Singing with Sixth & Third

It’s been an interesting summer since The Geeze and Me closed.

After four months of intense involvement, a month of back and forth to San Diego to complete recordings and tidy up post-production bits, I was back home to my writing space, with a summer wrapped around family trips and events, and a calendar alarmingly bereft of scheduled activity. Lovely, and though I appreciated the overall ease of each day, I couldn’t help but feel a bit adrift.

But as life is wont to do, over time I found my LA feet again. Knowing a transition needed to be made, I got back to shopping my latest novel to literary agents (there’s a Sisyphean task!), attempted a few journalistic pieces that weren’t about Donald Trump (uninspired at the moment… no one seems to be reading anything but); leapt into rebuilding my LA actor’s platform, which meant reactivating my SAG-AFTRA card, finally getting my Equity card, and getting out on auditions. I remember now how much fun that is, auditions…

But, seriously, it is fun to be approaching that beast of a medium from a very different age and time of my life. We’ll see what I’m able to make of it.

But the most joyful turn on the “what do I do next?” agenda involves the poster above. The tall, stately man behind me is my brother, Tom Amandes, who is an actor extraordinaire; director, brilliant editor (he edited two of my novels), and a wonderful, passionate pianist. He approached me with the idea of “putting together a set of tunes”—in the right keys, with some semblance of arrangement, and players who’d help flesh out the sound, something we’d never managed to pull off prior—and not only was I touched that he wanted to collaborate on such a project, I was thrilled.

Because there is nothing—I mean nothing—more creatively, emotionally, and viscerally exhilarating to me as an artist than singing. I love writing (love it); acting can be loads of fun; dancing (as long as the bar is low) is always a hoot, and photography is a personal passion, but singing…

From the moment I discovered musical sounds came out of my mouth in some kind of pleasing fashion, singing has been my singlemost cherished gift as a creative person, something to experience whether alone in my car, performing for a houseful of guests, or bounding across stage in a big concert hall. It is pure, channeled, emotive expression, and to once again, starting with The Geeze and Me, have opportunity to pull it into the sphere of my life is this year’s greatest gift.

So… Tom’s and my project: we’ve named it Sixth & Third (birth order… you can figure it out); we’ve got my dear old bandmate, Jeff Brown (from my original band, DEVON… yes, the one from the 80s!), on guitar, as well as Tom’s son, Ben (a talented, intuitive musician), on cello and guitar… for the time he has before heading back to the University of Chicago. I’m trying to convince him school is far less exciting than playing in a band with his aunt and father, but so far, though he smiles, he remains unconvinced. Either way, I’m delighted to have him for the time we do and what happens afterwards will be the next adventure.

For now, we’ve put together a select list of originals (mostly mine, but one of my hubby’s), and a few handpicked covers we love. We’re playing a private show at Tom’s house, a fabulous performing space, soon, and once we sort out where we might want to take it after that, we’ll explore other ideas.

All I know is this: singing is back in my life; I won’t let it go again. I may not have reached the rowdy pinnacles of fame and fabulousness I planned while lying on my floor listening to Janis Joplin—I had planned to be the next Janis Joplin!— but what I do have—the joyful collaboration of people I love, songs that mean something to me, and the opportunity to share both with welcoming audiences—is true elation.

More as we go.

Photos by Nancy Everhard-Amandes

LDW w glasses

Visit for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

A Trailer Sets the Stage… For the Book That Tells the Story

trailer image

There are a great many ways in which projects, businesses, organizations, movies, songs, and books are introduced to the world, marketed into the cultural zeitgeist. Media – in all its forms – is the medium: newspaper and magazine advertising, online press releases, repetitive social media alerts; blogs, interviews and radio spots. If the person involved is high-profile enough, or has a good enough publicity team, they appear on talk shows, do segments on news programs, or find a reason to participate in a cause… or a cooking show. 🙂

But in the specific world of movies and television, there are trailers. Those snappy, quick-cutting, eye-catching, can’t-turn-away mini-films intended to set the stage, pull you in, ensnare your interest to the point that you must watch to find out WHAT HAPPENS.

Personally, I love trailers. I love getting to the theater early enough to catch each and every one that unfurls before the main attraction, making note of those I’ll catch and those I’ll be sure to miss. Trailers – the good ones, anyway – are significant and effective as marketing tools because they show just enough visual, share just enough narrative, and cut it all together with just the right rhythm and pace to whet the appetite of the viewer, enough to make a future commitment to WATCH.

Or, in the case of book trailers, to READ.

The notion of authors and publishers using trailers to promote and market their books is a relatively new phenomenon. There’s no doubt that as e-books and the online purchasing of paperbacks, even hardcovers, came under the growing purview of online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the like, the focus of book-lovers turned commensurately to online interaction. From there it was not difficult to steer their interests towards accompanying book trailers as a way to further entice their reading choices.

Brilliant! So fresh and cutting edge, trailers would surely be seen as innovation for books marketersright?

In fact, back in 2012 The Guardian published a piece titled, From page to screen: the rise of the video book trailer, that seemed to view the trend as a bit niche:

“These are terrific diversions, but their status next to the book is a little ambiguous.”

But the trend persisted and before long, more and more authors saw trailers as tools to help pull their books out of the pack, translate synopses without a document; thrill enough to grab attention (the goal, after all!). And as time passed, what was niche became notable, if not de rigueur:

Lindsay Mead, “YA author (soon-to-be), YouTuber and Full-Time Daydreamer,” runs a blog that focuses heavily on book trailers, with an accompanying YouTube page sharing those of authors she admires. Goodreads, the uber- (and now Amazon-owned) author/reader site, features a video option on authors’ profile pages. And writers swear by their trailers; author Brian Solis, for example, posted in A Visual History of Book Trailers:

“…the tradition of book trailers not only continues, it’s become standard practice as part of the book marketing checklist. From concept to script to treatment to music, I see trailers and book marketing in general as a creative challenge to engage readers beyond text.”

I agree with him, though I do think the accessibility to trailers could use some expansion. At this point, unless an author or publicity person directs you to the YouTube or Goodreads page of that author, or is vigilant about linking the trailer to every piece of promo sent out, their ubiquity as advertising tools is not necessarily matched by their actual access. Even Amazon, which allows authors to post book videos on their author pages, hasn’t yet created the algorithm to view those videos full screen… or even larger than the teeny box they appear in off to the right (I’ve talked to them and will see what can be done about getting that changed, dammit!). Frankly, I think trailers should be right there on the authors’ individual sales pages, just like the “look inside this book” feature. Hopefully, we’ll get there.

For now, I’m delighting in the fact that the medium exists… and that I’ve got one. A good one. One artfully created, produced, and edited by my phenomenally talented brother, actor/director/writer, Tom Amandes (in addition to the gorgeous book cover created by one of my other phenomenally talented siblings, designer Grace Amandes). Tom has a remarkable resume as an actor, and in recent years directed a number of high-profile television shows as well. I am truly fortunate to be the recipient of the prodigious skill and expertise he brought to this wonderful, artistic, mini-film for After The Sucker Punch. Already I’m hearing from new readers about it!

And so, with no further ado, the book trailer for After The Sucker Punch. Enjoy it… then enjoy the book!

LDW w glasses

Visit for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Neil Boyle, Molly Malone’s, and Pretty In Pink

DEVON band photo 2Knee-deep in the pursuit of rock and roll dreams, I faced the ’80s like so many other pavement-pounding, hair-sprayed, idealistic artists of the era: driven, sartorially questionable, and usually broke. Too many years on the road with various cover bands—covering not only the Top-40 of the day but most of the west, mid-west and southwest by car and van—left me weary of musical circles headed nowhere. It was clear the time had come to get serious about my destiny. I was to be a rock n’ roll star. I needed to get on with it. That meant an original band and a job to support it.

I landed back in my Art Deco one-bedroom on the infamous Argyle Avenue, a wide boulevard that, in the 1980s, had the dubious distinction of being the only gang-infested ‘hood in the otherwise tony hills of Hollywood. When I wasn’t dodging bullets or avoiding eye contact with various gang members hell-bent on terrorizing us denizens living snugly (smugly?) at the foot of the Hollywood sign, I was writing my first songs, rehearsing with the first band that was literally being formed around my voice, my words, and my name, while looking for that perfect job that would afford me rent and rehearsal space, and still be time-flexible. That could only mean one thing: waitressing.

My guitarist’s girlfriend at the time, a gorgeous punk goddess from Scotland who worked at the Troubadour and wore torn fishnets and black eyeliner better than anyone I knew (and would later mentor me in the fine art of “truly living rock & roll” – meaning I was in leather, belts (many), rhinestones, and Spritz Forte from morning to the weary moment I lay my head down at night), presented a solution. Besides the very hip Troubadour gig she wrangled for all it was worth, she also had a part-time shift at a local pub, one she wanted to phase herself out of…was I interested? Not really, no, but… OK, fine.

Molly Malone’s, down on 6th and Fairfax, in one of the many hearts of Los Angeles; very casual, lunchtime menu, just cocktails at night. Small enough room, easy enough uniform, loose enough management style (i.e., lots of staff and management drinking shenanigans) and on most nights, plenty enough cash to pocket. As good as it gets. Nowadays Molly Malone’s is a bona fidedly hip music venue with an expansive stage area, an impressive dinner menu and a respectively spiffed-up decor; back then it was a smoky, scruffy, one-room pub where hardcore drinkers came to suck down Jameson shots and Black n’ Tans, and get into fist-fights that ended with sweaty man-hugs and often — to my mercenary delight — loose wads of cash knocked under sticky tables. It was a wild place filled with Irish immigrants, wannabe Irish (particularly on St. Patrick’s Day), off-duty (and occasionally on-duty) LAPD, and a contingent of rock n’ roll hipsters (a harbinger of the evolution to come).

Sidebar: one night, as I leaned over a table with beers and shots, one of those hipsters glanced up, looked me over, and with a cocked head and squinted eye finally asked, “Has anyone ever told you you look like Lorraine Devon?” No. No one ever had. I guess the tux shirt and serving tray were too great a disguise. Turns out he’d seen my band at The Lingerie or Sasch or Madame Wong’s or somewhere. Fans. “Thanks,” I gushed, delighted to be recognized. “I’m glad you liked the band.  Actually, if you’re interested, we’ll be playing again at—what? Oh, yeah, sure, of course…one Harp, two Guiness, four Irish coffees, got it!”

Yep. It’s only rock n’ roll.

Anyway, back to my story…Somewhat anomalous to all this rowdy, irreverent carrying-on was the almost daily presence of the esteemed “in-house” artist, Neil Boyle. Tall, white-haired and bearded, Neil, with his dignified mien, quiet, observant manner, and ubiquitous glass of mineral water, somehow both fit the venue and stood outside it. Always seated next to Molly’s owner, the late Angela Hanlon, either at the bar or a table near the stage, sipping his non-alcoholic beverage (surely an oxymoron in an Irish bar… and I can say that; I’m a quarter Irish!), while tapping his foot to The Mulligans or patiently listening to some random, nonsensical chatter from a usually tipsy table-mate, Neil exuded grace. He was the classiest guy in the joint. Always. And it was understood that he was to be accommodated.

Angela would often request, even on the busiest nights (with me the only waitress), that I get up on stage and sing “The Rose,” because Neil liked it. Despite the clear loss of income for both me and the cash register whilst I warbled that melancholy favorite in lieu of slinging drinks, she wouldn’t stop requesting until it became a demand, and, before she snapped in a fit of pique, I’d get up on that thumbnail stage with whoever was playing that night and sing “Some say love, it is a river….” like the quarter-Irish heartbreaker I was. It may as well have been “Danny Boy”…Angela would cry and Neil would listen quietly and smile as if he was genuinely moved by the serenade, which, odds are, he was. ‘The Rose” is a good song.

BarInterior by Neil Boyle

But beyond a kind, music-loving demeanor, Neil’s most profound contribution to Molly Malone’s was his art.  His beautiful, evocative, incredibly special art. Over 70 of his oil paintings hang in that little bar to this day. How unexpected to find that kind of exceptional work in a dark, hole-in-the-wall bar but Molly Malone’s was – and is – literally wallpapered with it. For an artist whose pieces command phenomenal fees, who was always in demand for murals and commissioned work, and whose many pieces hang in galleries and museums around the country, the prestige of showcasing such valuable art was undeniable to Molly’s. Some patrons came in simply to view Neil’s paintings. It was a draw. Literally.

The largest painting was of Angela Hanlon. It hung in clear view over the entrance and depicted her in all her youthful, lovely splendor. Other paintings were of bar scenes, street scenes, but most were of the people and faces that came and went through the swinging doors of that pub; the regulars, the Molly Malone’s coterie. And everyone who walked through those doors wanted to be one of the faces Neil painted, everyone. Few were. And you had to be asked. There was no appealing to him, no requests, no hinting; no prancing around commenting on “how nice it would be to be up on these walls.” No one got up there unless Neil wanted to paint them, wanted to put them up there, and to be asked, to be chosen, was an honor like no other.

Almost three years in, near the end of my tenure there, and on the morning of a soon-to-be riotously busy St. Paddy’s Day, Neil quietly approached me and said, “I want to paint your picture.” Stunned, I blushed pink and stammered something about “how honored I am to be asked,” or some other such blathering nonsense, but the truth was, I was… honored to be asked. I sat down at one of the booths, put my elbow up on the green and white checkered tablecloth, my white tux shirt and string tie neatly arranged, my big ’80s hair properly fluffed, and Neil took my picture. I can’t remember how long it was before the subsequent painting appeared on the wall at Molly’s, but at some point it was there. Dead center on the main wall. Lit with a pin spot. And immediately a conversation piece…

Because while Neil painted most of the Molly Malone faces in palettes of brown and caramel, and black and yellow—me, he painted in pink. Pretty in pink. And it was truly was one of the most beautiful paintings on that wall. Not because of my face (necessarily!), but because Neil imbued it with a color and glow that made it stand out from the earth tones surrounding it, and that alone made it unique. Someone suggested it communicated his affection for me. Maybe so. Maybe because I sang him “The Rose.” Maybe because he liked my blonde hair. Maybe because I kept him in mineral water. Maybe it was just because he felt the wall needed some pink. Whatever the reason, it is a beautiful painting and, as far as I know, it still hangs prominently on the main wall of Molly Malone’s.

LorraineDevon by Neil Boyle 1984

Neil died in February of 2006. Not too long after that, my brother, Tom Amandes, was acting in a TV pilot being shot, coincidentally, at Molly’s. At one point Tom called to tell me they’d blocked one of his scenes and, without realizing it, had placed him directly under the Neil Boyle painting of a woman in pink… yep, that one. He sent me the snapshot taken by the prop person. I can’t find that photo today but I do have a beautiful print of my painting. My friend, Tina Romanus (who Neil also painted at some point later…though not in pink), had asked Neil make one for me and he did. It’s hanging on my own wall.

Still pretty in pink.


Included paintings and for more information on Neil Boyle: 
Visit Molly’s at
Molly Malone’s photo credit
Photo of Neil Boyle by Scott Burdick,
DEVON photo courtesy of Lorraine Devon Wilke


LDW w glasses

Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, is  currently available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Visit for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.