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!

An Interview with & the Art of Mariusz Kędzierski

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Mariusz Kedzierski was born in Poland. Despite being born without arms he went on to become an accomplished writer and motivational speaker, encouraging others to overcome their own personal limitations.

What were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond early memories?

My childhood was a time of happiness. I was growing up in a small town, where everyone knew that there is someone different. I used to play with my friends from kindergarten and didn’t really think about my disability. I knew I am not like everyone, but it was not a problem then.

Do you remember learning to draw at the age of the 3? What was it like to discover your own ability to create?

I wasn’t learning it then. It was just for fun. My first drawing was a task at kindergarten. We had to draw a scene from movie – The Lion King. I used to draw only when I had to do it.

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What do you love most about your craft?

It would sound general, but it has changed my life in all ways. It’s difficult to explain, but art has changed my way of thinking. I became more self-confident, it is my work now, because of art I found my girlfriend and found out a lot about myself!

Was it hard to give up your drawing at age 12? How did it feel when you were able to get back to it?

It was not hard, because in the past I didn’t want to do it. I had no idea what I would do in my life.

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Do you feel lucky to have been able to also work as a motivational speaker? How does it feel to be able to give others the gift of hope?

It is a huge pleasure and mission of my life to complete. My classmates used to play in the theater, but I preferred to keep away of stages. I didn’t want to perform. But, as I previously wrote, art changed my way of thinking, I knew that people need someone like me. I knew it when I saw Nick Vujicic for the first time. Then I decided to overcome my shame and practice speaking. And now I do it professionally.

Do you ever wish people wouldn’t put so much focus on the fact that you were born without arms? Do you enjoy having the chance to show people that sometimes there are no such things as limits?

No, I don’t. I like it, because that way I can show them that if I can do so many things without arms, then they should ask themselves the question, “What is my limitation and why it blocks me?”

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Your work focuses mostly on portraits, what is it about the human form that you find most fascinating?

People inspire me. Their faces, eyes, beauty. They are full of feelings I want to capture in art, because art without feelings doesn’t exist for me.

Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being?

The biggest dream was my solo exhibition in NYC and it happened almost a month ago in Caelum Gallery, Manhattan. Now I want to publish my first book.

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What was it like to travel through Europe and do your work on the streets there? Do you have any interesting stories to tell from those travels?

That was amazing trip and amazing adventure. A great possibility to talk to people and motivate those who had no idea they needed it before. The possibility to find out more about their mentality. There were a lot of stories, but one was really special. That was in Paris. I met a girl and her family. She was the only one who was speaking English and French. They were afraid, because they were illegal immigrants. But when we were talking, she had tears in her eyes. She told me that was a very difficult time for them, they were running away from poverty and didn’t know what to do then. But I brought them a hope that even in the most difficult time they will survive and everything will be fine.

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

Yes, there are! I am a huge fan of FC Barcelona, as I child I dreamed about playing there. As a teenager I danced salsa for two years. I have drivers license and I love luxury cars. Last weekend I was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo on Poznań Circuit, over 200km/h with only one finger.

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

I think that the key is to live a balanced life in every sphere of life. We can start doing great things only when we are satisfied with our family, work and every basic thing in our lives which are important for us. And maybe it sounds simple, but to celebrate the smallest things.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Just two words – be patient.

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

I would love to thank you for the interview. I hope it helps people to notice, that there are a lot of barriers on our way, that’s called life. But it doesn’t mean we have to stop fighting for our dreams, for better future. Focus on your goals and follow them, because time is running out and will never be back. Thank you.

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An Interview with Mike Farris

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Mike Farris is well known as a lawyer focusing on entertainment law as well as a presenter speaking on topics ranging from beginning screenwriting and cinematic storytelling to legal issues faced by writers. He has represented various university presses in regards to film rights, most notably Free State of Jones (2016) starring Matthew McConaughey and directed by Gary Ross. Mike is also an author of several titles of his own, as well as Call Me Lucky: A Texan in Hollywood were he worked alongside the iconic Bob Hinkle. His most recent book, Fifty Shades of Black and White: Anatomy of the Lawsuit behind a Publishing Phenomenon is about the case he handled involving the Fifty Shades of Grey Lawsuit.

For more information on Mike’s various books please see Amazon.

What was it like growing up in Texas? How do you think your early days have shaped you into the individual you are today?

I love being a Texan. Even though I was actually born in Louisiana, my parents are both Texans – mother born in Waco and father born in Fort Worth – so I claim being a Texan by heritage. I did get here as quickly as I could, though, arriving at the age of nine and living here ever since (nearly 54 years now). High school football is huge in Texas, and I played football at Dallas’s “Heisman High” – Woodrow Wilson High School, the first high school in the nation, and still the only public high school in the nation, to have produced two Heisman Trophy winners – neither of whom was me: Davey O’Brien (winner in 1938 at TCU) and Tim Brown (winner in 1987 at Notre Dame). I also played football in college, although size and lack of talent held me back from any higher aspirations.

My father was a Baptist preacher, and a missionary to Japan, where I lived for five years (ages two to seven), so church was also a big part of my life. I think that upbringing, as well as the discipline and camaraderie of organized sports, helped shape my life in a lot of ways. Things I learned from both at an early age still inform my life today.

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How did you come to be a lawyer? Why did entertainment law appeal to you most?

My original plan was to become a high school football coach. That changed in my last years of college, when I decided to pursue a PhD in American History and look for a college teaching job. I fell into going to law school almost by chance. One of my football teammates in college had his sights on law school so, feeling his influence, as well as my mother’s urging to pursue law, I took the LSAT (law school admittance test) just as I finished my course work on a master’s degree in History and prepared to tackle a thesis. I scored well on the LSAT, so I decided to apply to law school at Texas Tech University, where my college teammate was in school. When I was accepted, I made the decision to attend law school and not to write my master’s thesis. I don’t regret the choice, but I often wish I had finished the master’s degree just so I could say I finished what I started.

I took a job with one of Dallas’s largest firms after I graduated, and made partner in six years, specializing in commercial litigation. But I always had a passion to write so, after a lot of false starts, finally forced myself to start, and finish, a novel. My transition into entertainment law followed after that, as I started teaching myself about the business of publishing and the sister business of filmmaking. From there, the move into entertainment law seemed natural. Of course, there is not a lot of entertainment law to be done in Dallas, but I was ultimately able to carve out a small niche in that field as part of my law practice, with my focus on film and publishing.

What are some of the most daunting legal challenges in the industry that writers need to be aware of?

I think the most daunting challenges for writers are in the world of non-fiction, because of concerns about defaming living persons or infringing on the rights of others. Of course, copyright law also is challenging, but is something I believe writers need to be at least somewhat familiar with.

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What areas of the entertainment industry would you say most need to be improved upon at this time?

I don’t really have a complete answer for that, but as it becomes easier for writers to self-publish and filmmakers to make their own movies, I see problems in quality control. Just because you can publish your own book or shoot your own movie with very little assistance from anyone else, doesn’t mean you should.

How did you make the transition from lawyer to author?

I have always loved to write, even as a kid. Back in the 1990s, I had a case I worked on for 10 years – that’s right, 10 long years for one case – that involved the world of “fidelity” law, which is a form of insurance that protects financial institutions and other businesses from losses caused by such things as employee dishonesty, counterfeiting, and other actions that border on crimes, even though this is an area of civil law. That case helped inspire story ideas for me. Additionally, the world of litigation is ripe with story ideas. Not only that, but litigation – trial work – is essentially storytelling. Each side of a lawsuit is telling a story to the judge and jury, and trying to convince them that their story is the right one. It seemed like a natural transition from being a lawyer to being an author, telling stories.

Do you enjoy one more than the other, or do you enjoy both equally?

I am now retired, so this is an easy one: I enjoy writing more than practicing law.

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Bob Hinkle showing off his skills with the rope.

What was it like to work with Bob Hinkle on Call Me Lucky:  A Texan in Hollywood?  What would you say is the most important thing you learned from that experience?

I have said many times that working with Bob on Call Me Lucky was probably the most fun I ever had as a writer. I sometimes found myself so caught up in his stories that I would forget to take notes. I knew a lot of the movies and people he talked about, so it was easy to get caught up in it all.

What is Bob like as a person?

He’s exactly what you’d expect a West Texas good-ol’-boy to be like: dry wit with a great sense of humor, leisurely Texas drawl, and fascinating storyteller. Not only that, but I found him to be a “straight shooter” and imminently reliable. We actually finished the book quicker than I expected because I could always count on him to answer my questions and provide the information I needed in a timely fashion. He was a dream to work with.

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Mike Farris & Bob Hinkle.

Are there any interesting stories you have from your time spent working with him on that project?

The way we approached the book was this: I had Bob prepare a list of “events” from his life, which I then organized into a structure for the book. I broke the “events” down with questions, which I emailed to him. He then dictated answers to my questions on a cassette tape. Then we would meet at the McDonald’s in Forney, just east of Dallas, where he would deliver the tape and then talk for an hour or two about what was on the tape, and answer my questions. I would then take the tape, transcribe it, and write a chapter. I would leave blanks in the chapter with questions I would put in bold type, then I would send the chapter to him. He would dictate answers, we would meet, and the so on. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent listening to his voice on the tapes, then listening to him in person as we talked further. By the time all was said and done, I had his voice ingrained in my mind – it was almost as if I could hear him speaking as I wrote, and then as I rewrote. One of the biggest compliments I have received over the years is numerous people who know Bob and who told me it sounded as if Bob, himself, had done the writing.

Why do you think it is important to preserve for future generations the memories held by those who came before in writing, while they are still here? Do you ever worry a lot of wisdom is being lost with the passing of time?

I very much believe it is important to preserve stories for future generations. As I said before, I worked on a master’s degree in American History, and I strongly believe in the power of history to shape our futures, and in the importance of storytelling to preserve our culture. I do worry that much wisdom is being lost by the passage of time, as icons of our history pass away. I have heard about several projects in which writers or documentarians are making a point of speaking to World War II veterans to preserve their stories for posterity. I applaud those efforts.

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How did your newest book Fifty Shades of Black and White: Anatomy of the Lawsuit behind a Publishing Phenomenon come to be? What can your readers expect from this particular title?

This was one of the most interesting cases I ever worked on, not just because of the subject matter being related to a publishing blockbuster, but the underlying facts were also fascinating. There was worldwide attention paid to the case, primarily because of the subject matter, but also because of its own particular story. My client and co-writer is Jenny Pedroza. As I’m writing this, I did a Google search using “jenny pedroza fifty shades of grey lawsuit” and came up with 2,100,000 hits.

The lawsuit was about a group of women, working as a partnership, who originally published the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (Fifty Shades of Grey,Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed) with their company, The Writer’s Coffee Shop. But when it came time to sell the publishing rights to Random House, one of the women (Amanda Hayward, who lives in Australia) took the position that The Writer’s Coffee Shop was not a partnership but was, rather, solely her company. The deal with Random House ultimately paid approximately $43 million to Amanda Hayward, who did not share it with her partners. I represented Jenny Pedroza, and we filed suit in Fort Worth, Texas, and asked the court to declare that The Writer’s Coffee Shop was a partnership and that Jenny was a partner entitled to her share of the profits. After a jury trial the end result was a judgment in Jenny’s favor that totaled (including prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees) in excess of $13.2 million.

Fifty Shades of Black and White: Anatomy of the Lawsuit behind a Publishing Phenomenon is exactly what the title suggests.  It tells the story of what happened behind the scenes with The Writer’s Coffee Shop as well as what happened in the lawsuit. It is written in the form of two “stories”: Jenny’s and mine, with each of us telling things from our own perspective.

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Taken after the jury verdict in the Fifty Shades lawsuit. From left to right: Mike Farris, Jenny Pedroza, Brent Turman, and Christa Beebe. Christa was also a client; Brent was co-counsel.

What projects are you currently working on? Do you have a dream project you’d most like to accomplish before your time is up?

I have another book coming out in June, called Poor Innocent Lad: The Tragic Death of Gill Jamieson and the Execution of Myles Fukunaga. This is true crime from Hawaii, and tells the tragic story of the abduction and murder of the 10-year-old son of an executive of the Hawaiian Trust Company in 1928 Honolulu. In the pipeline are a novel about a serial killer and another non-fiction book from Hawaii, involving the world of Hotel Street, which was the red light district in World War II Honolulu, and the criminal trial of a notorious prostitute during that era.

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

I appreciate your thoughtful questions.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your world.