Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Fan

Richmond, Virginia circa I won't say when. The year I began my college career, I had no idea how influential it would be for the rest of my life. The school, Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William & Mary (Now VCU), was the arts division of that renowned college. It was located near Monroe Park, from which the streets fanned out through the district that became known as "The Fan". The classrooms, with a few exceptions, the theatre, the visual arts buildings and a couple of academic buildings were housed in antebellum homes that were present when Robert E. Lee walked the streets.

It was not the buildings or even the District that truly defined what "The Fan" was. It was a center of creative energy such as I have never since been able to discover. Everyone, famous or infamous, was obsessed with the arts: music, theatre, dance, visual arts, sculpture, design, photography and illustration. It was a mecca that celebrated the avant garde and the unusual with great and not-so-great talents. The only way I can describe it is that it was what I imagined, through reading books like Shakespeare and Company, the history of Sylvia Beach's iconic Paris bookstore in the twenties and thirties, biographies and films, the "Left Bank" was during that period of "The Village" in the thirties.

The people, as well as the art, created the energy. College buds, Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, etc.) who was gone on to sell millions of books and be declared one of the greatest writers of the Twentieth Century, Bernard Martin, an internationally known artist whose paintings far exceed my budget, Bill Jones, a journeyman painter who could paint anything you desired, a Matisse, Picasso or a Monet. The only thing he couldn't paint was a "Bill Jones". Dick Carlyon, a well-known artist who became one of the great art history professors of all time. There were also recognized artists, actors, playwrights and musicians that were "Artists-in-Residence" during the period. The names go on and on.

It was the age of Abstract Expressionism in the visual arts and James Dean, Julie Harris, Christopher Plummer and others in the theatrical world. While the painters and sculptors headed off to study with Hans Hoffman in the summers, we actors found work wherever we could, adapting whatever image we felt would get us through the door. I mentioned James Dean. The picture included in the post was my first professional publicity photo, taken by my friend Bernard Martin, who mastered photography as well as paint.

The creativity wasn't limited to art. There was the time when, out of cash and thirsty, Bill Jones called the local brewery (They produced Richbrau Beer) at ten o'clock at night, announcing himself the president of The Walpole Art Association, a group visiting Richmond from Farmville, Virginia, and leaving in the morning. He asked if it was possible to tour the brewery. They agreed and fifteen or so thirsty college artists had as much beer to drink as they could manage.

I was very privileged to have experienced those people and granted an extraordinary life by them. In speaking with Martin and Robbins recently, we all agreed that one could not find that kind of creative energy, atmosphere and characters in one place in today's world ever again.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Author Interview: Featured on The Cult of Me

Hey everyone, wanted to make those who follow the blog aware of an author interview posted about me on a UK blog called "The Cult of Me." While the blog owner promotes his own material, he also works really hard to help other authors out and have the chance to talk a little bit about themselves. Well, I did just that, and the result is posted here! -> Send me to the interview!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Spring season, and you should definitely stay tuned for a new book hopefully coming out this summer!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Prologue Excerpt

For those of you who regularly follow my tweets or Facebook, you'll know that I have a new novel I'm working on. While it is not finished, I am including the prologue to the book here to keep you all updated. Enjoy!

**Please note that any and all words here are my own. Copyright infringement will not be tolerated**

Prologue after the jump.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Days With Brother Jukebox

There are those who know me personally - if anyone does - know before I began writing books, I spent a lot of years - actually what I call "years of night", meaning I didn't have a lot of days, in the music business. Nights were when you made your living. I was a singer, singin' all kinds of music: doo-wop, progressive jazz (remember The Four Freshmen, the Hi-los? Prob'ly not.), rock and roll, blues. Finally, I sang songs that were about heartbreakin', womanizin', cheatin', hard-drinkin' and fightin'. Did they all end in "in"? Songs like "Brother Jukebox" and "Hank Williams You Wrote My Life" and others. Those two and more were written by my friend, Paul Craft, who also wrote for the Eagles, Linda Ronstad and Dolly Parton. There were also lesser songs in this genre that I didn't sing (one has to have standards), songs like "If I'da Killed You Then I'd Be Gettin' Out Now" or "Ain't No Trash in My Trailer Since You Left."

It was those latter clubs, some with chicken wire in front of the bandstand to ward off beer bottles, in places like War, West Virginia and Penns Grove, NJ, that introduced me to a number of things the other music scenes hadn't provided, such as going to sleep on Monday and waking up on Wednesday on a bus, somewhere, with people, some of whom I knew and others who had just joined the fray while I was sleeping. It was a "Brother Jukebox, Sister Wine" kind of existence.

I was thinkin' about some of those experiences late last night when I realized my blog had been pretty much ignored while my brain was searching for the next novel. I then asked myself was music or writin' the most fun. Ever do that? Ever ask yourself what the best time, the best period of your life, the one with the most fun was? Just for you. Don't think about anybody else.

Looking back, I would have to say music was the most fun time without question. Musicians have no responsibilities except for the music. Musicians have no responsibilities except for the music. But, I also have to admit writin' is a good time, too, and less damaging and safer. I would also have to admit that the life experiences I got through music gave me things to write about. (Nothin' Left to Lose). We will talk more about this later. I'm off to Virginia, but I'm not invitin' Brother Jukebox or Sister Wine.