home listen reviews artists a-z

FLYING POETRY CIRCUS • Chris Chandler and Anne Feeney

Chris Chandler is a fire breathing phenomenon, the jester prince supreme. Disturbing, hilarious, and always provocative. I have known some gypsies in my time, but few have hit the highways and especially the byways like this snake oil hipster. His current foil and partner in anti-corporate crime is the ever political Anne Feeney, touted even by Peter Yarrow and Utah Phillips as the most important labor singer in America.

They call it folken word -- Anne plays guitar and sings, and Chris lays down the gospel about politics, culture, religion, food, you name it. First of all, just the sound of his voice is enough to send me over the edge. His timing and intonation are the key elements of his street genius. It's even better when you see him, because his body language and facial expressions are priceless. He's a fearless performance poet in the folk music genre, where he stands alone.

His mentor is writer Phil Rockstroh, who writes or co-writes most all of his material for many years. Chandler insists he's the best undiscovered writer in America. Rockstroh is an Atlantan who once wrote comedy in L.A., contributes to MAD and Cracked magazines, and whose short stories are published in various periodicals.

I ran into Chris and Anne at the Kerrville Folk Festival this summer, some of my favorite moments. Chandler appeared at the song circle around midnight at Camp Nashville, sat down and played a seven minute song as good as any Dylan song I could think of. And when Tom Prasada-Rao closed out the main stage show on Saturday night with a full band and background singers, he had Chandler come out and rap between the verses. It was the highlight of the entire evening.

Along with Flying Poetry Circus, we heartily endorse three great CDs (pictured below) on the Prime CD label. Collaborations features a dozen great artists who teamed up with Chandler for a song apiece, from Dar Williams to Peter Yarrow to The Austin Lounge Lizards. We also greatly enjoyed the two by Chandler and his group, the Convenience Store Troubadours. Don't miss him when he comes through town, you'll not soon forget it. • FG

listen to clips

view cover