A Review of Flying Poetry Circus

March 01, 2004

A Review of Flying Poetry Circus
People's Culture


Music Review:


Labor favorites join forces


Flying Poetry Circus, by Chris Chandler and Anne Feeney, 2001

You have to hear the CD Flying Poetry Circus to believe it! Chris Chandler and Anne Feeney - veteran performers that they are - sound like they've performed together for years instead of just months.

Chandler brings drama and poetry to the duo. Feeney adds her expressive, melodic voice and guitar to songs that range from Guthrie and early Dylan to spirituals.

In another era, perhaps their style would have been called music with a social consciousness. They call their new musical genre the "folken word." And folken it is. Chandler's words are chaotic and deep. They're meaty without being heavy. You could form a discussion group and spend happy years dissecting all the topics the CD raises. Feeney weaves in and out of the chaos, and grounds those who would be swept away by the poetry.

The lyrics, mostly written by Chandler and Phil Rockstroh, create such visual images in your mind that you travel down the same road. The music, arranged by Chandler and Feeney, never interferes with the word. It stands on its own as it wends its way in and out of the lyrics.

The first track "Generica," noting the post-interstate highway sameness, features the fine fiddle playing of Bob Banerjee. "Credit History" is a blues medley that deals with salvation, pizza, credit cards, and self-improvement. In the non-prosaic "Let there be Prozac," you discover that hell now offers casual Fridays. "Innocence" questions smart bombs - how can they be smart if they kill innocent people, and asks how many times people and nations can lose their innocence. Cut six asks, "Are fast food workers enslaved by the industry they work for?

"Carnivals" and "Never been the Same" tie as favorites. "Carnivals," with its working stiff Ferris wheel, presidential cabinet freak shows, corporate strongmen and multinational corporate clowns and the Wall Street wizards of Oz, truly is one of the main events. It features an original song by Chandler and Feeney that sounds so familiar you can almost sing along.

"Never Been the Same" - with Feeney doing a really likeable version of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'" tops it all off. Both Chandler and Feeney are really wound on this cut.

Chandler and Feeney have each recorded other CDs, but Circus is their first together. It's a fun, thought-provoking CD. After you've heard it, do yourself another favor: Catch one of their live performances. Though they're the only two on stage, you'll swear there are a whole troupe of actors, dancers, acrobats, mimes and musicians!

Flying Poetry Circus is available for $15 (plus $3 shipping/handling) from the Labor Heritage Foundation, 888 16th St. NW, Suite 680, Washington, D.C. 20006 or from www.laborheritage.org/music4.html.

Anne Feeney's recent CD, Have You Been to Jail for Justice? is available through the PWW. (See the ad on page 18.)

- Hilda Fort

by Hilda Fort, People's Weekly World

updated: 11 years ago