An interview with Marcus Winslow Jr.

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Born in Marion, Indiana to Winton Dean and Mildred Wilson Dean, James Dean suffered the tragic loss of his beloved mother at the young age of 9. Raised in the delightfully small town of Fairmount, he grew up on a 180 acre homestead alongside his cousins Marcus and Joan under the guidance of his aunt Ortense and her husband Marcus Winslow.

With a lifelong love of theatrics and all things creative, and a determination to succeed he was destined for greatness. His career started with a commercial for Pepsi Cola and led to three motion pictures that would make him a star of epic proportions. With his passing in 1955 the world lost one of the most genuine creative geniuses of modern time.

Over 60 years since Marcus now works tirelessly to maintain the farm and preserve the memory of the man he knew as a brother. It is an honor to have the chance to talk to Marcus Winslow Jr. about what life was like before the fame and to give the reader a further glimpse into the life of the man behind the legend that is James Dean.

Tina Ayres: What was the Winslow farm like when you were all growing up there together? Can you tell us a little about that?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well it was more of a working farm then. Years ago farmers had a lot of different kinds of livestock. I can remember we use to have chickens and hogs and cattle and some sheep, had some geese, geese you know geese, weren’t really a farm animal, but they were here. I guess the first thing dad got rid of farming was the chickens. Which suited me fine. They always seemed like kind of a dumb animal, but anyway, a lot of people had them. And mom had them because it gave her some, that was her income. Dad would get the feed and stuff and feed them and then she’d collect the eggs and that was hers. Then he finally got rid of the hogs which called for a lot of work. They’re dirty, they’re dusty, especially years ago. They were really dusty. I always liked hogs, but I wasn’t upset when he got rid of them. And by that time I was doing other things and really didn’t have much time to help any way. And we’ve still got cattle here on the farm.

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Mark Kinnaman : How many head you got right now? How many acres do you have now?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Now we have, they are all Coy’s cows, I think there is around 40 head about approximately 20 head of calves and the same amount of brood cows. When dad died we had about 40 some group cows. He had a lot of cattle, but we got rid of a lot of them after he passed away. We’ve always kept cattle on the farm because the way the grounds laid out here you can’t farm a lot of it so the cattle help eat the grass down.

Of course when Jimmy was here we had milk cows too. I can remember the milk cows being here, and then dad must have got rid of them around 1950 or so because I never had to milk any. He got rid of them before I was old enough. Milk cows are a lot of work and a lot of time. I’ll never forget you go to check the chicken house if you didn’t make some noises and let them know you was coming then all of the sudden you come to the door they just fly and go crazy and dust would roll It’s not like you see in the pictures.

There are 180 acres right here on this piece of ground.

Mark Kinnaman: Is that when Jimmy was here?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Right at it. Well theres more than 180, there is almost 300 now. There is 111 acres and another piece of ground that has 40 acres than we had 180 here so that’s where I come up with over 300. But the basic ground that dad had is still here. It’s the same piece of ground it always was. I tried to keep as close to what it was. I like old buildings anyway so that is one reason I kept it that way, of course the fact that fans have all seen it in movie magazines and stuff over the years I suppose that enticed me to try to keep it looking the same. Anybody that is really interested recognizes it I think. Without question. They are all pretty similar to what they were 60 some years ago.

Mark Kinnaman: The little pushcar it looks like you had a blast with that? Jimmy pushing you and all…

Marcus Winslow Jr: I did.

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Mark Kinnaman: Did your dad make that?

Marcus Winslow Jr: No I made that. I found some wood and found some long piece of rod. I don’t remember if dad had to drill holes in it or not. It was something I threw together as a child. I’d have only been about 10 or 11 years old when I made that, but I had a lot of fun with it. Me and my friends would go out here and shove it down the hills. Of course the worst thing was if you shoved it downhill you had to push it back up. We enjoyed it.

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Tina Ayres: Do you happen to remember what your first memory of Jimmy was? What is your clearest memory of him?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well my earliest memories are of him just being around here. I can remember he used to go to school. I can remember him either riding his motorcycle to school or sometimes Mrs. Nall would pick him up, she went right by here. Sometimes she’d pick him up take him to school and bring him home.

He worked for a canning factory in Fairmount. It was seasonal job just in the Fall. We used to raise tomatoes around here more so than they do now and in the fall well they’d hire a lot of extra people to peel tomatoes and do whatever they had to do. He did that some I know.

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Tina Ayres: Did he ever speak to you of his mother? Do you think her influence on him contributed to his unique sense of self? Do you think experiencing such deeply profound loss so early in life in part made him more aware of the things that matter most?

Marcus Winslow Jr: No. Not to me he didn’t. I never heard him mention her. Of course I was so little when he was here that I didn’t even realize the circumstances really. He was just here and that is just the way it was.

Mark Kinnaman: Well your mother and father provided a nice home for him.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah, they sure did. I don’t think he talked about his mother much. Not that he didn’t care or whatever but I’ve heard mom and dad say they never heard him mention his mother. Whatever that means I don’t know.

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Tina Ayres: What would you say is the best advice he ever gave you?

Marcus Winslow Jr:  I don’t know that he ever gave me any advice. When Jimmy died I was almost 12. I liked a couple months of being 12 years old and I don’t know that he ever gave me any good advice about anything. I was still just a child you know.

Mark Kinnaman: He was more like an older brother…

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. I can remember him real well but I don’t think he ever gave me any advice.

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Tina Ayres: Do you remember the day he left for California in 1949? What stands out most clearly in your mind from that time?

Marcus Winslow Jr: I can remember. My sister had a going away party for him on a Sunday and I can remember mom and dad was there and of course me and my sister and her husband, their son, and their daughter was a baby then, and my uncle Nolan and his family. I can remember being out in the yard and playing. We got some pictures, well we got a family picture of us outside. Everybody’s picture except mom, I think, probably because she took the picture.

My sister said, see I don’t remember this but she did, She says we were leaving, they lived up along the lane, she said, “As we were leaving going home Jimmy hung out the back door of the car, out the back window and hollered at my sister and said, “See you in Hollywood!” She said she never forgot that.

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Photo from the going away party taken by Ortense Winslow, 1949.

Tina Ayres: What was it like around the house when he brought Dennis Stock to capture life in Fairmount? Was that a planned visit or a spur of the moment thing? How did your family feel about having your home life captured forever in photos?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well, I don’t know that Jimmy planned it. I don’t know how far ahead that he planned it but, they knew someone was coming home with him. A photographer. Dennis seemed to fit right in here. Dennis took a liking to my dad and talked to him an awful lot. Jimmy and Dennis would go to town or somewhere, and of course wherever they went why Dennis would try to capture some pictures and he did take some of Fairmount and Jimmy. They went over to uncle Nolan’s one day and went out in the garage and took a couple pictures of Jimmy sitting in, I think Jimmy was in the race car, my uncle Nolan was building a quarter Midget. I don’t know if he ever got it, totally finished it or not. It had an Indian motorcycle engine in it if I remember right.

I know a lot of times when I’d get home from school he had something planned, they’d want to go to town and he’d want to know if I wanted to go with them. Of course every time someone seen they’d holler at him. At one time he knew about everybody in Fairmount, but this time of course he’d been gone for five years and a lot people he didn’t remember who they were or their face would look familiar. I can think of two or three times he asked me, “Who is that?”, before the people would get to us and I’d tell him. It probably made him feel good to call them by name you know.

I remember the banker in Fairmount Vick Selby he hollered at Jimmy one day and wanted to know if he could bring his Jaguar out, he had a Jaguar sedan, a four door sedan that he drove some and Jimmy said, “Why sure.” I don’t know if it was the same day or next day, he came out late in the afternoon with it and we all got in that Jaguar. Let’s see it was Jimmy and Dennis and Vick Selby and his daughter Anne, she was real small then, we all got in and Jimmy drove. He drove over to Jonesboro I remember and every time he’d go around a corner he’d gun it and slide the back end around a little. Vick got a big kick out of that. That was an experience I’ll always remember. I forget what they called it a Mark something, the Jaguar, but it was a neat old car at the time.

Once he showed me a big full page ad with a Speedster in there I remember he showed me that magazine and said, “This is what I got coming.” I think it was about a month later that he got the car so of course he didn’t enjoy the big Jaguar sedans like he did the little sports car I am sure but, he got a kick out of it.

I imagine that he was tickled that Vick let him drive it.

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Photo from Nolan’s garage

Tina Ayres: Do you feel honored to be left guardian of Jimmy’s memory?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. I’m, I feel proud of Jimmy. I certainly didn’t do anything to cause him to be famous, but I am very proud of him. It took me a lot of years to realize how famous he was. I mean when he is growing up with you and doing some television shows and so forth…

Mark Kinnaman: That was exciting to see him on t.v.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yes it was. Very Exciting. We used to…mom and dad had a television and sometimes Jimmy would let us know what show he was going to be on and the date. Of course we always made a point to watch it. Every time something would come on that he was on the phone would ring and ring. Of course that was back when you didn’t have cell phones. The phone was in the dining room and we’d take turns jumping up and going to answer the phone because we knew it was someone telling us Jimmy was on in case we didn’t know it.

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Mark Kinnaman: What was your reaction when you saw him on East of Eden? When you saw the movie?

Marcus Winslow Jr: It just seemed like him. I kept thinking to myself why he’s not acting. That’s just him. I was really tickled. I didn’t have any idea what East of Eden was about or anything and it turned out it was in the late teens WWI was breaking out and there was a lot of old cars, which that fascinated me. It was a period in history that I was interested in and I was just tickled to death with the movie. I thought he did a great job. I still think it is one of his best.

Mark Kinnaman: It’s my favorite. Adeline Nall told me, “ If you want to know what James Dean is like watch East of Eden.” That is what she said.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. He didn’t seem like he was acting in it. It just seemed like he was up there saying the words and going through it, of course there is more to it than it appeared, but he made it appear that way.

We seen him in a kind of a special showing that the theater in Marion had in the morning and then that evening is when the public started watching the movie. I don’t remember who all was there, Mrs. Nall was there I know, and mom and dad and I, and I think my sister was probably there and a few people that were close to Jimmy or to the family. It was really exciting.

Of course that was the only showing that was made when he was living. Even though Rebel was really a good movie I never enjoyed it as much because I knew he wasn’t alive anymore and I knew that he wouldn’t be making anymore. Of course I knew Giant was coming out. I didn’t know anything about Giant but, Giant was so dog gone long, it was three hours long. I remember they had an intermission between when it was half over. It was year after he died, ‘57 sometime, so as a matter of fact it might have been a little over a year.

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Tina Ayres: What would you like the world to know about Jimmy most?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well, he was very devoted to his craft. He was just a tremendous actor. He read acting books and he liked to study people. He was very theatrically inclined and anything to do with the arts he was good at. He was a good artist, he was a good sketcher. He did dance a little. Took some dancing lessons. He’d taken some dancing lessons as a kid from what I understand. Of course we know the pictures of him and Eartha Kitt that Dennis Stock took in New York City. I am sure that dancing helped his movement on stage. He was just unreal in the devotion that he put towards his career and the characters he played. You know he went all out to be those people he was portraying. It didn’t really seem like he was acting.

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Tina Ayres: What do you think he would think about the festival and all of that sort of thing?

Marcus Winslow Jr: I think he’d probably be getting a big kick out of it. He was a kid at heart. I don’t think he’d object to it at all. I think it is something he’d get a big kick out of it.

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Mark Kinnaman: Does it amaze you that even now all these years later the foreigners that come over from all over the world…It just amazes me that people come halfway around the world and they come to here. That blows my mind.  

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah it does me too. I mean even after all these years. It is kind of hard to understand. I can remember when I was a little kid there was people coming here from Japan and France and foreign countries. At the time I just thought it was something that’d blow over. Usually when people get interested in an actor or an actress they get real involved in them and then after a while they, especially if they pass away, why they go on to something else but, that didn’t seem to happen to Jimmy. His old fans are still interested and he gets new fans, which is very unusual.

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Tina Ayres: Out of all of your memories of him are there any that stand out most clearly in your mind today, after so many years have passed?

Marcus Winslow Jr: None more so than any other I guess. I can remember before he ever left here, things he used to do, riding his cycle and helping dad here on the farm baling hay and so forth. Of course my clearest memories are the ones last time he was home because Dennis Stock took so many pictures. I can remember when every one of them was taken about, that I was there, and those always bring back memories. They are good memories they’re not…no hurt about any of them. I guess I was older then too, getting a little older. I remember the kids at school giving me their autograph books wanting to know if I’d bring them home and have Jimmy sign them. I didn’t know if he’d like to do that or not but he seemed to be pretty tickled to do it. I think he was enjoying his popularity somewhat.

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Mark Kinnaman: Well he worked so hard for it.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yes he did.

Mark Kinnaman: I think he liked the benefits that came along with it?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah, of course when he was here East of Eden hadn’t even been released yet. It was a couple weeks later before it was released. If it had been released a couple weeks before he came home I think he’d have really been bothered by fans. A lot of people didn’t know too much about him other than little things they read in the paper and the tv shows, of course a lot of people didn’t know those were coming on. He played in a lot of tv shows, over 30. For being live and not able to go back and correct mistakes and stuff they were very, very good.

Tina Ayres: How do you think he would have most liked to have been remembered?

Marcus Winslow Jr: As a great actor I would say.

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The preceding interview was originally written by Tina Faye Ayres in 2015 and conducted by Mark Kinnaman on September 13, 2018 on the Winslow Farm in Fairmount, Indiana. It is with my deepest thanks to both Marcus & Mark that I offer up this interview here today. This interview is a rather dear and sacred matter to me. Thank you both for making it possible.

All images are by Dennis Stock (except for the earlier family photos of course). All images are used with permission from Marcus Winslow Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Liftoff 16:textbook” by Stephen Bett

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“At Eternity’s Gate” by Vincent Willem van Gogh circa 1890

Lift Off 16 : textbook

 I accept
(in this “book
of acceptance”)

I accept what
the doctors
tell me—

You, love, are
mentally ill
& our time
so abruptly
done

I accept,
what else
can I
say?

Except that
I still hurt
some days

What the fook
else can be
expected?
Bruised
memories
collide,
bruise
again

And you are
dying daily
within me
by slivers
(like they
said you
would,
such smart
people &
we are
simply
text-
book)

Moving
across its
sheaths
of paper

Though the
slivers feel
like shards
at times
—glass
cutting this
very page
you left
blank

 

Stephen Bett has had eighteen books of poetry published: Un/Wired (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2016); The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015); Those Godawful Streets of man: a book of raw wire in the city (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2014); Journal for Breathing Arizona (Ekstasis Editions, Spring, 2014); Penny-Ante Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 2013); Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown Press, 2013); Re-Positioning (Ekstasis Editions, 2011); Track This: a book of relationship (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010); SPLIT (Ekstasis Editions, 2009); Extreme Positions: the soft-porn industry Exposed  (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NYC, 2009); Sass ’n Pass (Ekstasis Editions, 2008); Three Women (Ekstasis Editions, 2006); Nota Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis Editions, 2005); Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003); High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003); High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2002); Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996); Lucy Kent and other poems(Longspoon Press, 1983).

His work has also appeared in well over 100 literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, as well as in four anthologies, and on radio.

His “personal papers” have been purchased by the Simon Fraser University Library, and are, on an ongoing basis, being archived in their “Contemporary Literature Collection” for current and future scholarly interest.

For reviews of his books, please see www.stephenbett.com

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet. His earlier work is known for its sassy, edgy, hip… caustic wit―indeed, for the askance look of the serious satirist… skewering what he calls the ‘vapid monoculture’ of our times. His more recent books have been called an incredible accomplishment for their authentic minimalist subtlety. Many are tightly sequenced book-length ‘serial’ poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music.

Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s “Contemporary Literature Collection” to purchase and archive his “personal papers” for scholarly use.

 

A New Interview with Artist, Fred Larucci

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Artist Fred Larucci has been producing drawings seen at galleries and in publications worldwide for several years now. His work is currently slated to appear in the art gallery scene in the upcoming short horror film Month from Jonathan Holbrook (Tall Men, Beloved Beast). Prints of his various works can be found at Fine Art America.

Is it still true your work never features the same subject twice?

This was true early on. I try to choose and select the best shot, something that works for me completely in my portrait Illustrations, I feel if I selected the overall best image, there’s no need to do the subject over again. In later years, I was asked a few times to do subjects that I’ve already done for shows and exhibits so in a way…. the answer to that is both yes and no.

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Are you excited to see seven of your portraits on screen in the film Month? Who are the subjects of those pieces?

Yes very excited because this format is something completely new that will be shown to a larger audience since the venue will be in a movie. The only portrait piece I can name now is the Director, Writer and Producer of the film Jonathan Holbrook (Tall Men, Beloved Beast), he wanted a Cameo to be included in the movie so I did one of him, sorry, I can’t disclose the rest until the movie is released or shown.

How did your first meeting with Jonathan Holbrook come about?

Facebook, lol….I was on a road trip with my Brother in West Virginia and we came across his last movie from 2016 called Tall Men. It took a while but I eventually wanted to see if the movie had its own page, to my surprise the director was on there and I sent him a single message telling him that his movie Tall Men was awesome. We became friends right after that and the rest is history.

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I understand you are also working as an associate producer on his newest feature film Beloved Beast? Is that something you have always had an interest in? How did that come to be?

I’m a big supporter of the Jonathan’s work, I like his movies and he likes my art, So we already had that in common not to mention that we became friends….we’re both creators, just in different ways, him with his movies and myself with my drawings…..late 2017 I sent him a message that I would like to somehow be involved with Beloved Beast since I was a supporter of his work, it didn’t matter if it was just promoting his movie through social media, marketing it to my 700,000 social Media fans or if it was some other kind of support. I also told him that I would like to work with him down the road if all possible on his next feature, not to get into movies, but to have something art related in one…a few months had past, Summer now… I got a private message from Jonathan saying he might need me for a short he’s doing this fall because one of the scenes in his next movie involves an art gallery and artwork. We’ve been working together ever since.

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Does it feel good to be able to express your creativity in such a different manner through you work on the film?

It’s harder because I don’t normally have the pressure of working under the gun like I’m doing with this movie, I usually work on subjects I want not the other way around. I asked about the shooting schedule thinking I had some time since they just got done wrapped up Beloved Beast and the director told me they’re going to start now.

What can viewers expect from Month? Are you at liberty to tell us any more about that?

Well for anyone who hasn’t seen Tall Men or soon to be released Beloved Beast…I would suggest you see his work to get a better understanding of what you might see in Month. From what I was told and I can’t elaborate too much about the plot is that it’s going to be bloody, He’s a Horror Director like John Carpenter and both directors have a knack for giving you the creeps with their movies.

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Film work aside, do you have any upcoming art projects you are excited to bring into existence?

I had to clear my schedule to work with the director Jonathan and the Chronicle Factory for this film since my portrait drawings usually take 3-4 weeks each to complete and he requested seven for the Movies Gallery scene. We are in talks to possibly get a piece of my art in his next feature after Month called Overbite but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

What have you learned most about the art world during your work in the field?

It has Highs and Lows…Stay focus, do what you love…you just need to forget about what other artists are doing and concentrate on your work. Nothing else should matter.

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As an artist is there any one piece of work you hold more dear than the others?

Not really, they take so long that I’m usually bored of them after they’re completed and posted in the Night Gallery and on Social Media…I usually don’t obsess with my work, In a way I feel relieved that the work is done and I can relax for a few days before I start searching for the next project.

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How do you think you have evolved most as an artist since we spoke last?

Try to stay active. Do Art fairs, Shows, Exhibits and constantly look for work that you can be involved in. Stay away from Money Making art calls that only have their best interest and business in mind and treat artists like Money making Cash Registers that they can benefits from. No artist should ever have to pay to have their art showcased. I’ve always said “If they think your art is good enough”, they’ll invite you to a show, exhibit or ask you to do it for free. I’ve dealt with a few of these early on. As for evolving….If you feel you can’t evolve anymore, you’re finished.

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“Walking Paths” by Millard C. Davis

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WALKING PATHS

Leaning down I followed a wisp
That left a trail no one could follow
Except in imagining what was there
And, even more, what was not.

Maybe you’ve been on such a trail,
Even wondered if it were left behind
Just for you to imagine upon,
If such be dreams by daylight, too.

If this is true, why come along
And see if we can find such a path
Has been laid out with us in mind
And is wide enough to take on two.

Millard C. Davis is a graduate of Middlebury College, Cornell University, and The University of Wisconsin. He has written The Near Woods (Knopf), Natural Pathways of New Jersey (Plexus), How to Read the Natural Landscape in Forests and Fields (National Science Teachers Association), and The Master Management Plan for the 38 Codified Natural Areas of New Jersey (New Jersey State government).

 

For Adeline Nall an Interview with her Son David

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On August 6, 1906 Anna Adeline Mart was born in Grant County , Indiana in the town of Marion to Nina Shugart and John Mart. She later became known as Adeline Nall, the speech and drama teacher at the Fairmount High School, Fairmount, Indiana who helped inspire James Dean to pursue his dreams and encourage countless others, including cartoonist Jim Davis to do the same. With her passing on November 16, 1996 the world lost one of most inspirational teachers of our time. It is with great pleasure and deep gratitude that I bring you the following in her memory from her son, David Nall.

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Did your mother ever talk much about her parents? What were they like as people?

Actually Mom and I lived with her mother, my Grandmother, Nancy Shugart Mart Mills from the age of 4 in 1937 until she, ultimately, went into a retirement community following her leaving teaching. (I called her “Grand Nina” because she was the “Grand – – what-ever” for the Knights of  Pythias Women’s Auxiliary (to learn more go to www.pythias.org) for the State of Indiana.)

An important part of mom’s early history was the fact that her father, John Mart, was a conductor on the Interurban, a passenger train that went from one small city to another in Indiana. Tragically, he was killed. I believe, at the age of 29 when attempting to get a drunken passenger off the train. This was when Mom was still a teenager. Grand Nina, who inherited the farm, re-married Edward Mills, Mom’s Step-father. She, however, was Adeline Mart. Grandpa Ed was hospitalized in the early ‘40s I believe, and I never saw him again.(I believe there was a serious mental problem.)

Mom and Dad divorced, in ’37 and she and I traveled by train to Marion and we moved in with Grand Nina.  At that time, in addition to Grand Nina and Grandpa Ed, there was a second  gentleman, Bill Hunter,  that lived there. I really don’t know why but he was there until his death, probably in the late ‘30s. Thus, as you can see, it was just the three of us until I left for collage. As you might suspect, this being during the depression, we were quite poor. The farm was only 36 acres so there really wasn’t very much income that came from it, Interestingly enough, I never thought that we were, actually, “poor”. I suspect that was because we were able to grow most of the vegetables that we ate.

Mom, originally, got a job as a reporter at the Marion Chronicle Tribune where she did quite well but her real love was teaching. Although I believe she taught, briefly, at a grade school in Marion she ultimately became a member of the teaching staff at Fairmount HS.

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Did she ever tell you much about her childhood? What was she like as a child? 

I really don’t know too much about her childhood, however, I know that she was a very bright student and extremely active in high school. She was Winner of the County Declamatory Contest ’21-’22, President Dramatic Club ’24,Year Book Staff ’24, HS School Chorus ’23-’24, Latin Club, in the Senior Play, Ukulele Club ’23. She was, also known as “The Most Popular Girl in School!” Unfortunately I don’t have anything about her collage activities, however, she did have a Masters Degree in, I assume, Speech.

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What was her life like during the time you came along? How did she come to find herself in Chicago? What led her back to Indiana?

My parents both graduated from Marion High School at the same time.  Dad’s name was Darl Otto Nall. I’m not sure when they were married and/or where both went to college but they ended up in Chicago where I was born in ’33.  It may have been because Dad graduated, I think, from the Univ. of Chicago and found work as a Social Worker for the Chicago Commons, a “Settlement  House” where we lived.  Mother got a job as a school teacher.  Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the marriage didn’t work out.

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Adeline & David Nall

What was she like as a mother?

My Mother was, literally, the most wonderful mother this world has ever known! Period! She was desperately concerned about my growing up without a “Father Figure” in my life! Living on a farm there were no men constantly around on a daily basis. (Grandpa Ed was, frankly, of NO help in that area!) Mom even re-married in hopes of “finding” a father for me. The marriage was a disaster and lasted a very short time.

Mom learned about the Cub and Boy Scouts of America organizations and quickly, at her urgency, I became a member. Why is this so important, you may ask? Well, remember, we lived on a farm which was at least 8 miles, away, from where my Cub Pack and later Boy Scout Troop met weekly. Yet, every week, 52 times a year, until I was able to drive, my Mother drove me to the weekly meetings, dropped me off and then, did something – – I have no idea what – -for the next 2 to 3 hours until the meeting was over at which time she picked me up and we drove another 8 miles back out to the farm so that I could have the “influence” of a male Cub Master and Boy Scout Leader. This is just one example.

Here is another. In High School I “tried out” and – – almost immediately – – was eliminated from the basketball team.  However, my Coach, realizing my disappointment, asked (I didn’t know the first part of this until much later) Mom and then me, if I would like a position as a “Student Manager” (This is the guy who, goes to every game – at home or away – hands out water and towels to the team during practice and the game and washes the uniforms, “jock straps” towels, et al)  She, apparently, was absolutely delighted (I learned after graduation) and thanked Coach Weaver very much for offering me the position!  The result was that, after her daily job of teaching she had to stick around school every night while the team practiced and/or played a game – in Fairmount or away – every night !  Unbelievable!  These are but two of the dozens of examples of her amazing role as both Mother and “Father”.  As I have said many times, My Mother and Wabash Collage are the two reasons of my success in life as an adult!

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What was it like growing up at the farmhouse? Can you tell us a little about that?

Well, lonely I guess!  Although I had a number of friends in Church and School, the nearest one lived about a mile and a half away from our farm.  I would see my “Best Friend” (to this day) only Sundays at Church. However, early in my life, I began to work on the farm driving tractors and trucks (I learned to drive at the age of 7) so was quite active physically.

Since both Mom and Grand Nina were members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union – WCTU (Grand Nina was Indiana State President at the time for a couple of years) I was strongly encouraged by Mom to begin entering the numerous teenager WCTU sponsored local and state public speaking contests and I, as the result with Mom’s brilliant speech training, was able to win a number of times during my time on the farm – again Mom driving me to ALL.

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What would you say is the most important thing you learned from her?

Honesty — Integrity — Hard Work — Study Hard — Never Give Up — and all the other vital things that one learns from a Good Mother.  However, I think the most important thing that she taught me, and this began at an early age when I began to speak at the WMCA Loyal Temperance League (LTL) competitions, was the “Art” if you will, of Public Speaking.  There are many elements to that which is why I use the term “Art”  First, I remember her telling me that whenever I was talking to, literally, more than one person, I should always remember that I was speaking to an “audience.”  This encompasses speaking clearly with inflection, correct and precise enunciation, proper gestures when applicable, et al.  This was even more emphasized when I was a member of her class in High School.  I remember her taking me into to the auditorium and pointing to the last seat in the very last row at the back right side.  “That, David is your most important listener!” she said.  “Make sure that he or she can hear every word you say with or without a mike!”  She also emphasized the use of gestures and facial expressions.  It was much more than simply telling a crowd something.  It was, truly, an art and required a LOT of practice, practice, practice. She was an excellent teacher!  As mentioned above, I credit her, and the head of the Speech Dept. at Wabash College, with any success that I have had during my  Career!

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What led her to pursue a career as a teacher?

While I don’t know for sure, I suspect it was something that she always wanted to do. Although, as mentioned above she, briefly, worked as a reporter in Marion at the news paper, I believe her first job in Chicago was teaching.  Mom was quite intelligent and she had a distinct desire to provide information to others to assist them in their life.  As you may know, not only did she teach Speech and Drama, – – Yes, the Director of a play is ‘teaching” the actors various ideas and concepts so that they can use the “teaching” to portray the character they are playing – –  she also taught French, and Spanish.  During the summers at our farm, when immigrant Mexicans were working in our fields I remember her going to their camp sites in the evenings to spend time with them perfecting her Spanish – – every evening for a couple of hours!  (As an aside  she, Dr Brigance, my speech Prof at Wabash, and a third Prof. from Indiana Univ. I believe, were selected by the State of Indiana Educational Department to design the Speech Curriculum for all Indiana High Schools.)

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What qualities did she possess that made her so good at that?

As mentioned above, intelligence and a great desire to inform and provide “talent” and her ability to work with teenagers.

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You once told me you and James Dean got the chance to play “money changers” in the Easter Pageant over in Marion. What do you remember about that most clearly? Adeline was also often a part of those. What was it about those that she enjoyed most do you think?

You received a picture of Mom in her Easter Pageant costume in the packet I sent.  This was an annual event in Marion, IN when I was growing up.  I remember that it was presented at the very large Marion Gymnasium with a cast and chorus of, I believe, 300 to 400 folks from many churches around town.  Because of her acting ability and her beauty (she was quite attractive) she was cast many times in the role of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  The show covered the entire basket ball floor which had a stage at one end where specific scenes – – The Last Supper – -A Temple etc – -., were set.  Every year, Grand Nina, Mom and I were in the show.  During HS Mom suggested that Jim sign up to be one of the members of the cast and we were both selected to portray “Money Changers”. As you know in the Bible the Money Changers were not all that honest in their work and Jesus “Cast them out of the Temple” Jim and I portrayed two of those that were chased out by him..

I think you are aware of Mom’s heavy involvement in the Marion community theater activity.  She both starred in and directed a great number of shows during her entire life – both before and after the short time she went to New York at Jim’s urging.  The Easter Pageant was just another theatrical activity in which she participated.  Theater was her Great Love!

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She seems to have inspired countless people from an early age on to pursue their dreams. What were her thoughts on that?

My Mother had a great talent with the “Art Of inspiration.”  She seemed to be able to identify individuals with almost hidden talents but who were not quite sure how, exactly, to develop those talents into a career, or a life experience, et al.  Once she noticed that element in a person, with a little probing, she seemed to be able to, gently, but firmly, nudge them along the right path.  At my age now, I can’t give you specifics but I can well remember her spending times over the dinner table when she spoke of this or that individual and what she was going to do to “push them along” the following day…

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What was it like during the time James Dean convinced her to go to New York to pursue her own? Was she nervous about the whole thing?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you much help on this since I was away at Wabash Collage from 1951 to 1955 and, during the summer, I was employed at our Boy Scout camp as their Program Director.  However, I really don’t think that she was “nervous” about going.  I do know that he was extremely influential in getting her to go and introduced her to his Agent and many other  contacts there.  As you may know, Jim had a brief but STRONG short career in NYC.  He was in plays on Broadway. He stared in The Immoralist and appeared on T.V before he went to Hollywood.  As such, his untimely death really hit her hard and she just lost interest in it.  However, as I may have mentioned, when I asked her why she returned she told me that she came to realize that she was a much better Director then she was an actress. As you know she was immediately rehired by Fairmount HS.

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What was she like on stage performing?

I did see Mom in a few of the many local productions she was in and directed, however it has been so long ago that I can’t remember any of their names. Having said that, however, I can remember that she was simply spectacular and received many, many accolades for both her performance and her directing talents. As mentioned in previous questions, Mom was very attractive in her younger years and did a great deal of acting from High School on.

How did she react to learning of Dean’s death? Was that a particularly hard time for her do you think? How did his passing affect you at the time?

When Jim was killed I was in the Army either in Basic Training or in MD or San Francisco, CA.  I simply don’t know what her reaction to Jim’s death was when she first learned of it.  She must have been in New York and I would suspect, as mentioned, that it hit her very hard.  I do think that (as I believe I mentioned) it may have really taken the heart out of her activities in New York and probably did cause her, at least partly, to return home.  As far as how did it affect me … quite frankly, while I was shocked and sorry to hear it, I was, obviously unable to attend the funeral because of the military, et al. Actually, I had the same feeling that I would have had if ANY of my High School buddies had suddenly been killed in  an automobile accident.

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Was she excited when she became a grandmother?

As you might expect, being a remarkable Mother she was, equally, a fantastic Grandmother as well. Unfortunately, since my wife(s) and I never lived near Marion (We lived in Chicago, California and Hartford, CT.) she was not really “around” if you will. Nevertheless, she never missed a birthday or Christmas with a card and/or a phone call, and we did spend a great deal of time visiting both she and Grand Nina down at the farm where she was with them constantly. They each, in turn, dearly loved their Grandmother.

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Martin Sheen visiting Adeline.

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What would you say is the best advice she ever gave you?

As I mentioned previously above, her advice was to live a Christian life, and live according to the “Law” of the Boy Scouts of America, “Be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent!”

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What was her personal approach to aging? What do you think we could all learn on aging gracefully from her?

This is an interesting question. As you know, once I graduated from collage I really left home. So individual “statements” weren’t available. However, looking back on her life I feel that she was “in control” very much of the entire period of her life from birth to her death at the age of 90 in 1996. I was with her at her death … well almost. I had arrived in Marion and was with her for quite a while that afternoon but had gone over to my motel room when I got a call that she had passed. Fortunately, we were able to spend quite a bit of “quality time” together earlier. She never lost one bit of her mental capacity to the very end. Although there were, obvious, physical difficulties, she had visitors, almost every day of retirement from Dean fans and other friends from, literally, everywhere. It was amazing! She spent time with each one of them! Young , old, it didn’t matter. She was pleasant, talkative, kind and gentle with never a word of “I’m busy now.” She was truly, an unbelievable and lovely person to the very end. While she, obviously, knew she was aging, it had NO effect on her approach to people.  I knew, and saw this throughout her entire life.  Hopefully, I am continuing down that same path!

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What were her personal thoughts on death and dying and what hopefully comes after?

Mom was a devout Christian! I’m sure that she spoke with her Father in Heaven every day of her life! Because of this she had absolutely no fear of dying and knew, without question that it was just another phase of Eternal Life … whether that started immediately or after the second Resurrection of Christ.

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What do you miss about her the most?

Her warmth, constant Motherly love, incredible ongoing training and teaching abilities long after her “formal teaching” was over and her wonderful and outspoken pride in my lifetime accomplishments.

What do you think she would have thought about how she is remembered today?

I think she would be very, very (and TOTALLY justified in being)… Proud.

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An Interview with Dan Baird

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Formed by Dan Baird of The Georgia Satellites and solo artist who brought the world the album Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin offer up authentic classic rock sounds in a way seldom seen in today’s music industry. The newest album Screamer is slated for release October 10, 2018 and can be preordered now at https://www.jcplmusic.com/shop-home/.

What was it like growing up in Georgia when you did? How do you think your early days helped shape you into the man you are today?

Well, I never thought about it while it was happening, or really since, as everybody has to grow up somewhere. I was born at the end of 1953, so I’m sure I wasn’t too much different than anybody else.I grew up in Sandy Springs which wasn’t as wealthy as it would become. Pre 285 it was the sticks I guess. It’s all I knew. Our past cannot help but shape us, for good and ill. I’m not so circumspect as to divine what individual things helped me in becoming myself. It just happened all by itself.

What are some of your most fond memories of that time? Do you consider yourself lucky to have been exposed to such a vast array of musical stylings via your mother?

There were a few people that I still stay in contact with, they’re the best of what went down. My mom’s taste in music really was pretty great. Still can’t get up with Mel Tormé, but much of what she tried to get me to listen to was really excellent. Ray Charles was instant, Merle was 5 years later, Sinatra another 10.

What was it like working your way from Georgia to playing worldwide? Do you think persistence and hard work are a must in your line of work?

I thought I was ready well before I was actually ready. We all do. What sprung us to playing around the world was a mix of dedication to what we liked, the desire to be as good as we could be on our instruments, both amateurs and professionals that took an active interest in us succeeding and then pure luck. Luck cannot be overrated.

No one is ever ready for the jump. There’s a whole set of problems you can’t find the answers to without the trial and error method. The errors kinda sting. The correct solutions you get right aren’t necessarily applicable to other situations. I’ve kinda learned to trust my intuition and not be upset when that wasn’t the correct path.

You once said in regards to working in the studio versus touring that, “I like both. They are different. I like different. One is makin’ movies. One is doing a play. If you’re an actor you should like to do both.” Do you enjoy the fact that music can allow one to put on a persona that lets them step outside of who they are in their everyday lives for the time they are working on their craft?

That’s an interesting way of looking at performance.

Personally, I enjoy people giving me a piece of themselves, as I try to do when I’m up there. Find the heart of the song and bring it to the front. On nights that isn’t available, just try to remember the lyric, hit pitch and keep time. That’s for live stuff. For studio, you’d best do it until you mean it.

So I don’t rely on the “outside persona” to do a show. I just keep fighting to bring “it” to the front. That’s why I don’t use a set list. “I feel like having fun” “I could really sink my teeth into a sad song” “ooh, ooh, that one!”

I don’t care for most “pro” music with the set list. I don’t feel like there’s money on the table.

I don’t know how actors do it.

 Speaking of actors were there any that left an impression on you early on that may have helped you do what you spoke of above? What do you think are some of the traits shared by musicians and actors?

I do remember seeing Robert Mitchum early on, thinking “that’s what a badass looks like”. Thunder Road, I think. The whole idea involved in performance was summed up well by Alfred Hitchcock; getting your audience to suspend disbelief. I’m not good enough to fake it, so I try to make sure I immerse myself in the moment I wrote something, what it means now, or if it’s a cover, why it means something to me. You get the idea that I hate just connecting dots. Boring on stage is plain ugly in the audience.

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Your music has always had a sort of authentic and sincere feel to it, as opposed to the music you find on the mainstream charts at this time, what do you attribute that to? How is that accomplished?

You go ahead and combine these questions to make them fit. I honestly didn’t read ahead. Ha!

Mainstream was never what I listened to. I completely gave up 25 years ago. It’s music for young folks. Always has been. Pop music usually isn’t even interesting. That said, I love The Monkees and ABBA. Go figure.

How has the music industry changed most since you started your career in it?

Completely.

Record sales used to be a real thing.

Can you tell us a little about Homemade Sin and the members of it? What do you enjoy most about working with this particular bunch of fellows?

We became Homemade Sin when Warner joined, sometime around 2007.

Mauro Magellan and I took about a 10 year break. Long story, way too long. He’d been with me since Sats days. He came back in sometime in 2005 or so.

Sean Savacool joined last year.

Warner is a founding member of Jason and the Scorchers, and still is as far as I know. He was a true shot of adrenaline when he came on board. Always looking for a new way to say something on the guitar. He takes care of me being a crappy showman. Sargent Rock with a Les Paul on.

Mauro is the guy. He hasn’t been dependable 2 or 3 nights out of 35 years. It was always equipment failure. We know each other all too well.

I usually start the songs then turn quickly to him and ask for a tempo adjustment. All my fault, but I’ll deliver the tune better. He nudges it for me.

Sean, is the new guy, he is YOUNG. 33. He can play for a young’n. Promise ya that. Someone will poach him. He’s that good.

 What can fans expect from the new album Screamer? Are there any tracks on it that are more dear to you than others?

Part 2 First. Of course there are. Of course I won’t tell. Do you like one kid more than the other? Yes, and you’re not telling either. Not quite as riff oriented as Rollercoaster. A few more strummy and funny songs.

You also once said “Soul is better than talent.” Do you find that to be true in all aspects of life?

Not all.

See, you have to have a certain amount of talent to even be able to really try to do somethings. Hit a baseball, comprehend a contract, do calculus, bake. The list goes on. But you can always tell when that someone is doing it with soul. When that’s part of the equation, it jumps out at you.

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

Not D minor. (Spinal Tap joke)

Combo of intuition and courage. Figure out what your spirit needs, have the guts to answer the bell when it’s time.

How do you hope to be remembered when your time is up?

I hope I achieve rock and roller status. That’s not a little thing.

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An Interview with Jeff Carlson

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Potomac Records newest artist The Jeff Carlson Band recently released their newest single, the power ballad Never Be Another You. Deeply influenced by the so-called glam and hair metal bands of the 1980’s the band likes to deliver up power ballads in the same tradition.

Can you tell us a little about what first peaked your interest in music?

What peaked my first initial interest in music was my mother took me to see Kiss in 1975, as well as Black Oak Arkansas-and I got to meet Jim Dandy Mangrum- the singer. He was the guy that David Lee Roth took everything from as far as looks and stage moves go. That made a HUGE impact on me as a kid! Kiss made a HUGE impact on me as well…they were just the coolest!

Who were some of your influences?

My influences…let’s see…as a kid, like I just stated, definitely Kiss and Black Oak Arkansas, but the older I got, I really got into Elvis Presley. He started it all, and when I went to see his house in Memphis in 1984, it made a HUGE impact on me as far as influences go, for if it was not for him, I’m not sure we would’ve had Kiss, Black Oak Arkansas or anybody else, because Elvis was the world’s first rock star! I then went to see and met Bon-Jovi around 1985, when they opened for Ratt, and that made a huge impact on me as well! After that I was hooked on Bon-Jovi. Not so much anymore, because I won’t see them without Richie Sambora, but back then- they were cool as hell!

How have your own musical tastes evolved over time?

Well, my musical tastes hopefully have gotten more refined, and I’d like to think that you can never stop learning, no matter how old you are! My pitch has definitely gotten better, but that’s from years of doing it, and working with a really great producer, such as Brett Hansen!

When did you first realize you wanted make music your profession?

 I first realized I wanted to make my living as a musician at the age of 14!

As someone who likes to deliver up power ballads do you miss the days when they were the mainstream norm? Do you think that will ever happen again?

I do miss the days when Power Ballads were the norm…as far as them ever coming back, I don’t think we’ll ever see an age like it was in 1987, but on saying that I would love to be on a major playlist on FM radio! Hopefully that’ll happen! I’ve been very fortunate to have Mike Bailey believe in me and what I’m doing, so hopefully eventually something big will happen. I’m the kind of guy who really tries to look at the glass as half full, as opposed to half empty!

What do you think it is about power ballads that make them so endearing and appealing?

I think that on a Power Ballad, it has to have feeling in not only the lyrics, but in the vibe of the vocals, and the music has to complement the vocal lines. People can relate to the words- especially, so once all of those components are done correctly, it really is felt by the audience.

What are your thoughts on the music industry as it is at this time?

I think that the music industry is very clicky as far as the big labels go…I mean it doesn’t seem that they’ll sign you if you’ve not already sold 100,000 copies of your music out of the trunk of your car! They don’t want to take any chances on talent, they just look for this weeks Adam Levine, or Justin Beiber to sign you. Personally, I’m not a fan of today’s scene…but, if you want to get anywhere, then you have to tour, so I’m all for touring, but the problem with that is, that unless you either buy your way on a tour, or are in tight with either the promoter of the show, or the headliner, that seems to be the only way you can get on a bigger show.

What do you hope your listeners take away from your work?

I really hope that the listener takes away the feeling of the song, because it’s all about the vibe of the song to me…I’m a huge fan of the big vocal sounds of Steve Perry, and just 70’s and 80’s arena rock in general, so if they can relate to that kind of vibe-(that’s what I’m striving for) then that’s cool with me!

How do like working over at Potomac Records so far ?

I am very lucky to have Mike Bailey and his staff help me thus far, we’ve only released our first song Never Be Another You so far, but I am very happy to be with Potomac!

What have you learned from that experience?

What have I learned…well, honestly, it really is a building experience to get out there…it doesn’t happen overnight, and you have to be ready for anything. I’m just happy to have a label at this point!

Can you tell us a little more about the other members in your band? What does it take to make a band that works?

My guys are Robbie Wolfe-Lead Guitar and Harmony Vocals, Kyle Kelli on Drums, Cory Kay on Bass Guitar, and my Producer is Brett Hansen. It really does take a team to make it work, and I’ve got a great bunch of guys! I also have to give a shout out to Todd Turgeon, who played the drum tracks on the song in the studio, and Robbie Sherre- who played Bass on the video!

What projects do you currently have in the works?

I have 2 new songs, they are called So Long and Promise The Moon that are done being recorded, but are now currently being mixed down, as well as we shot a new full length video for my new song So Long that is going to be killer!

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

I would like to say a big thank-you to Mike Bailey, Brett Hansen, you-Tina, and most of all to the fans for their support, because without the fans, there would be no me! See you out on the road! Cheers!