Jack Fischer has been around. Playing on the icebergs of socially aware folk rock, Fischer's ready to embrace what he sees as the new renaissance.




"This one's different from the '60s and most people aren't aware of it yet," said Fischer, a prolific and modest old-school musician who plays in jeans, often with eyes shut, and with a wide community of accompaniment and affection.




"My dad was a jazz pianist and mom played the violin. I grew up around music. My folks would have cocktail parties with live music that lasted all night and I'd be 5 years old wondering, 'Hey, what's all this?'" said Fischer, who proceeded to devote his life to music.




Fischer lived in Europe for six years, surviving as a London street musician for two of those years prior to becoming a Warner Bros. musical staff writer.




"That was a hell of an experience," said Fischer, who recently returned to England with his family to revisit the old days. "I'd go through the subways, where the street singers have since unionized, and think 'Was that ever my life?'"




Fischer moved right on up the ranks, producing various albums and writing songs. In 1998, he won the TNN network's primetime songwriting contest and Univision's similar 2000 contest, competing with tens of thousands of entries. In addition to cash and acclaim, Fischer once won a motorcycle, as well as the guitar he plays now, in proper musical tradition.




"I don't know how I won," said Fischer. "The truth is I just strive to come up with stuff that's fun to hear and fun to play. I still think I'm just a hippie child when all is said and done."




He has recorded several albums throughout the years, frequently hopping down to Nashville to cut an record. Fischer has covered some strange terrain along the way, starting with country rock and merging into Latin beats.




Fischer's newest project is getting by with a little help from his friends. Fischer &

along with Delonde Bell on bass and Russ Rodriguez on the congas &

make up Penguins on a Rock, a folk-rock jam band.




"Studio stuff sounds good, but the truth is that nothing is better than live," said Fischer of the band's upcoming album. He's also finalizing an acoustic solo album scheduled for spring release.




"A couple years ago I got tired of writing love songs," said Fischer. "So I started writing about the human condition. It's important to talk about what's going on without preaching or putting people down. The state of the world is changing so fast. I'm equally interested in things which people don't know so much about, such as UFOs, black holes and what's 20,000 leagues under the sea I also find that the personal stuff is so much easier to write about than, say, a squirrel with an acorn in the tree. But that can be fun."




One thing Fischer loves to plug is the blooming artistic community within the Rogue Valley.




"I'm really honored to be a part of that," said Fischer, who was also president of the Southern Oregon Songwriters Association for two years before handing the reins to Rodriguez.




"We did roughly 60 to 75 open mics a year," said Fischer. "It was great but a lot of work. I'd really like to thank Johnny B. (owner of Johnny B's) and Dal Carver (owner of the Wild Goose and Avalon) for doing so much to promote song writers and spoken word throughout the valley."




As Penguins on a Rock works on their album and prepares for a Northwest summer tour, Fischer, also a family man, has been reaping unexpected rewards.




"For 10 years, everyone's been giving me penguin stuff: penguin moroccos, penguin lighters, stuffed penguins. I've never collected anything before," said Fischer, who adds a plea. "But, man, every time I go out I see all these new penguin movies. ("Happy Feet," "March of the Penguins," "Surf's Up", etc.) Won't someone please put one of my songs in their penguin movie?"




As for the future? With the tour, the albums and a weekly series of open mics, as well as a large family, Fischer doesn't have much slack time. But, if he had his way"&

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"I'd really love to be a UFO journalist. That'd be the dream, if I had my druthers. Traveling the country getting people's UFO stories and experiences." Fischer grins. "Wouldn't that be fun?"