and believe me I tried EVERYTHING to handle it myself. I never thought I would get tired of masturbation but I’m not sure if I will ever make love to myself again. As to participating in a drug trial again — the answer is yes. In fact I am participating in one right now where I race a mouse through a maze. It’s a little intimidating to have your butt kicked by mouse but at the end of the maze I push a lever and get a treat so that’s nice.

Does having a pen pal while jailed help pass the time?

Oh my yes. I mean this is jail and no one has anything to do. As in nothing. We sit and look at each other. I try to make use of my time by scheduling my day. I find that it makes me feel more productive. at 6 a.m every morning I do my Tai Chi until El Rey hurts me in some way. Then, from 7:15-7:30 I look out the bars until the breakfast gruel arrives. Anyway you get the idea. I try to stay busy busy busy in order to pass the time. Writing back my creepy prison pen pals helps a lot. Man some of those people are weird. I sometimes feel safer being on the inside with people like that running around out there.

How has your time behind bars changed you most as an individual?

Oddly I think I’ve become a lot more social. Without 24 hour access to Facebook and the twitter, I find that I need to seek out interaction with others. At home I could stay in bed in my underwear posting controversial things on my facebook page but here I actually have to make friends with real people! It’s a win-win situation unless you consider that they are all trying to rape or kill you.

Did you find Anger Management classes to be an asset? Do you develop a lot of anger when being locked up as you are?

Absolutely! I thought Mr. Housh did an amazing job! The skills he provided were and are extremely helpful to me. The proof is in the pudding too — other than a guard, I have not shived anyone in quite a while. And I know I have Mr. Housh to thank for this. Unfortunately, like most of history’s greatest teachers, our teacher could not heal (or rather teach) himself. His students were like leeches stuck to his calf and, because of our natural anesthetic we developed over eons of evolution (leaches are really amazing creatures) he never felt us attach to his calf when he walked through the stagnant pond. We just sucked him dry until he had no more to give and… well, let’s be honest — he lost his shit. Poor, poor crazy Mr. Housh.

Was it nice to run into someone you had known since childhood? Did Francis’ personality back then ever hint at his murderous temperament?

Well it’s hard to look back in time through neutral contact lenses, you know what I mean? It would be great if I could swap out these old lenses of mine with fresh ones but sadly I have a very bad stigmatism when it comes to my temporal sight. I am also very lazy and it is highly probably that I have not been as diligent with my cleaning as I should be. Chances are VERY good that I have an amoeba floating around my eyeball just eating away at my cornea. Hell I would be surprised if I lost my sight entirely when it comes to looking back in time.

How has prison affected your self esteem? Do you think the other inmates are overly judgmental?

We are simply bacterium in a petri dish over heat and it ain’t pretty. Do you remember Biosphere 2? It was a group of people who agreed to live under a dome for two years with no outsiders. And it did not go well. At first they were all sleeping together and having a good ole time but ultimately they broke up into two factions and man they hated each others guts. I understand that they are still not talking to each other. That’s what prison is like. It’s basically Big Brother but the contestants are all felons. In short, no it has not been good for my self-esteem. Not one bit. BUT that’s what positive affirmations are for. Thank God for Tony Robbins.

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Would you say Art is a little too free with the taser ?

I hate to say it, but if I am being truly honest with myself, my answer is no. I mean a taser is for tazing right? I believe it was Socrates (which we all know was really Plato) who said every object needs to reach its potential right? If that is true (and you aren’t going to get this inmate to argue with Plato) then a taser is most taser-like when it is actually tazing. In fact, one might argue that a taser is not even a taser if it is not tazing. I mean which is more of a taser — a taser that sits in Art’s belt or a rock? Neither are tazing someone right? Nobody likes being tazed but it does help to know that the taser is reaching it’s true potential. But man it hurts like a motherfucker.

What advice would you give to others who find themselves incarcerated for an extended amount of time?

Skip bail and run. Run with the wind. Go to Canada. Sure everybody up there is way too earnest and boring but I hear you don’t have to lock your doors which is nice. I would recomend that you NOT go to Montreal. I went there on a conference once and everyone speaks french which is annoying. On the plus side though EVERYONE in Montreal is hot. Seriously. They’re like models.

If you don’t jump bail then I recommend you become someone’s bitch.

Do think trying to escape on your last day was a bad decision, or was it a bad reaction to the alcohol?

I’m very taoist when it comes to my take on that day. What is bad or good? I mean really? For example one might think it “good” to win the lottery but we’ve seen what happens. Everybody and their cousin calls you up looking for a loan. Then you end up at the end of the year and the taxman calls asking for his. You forgot to set that money aside and now you’re broke again. So to some — ripping the heart out of a guard with my bare hands and then taking a bite out of it before escaping into the sewer when I only had a few months of time left might seem like a “bad” decision, I prefer to view it with neutral eyes. I simple observe the situation through my 3rd eye. It happened. Period.

What does a human heart taste like?

It’s hard to remember stuff that happens during a psychotic break brought on by prison wine containing pre-poop. To be honest ripping the guard’s heart out barehanded and then biting it is a bit of a blur. I mean if it wasn’t a blur and I was totally aware of it that would be a littler creep right? However if your are going to hold my feet to the fire, I would say it tastes like chicken. Raw chicken though. Sushi grade.

How did things change after your attempted jailbreak?

It wasn’t pretty. Have you ever spent much time in sewage? Staph infections are the LEAST of your problems, believe me. After trudging my way through that much poo I have newfound respect for plumbers. Anyone who spends that much time in poo SHOULD get paid more than teachers, know what I mean? Think about it — which would your rather have: stupid kids or poo everywhere?

What do you think you will be getting released soon? What do you most look forward to then?

Huh? Um, just so you know, when you freak out on prison wine, pull a heart out of guard’s chest and try to escape through the prison’s poo river, they generally frown on that sort of thing. Right now I’m looking at a loooooong time. Remember when you were kid and how in July you would be thinking about what Santa Clause would be bringing you for Christmas? What’s that you say? You never thought about Christmas in July because it was just too fucking far away? Yeah well that’s kinda how I think about what I will do when I get out of prison. Only times a quatrillion. Although if you twist my arm I would have to say I would probably masturbate by myself to all the great free porn I hear is out there thanks to this incredible invention we call the intrawebs.

Anything else you’d like to say before you go?

Crime doesn’t pay but that doesn’t mean that everyone in prison is a douche. A lot of us are really nice guys.

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For more JailBait related things please see JailBait on FB. To watch the series in its entirety please see: http://www.hulu.com/jailbait.

 

“Until You Have Returned” by Peter Stahl

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Until You Have Returned

It’s not too late to tell her
all love is a myth
If she is Eurydice 
he would be her Orpheus
and he would descend to find her
and bring her back from the dead
where she no longer feels 
anything for him
He’d get down on his knees
and tell her deep in her lips
he will love her forever
all the way to Bliss

I watched you on the carousel 
revolving and transforming 
into these people that I met 
last night and this morning 
Waiting for you, I have learned 
not to look around for you 
until you have returned

Cyrano stands in the shadows
speaking this for Christian
who is at a loss for words
whenever he sees Roxanne
He doesn’t know how to tell her
anything like a lover
to fulfill her secret longings
she has begun to uncover
the ways language can satisfy
almost like a kiss
that will transport her forever
all the way to Bliss

I watched you on the carousel 
revolving and transforming 
into these people that I met 
last night and this morning 
Trusting you, I have learned 
not to look around for you 
until you have returned

Captured by the moment’s magic 
he leaped forward into a glade 
She followed him along the path
No more was she afraid
She knew she was embraced 
by a love that hoped for her best 
where she could be herself 
and not be put to a test
It’s not too late to tell her
all love is a myth
If he was her Osiris 
she would be his Isis

I watched you on the carousel 
revolving and transforming 
into these people that I met 
last night and this morning 
Believing you, I have learned 
not to look around for you 
until you have returned

10/6/12

© Copyright 2012
by Peter J. Stahl

An Interview with Ronnie King and Jack Grisham

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The Joykiller is a punk rock supergroup founded by Jack Grisham (vocals), Ron Emory (guitar),Billy Persons(bass), Chris Lagerborg, (drums),and Ronnie King, (keyboard) in 1995. Their latest offering is Music for Break-Ups.

Do you happen to remember the moment when you first discovered the power of music?

Ronnie King: Well For me at 11 yrs I was recording a record in a real Studio. I was singing my part. Guess what? I cried. (laughs)

Jack Grisham: It was probably when I was a kid. There was trouble at home—alcoholism, strife, and detachment. I felt alone, uneasy, unloved, and then I heard Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay and it gave me a warmth, a love, and a connection that I’d never felt. The song let me know that it would be okay. I remember copying the lyrics and pretending that I wrote them about she who would one day be in my life.

What was it like to start playing music at the age of 5? Do you think coming from a musical family offered you more encouragement to pursue your interests in the field?

Ronnie King: They weren’t in the Music Business at all. They all play with an unconditioned freedom.I sold out a long time ago…I’m having a wonderful time in this time of my life. I’m enjoying music ( It’s all about the music.)

What were you like as a child? Did you develop your love of music early on as well?

Jack Grisham: I was trouble, too smart for my own good and too sensitive to be comforted. I loved music but I wasn’t gifted as a singer and I had no discipline or desire to learn an instrument.

Who are some of your earliest influences?

Ronnie King: I loved listing to Barry Manalow, and McCoy Jazz Great Piano Dude Chick Corea, and the music at the Catholic Church.

Jack Grisham: Frank Zappa and the Mothers, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.

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Are there any fond memories from over the course of your career that you hold more dear than others?

Ronnie King: I think signing with Epitaph Records was a highlight. Things were really exciting around there in 96. Oh and working at Death Row at the same time…and having Jerry Heller in the Life.

Jack Grisham: The travel and the connection with the audience. Playing music was the bridge to the hearts of those around me. It was a dear friend that stayed dear and never wavered. My connection with the audience was instant and close, like reminiscing with a stranger that you had never met, but you had so many shared feelings that it seemed like you always knew them.

When did you first know you were a musician? Do you think the job of a musician is more of a calling than a career choice?

Ronnie King: I always knew I would play music. The job of music? It’s not a job it;s all about the music.

Jack Grisham: Playing music is not a choice. It’s painful to be filled with expression and it must be expelled. Whether its playing, writing, acting or any of the other arts, there are those that need to create—music just happens to be one of those necessary outlets.

How did The Joykiller come into being? Where does the name comes from?

Ronnie King: I was playing with Jack in Tender Fury and Body’s and writing with Jack. Living at his mom’s house, living off my wife’s Mobil Card… I’ll let Jack tell ya the rest.

Jack Grisham: The name is an old slang term for a wife that rains on the errant husband’s parade; she was a “Joykiller”. It doesn’t really fit in our case but it was funny. As for how we came in to being; Ronnie and I were screwing around and I had an idea for a sound, a huge departure from what we’d been doing—a very difficult sort of jazzy pop show tune thing, and we stripped it down and simplified the groove. It was instant no-holds barred fun!

What has it been like to be in a band that is on again off again?

Ronnie King: Refreshing.

Jack Grisham: I’ve been married three times, on and off again seems fairly natural to me.

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How would you describe the sound to those yet to hear it?

Ronnie King: It sounds like water. I’ll leave it to the listener.

Jack Grisham:  Sweet but not too sweet, like a salted caramel gelato licked after a fist-fight, cool on a cut lip, but salty enough to plot revenge with…

What can your fans expect from Music for Break-Ups?

Ronnie King: A journey into sound.

Jack Grisham:  A nice time, reminiscent of things you’ve heard before but twisted just enough to be new. Think of your lover, someone you’ve had history with, but tonight you come home and they’re wearing a new scent, a new nighty, or shirt, and it turns you on. You know them, but at the same time, they’re new, exciting, and a touch naughty.

Are there any little known things about you that our readers might be surprised to know?

Ronnie King: They change every day.

Jack Grisham:  I enjoy forest fires and humans that are not quite human.

What is next for The Joykiller?

Ronnie King: Radio, radio, radio.

Jack Grisham:  Who knows? The beauty of this band is there is no plan. Spontaneity

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

Ronnie King: Peace within one.

Jack Grisham:  To do as you please and hopefully as you please contributes to our species and that of those around us.

Anything you’d like to say before you go?

Ronnie King: Enjoy the record.

Jack Grisham:  If you see me, say hello. I like strangers, preferably with candy.

 

For more information please see: Facebook or Wikipedia.

 

An Interview with Mike Adkins


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Best known as the guitarist for Uncle Kracker Mike Adkins has shared the stage with such iconic musicians as B.B King, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton. He has also played numerous shows with Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Train, and others.

What did you love most about growing up in Detroit?

I guess one of the best things about growing up in Michigan, is that you get to experience all the seasons, in a proper fashion. Fall has to be my favorite, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Northern MI in Fall. On the other hand, there is over a foot of snow on the ground here right now, as I look out my window. Which, I’ll be honest, the older I get definitely makes me question why I haven’t left yet (laughs). But, I just love it here, not just because of the change of seasons, but because Detroit has soul…it has personality, and it has heart! The Detroit music scene molded me into the person/player that I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll leave it at that.

What was it like to train in classical piano at the age of 8?

It was interesting…I definitely wasn’t that great at first. And, I despised reading the music, which I still do today(smiles). Actually, most of the piano recitals that I remember doing, you would be sat at the piano with the sheet music displayed in front of you, and you were supposed to read the music as you played. Looking back at it now, I’m nearly positive that I just memorized all the songs and looked at the sheet music to appease my teacher. But, in the end piano helped me learn music theory, and eventually led me to guitar. So, I’m definitely thankful my Mom pushed me in that direction.

What music did you first love? Do you happen to remember what your favorite first song was?

Gosh, that’s a really tough one. I guess one of the first songs I can really remember loving was I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye. The reason for that is, I was super into the California Raisins at the time, and that was their theme song. I remember I had the cassette and I would walk around my house singing and blaring it outta my mini boombox! Funny enough, I just started performing that song in my acoustic duo…so things have really just came full-circle so to speak (laughs).

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Who are some of your biggest influences in regards to music?

Well, as holds true with most musicians I’d have to assume, I have an extremely long list of influences. But, if I had to name just a few, I’d probably have to pick the obvious choices: Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

What was it like to see The Rolling Stones live at the age of 6? What do you remember most about that experience?

It was definitely pretty incredible, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was extremely overwhelming at first, but once we got to our seats I can remember feeling right at home. Entertained and inspired all at once, although I’m nearly positive I fell asleep before it was over.

Why did you decide to become a guitarist? What do you love most about playing guitar?

I started playing guitar when I was about 12 years old, I can remember being in Sixth grade. It was 1994, and that year my parents took me to more concerts than I’ve ever been to in any other year of life. Just to name a few, I saw: Plant & Page, The Black Crowes, REM, The Offspring, Green Day, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Traffic, and a bunch of others I can’t think of off the top of my head. But, point being seeing all that music that year, made me want to be one of those performers on day. It inspired me to learn guitar, and start performing in front of people and I couldn’t be more gracious of the places that this instrument has taken me, not to mention the opportunities it has given me.

What did it feel like to open at Clapton’s Crossroads Festival in 2007?

It was great! That show was really the first MAJOR show that I had played outside of Michigan with my old band Flophouse. And, it was definitely the first time I had shared the bill with any huge household name artist, such as Clapton and Beck. So, we were thrilled to be a part of it! They put us on first, just after the doors opened…so it’s not like we played to 20k people. But, what it did do, is make me realize that nothing is too far out of reach. I put in a lot of time and energy into getting our band on that show, and it eventually paid off. So, from there, I started putting a lot of hard work and passion behind making a career of out of it.

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What does your touring gear consist of?

Well, that’s gonna be an extensive list, so I’ll try and summarize the best I can. I take two acoustics, one is a McPherson Guitar and the other is a Taylor 814ce. For electric guitars, I have a custom Paul Reed Smith, Detroit styled, guitar that is pretty much my main axe. But, I also usually bring out my Goldtop Gibson Les Paul, and a PRS SinglecutHollowbody II. As far as amps go, I use a couple of different amps. Budda Amplification recently got me touring with a Super Drive 30, which I’ve grown to like quite a bit. Also, I’m using a 50-watt Sophia Combo, by Wallace Amplification. Pedal wise I use mostly Dunlop effects, Peterson Tuners, Catalinbread overdrive, and VanAmps reverb. All strung together by Analysis-Plus Cables, that are based right here in Michigan. Lastly, my wireless in-ear monitor system is by Galaxy Audio.

What do you love most about performing live?

There is a lot to love about performing live! I guess the adrenaline rush that you get performing in front of a sold-out crowd has to be my favorite part. We just had a show this past summer at DTE Music Theater here in Detroit, where we headlined that evening, and the roar of the crowd literally gave me goose bumps as we walked out on stage. Hard to beat that feeling (smiles).

What do you think it takes to become an accomplished guitarist?

If there were any one correct method on becoming accomplished or successful as a guitarist, I think everyone would be doing it. What works for someone, may not work for the next person. I guess, the best advice I could offer would be, stay determined. Nothing worth having, happens over night, or comes easily for that matter. It starts by mastering your instrument, then taking it out of the bedroom/house and start doing in front of others. From there, networking and meeting everyone you possibly can along the way, will help you grow as a performer and land better gigs. Stay true to who you are, be friendly, smile, support others, and most important play from your heart. I know all that sounds corny, but if you look beyond the cliché statements that are there. It’s all very true and effective.

Where do you hope to see your career go in the years ahead?

That’s a really tough question to answer. I really love what I do, and I plan on playing music for the rest of my life. Obviously, things change…new opportunities arise, while other doors close. But, with that being said, I know whichever direction my career goes, it will involve music. Put it this way, I have a lot of faith in Uncle Kracker as an artist, and as a touring act. And, while my opinion may be a lil’ biased, I personally think that the best is yet to come.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

When I have downtime from touring with Uncle Kracker, I have a couple acoustic projects that I have been working on. One is called, The Allies, it’s name basically describes exactly what we are. It’s usually a 2 or 3 piece acoustic act, where the members are all from other touring bands, who unite as a band for an evening of rock’n’roll covers, ranging from CCR to Iron Maiden. Our lead singer Chris Gillen can channel Ronnie James Dio so well, it’d make you think he was on the stage. It’s usually a blast, and nothing short of entertaining. My other project is called “Lee – Adkins” which is just what it sounds like, my buddy Brett Lee & Myself. It’s a lot like The Allies, with more of a country influence.Brett has a killer voice, with soul for days!

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

Please go ‘LIKE’ my Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/mikeadkinsguitar

And, I hope to run into ya at a show soon…Keep Rocking!

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