The Back Fence

Kalamazoo

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Kalamazoo

                                    a few years back on a summer tour in the USA with our band there was a city i couldn’t wait to get to for a personal reason…detroit.  why detroit?  because detroit is reasonably near to kalamazoo michigan…and why there?  because in kalamazoo there’s a building that is as much a part of the history of america as…let’s say tesla’s lab in NYC or the airfield in kitty hawk north carolina.  on a day off i rented a car and made the trip over to kalamazoo to...

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Ann from Massachusetts

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Ann from Massachusetts writes:   Dear Roly, Your paintings remind me very much of Dodge Macknight. The style, like his, is vivid but at the same time there’s a sort of subdued element, like something lying underneath that’s calming. Was he an inspiration to you? Roly:  He wasn’t but it looks like he was drawn to some of the same things that I have been and have made pictures of.  I actually had never seen his work until you pointed him out.  He was really something.  I’d bet that he worked outside a lot…what I was able to look at seemed like it has a lot of...

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Mike from Toronto

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Mike M. from Toronto, Ontario writes:  Roly, Have been a big fan of you and Silvertone for years, seeing 13 concerts in the last 2 years. My question is was Bob Dylan ever an influence on your own music. I recently was at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and listening to several Bob Dylan albums, when it struck me that that the Killing the Blues album reminded me of Dylan’s work?  P.S thanks for signing my daughter’s bass guitar. She is 16, taking bass, and is a big big fan of yours. Roly:  Mike; Bob Dylan and I were probably influenced by a lot of common factors and maybe...

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Georgie from Baltimore

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Georgie from Baltimore writes:  I wanted to ask about the Memphis Girl painting. Is that a lithograph or a watercolor?  It is very striking…probably one of my favorite pieces out of the paintings displayed. What was your inspiration behind that one? Something about it really draws me in. Roly:  Georgie..thanks for the inquiry about that painting.  It’s a “snapshot” from a song also called Memphis Girl…a song of mine which is on my record.  In the painting you see a girl who’s between two railcars and on the move…pushing along.  Have you ever...

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Angie from Littleton

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Angie from Littleton writes: I’ve just gone through a devastating family loss, and was lucky to recently hear Shawn Colvin perform “Killing the Blues”.  Thanks for such a beautiful song!  It seems so sad, but not hopeless.  You had to know it would affect people, but how did you expect it to leave people feeling? Roly: Angie…well I am sorry to hear that you came into such a sad and difficult time.  If any song at all could help even one person in their unique time of sorrow…then that song will have succeeded as a contribution.  “Killing The...

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Deb from Maine

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Deb from Maine writes: Roly, I’m an artist & writer as well, and creatively for the last few months, I seem to be in a waveless ocean, just treading water and going nowhere.  If that has happened to you, what have you done to get past it and get things moving again? Roly: “It’s amazing what you can do if you’ll just get started”  said the Irish girl the morning after a serious night at the pub.  Anyway…whenever that happens to me I try to shake up my routine a little.  Routines are sneaky and there are a lot of things that can quietly assume control...

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Ang from East Lansing

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Ang from East Lansing, MI writes: Which part of the song writing process do you enjoy more: writing the lyrics or crafting the musical arrangements? Roly:   I’d say that the part I like best about writing is the second you realize that you’ve just written a song.

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Karin from West Texas

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Karin from West Texas writes: How important are lyrics to you? Do they have to be true? Since you write your own lyrics, do you feel they are written in stone or do the lyrics evolve/change after many live performances? How long does it take you to write one song’s lyrics? Do you write the lyrics first and add music or what? Roly: To start with…in general I think I’m what you might call a seasonal writer…not all that steadily prolific.  It’s not a vocation for me so I wouldn’t be waking up saying, “I’m a songwriter and by mid-afternoon today...

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Mareea from Burleigh Heads

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Mareea from Burleigh Heads, Queensland writes: During your last tour in Australia, did you get a chance to do any painting on the Queensland coast? I’m just learning the watercolour medium and am still experimenting. That, and the situation that on some days the light intensity and clarity in scenery can be stunning can prove to be very challenging to represent on paper. Even though I’m loving it I just wish I can get certain techniques down so I know the outcome when I do the brushstrokes. How do you deal with the times when you don’t reckon you’ve captured the...

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