“Lakes Above Thunders” by Hima Bindu Kopally

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Lakes Above Thunders

So, have you seen his reflection across the lake?
The lake of harmony fleeting with benevolence.
Did you see the glint of lightning in his eye?
A tortuous smile and a thunderous influence.

The over-the-roof heart beat only made things worse,
not knowing how to deal with the transits yet.
The lake was quite a crossing if a must.
For, it had marked a region of his personality’s fret.

Did you ever put down the phone?
Only to believe no more
And ghoul over the memoirs
Over the photographic mind place and rooms?

A mic for the night
and the silence apart shriveled anesthesia.
Shred light so much!
But the darkness overpowered the looming love of euphoria.

A moment before holding hope;
after, felt sorts of a doomed loop.
Indeed the lake had power,
Causing an arrhythmia to the tower.

For the lightning struck the eye,
the thunder met the ears
And struck the lake too
Which shocked the towering man of boon

The moon shone, like an embodiment
of raw strings of woven wool.
It had more than two Souls fighting
under and above its witnessing light’s mull.

The lake, once a stranger
Stood still with bare raw emotion.
An Icy and unfiltered harangue broker
drenched the clouds of passion.

Guess the lake, will you?
Imagine the lake, shall you?
Now, visualize it in front of you.
It’s her, adorned in the tradition red of hue.

A man and a woman?
Was it the Greek Zeus and Eurynome you thought of?
Or of Roman mythology, or wait Egyptian?
Nature and mortals, fits and sorts of?

Nevertheless!

She, the lake
Drew an aura of iconoclastic love.
She, the lake
Gave him that reflection of merging above.

“Destiny” by Trivarna Hariharan

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Destiny

some days,
when the ashes on the gold plate
that lies on a dust-covered shelf
are all that are left as souvenirs
of the warmth that once used to be;
and you don’t mind staring at them
for hours together,
you wonder if there is a reason at all-
a justification for all of this,
for everything that you have been through,
are going through,
and if destiny is just another myth that makes life
easier.

What if there’s no reason, none at all?

What if we are just a random collection of events?

What if all of this doesn’t matter?

Would we care?
Should we?

An Interview with Nelson Braswell

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Virginia native Nelson Braswell discovered the love of music at an early age. A self-taught vocalist, guitarist, and bass player he has had the opportunity to open for acts like Ratt, Dokken, and others. Over the years his work has appeared on five various albums, most recently he can be found on Potomac Records. The two newest singles Roll With It and Devil’s Playground are available from there now.

What was it like growing up in Virginia? How did that affect who you are as a person?

It was as typical as living anywhere else, I guess. As a kid, we moved a lot, due to my step father being a truck driver. So I, at a young age, was frequently the new kid in school, until my early teens when we finally settled down. In Virginia, I experienced city and country living growing up. I worked hard and played hard…music, work, hot rods, and outdoor activities.

Why do you think you chose to stay there?

I have a long history of roots in Virginia. I have several generations that have lived there, and it has been home and felt like home after all of these years. I did live in Jacksonville, FL for a while and have done a lot of travelling over the years, so I have been able to see a large portion of the United States. And we all have to live somewhere, right? Wherever you go, there you are.

The music scene there seems very tight knit, why do you think that is? Do you think it is a good thing to have so much support?

I think the music scene can be tight here because we all run in the same music circles some good, some bad (laughs), but mainly because we are all trying to be heard as artists, and there is strength in numbers. It is a good thing to have a good foundation of people who believe in you and share some of your same dreams and goals whether they come true or not.

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

I would have to say, Jimi Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s, All Along the Watchtower. Keep in mind, this was the early 70’s. I was blown away by his guitar work the first time I heard it and wore several albums out, one of which I still have today in Mint condition.

Who are some of your earliest influences?

Of course, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Rodgers and Bad Company, Led Zepplin, Thin Lizzy, Montrose with Sammy Hagar on vocals, Sammy Hagar in any project, David Coverdale and Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Lynryd Skynyrd, and I could go on and on forever.

What led to you deciding to teach yourself to play? What would you say is the most challenging issues faced when doing that?

I started playing as a teenager before I could drive, so the desire to want to play is what led me because the drive was so deep at an early age. When first starting out, the ability to grasp the technical aspects of it on your own can be difficult, but I relied a lot on ear, heart, and soul. As the years went by I was able to pick up more on the theory aspect, and I learned so much from playing with older, more experienced musicians. I still firmly rely on playing by ear, heart, and soul.

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What advice would you offer to others wishing to do the same?

Stick with it and make it become a habit. No matter how frustrated you may get. And realize you are not going to learn without practicing and experimenting with different styles and sounds. Do not let one particular influence direct your path.

What do you love most about being a musician?

Being able to relay the emotions through playing music and trying to relate those emotions to an audience or on a recording. The unity that music can bring to a group of people who know nothing about each other, but yet they still flow as one if it’s music that moves them.

How did you come to be represented by Potomac Records? Do you consider yourself lucky to have them in your corner so to speak?

I had been playing on the local scene in Virginia for many years and had put out recordings with several projects locally. I had met the President of Potomac Records, Mike Bailey, through a friend’s band who was signed with him. We started communicating and struck up a working relationship for which I am very grateful. I feel lucky that through Potomac and Mike Bailey, I have been given an avenue that I did not have until I started working with them to get my original music exposed at a higher level than I could do on my own. (Thank you, Mike)

Can you tell us a little about Roll With It and Devil’s Playground? What are the stories behind those?

Roll with It came from reflecting on certain situations in my life and what I could see in other people’s lives over a period of years. To me, it is about being faced with multiple life-changing challenges but still digging down deep to keep moving forward and rolling with the punches. Also, it’s about negative people who have the “misery loves company” mentality and try to lie and manipulate you down to their level.

Devil’s Playground came about after years on the music scene and seeing and experiencing the good and bad of the music business as well as the experience of being conned a time or two by people who want to exploit your talents for their own personal gain. Hence not becoming a part of the negative aspects of the music lifestyle and temptations that can come along with it.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Currently, I’m writing and recording new material to be released by Potomac Records.  Also, I’ve been playing with my local band here in Virginia called Fuzzbox, along with my bandmate, Jimi Forrest, who recorded and produced Devil’s Playground, as well as played on the track. He is a man of many talents and a good friend. David Lumb plays drums for that project, and David Elmore is our bass player. My second project is an acoustic-oriented band called Long Shot. We play a wide variety of classic rock, blues, upbeat country, and some originals. My friends Dana Southern and Wes Arnold join me in this project. Both projects play out when we can, and we make a priority of doing charity events whenever there is the opportunity to help out someone in need.

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

I would like to thank you, Tina, for the opportunity to share my story with you and others. I also would like to thank Mike Bailey of Potomac Records for opening a door that was not open before. I would like to thank Jimi Forrest for his talents in recording and producing Devil’s Playground, and Tom Kemp for recording and producing Roll with It, as well as playing bass on the track, and I look forward to hopefully working with them again on future releases. I would like to thank my beautiful wife, Amy Lynn Braswell, for her love and support and for creating the cover artwork for both singles, as well as being the best wife and mother to our two children that I have ever hoped for. I would also like to thank anyone who has ever been supportive and appreciative of my work over the years, particularly here in my home state of Virginia.

“Fervor” by Noor Dhingra

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Fervor

You don’t see yourself in your best moments
When you’re passionate and fervent
And talking about what you love.
You don’t see yourself
When your chest rises and
To your heartbeat
Curled up and rhythmic.
You don’t see yourself reading a book
Eyes enflamed with zeal.
There’s no mirror in your way
When you’re laughing and smiling
With happiness bursting from your seams
And laughter leaking from your being.
And you don’t see yourself looking at someone
With all the care in your heart.

But don’t worry
You will find people who will take your joy
And reflect it back to you.
They will refract your own light back
Until you glow in your unabashed beauty.

An Interview with Shane Fitzgibbon

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Shane Fitzgibbon is best known as the drummer of Gunzo. Formed by guitarist Tracii Guns(L.A Guns) Gunzo features bassist Rudy Sarzo(Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Oyster Cult, and Queensryche), and Keith St. John on vocals. They can currently be found touring various locations around the U.S.

What was it like growing up in Orange County? Did it leave lasting impression on you coming from where you do?

Growing up in OC was really great, it honestly doesn’t get much better. That being said, there was not always a ton of interesting stuff to get into in the suburbs so you really have to search out ways to have some fun and get into a little trouble. As far as it having a lasting impression on me…I’m not really sure…I think the thing that has had the more significant impression on me was branching out of the bubble and trying to do something that is empirically less safe and straight and comfortable…play music for a living.

When did you first discover the love of music? What was that moment like?

I don’t really remember a moment… but I knew I loved music very young like I remember listening to my brother’s walkman in kindergarten and imagining myself on stage performing whatever song I was listening to and getting chills down my spine. I would walk around listening to that thing at my brother’s baseball practice feeling like a total badass and just escape into the fantasy. When I realized that I could sing pretty early on it got that much stronger. I would sit in my room staring at the cd player and listen to the same tune over and over again and try to mimic the vocalist.

Why do you think music has had such a universal appeal throughout time?

Music is one of the things that defines the human experience. It’s wild that something that has very little practical purpose as far as a human evolutionary standpoint has such an impact on quality of life. We are intrinsically wired to appreciate it. Why are infants soothed by the melody of a lullaby? Throw on some tunes around a baby and they know if they like it or not and start to dance! It’s like a sixth sense that attaches itself to the other five. It’s profound that a mixture of orchestrated sounds can make you feel happy or sad or uneasy even without lyrics. Music has a way of attaching itself to feelings and memories of specific times in one’s life and being a vessel for catharsis. Music is a physical manifestation of the human experience of complicated emotions presented in a simple easy to consume form. The fact that there are to my knowledge zero cultures across the world that don’t have some form of music really speaks to its importance. Plus it’s fun to rock out.

Who are some of your earliest influences?

When I was like 7 Rage Against the Machine’s Evil Empire came out. How a 7 year old got a hold of that record I don’t remember… but when I heard the opening drum fill on People of the Sun my mind was blown. I would rewind it and listen to it over and over. Growing up in Orange County at that time it was all about the pop punk post punk whatever so I was really into Green Day and Sublime and things like that. My brother hipped me to the Chili Peppers and a kind of quazi jazz band called Karate that I drew a lot of influence from drumming wise. I was playing drums by the time I found The Mars Volta’s Deloused in the Comatorium record. That album completely revolutionised the way I approach drumming and every time I hit the woodshed I always find myself popping in the headphones and blasting through it from start to finish. My dad turned me on to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Cream, Iron Butterfly… all the other great rock from the late 60’s and 70’s. My mom was all about funk and soul music so I found out about Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone and Prince. I seriously dig all styles of music and can find value in most of it. It’s funny now that I find myself playing great rock from the 80’s I didn’t really have anyone who showed it to me until much later.

What led to your picking up drumming?

I was always an incessant tapper. I remember early on in elementary school my teacher coming over and grabbing both of my hands, looking me in the eye and saying “Please stop that.” I didn’t even realize I was ripping it up on my desk completely in my own world. There was a guitar in my house that was my Dad’s from another life and when I was like 8 my brother Kyle decided he wanted to learn to play so I just made the logical decision and said hey I guess I should play drums.

What was it like when you got your very first kit?

On my 10th birthday my parents got me a cheap drum set. There is an awesome picture floating around of me the moment I saw it. I’m in tighty whiteys, face bright red with tears in my eyes mid ecstatic jump. I had to immediately go do some boy scout camp thing for the rest of the day and I was about to have a mental breakdown knowing I had a kit but had to go tie knots for 8 hours

When did you first know that music would be your profession?

I always knew I had it in me… but I didn’t really have the cajones to let myself believe it was a real option until right after college. I just kinda went through the motions in college and got my degree because that’s just what you do… go to college get a degree get a job go to work put money in your 401k rinse and repeat. When I was thrust out into the world to fend for myself I came to the realization that I get one chance at life and I might as well go for it while I’m still young and have no one to take care of but myself… and if it doesn’t work out ill figure something out.

What do you love most about playing the drums?

For me music is a team sport. I love being a part of setting the landscape upon which other musicians can explore. It’s all about texture. Rhythm is a visceral thing that’s fun and easy to latch onto. I also love the freedom to play with all sorts of different acts. People fire their drummers a lot and it’s cool to be able to just jump into a different musical situations relatively easily. I also love how physical drumming is. By the end of the set I am drenched in sweat nearly passed out with an endorphin rush like I just fought a bear or something.

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What advice would you offer others just learning the trade?

Try really, really hard and take risks. The harder you work the luckier you will find yourself getting. I know so many insanely talented musicians that can’t seem to get it together because they think that if they smoke weed all day and just get good at their instrument that things will just fall into place. If you want to do something difficult like do art for a living you have to work ten times as hard as anyone else. Play with as many different musicians as you can…you will learn so much from each different person you collaborate with. Study records of all kinds and draw influence from everything. No one ever learned anything because they were too cool to check out a certain band because of their perceived coolness. Don’t be discouraged by people who are much better than you at what you do, instead, be inspired to get better. Be excited and willing to learn from people who have more experience than you. Learn when to keep your mouth shut. No one likes a young know-it-all. Likewise, if you are going to live on a bus with someone for months you had better be a pleasant person or you won’t get the gig. NETWORK. Find a mentor who can show you what they know and learn to be useful to them. This biz is about being in the right place at the right time so you have to be in the right place ALL THE TIME. Ask for the things you want, you will get them if you have the right attitude and you work hard enough.

What is it like to be a part of Gunzo? How did that come about? What is it like working with the other guys there?

Gunzo is awesome. I am so stoked to be playing with musicians of their caliber and it is so validating that they feel that I am the man for the job. I know a lot of drummers out there are like WTF how did this fool get the call? A few years back I started working with Steve Vai’s engineer Greg Wurth at Steve’s studios in Hollywood and Encino. Greg brought me on to help him create his own studio also in Encino called Patigonia Studios on a beautiful property with some awesome vintage gear. I met Tracii at Patigonia when he rented one of our production rooms. We became friends and I did some session work for him and eventually he brought me out on tour with the Devil City Angels as their tech/ everything guy. Tracii really wanted to put something together with me on drums and had worked with Rudy on the Randy Rhoads tribute shows and they really wanted to work together also. We heard Keith was a badass and got him on board and it all sort of came together. The guys are all complete heavyweights and super fun to throw down with. I have already learned so much from these cats.

Are you excited about the Gunzo tour?

Absolutely. I can’t wait to play some awesome music for people and become even tighter with the guys!

What do you enjoy most about performing live?

I love being able to feel the music cranked up loud. Hitting the kick drum and having it shake you to the core just feels right. Stuff happens during live shows that just really progresses the music, you get all hyped up and go for some stuff that you have never gone for in rehearsal and just get into it. In Gunzo we have a ton of fun on stage and I think it shows. It’s just a great environment to celebrate some great music and have a good time.

Do you prefer to work in the studio or on the road?

I can’t really say. I need a healthy dose of both to feel satisfied. Engineering and producing is a newer passion of mine so it is really exciting every day when I come in and work with band and help them make something great.

Do you miss the studio in Encino when you’re touring? How does it feel to have your own studio? Is that something you had always dreamed of?

My contribution to its creation was sweat and elbow grease rather than money, It is a really amazing space that I can bring in projects and have an opportunity to create and help others capture their music. I always wanted to have a space like Patigonia and I’m so comfortable working there.

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

Just don’t take things too seriously. Be humble and admit mistakes. Spend money on experiences rather than items. Learn how to do a handstand. Sneak into music festivals.

What can your fans looks forward to next?

 Look forward to some live shredding and perhaps a Gunzo record soon.

Anything you’d like to say in closing?

 Gunzo Rocks!