There are no rules: Singer-Songwriter Doug Burton on Leaving a Musical Legacy

Doug Burton is a singer-songwriter based in Fayetteville, NC. He has been actively writing & performing since forming his first high school punk rock band, The Cooties, in 1985 in Williamsburg, VA. Doug and Cooties drummer Chris Layton began a songwriting partnership in 1992 that quickly morphed into the band Gunston Midas. Gunston Midas would go on to be a mainstay in the Tidewater, VA/Outer Banks, NC indie rock scene over the next 20 years.

Upon relocating to Fayetteville in 2014, Doug embarked on a solo career, releasing the album, “Hotel Reverb” under the pseudonym Junction Medias that same year. He played regularly at the local venue The Rock Shop, and made frequent appearances in the Triangle area. 2019 saw the release of his second solo album, “Context Is Everything,” which was recorded & produced by Shawn Adkins at Back-A-Round Studio. In July 2019, along with local musician Michael Daughtry, he co-founded Fayetteville Songwriters In The Round, a monthly live original music series. The series features the best local songwriters as well as guests from around North Carolina. During the COVID hiatus, Doug wrote a new album called “Good Music,” which will go into production in early 2022 as the sixth Gunston Midas album. He has been happily married to Katie Jones Burton since 1998. They have no children and wouldn’t have it any other way. They enjoy staying at home and listening to a good record as well as going to concerts & traveling.

Burton at Back-a-Round Records

3 Things making your life richer & why

1. My love of music is my foundation. My main goal in life is to leave the world a better place than I found it. My way of doing this is through the music I make. Being that my wife and I decided to not have children, the music I leave behind will be my legacy and I take that seriously with every album I release and with every live performance. 

2. The love I share with my wife and my closest friends sustains me and when I need them, they’re always there. Likewise, being a good friend and a loving husband is of paramount importance to me and when I fall short, I feel extremely bad about myself. I am a perfectionist. I don’t consider a song and/or album to be finished until it is exactly the way I want it to be and I extend that high standard to most things in my life. It sometimes makes things difficult but when I do succeed, I feel like a tremendous success.

3. The music community here in Fayetteville is, for the most part, a close knit circle and a caring & giving support system. There are healthy rivalries to be sure, but ultimately, there is a real sense of community here that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Artists here are often inspired by each other, which is also rare in my experience. When a fellow musician says they listened to my album and it meant something to them, that means a lot to me.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Michael Daughtry. Upon relocating to Fayetteville in 2014, Michael was the first musician who befriended me and he has been an endless source of inspiration as well as a great friend. I’ve seen him behind the scenes and I’ve seen him on stage and he is by far the hardest working musician I know. His work ethic, passion, and positive attitude are infectious. Though he seemingly has more projects going on than time in the day in which to complete them, he is always giving with his time when I need to run an idea by him or just to chat. He sets an unbelievably high bar for local musicians to aim for. Keeping up with The Joneses? No, I try to keep up with The Daughtry!

Michael Daughtry and Doug Burton

What is one of your current artistic experiments?
During the COVID lockdown, I wrote a large batch of songs and I have written more in the meantime. I have selected twelve that will make up my new album, “Good Music,” and I’ve been busy recording home demos in preparation for the planned recording sessions in early 2022. I am also re-launching the Songwriters In The Round series every month at Fayetteville Bakery & Cafe.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? Throughout 2020, I periodically posted songs performed acoustically at home, in the studio, and at various locations in which I found myself. This “Acoustic Series” allowed me to practice my newly written songs as well as revisit many older Gunston Midas tunes. I have not continued the series into 2021 as I have been able to get out and play for people in person more. The various Open mic opportunities in Fayetteville allow local musicians the ability to try out new material and get the immediate feedback not possible with home practice.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I have a music room in our house where I have my guitars and recording gear set up. I keep my Fender Telecaster out and readily available as well as my Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic guitar and Mustang bass. My other guitars are packed in their cases but I do use some of them occasionally on recordings for a variety of tones. I practice there daily but sometimes I also practice while sitting at the computer, especially if I am working on something new so I can make notes to remember parts and/or lyrics for future use.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I would stop short of calling it “random,” or “magic,” but it’s often a little of both. “Love Makes You Stupid” from my “Context Is Everything” album was inspired by a Seinfeld episode. My early Gunston Midas song “Vancouver” was written in the aftermath of a friend I knew I would miss moving to Vancouver. The title track on “Good Music” is about my desire to leave as much good music  behind as possible, when “my time disappears.” Then there are songs like “Fire Ants” which is a story told through the eyes of a fire ant and how life is often disappointing but “you get used to it.” The first song I ever wrote was in high school in 1985. It was called “Chair.” One day, a friend sat down next to me in class and said, “I wish I had a nice chair ’cause all of these are so uncomfortable.” A lightbulb inside my head suddenly switched on. The first line of “Chair” turned out to be “I wish I had a nice chair ’cause all these are so uncomfortable.” My songwriting mantra is “Never question The Muse.” My Muse has been singing to me since 1985 and I will listen until she stops. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre.
1. Get it on tape. Or ones & zeros in modern parlance. I wish I had recorded many of the songs I wrote early in my life as a musician that have disappeared into the forgotten depths of history. It was more difficult in those days to record but with today’s technology, songwriters are in a golden age of convenience so take advantage of it. 

2. If you write something you are not entirely happy with, don’t consider it done. Put it aside and move on. Then maybe go back later and listen with fresh ears. Sometimes you will find that your initial reaction was too harsh, or maybe you like the chorus or the verse and you can use just that part in something else. 

3. A song is whatever you say it is. Don’t restrict yourself to a formula or structure. Every rock & roll song doesn’t have to be: intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro. If you just have a verse and a chorus that you like and they work well together and all combined, it’s only 50 seconds, so be it, that’s what the song was meant to be. My favorite band, Guided By Voices, has more drop-dead brilliant songs that are under a minute than most bands have what you would even call a good song. There are no rules to songwriting. 

Musician and Teacher Tony Harrison Has Good Music Mojo

Tony wears a blue tie dye buttonup shirt and plays an orange and green bass guitar. He's standing in front of a fellow musician and a drum set, all under a large tent.
Tony at a concert. photo credit: Digital Wolf Photography

Tony began playing guitar, piano drums, trombone and guitar at an early age. After seeing Elvis Presley and later receiving his first electric bass for Christmas, his life path was made clear. Tony started playing professionally while in high school, later attending UNC-Pembroke and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business. Today, Tony is the sole proprietor of Rally Point, LLC aka Cape Fear Music Center, where he spends his days repairing instruments and teaching students of all ages guitar, electric bass, ukulele, beginning piano and music theory. His shop employs several of the area’s finest instructors and instrument repair technicians.

Tony is the bassist and a songwriter for Rivermist, a regionally recognized and award-winning variety band playing in the Carolinas and Virginia. His newest ballad, ‘Tangled’ is being released in late August, 2021 and is getting great responses at live shows. Hear and purchase Rivermist’s available releases on all of your favorite streaming services at https://rivermist.hearnow.com/

Rivermist playing the NC State Fair, 2019

3 Things making your life richer & why: Obviously music is my passion and I live to perform and teach. I love my wife, Suzanne, who is my motivator and cheerleader in all things. My love for animals inspired me to become a vegetarian last year. 

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change?
With the world in disarray last year I found I needed to develop productive habits. So I started to really focus my practice and write more music. Part of this process has led me to experiment with writing several pieces with similar subject matter. Lately I have been using roads, highways etc. If you pay attention to your surroundings, inspiration is everywhere.  

Rehearsal at Cape Fear Music Center

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I do most of my practice and writing in my teaching studio at 110 Old Street. It’s just a block from where I played my first gig in front of the Market House in 1980 and on land where the mill was in the late 1700’s that our whole community grew around. It has good mojo. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre. My advice to musicians who desire to make a living or just want to enjoy playing and writing music is to be true to yourself. Write and play what makes you happy.  I play a wide variety of music from classic rock, beach music, latin and jazz to musical theater. I love many styles, but love most to play whatever makes the audience happy on any particular night. 

Adaptation and Inspiration (with icing on top): Actor Matthew Stuart Jackson

photo credit courtesy of Bryan Sullivan

Matthew Stuart Jackson is an actor, writer, standup comedian, and voiceover artist currently living in Fayetteville, NC. He loves pizza, cats, and (for some weird reason) mowing the lawn, and he hates scratched DVDs, wet socks, and getting logged out of his accounts arbitrarily.

“Tribes” by Nina Raine at Portland Stage Company


3 Things you can’t live without & why: I don’t mean to be impolite or think that I know better, but I’m going to reject the premise of this question. I’d like to flip it so that we see it from the positive angle, rather than a scarcity-mindset. Artists spend so much of their lives with a scarcity outlook, that I actively try to see the positive, and what plenty I have in my life. So here are three things that make my life richer. [Ed note: I appreciated Matthew’s take on this so much that I asked if I could borrow it. The reframe will feature in future Q&As!]

A) My family. My wife, also an artist; my sister, who is also an artist and teacher; and my parents, who are life-long teachers and academics. They are also artists in their own right (or own write, if it’s my dad).  My entire family has been so supportive of my creative journey; I will be eternally grateful for their encouragement.

B) My mom’s home-made pizza. She makes the dough from scratch. She gave me the recipe, and I can make a good pizza, but it somehow NEVER matches hers. She’s the Queen.

C) Rain. I just love the rain. I grew up in Washington State, which everyone thinks is super rainy, but that’s only the western part. I grew up in the eastern part, where it’s remarkably dry (we’re basically neighbors to a desert). But I went to college and then subsequently lived in Western Washington, and I just love the rain there. I also love the rain in North Carolina. While Western Washington rain is the tortoise (slow and steady for about nine months out of the year), the rain in NC means BUSINESS. I love how hard it rains here. And for all you folks who don’t like getting wet, here’s a quote from my wife’s grandma: “I won’t melt. I’m not made of sugar.”

Local artist (any genre) you admire My instinct is to name my wife, Ella Wrenn, because theatre administrators–ie, the ones who HIRE all the artists–don’t get nearly enough credit. But I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to choose her, so I’m going to go with Marc de la Concha. He’s the Director of Education at Cape Fear Regional Theatre, and I am simply astounded by the work he does. The talent he fosters, the productions he creates, and the classes he offers… it’s incredible. THEN you add on top of that his live performances (did y’all see “Shrek”?) – I can’t get through a performance with Marc in it without crying. Either he’s so moving and truthful that it moves my soul, or he’s so flipping funny that my eyes leak with laughter. That man is a gem, and we are so lucky to have him in this town.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I currently work at The Sweet Palette, peddling cupcakes. I just sell them–I am not nearly talented enough to make them. But the reason I even got this job was because they have this incredible gallery/performance space, and CFRT did a show there that I was in, and so I got to know them over a few weeks. When they started getting more business after Covid and needed more staff, they hired me to sling desserts, with the goal that we could really start using their gallery to its full potential. I’m really excited about what we can start hosting in that space, and what creativity will be born in that room.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? Man. Everything changed. I felt like I was really gaining momentum and making headway into the voiceover industry, and then Covid hit, and every single film and stage actor turned to the only thing that was still available: voiceover. The demand stayed the same, and the supply skyrocketed. I had to get *gasp* a “real” job. That job was terrible terrible (don’t worry, it wasn’t Sweet Palette), and it was honestly a pretty bad time to be an actor. My hope is that I can merge this current position at Sweet Palette to cultivate more creativity.

photo credit courtesy of Abacus Entertainment

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. The most work I do is in my “booth”. It’s the closet of our guest room, and I’ve converted it into a recording studio. I’ve padded the walls, trying to dampen the sound, and have set up my little nest in there. It’s janky, and I love it. 

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? This is still in flux, and I think it might be for a while. Adapting is never easy, but it’s always necessary. I’m just trying to keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities, now that the world is starting to open up. My guess is that it will be a partnership with Sweet Palette and their space, and we create something together.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. Listen, and be humble. The minute you think you know better than someone is the minute you become unpleasant to work with. Every person you encounter is an opportunity to learn, as long as you listen to them. 

Through Observation and Experimentation, Blanca LaCortiglia Blossoms

Blanca LaCortiglia is a painter and an arts administrator. Her work has been published in magazines, a book, and featured in a podcast. She has a BA in Arts Studios and a MA in Arts Administration. Her work has been showcased in solo, group, and juried exhibitions. Blanca is passionate about arts education and has hosted a variety of art workshops and has taught pre-K. She has curated art exhibitions in a gallery setting and has worked at a museum. She is a mixed media artist who enjoys exploring a variety of styles and techniques. Blanca describes her art as Frankenstein, which is dreamy, surreal, and abstract, as her pieces are all different and she doesn’t just fit in one category.

3 things you can’t live without and why Well, I can’t live without ART! I know what a surprise lol. I seriously need the arts in my life because I have no idea who or what I would be without it. I was born and raised in The Bronx. I used to hop on the train as a teenager and visit art galleries, museums, and any public art featured in the city. It kept me sane and happy. I participated in plays, dances, art clubs and much more. The arts have always been in my life. I couldn’t be me without it!

I love Jolly Ranchers. It’s the only candy I can’t live without. They’re so tasty and crunchy. I can knock out all my work with some hard candy crunching in my mouth.

I need my water! I love drinking water. It keeps my body feeling great. To me water is such an essential element in life. It helps plants grow, it keeps humans healthy, and you know, keeps living things alive. Water is so underrated. I love you water!

Local Artist you admire: Damien Mathis. I’ve never met him, but I’ve seen his work and I like it!

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Ok. I’ve been working at this FOR YEARS! I still am trying to develop a better way of showcasing my 3-D flowers made from acrylic paint. Most people want me to use clay and other mediums that are obviously 3-dimensional. I am obsessed with paint so I’m always going to stretch it to its limits. I’m hoping to one day make a huge piece with over 100 handmade flowers from acrylic paint! This will be a long process since it takes about four days for the paint to cure. In other words, each acrylic flower takes up to four days to dry. Talk about having patience.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? I had the biggest artist block EVER.  It was bad. I was able to create a few paintings in 2020 but I usually create a lot more. I wasn’t inspired. As I mentioned before I need to see art and be around art. It was difficult not experiencing the art scene. I will not keep this artist block. In fact I hope to create a lot more art in the future so stay tuned!

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. My workspace is a combination of a lot of paint and canvases around. I have a beautiful window that provides lots of sunlight for me and my plants. I am currently updating my furniture and will be working on a couple of murals in my space. My goal is to make it edgy, fun, and inspirational! I have the best studio space at home…

How do you find your subject? I am such a weird person. I can be driving, talking to someone, or looking at the sky and bam an idea comes to mind. I usually have to write it down, so I won’t forget it. Beach trips always help me feel relaxed and thus leads to inspiration. My studio space hands down is my cozy spot where I can doodle and sit on my grey couch and daydream (I’ve had this couch for years, it’s my fav).  

Advice to newer artists in your genre? Just paint! I know, I know art supplies can be expensive, but you need to paint. I usually use my “ugly paintings” and repaint over them to make a messier painting. After the damage is done, I move on to the next one. Keep going and don’t stop. Not all pieces are going to be your favorite, but you never know who might want that one piece you don’t like. The more you practice your art the closer you will be to achieving the look that you want. I dare say you will also discover who you are as an artist. Make time for your paint and the paint will love you back.

On Scraps and Sketchbooks: Textile Artist Katherine Matos-Gonzalez

Katherine Matos-Gonzalez is a multidisciplinary artist and textile designer from Brooklyn, New York and currently residing in Cumberland County. She holds a BFA in Art and Design Education from Pratt Institute and an AAS and BFA in Textile and Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

She has a passion to teach and learn. And her deep love for textiles and fibers has taken over her current art practice. She is a self-taught quilter and enjoys the improvisational method of creating patchworks. Her work is inspired by the juxtaposition of the abstract shapes, color and texture within her hand-dyed fabrics and the more rigid patterns of the patchwork. Katherine creates to ease the clutter in her mind and space, this process brings her peace, calm and creative resolution. She likes to “see what happens” with her fiber pieces. Venmo & Paypal: Katherine-Matos-Gonzalez

3 Things you can’t live without & why: Creatively speaking I CAN NOT live without my two senior dogs, sewing machine, and sketchbook. My two old men keep me company while I play away on my sewing machine and my sketchbook is near and dear to my heart. It contains so many ideas for future making.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: I haven’t had the opportunity to meet local artists, but  the artwork on display in the Public Arts shows is inspiring me to creatively connect with fellow artists.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Painting future or imaginary quilt designs using opaque watercolors in my sketchbook.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? Simply, I make more. Being homebound at the peak of Covid I discovered that gaining access to a variety of art classes and workshops was actually a lot easier. It’s always been a pleasure of mine to continue learning and gaining skills. And through zoom and other platforms I managed to take classes from around the country! I’ve always loved to supplement my creativity with the help of other creatives and this really helped my productivity and creativity. I also have the great privilege of having a spare room that I turned into a studio where I have my own space to make, freelance…  and keep a portion of my plant collection! My dogs also love the futon I apparently got for them. I will definitely try my hardest to continue learning and making in this new space of mine. 

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? Rummaging through my collection of hand-made (woven, embroidered, silkscreened) hand-dyed fabrics, yarns and thread help me with my next piece. Looking at art history books and vintage textile art technique books are quite helpful as well.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. Don’t stop learning, use what you have to create, and save your scraps!

Roxanne Rothenberger Embodies Determination in Painting, Work, and Home

photo credit Jenifer Fennell photography

Roxanne Rothenberger was born in 1980 and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a girl, she was heavily influenced by the Chicano-Art movement of the early 90’s. Finding constant inspiration in it’s alluring mix of aesthetic value and cultural representation. Her first exposure to traditional drawing and painting techniques came at the hands of the US Army, where she served 8 years in a lesser known MOS of 25M, or Multimedia Illustration. She continued her education with an AOS in Computer Animation but found that the digital art world did not satisfy her need to be a tangible artist. Seeking a more tactile expression, she soon found herself concentrating on painting. In 2016 Roxanne took over as studio manager at Wine & Design, Fayetteville and her painting blossomed into a productive commissioned art business. 

Roxanne builds her work through continuous study of the human form and her subject’s emotional environment. Seeking to place her figures in an state of their own creation, Roxanne relies heavily on interview and intuition. When working on commissioned portraits, she strives to capture her subject’s warmth as well as aesthetic qualities. Working in both oil and acrylic paint, she tries to harness each medium’s specific merits to evoke excitement from the viewer. An underlying current of movement can be found in most of her work and it is intended to both intrigue and unbalance the viewer.

Roxanne currently teaches oil painting and drawing at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Additionally, she is available for commission work.

Three things you cannot live without & why: 

  • God’s grace and a pocket sized Bible. I find I need to reference it daily…trying to be a better person. It is a journey, and I am not anywhere near done. 
  • At least one audiobook and a few library books. I listen to the audiobooks while I work and enjoy the physical books whenever I get moments to myself.
  • My broken yoga practice. I am relatively new to it (only practicing a year) and I know enough to know that I know NOTHING! The act of turning my focus into my body helps me to compartmentalize and focus. 

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Tiffany Ragin is a local artist who also does figurative painting. I find joy in her work, her use of color is explosive and invigorating. Additionally, her paintings explore femininity and faith, two things that are not easily discussed together. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working on a body of work that combines byzantine religious iconography and realism with modern symbolism. 

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? In 2020 I was commissioned to paint quite a few memorial paintings. Portraits of loved ones that have passed on. I found so much peace and solace in working on those portraits. I’m hoping to do more of them, I am extremely honored when somebody asks me to memorialize love one.

photo credit Jenifer Fennell photography

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. My studio is a room right off the kitchen. I work in spurts, as I am a wife and mother of two young children. I only have 20 to 30 minutes at a time to get work done. My current piece is in my line of sight all day long, I walk by it and look at it and make decisions while I’m vacuuming, doing dishes, making food etc. And then when I finally have a moment to paint, I don’t waste any time. Because I’ve spent all day making plans on what I’m going to do. By doing this, I find that the 30 minutes that I get in front of the canvas, is extremely productive.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I get inspired by looking at other peoples work and art history. I enjoy learning the historical background of a particular piece. I am intrigued by the context of a painting, the political and cultural state that painting was created in. To me, a painting is a mirror of the time and place it was created in. I find so much inspiration from artists who have come before me. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre: My advice to newer artists is to trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to fail. There is so much learned when you make mistakes. You have to paint the bad paintings and draw the horrible drawings. It is that work that will make you a great artist. Keep pushing through, keep painting. Every time you make a mistake, you learn something! It’s not about creating one amazing painting; it’s about creating 30 mediocre pieces, to hone your abilities, then using all that you have learned through trial and error to finally create real beauty. The piece that you create after all that will be infinitely more powerful and insightful, because you will have earned it.

Also, to let go of your ego. Nothing will keep you stuck in a rut and unable to grow as an artist, more than your ego.

Michael Curtis Houck Comes Home to Writing and Film

Michael Curtis Houck is the Creative Producer for A Yellow Beanie Project, a digital collective rooted in collaboration among regional artists with intent to provide a new platform for emerging and established voices within the Cumberland County community. Michael’s produced and published work can be found in print, on stage, and on the screen. Michael lives in Fayetteville, NC, with his significant other and two kids and two dogs and one cat and too many plants, some would argue. To financially support his work, use Cashapp $AYellowBeanieProject and watch for a Patreon account coming soon.

on set for LOVE, LUCY a short horror comedy that is currently in post production. Marc de la Concha and Tori Gowland Ortiz de Rosas. co-directed with Ashley Owen

3 Things you can’t live without & why:

Music. The world is a noisy place and often it’s too much to handle and I need to drown it out. I always have background music. Some days I need Nina Simone, some days I need Fugazi.

Kindness. The last few years have uncovered a lot of (not so) hidden ugly in the world. Stop.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. When you really, honestly, truly examine the science of it, it’s the perfect meal.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: There’s a local singer-songwriter I really admire and love working with: Ayana Laurene. She’s a hustler and, dang, does she have some pipes. We’ve been collaborating on a concert film/documentary called BOY, YOU AIN’T SHIT. It’ll come out this summer on social media.

Houck and Jordan Barnett on set for an episode of DOGWOOD; this episode is directed by Alason Little.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Right now I’m developing a digital series called DOGWOOD, which aims to put a spotlight on some southern themes. This series is coming together sort of like an extended universe set in the fictional town of Dogwood, NC, and it will include eight short films and weekly podcast episodes and live video streams across social media starting in July 2021. It’s a really big experiment and kind of daunting! The Yellow Beanie team and I have been working really hard for a few months building the fictional world of Dogwood, writing all original content including original music, and *fingers crossed* we’ll produce an original theatre piece later this year!

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? 2020 pushed me from working exclusively in live events, which I had been doing for nearly a decade as a full time job, to just written and filmed works; like the rest of the world, this was due to safety of public gatherings. It was a sudden ‘stop and change what you’re doing’, and I did go through a period of grief. But what this forced me to do is find other outlets and return to my foundations: I went to school for creative writing and film. Coming back to this kind of work that I haven’t done in a decade has been therapeutic for me. In hindsight, I don’t know why I ever walked away from this genre, it is my language.

Still from DOGWOOD. With Sarah Chapman and Malissa Borden

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I consider my art to start with what I write: It all begins on the page. I believe in having a farmed yard, so I spend a lot of time outside and I write while gardening: standing up or crawling around in the dirt, talking out loud. I need to feel the space around me and imagine how the characters would contort their bodies or gesticulate when saying something. When I like what I have in my head, I take a break and hop inside to my office and jot it down in one of my many notebooks or turn on a recorder and play out the scene.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? Most of my work begins with collaboration. I admire a lot of locals, and there are many folx I’ve never had the chance to work with professionally. I really enjoy approaching these people asking, “Want to make something?”

Advice to newer artists in your genre.

For newer writers – workshop those pages! Get with some friends and share your work. Schedule a table read. Trick people into coming over for brunch then slide your manuscript around. They’re trapped. Make them read. It took me a long time to be comfortable having my work read aloud, but what a difference it makes!

For newer filmmakers – you are likely reading this article from a device that has a high powered camera installed on it. What’s stopping you?

Tim Zimmermann is on a Quest for Theatrical Adventure

There is a saying that goes “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. Tim Zimmermann’s goal is to be a master of as many things as possible, and approaches his crafts–acting, singing, music and producing (with a little bit of dance thrown in for good measure)–with that same acumen. Originally from Philadelphia, his first professional gig was as a singer for the United States Army Reserve band based out of Fort Dix, New Jersey. After a stint in Nashville teaching and recording, Tim boarded the Norwegian Breakaway to perform in their concept rock and roll bar production show “Syd Norman’s Pourhouse.” After 10 months total on the Breakaway, he transitioned to Norwegian Jade, where he performed as a production cast vocalist, traveling the world from Italy to Greece, down through the Middle East and to Southeast Asia. It was there that the Covid-19 Pandemic hit and forced him to return to Fayetteville to stay with family and attempt to rebuild.

Since moving to Fayetteville, Tim has had a wealth of opportunities and his proud to call Fayetteville his current adopted home. He was fortunate to be cast in the Gilbert Theater’s productions of Rope (Granillo), Oedipus Rex (Creon/Corinthian Ambassador) and is preparing to play the role of Bobby Strong in Urinetown: The Musical. He additionally performed the role of Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing with Sweet Tea Shakespeare. He will also be performing with the Fayetteville Dinner Theater in their upcoming show: “Beyond Broadway – Music of Our Time”.

When he is not performing musicals, he is performing his own headliner style shows: “Broadway Blitz” (rock and roll Broadway revue) and “Rockestra”(classic rock revue), using his own self-produced tracks through his digital recording studio “True Fortune Studios”. What will come next for Tim isn’t certain, but he looks forward to each new challenge!

aboard the Norwegian Jade

3 Things you can’t live without & why: In no particular order: My computer I quite literally can’t function logistically without. It’s where I produce all of my music, mix and master, design my shows, write music, research roles, etc. Technology has begun to play such an integral role in what I do.

I also couldn’t live without the support of my family. They are my lifeblood. They have supported me so much throughout this creative journey I’ve been on; I believe I would have given up a long time ago without them.

Finally, though I wouldn’t die without it, my soul thrives on travel and seeing new places/things. I haven’t gotten to do as much traveling as I did before the pandemic, but I hope for all of us to be able to get back to it soon!

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: It’s difficult to pick one! I would say all of the artists I have gotten to perform with at the Gilbert Theater and Sweet Tea Shakespeare.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? My next big adventure is actually one I started a long time ago that I mothballed for a time. It is a rock opera that is also a graphic novel (it will eventually be an app that you can watch and interact with) that I hope to adapt into a stage show. In addition, my two headliner shows Broadway Blitz and Rockestra are always evolving!

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? For me, after I got off the ship, I began to envision myself as a successful artist and work accordingly. Before that I was really afraid to audition and put myself out there, assuming I didn’t have what it takes. With the pandemic I realized that we don’t have forever to make an impact on this world, and so I used 2020 to catch up to my peers. Though 2020 was difficult, it really challenged me to open myself to the world and put myself out there, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon.

“Rope” at Gilbert Theater. photo credit: Jonathan Hornby

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. True Fortune Studios! Which is essentially my desk in my bedroom, which is usually a mess and covered with stuff. In addition I have my electric drums and keyboard that I work off of. When not there, I am generally found on stage at the Gilbert Theater, my home away from home. That stage is where everything I do started and I will be forever grateful to it and the people there.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? For acting, I audition for things I find interesting. I try to locate roles that are available that are in my wheelhouse and go out for them. My philosophy is that you can never do too many auditions! I love honing my voice and continuing to push just a little higher. I like to operate at the edge of my comfort zone, so I’m always looking for stuff to adapt into the style I’ve been cultivating.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. Trust yourself as an artist. Whatever your discipline, work harder than you think you should and when you have done that trust that what you do will be awesome. Don’t ever believe you can’t be successful, and if ever you find yourself asking yourself “Why me? What makes me think I can be successful?” turn it around and ask yourself “why not me?” Then just enjoy the ride!

Painter Angela Stout Expresses All the Emotions

Painter-Sculptor Angela Stout

Angela M. Stout is a contemporary Painter, Printmaker, Photographer, and Sculptor living in Broadway, North Carolina. Angela is a disabled veteran originally from Warren, Ohio. She is a member of Cape Fear Studios and teaches art classes to the public. She is a graduate of Fayetteville State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Arts. Angela exhibits frequently in group exhibitions and competitions locally, nationally, and internationally.

3 Things you can’t live without & why: I cannot live without my family. They are my constant source of love and inspiration. I cannot live without my laptop because I use it to ideate and create my references using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I cannot live without my workspace as it is my place of quiet retreat and the hub of my creativity.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Professor Soni Martin is an amazing generalist and my mentor. She is a major inspiration for my journey to be an art educator. She has an amazing work ethic and teaching style. I am enamored by her artwork.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently exploring overlaying my portrait images with abstract textures. I use a mixture of achromatic with chromatic colors to create an emotion. My purpose in my art is to evoke a feeling in every medium I do.

work in progress in studio

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? I focused more on the mental effects that were caused by Covid 19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and my own personal losses I experienced in 2020. My art went to a darker place when I felt compelled to create. I will continue to explore societal issues and the emotions connected to it going forward, but maybe not from such a dark place.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. My workspace is a converted bedroom. I have four easels, a small printing press I made, a sculpting table, and storage for all of my canvases. I have my paint accessible on a rolling cart. I am a disabled vet, so I have difficulty standing to paint. I sit down on the floor and brace my arms on my knees so I can paint vertically without my muscles becoming fatigued and shaking.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I am always taking pictures of people. I begin with an emotion or idea I want to express. I search through my archive of photo references until I see a person who speaks to me. I open Adobe Illustrator and begin sketching. I start overlaying the textures until something begins to emerge that guides the direction. I move with in the process until I see the potential in a piece.

Advice to newer artists in your genre: As artists we are always putting pressure on ourselves to be original, develop a style, and to make technically great work. We can be harder on ourselves than anyone else. My advice to younger artists is to not look at failure to achieve your vision as a negative. I have learned far
more from my failures then my successes. Another sage bit of advice is to be flexible and not hold on to the original concept with a death grip. Instead remain fluid while you are going through the process of creating and allow yourself to change direction if you see a new possibility.

The Many Forms of Sculpture and Learning of Damien Mathis

Damien Mathis

Painter and sculptor Damien Mathis is a Fayetteville native and resident, and an avid Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club member. A Marine Corps Combat veteran, Mathis served two tours in Afghanistan with 1/6 Bravo Infantry Battalion before earning a Bachelor’s in Visual Arts from HBCU Fayetteville State University. Mathis recalls drawing as a child even before he learned to write, but only began painting eight years ago, in his early twenties. His art has since been collected and exhibited throughout the U.S., including the Arts Council of Fayetteville, the Harlem Fine Arts Show, Fayetteville State University, A&T, and various communities along the coast.

3 Things you can’t live without & why: The 3 things I can’t live without is ambition, blessings, and lessons. You need all of them to become individually great. They will balance you.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Shane Wilson is a good friend who taught me the meaning of a giving friend. He has a welcoming heart open to the world around him. Other artists are Professor Dwight Smith and Professor Soni Martin of Fayetteville State University: they taught me the freedom of the mind with all materials and to always trust the process.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? My current artistic experiments are learning how to mold and shape fiberglass and different resins with different materials.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? Self management and preventive procrastination changed in my practice in 2020.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I mostly do my creating in various places–maybe in my studio or in the woods somewhere–where everything feels natural. It just at that moment has to have a calming environment as the foundation to start the process.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? Usually the next idea just comes from everyday thought in life… sometimes it’s from boredom. I guess it’s just supposed to be created into what it shall be.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. You don’t know everything. You barely even know yourself. Never stop trying to learn or pick someone’s ear. Never know where your interest may take you!!! Creating comes in many forms.