willis fireball

willis fireball


Spent a decade making music in the cold heart of Alaska: Fairbanks. South of the meandering Yukon, where the Chena and the Tanana meet. Now living in the tiny Inupiaq village on Little Diomede Island. Long winter nights full of song. Live shows full of passion...


On the evening of January 27, 2006, the signs in Fairbanks, Alaska were reading "-51 F." It was the lowest temperature recorded thus far in this young millenium in this northern town, and the extreme winter chill froze many a car motor and kept many a soul home by a crackling warm fire. But for anyone coming in from the cold on College Road and descending the stairs to the locally legendary subterranean bar known as The Marlin, the atmosphere quickly heated up. Inside, a hardy crowd danced to the full onslaught of Fireball and the Secretkeepers, featuring the full force Choir O' Fire.
This deep freeze was an unscripted but perfect setting for the release of Willis Fireball's studio cd, Secret Grey City. Recorded in the warmer months of 2005, the album springs from years of songwriting, performing, and collaborating in and around Fairbanks. For this project, Fireball gathered 17 original tunes and 25 friends from the local music scene, including many local songsters as well as members of Sweating Honey, Lousiaska, Clusterfunk, The Thneeds, 3 Chord Ho!, Hoe Slinger, , and Yukon Ryder. The whole thing came together during many epic sessions with Pat Fitzgerald and Robin Dale Ford at their rustic 10th Planet Studios.
Other recordings (past and future) are stripped-down acoustic offerings more representative of the solo troubadour Fireball. Indeed, the SGC cd includes a few such tracks... but they are part of a swirling mixture of styles, arrangements, and musicians. There are full-band rock songs like "Driver 9" - a shout-out to those who let dirty hands take the wheel. There is the slow midwinter instrumental, "The Dying Embers" which divides the album into two 'sides.' There are quiet acoustic songs like "A Sleepy Tune" and "Paris Lullaby." There's even a south-of-the-border lament, in passable Spanish, for abandoned love and spirits drowned in "¡Michelada!" Various other muses and demons fill the remainder of the 78+ minutes. This is a collection of Fireball songs and Fairbanks voices with its epicenter right around the Marlin 2005 and its hope and wanderlust heading off in all directions. As such, it's a great memento of a particular time and place, for listeners
inside and outside the community.


Willis Fireball grew up in northern New Mexico where he played a lot of soccer and spent a lot of time outdoors. A few years of college in California and Nevada yielded a degree in mathematics. He then moved north to Fairbanks in 1994 and ~ influenced by the homegrown music scene ~ began more serious songwriting and performing. He was a significant fraction of the duos Double 'n' Tundra in Fairbanks and La Moravska Morena in Sumperk (during two years living in the Czech Republic). Since 1998 he's been a regular on stages around the university, as well as occasional appearances elsewhere. Recently, his love of words and performance brought him to Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre, where he played in Julius Caesar, The Winters Tale, Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles, and Henry V. With the release of SGC, he's looking to broaden his horizons with more performances in more new places and more new songs to be sung.


all roads lead to butte, montana

Written By: willis fireball

it all seemed so bulletproof on paper by the cozy firelight
we burned all the evidence and let it go just like a windy kite
blowing in the wind, the details slowly slipped away
had we talked it over proper, would we still be here today?

the same old highway rolls before me
the same old unexpected curves
every time that i climb behind the wheel
all these foregone destinations
all the stations down the road
all the miles from what we say to what we feel

i remember maps and legends, folded long before they conjured fear
memory's capricious, but nobody ever mentioned going here...

it seems unbelievable how straight away we flew from where we planned
hiding our misgivings through the badlands like some kind of contraband
hidden in amidst provisions and all our chosen freight
had we seen what we were packing, would we still have borne the weight?

the same old flimsy flights of fancy
the same old world to drag 'em down
the same old roadkill bones the buzzards picking clean
seeming paved in all directions
delusions of free will
all the miles from what we say to what we mean.

Here we are again
not so far from where we are to where we've been

it all seems so preordained, these highways and the way things fall apart
and the best intentions build a harder fall right from the very start
suckered into feeling safe after such a long long way
had we been hijacked by banditos we might be happier today

the same old exit off the highway
the same old slamming on the brakes
every time i think i've finally found my speed
all our smarmy reservations
all our patience down the drain
all the miles from what we've got to what we need

all the miles

paris lullaby

Written By: willis fireball

come rest your head by me, shake the halo thorns like dust out of your hair
let me loose the knots these braided times have hept upon the burdens that you bear
lay down your arms, and move your lips to share
the reckonings that you've been dreaming of
heroes live and die, and the same old songs are sung above
and you are very young, my love

time waltzes by with patience... she'll wait upon the moments you most fear
so don't swallow all your laughter to anticipate some far off fated tear
lay yourself down, and leave the gods to scheme
don't squander any chance to dream
martyrs are born to die, and the same old stories reappear
and you are very young, my dear

these city walls will rise and fall and crumble down to dust beneath our feet
and it's this dying and becoming that's the only thing to make the world complete
stay all your woes, and move your soul to greet
the light that falls down to us from above
the pearls the elders leave for us will have to be enough
and we are very young, my love

sunshine & moonshine & you

Written By: willis fireball


sunshine, warm grass
fine time to skip class
wonder how long this might last
sunshine and moonshine and you

moonshine, hot breath
summer wind, cotton dress
if the sun shine, we'll do the rest
sunshine and moonshine and you

you, you shine
here and now, and all the time
feel so lucky that you're mine
sunshine and moonshine and you

sunshine and moonshine
and you shine and you shine
sunshine and moonshine and you


la moravska morena (1999)
double 'n' tundra (1999)
double 'n' tundra - live (2001)
postcards from the aftermath (FAWM 2004)
little naked milestone (FAWM 2005)
memories of horses (FAWM 2006)
outer orbits [10th planet outtakes (2003-2006)]
headwaters (FAWM 2007)
LIVE FROM CHENA with john keech (2007)
BRINGIN' IT (2008)
aniak trains (FAWM 2008)
the high road in hard times (FAWM 2009)

Set List

lots of originals
some songwriter covers (dylan, peter mulvey, jeffrey foucault, dan bern, fairbanks and alaska locals)
and a few pop hits

i usually play 2-4 sets, 30-60 minutes, depending on the gig

sunshine & moonshine & you
going to ecuador
yellow green & blue
going to tallahassee
san francisco (brett dennen)
all the pretty girls leave town (tim easton)
wanna say love
carmen the kebab girl
cherry trees (the weepies)
long way home/with or without you (original/U2)
albuquerque lullaby (dan bern)
mesa, az (jeffrey foucault)
all roads lead to butte, mt/while you were sleeping (original/elvis perkins)
bekka jean
another train! another train! another train!
paris lullaby