No, you didn’t miss anything, I’ll get to Part 1 when I get to it. But right now I’m talking about Sunday 08/05 at JC Cove right smack dab in the middle of the Nautical Mile in Freeport.
Now I had a few thoughts in my head walking into this gig, I had seen the band only two nights before for an hour set at the Brooklyn Bowl, and only once in the past, but I knew I was in for a good time. These guys know how to move a crowd, and I was looking forward to one hell of a gig, which is partially why I was surprised when a few days early I got a less than lukewarm reaction to me being there. See, I’m buddies with a member of the band, and when I told him I was thinking of coming down he answered with an “oh…” Turns out, he’s not a fan of the sweaty musician in the hot sun look, and was worried the pictures would make him look even worse than he already does. He invited me to the Brooklyn Bowl gig, because the lights and real stage would make him look prettier. (That’s part 1)
I mentioned all this to another pal of mine, a musician I’ve shot more than a few times, and he responded with “Yeah, I see his point. But then again, you never make anyone look bad.” So I was pretty sure I was gonna make the gig, and when the same person who gave me an “oh…” suddenly needed a ride to the gig, the deal was sealed.
It turned out to be a perfect day for an outdoor show, an amazing crowd, and the band was flawless. If you’ve never seen them, 45rpm are the self appointed rulers of that cheesy feel good move your butt music of the 70s we all know the words to. Not that they need us to, because vocalist Danny Calvanga needs no help at all. He’s got that voice that can tackle everything from a hard rocker to the soft ballads that make your heart swoon. He’s also got the style and skills needed to be the perfect front man, kinda like the pilot of jet plane, because there’s not a slacker behind him. Bobby Simons controls an endless supply of sounds from his keyboards, and is always spot on with his delivery. One of those guys that because of his incredible talent make it look easy too. Across the stage from him handling both guitar and keyboards … and even a vocal or two is Mike Hack. I don’t think many people even know how much he’s adding to the band, but without him the sound wouldn’t be as full and rich as it is. Michael Barberich looks the typical long haired skinny guitar slinger, although that’s not a requirement for the position. His ability, however is. He flies his instrument through the groove and brings those licks that make these songs the classics they are.
While the keyboards and guitars are what we all know and love about a song, it’s the rhythm section that makes our feet move and our asses shake. In that department, 45rpm is blessed with two monsters. Simon Walsh is the bass player I’d want to be if I could do anything other than play a radio. He locks that groove down and never drops it. I think if a lightning bolt struck him in the middle of a song, he wouldn’t drop until the tune was over. Plus he looks and acts like Danny Kaye. Sitting way in the back, hidden behind her kit is Linda Mackley whose smile is almost as big as her ability to stomp out that beat and move the room. It was a pleasure to be stuck next to her for a tune (oops, that’s in part 1) because I could watch her play drums all night.
But you know what … these cats are only part of the reason I wanted to hit the show, because this is the thing that people tend to forget about outdoor afternoon gigs… the audience can be seen just as well as the band. So as I shot 45 RPM doing their thing, I turned my lens the other direction towards the smiling faces cutting up the rug and boogieing down. (Are they 45RPM heads? And how do I get a 45 RPM necklace?)
But don’t take my word for it… come down to the next gig. Keep up with them on Facebook and be there, or Simon will come get you …
All of the day’s shots can be seen on my gallery … here…
All of the day’s shots can be seen on my gallery … here…
If you’re like me, you’ve probably lived your whole life thinking there was a little man who lived inside your stereo and woke up every time you turned it on. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited when Pops Rizzo & The Bra-jole Brothers invited me along for their appearance on Gotham Radio’s “Neir’s Music Spotlight” with host Chris Piccione.
So the band, Chris and I slipped into the tiny little studio when the show is recorded for an hour of some great conversation with the band, some tacks off the CD and a great live rendition of “The Rumba Song”. I happily let them do their thing as I tried to silently document the event (I’m hoping my shutter sounds don’t come out on the final take, LOL).
Afterwards the we ducked back into Neirs Tavern next door where their weekly Poetry Slam was going on. Even though the music didn’t fit the Poetry Slam theme, the organizers were kind enough to let the guys go on for a few tunes and instantly they had a bar full of new fans.
The broadcast will be on GothamRadio.com this Tuesday, March 6th from 8-9pm and again on Friday March 9th from 11am-12pm. After that I’m hoping it’ll be up on the their archives. If you can, try to listen in, the band sounds great, and they gave me a huge and unexpected plug on air.
And don’t forget… Pops Rizzo and the Bra-jole Brothers are playing Saturday March 10th at Neirs, so come down for some great tunes, cold beers and some magical moments.
All the shots from that night can be seen here…
All the shots from that night can be seen here…
Beside Jimi Hendrix’s quote (which is the title of this piece), I always thought Bob Marley sang it best when he stated “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
That’s why we do crazy things like drive 1 1/2 hours through a torrential rain storm just to spend a few hours soaking up tunes and witnessing the creation of magic. That’s exactly what we did on Saturday, after working a morning overtime shift, Kim and I hopped in the car and headed west to lovely Blairstown NJ to catch the second night of the East Coast debut of The Contribution.
Yes, I was excited about going to Blairstown because it’s the location of the “town” scenes in the original Friday the 13th … and yes, I got my photo taken by the arches that Robbi Morgan walks through, but I was even more excited to see The Contribution. Tim Carbone, Phil Ferlino, Matt Butler, Keith Mobsey and Jeff Miller together on stage in an amazing ensemble of master musicians.
But sadly… I left my gear at home. Never being to the theater, I wasn’t sure of their policy, and in hindsight I was glad I did. Not just because of the awkward layout of the place (remember this is a real theater, but also because the one photog that was there was bordering on embarrassing. After seeing her lie down on stage, I was ready for her to stand up on the bar to get shots. She must have been with the band, or they didn’t mind, but it’s that kind of total unprofessional attitude that gives us concert photographers a bad name. I will note though that there were at least two other guys with SLRs who managed to stay out of the way and hidden.
Anyway… as the band played, my mind drifted back a few months and only a few miles away to The Sherman. Ahh, the Sherman theater. As readers of my blog will know, the Thanksgiving Railroad Earth shows are pretty much the most important part of my musical year. This year the boys raged in style, taking over the whole town and providing before and after entertainment in the local bars. It was like a good appetizer and desert, but as always, it’s the main course that counts. Once again, Railroad Earth brought their best game, and burned the place down. Knowing the Sherman was very camera friendly, and also knowing I wasn’t going to lie on stage or stand on the bar, I came back with some quality stuff.
I also managed to get autographs from the whole band on photos I had taken of them, to add to my collection.
So we drove back from an incredible night with The Contribution, with an awesome autographed CD, under thankfully clear skies. You know what I think is the one good thing about music? Just when you think you’ve heard it all… it’s time for another show.
Here’s some of the shots of Railroad Earth November 2012, the rest can be seen here
Saturday night at The Place in Brooklyn with The Freight rockin’ the joint isn’t a bad way to spend an evening.
The Freight is a tight four piece comprised of veterans of the Brooklyn music scene. The band sounded great … and not just because Kim was running the soundboard. Joey Reirdon sets the beat with his expert chops.I’ve been a fan, and a friend of Joe for a long time, watching him in awe back in the day when he played with Flying Blind and The South Side Boogie Band. To this day, Joe on the list of my top ten drummers. Holding down the bottom end is Bill Harvey, pushing his four strings along to create that fat layer that guitarist Michael Barron can work off of. Mike coaxes the perfect tones from his rig and it’s the vocals of Kevin Lay that seals the deal. Kevin’s deep bass voice coats each song, making them charge through the air …well like a freight train.
Keep your eyes peeled for their next stop…
See more shots from the night here
See more shots from the night here
My first visit to the Brooklyn Bowl was to see a killer band that brings it hard, none other than Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds. Truth be told I was looking for a night off, so I left the camera at home and Kim & I just enjoyed a night of great music with great friends. Sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds is a powerhouse. Drummer Bram Kincheloe and Aidan Carroll on bass lay down a solid groove foundation which Sasha Brown masterfully weaves his guitar work through. Jackson Kincheloe steps out blowing his harmonica and sets the room on fire. he blows those magic notes which dance through your ears but it’s the solid wall of horns that gets your ass up and moving. JJ Byars, Phil Rodriguez, Ryan Snow and Johnny Butler are a horn section to be reckoned with. Either together in tight delicious blend, or stepping out for a solo spot, these four guys blow their hearts into every note. Dancing through this already tight soundscape is Arleigh Kincheloe, who’s got the vocal inflections and style of an all time great blues mistress. She mastered the fine art of delivery her lyrics with the needed punch, but also knowing when to side step and let the raging freight train around her roar down the track. Together they’re a complete package of funk that guarantees a good time.
I did shoot the band the last time I caught them when I was working the Rock n Roll Resort in April. So crank up some funky tunes here and enjoy some shots… and don’t forget to pre-order their new CD!
Below is an interview I took part in with Colin Butterworth of the “Just Takin’ Pictures” group on Facebook…” Usually I’m the one doing the interviews, but this month the tables were turned and it was my turn in the hot seat…
A conversation with Brian Walter
By Colin Butterworth in Just Takin’ Pictures
We have a treat this month. Instead of Brian interviewing one of us, I have interviewed Brian. I couldn’t pass up the chance to return to New York to do the interview.
I had the great pleasure to meet Brian in 2010 when my wife and I visited New York. Brian was so gracious to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel in Manhattan. Not only that, he gave us some amazing insights into New York. I think this shows what a great person Brian is and I am thrilled to call him a friend.
Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the man, the legend, Brian Walter.
1. Standard question, what is in your camera bag? What equipment and programs do you use? Also, if you could add one thing to your camera bag, what would it be?
I’m very happy to say the bag is getting pretty full. I’ve got two bodies, the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D7000. My glass collection is growing, with a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5, a Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR DX, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S and the newest, a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM. I’ve got two SB900s and wireless transmitters, no name, I’m still saving up for Pocket Wizards. Ive got an awesome set of macro filters which I got for $20.00 off EBAY. Oh, and safety pins, a flashlight, tie wraps and tons of other little nic-naks.
Being a nerd, I custom built my PC to suit my photography. Its powered by a 2.9ghz quad core and 4 gig of RAM. I have a dedicated 2.0 Tb drive for my photography work, which is backed up on a 2.0 TB external. I’ve also got a 120BG hard drive that is a dedicated scratch disc for Photoshop and my RAW file cache. I’d be a mess without Adobe LightRoom, it’s the center of my photo-editing world. That’s augmented with Adobe Photoshop, but every since the release of LightRoom 3.x, I find myself using PS less and less.
If I could add one thing????? OMG, how could I choose??? Well, I guess what I find myself dreaming mostly about these days is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S ED.
2. Most people have different stories behind why they take photos, what is your story? What lead you to photography?
I guess you can say it runs in the family. My grandfather was a photographer, and my mother was too. I grew up with her always taking photos of us.
The biggest factor in myself turning to photography was when I discovred that through it. I finally had something to share. I could never play an instrument, or sing, which really was fine with me since never liked the spotlight much anyway, but I discovered that by staying in the shadows, camera in hand, I could capture what was going on Afterwards, when the music had faded and the equipment was packed up, it was my images that brought people back to that moment. Recently when I was working with a bride getting ready I heard her squeal with delight and say to her bridemaids “He’s photographing my shoes!!!” and she was so happy I was paying attention to the little things.
3. You brought this group together when you created “Just Takin’ Pictures”. What motivated you to create the group?
I am a knowledge junkie. I love picking people’s brains and learning all I can. I feel that everyone has something to contribute, from the beginner to the most seasoned pro. I also learn a lot from looking at other people’s work. Whether it’s the use of light, or the way subjects are posed in a frame, I study other people’s work, and find ways to apply it to my own. I feel it’s the best way to grow. Even if I don’t comment, I look at every image that gets posted not only in the group, but on everyone’s pages. I’ve spent twenty minutes sometimes pouring over every detail. In your case for example, I doubt I’m ever going to be in the locations you’ve been, and see the sights you see, but I am always studying your expertise in composition and it flashes through my head when I look through my own lens.
4. Each month you have presented these wonderful interviews, of our fellow group members, with insightful and thoughtful questions. Is this your natural talent shining through as a journalist, or have you had some training?
Oh no way, I’m no Edward Morrow, I just like to talk. (Before I go on, I want to point out that this idea was borrowed from a photo forum I was on. I loved the idea, but felt it was never used to it’s full potential.) As I said I’m a knowledge junkie and I’ve discovered over the years – mostly in talking to musicians – that artists usually don’t know how to put an answer into words. However if you approach it from a round about way, you’ll get a lot more insight into it. Instead of finding out why someone did one thing, find out what makes them tick and you’ll get a much clearer picture. There is so much talent in our group, and everyone deserves to be in the spotlight, it’s just my pleasure to help with that.
5. What is your favourite and least favourite thing to photography? Also, if you could photography anything in the world, what would you take a photo of?
My favorite thing to photography? Life. I did the flowers and trees and gravestones thing for a very long time and I’ve grown bored with it. These days I love seeing the joy and excitement of life reflected in some one’s eye. The passion a musician gives his art, the smile of a happy couple, the laughter of a child. Of course, it goes without saying that above all else, seeing my kids and my family happy and laughing as I take the shot is the best thing in the world. My least favorite thing? I don’t know if I could point a specific thing, but more like specific situations. It’s that client who won’t co-operate. It’s when my kids are in that mood and won’t smile, or at least feign interest. And worst of all, it’s when the god damn stage lights aren’t where I need them to be, there’s too much smoke and the freaking mic stands are in the way!
If I could give up all responsibilities? Photograph whatever I wanted??? Well, See you guys later, I’m going on tour. Don’t even care with who, I’m just hitting the big stage, sneaking in the shadows at the Hollywood Bowl or the Royal Albert Hall waiting for “that moment”
6. You have a wonderful family who obviously mean a lot to you. How has/does your family affect your photography?
Wonderful doesn’t cut it, I’ve got the best family in the world and I can see it reflected in every photo I take. The love and inspiration they give me what keeps me going. My two sons, and Kim’s son as well, are my source of joy and relaxation when I’m not working. They keep me young at heart and remind that the simplest things in life can make you the happiest.
On top of that I’ve got the love of a fantastic woman who is just what I need in life. She laughs at my crazy, creative ideas, and then immediately starts working with me trying to them into reality. She’s also my business partner, and she handles the stuff I can’t even begin to deal with. Between sessions she’s handling prices, advertising, and booking the next session. Once we get to the session she handles everything from setting up the next shot (which is mandatory for large weddings) to fusing with dresses, fixing ties, and giving out corsages. I’m serious when I say I have no idea how I could try to do anything without her. Without her, Grasp The Moment Photography would still be an idea in my head.
7. I personally think you live in the greatest city I have ever visited! I found there were endless photo opportunities there during my brief visit. Do you ever find yourself struggling for subject matter of lacking inspiration to take photos in New York?
Yes, NYC, being the capital of the planet, is always full of things to see and do. I don’t live in the middle of the hustle and bustle, though. My neighborhood is a quiet one, with lots of trees and no skyscrapers. With that being said, being a photographer in NYC sometimes presents more problems than it solves. For starters, the competition is fierce. There are over 8 million people in the five boros, and almost as many digital cameras. Everything is big in NYC and weddings are no exception. Seeing that I’m still just starting out, I’m nowhere near ready to break into the market in my own hometown. Space is also an issue, living in a second floor apartment mean there’s hardly any room for us, forget considering a home studio.
8. Inspiration can come in many guises, artists, works of art, people, family etc. and not only one thing can inspire us to take photos. From where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
I find the best inspiration comes from being confident in yourself, your abilities and being lost in te moment. Worrying about details, and anything else except for what you’re doing, turns photography an arduous chore. That’s why I think learning about your gear, and how it works, is such a vital part of the process. I find most photographers want to hurry up and get over with the basics, but when your equipment can become an extension of yourself, and you can command it and make it do what you want, when you want, you will find yourself in a zone where the images just begin to flow.
9. You have been active in taking concert photos in recent times and you are also branching out to weddings and other photography sessions. You are also a certified professional. Where would you like your photography to take you in the future? Do you think it could be a viable career?
I don’t know about a full time career, at least for now. I’ve got too many financial responsibilities and obligations to jump in feet first and quit my day job. I wouldn’t mind picking up some more weddings – we already have some book for the summer of 2012 – and some more session work. But I’ll always be true to my love of concert photography, and I’m sure you’ll still see me on the side of a stage, camera in hand.
10. We have unfortunately come to my final question. As we touched on in my interview I had the privilege to travel around the world on my honeymoon which was a trip of a lifetime. If you had the chance to travel around the world what locations would you like to visit and capture through your lens?
Well it’s no secret that I left my heart in San Francisco. I was there last summer and fell in love with the town a million times over. I could very easily see myself living on the west coast, driving through the amazing beaches, mountains and deserts of California, taking it all in, and seeing what other moments I could grasp.
Now Brian, please select three of your images you’d like to share with us…
Only three photos to share???
Ok … first is this one
This one from my latest wedding. It was done after
the ceremony as we were doing family shots. The sun was setting, and I was worrying about loosing the natural light for all the family shots I did. As Kim ran around getting “who is in this photo” and “who is in the next one.” I kept one eye on that sun. Thankfully it worked and I got everything I needed to get in. As we were wrapping up, I looked at the sun again and suddenly saw it differently. I quickly grabbed the bride and groom and positioned them with the golden rays of the sun behind them. I don’t even think I told them to kiss, they were just that much in love. Why this photo represents to me, is an accomplishment on my part, because it was more than a “happy accident” I knew what I wanted it to look like and I what I needed to do to get that result.
Next I had to go back to my love of music…
One of those moments when the lights hit just right, the mic stand wasn’t in the way, everything lined up. Everyone else on stage seemed to move just out of the shot, and I took it. It just so happened to be Johnny Grubb’s last east coast show, which makes the shot even that much more special.
My crazy guys. There are no fake smiles in this shot, no forced expression, just pure goofiness, which is where my boys are the happiest. Being crazy, loving life, and enjoying our time together. Its photos like this that just keep me looking for the next shot.
Wow it’s been a busy month. August barreled through my life like a runaway freight train. An amazing Camp Creek kicked things off (… and don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail soon…) followed by a great family vacation. That got clipped a bit by Hurricane Irene which pounded NYC with lots of rain but left us safe. The area around us suffered harder blows and there’s thousands still dealing with it. My heart goes out to all of them. I pulled a 40 hour shift at work, and was thankful afterwards that Kim and my family were safe at home. Though it seemed that once the clouds parted it was time to get ready for the next big thing on the Grasp The Moment calender – the wedding of dear friends Ryan and Sheri.
However, in the midst of all that, I was lucky enough to catch up with Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros.
Now if you don’t know the smooth sounds of Pops & the boys by now, then you’ve got a serious problem. Throw some swing, jazz, and groove into a pot and mix it with a serious helping of Brooklyn attitude and you’re getting close. “Pops” Mike Rizzo keeps the beat, playing the skins the same way he’s done all his life, with a style and flare that makes kids a fraction of his age jealous. Laying down the groove is the incredible Simon Walsh, playing the bass with an unbelievable combination of flair and musical prowess. Rob Rizzo adds the vocals and the groovy swing of his six string churning out solos and fills that keeps the corwd calling out for more.
These guys are the tops. I’ve seen a lot of music in my day, and Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros can move the crowd, get asses shaking and feet shuffling better than most of the bands headlining big clubs. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to work with these guys. We met up at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, a bar that’s been there and serving thirsty New Yorkers since 1829. We stole a corner of the bar and Pops & the boys settled down just being them. No instruments, no playing around, no showing off, just them being them.
Oh … and they’re playing back at Neir’s Tavern on September 24th … ya better be there if you know what’s good for you.
Even hard rockers have to look good right? Well the guys in O.M.F. thought so. If you’re not in the loop, O.M.F. or Ol Mofo’s is the Brooklyn based hard rock trio made up of Hank Dunne, Danny Lugo and Joe Cos. These guys have been rocking for years in different projects and now that they’ve finally come together, the result is nothing short of explosive. Danny is a master of the bottom end and keeps the groove moving as Joe lays down the beat. Hank’s guitar roars through it all. They crank out some great original tunes written by Hank & Joe.
I met them at their weekly rehearsal at Dragonheart Studios in Greenpoint. The place was quite a location. Inside an old warehouse complex, the place was full of amazing locations where I could spend hours shooting. The textures of the cobblestones, terraces, stairways and old exposed brick was a rock photographer’s dream come true. The guys and I ran through a few shots before they got down to the business at hand and began rehearsing their latest tunes. They’re working on an album, and getting ready to storm out of the rehearsal room and onto a stage near you.
Check them out on their reverb nation page … here…
With a mighty “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa” the silence is broken. Finally… after what seems like a year of waiting (ok, it’s only be 8 months) Railroad Earth has announced the 2011 Thanksgiving shows.
My regular blog readers know how important these shows are in my life. (Here) It’s pretty much the high point of my year. Driving away from the Sherman on Sunday morning, Kim will begin the countdown until the next year.
Well this year Railroad Earth is doing it in style. With hotel room deals, pre and post show parties, they’re turning the quiet hamlet of Stroudsburg PA into Railroad Earth central. It’s being called The Horn O’Plenty Getaway. It’s going to be an awesome time, Kim and I can’t wait. Railroad Earth is an amazing band, the music will be amazing, our best friends will be there … and as always Bob will guide us from above, and dance next to us in the shadows of the Sherman. Join us this year…
Here are a few from last year’s shows… even more can be found one my site… here
Lots more Railroad Earth images from the past few years are on my site here
I’m all ready for Camp Creek.
The first time I went to camp, I tossed some beers into a cooler, and headed off to upstate New York. In a few days I’m packing the car with my D90, my D7000, an armada of lenses, lots of blank SD cards, batteries, and lots of bottled water. Then it’s off to Maine. Another show I’ll be seeing through my lens.
It was music that first pushed me into photography. I’ve been around music since I was a teen, working in the studio, schlubbing gear for any band in Queens that would either pay me or give me free beers. All that time, I sat around, unable to participate because to be honest, I can’t even play a radio. So what could I do? Well I figured it out once I got a camera into my hands.
The first show I brought my DLSR – the old Nikon D40 – to was an Earth Day show in NYC. I got there as Jon Anderson of Yes was finishing up his set. Between the NYC lunch time crowd and the people who were there to see the seventies prog-rock icon, I couldn’t get close to the stage. By the time Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams hit the stage though, I was front and center. I shot, even though I quite frankly had no idea what the heck I was doing.
I wandered around during set break, and stumbled upon what was more or less backstage. It was there, as I was hanging out, trying to act like I belonged, that I watched Grace Potter walk up with her band. I’ll never forget the fact that Grace was helping the guitar and carrying some of his gear. I got to say a few words to Grace before I found another place in front of the stage, and she was as polite as she is beautiful.
I’ve got a much better understand of shooting concerts now, I can’t even count how many of them I’ve done, especially Max Creek. The photos I shot that day are rough – over exposed, poorly framed and with no personality. I like to think I’ve gotten better but it’s interesting sometimes to look back at old memories.
By this time next week, it’ll be over, I’ll be home, and I’ll have lots new memories
Ray Wylie Hubbard sang “there are two kinds of people in world, the day people and the night people.”
I guess I’ve always considered myself a night person, especially after taking a job on the overnight shift. Some people don’t like the night, perhaps they’re afraid of the dark. I’ve always seemed to revel in it. The stars come out and the moon bathes everything in a musical light. Beautiful music is made on dark stages, and fireworks would be powerless at high noon. And honestly, there’s noting to be afraid of.
Danny’s a night person too. He’s one of those people who seem to made for the dark, so much so I don’t know if I’ve actually seen him during the day. Before you start conjuring visions of Danny with ashen skin and fangs, let me just explain that Danny’s a musician. Most of the times I’ve seen him he’s been throwing down the groove with his monster bass lines or wielding a solid guitar. He’s the founder of Loudhouse Radio, a show dedicated to bringing the music of the undiscovered to the people. He also works the graveyard shift, and we usually chat on-line through the night. More important than that, Danny’s a hell of a guy. Danny’s one of those rare individuals in life that would give you his shirt off his back even if he was butt ass naked. Proving that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, Danny’s not only a Boy Scout leader, but a strong believer in God and a dedicated family man.
So when Danny called me looking to get some photos to help advance his music career, I didn’t hesitate to help, and I suggested we do it at night. I scouted out a few places and a found a spot which had almost as much character as Danny did. Lighting the site was a challenge, but I’ve been researching a lot, and I was able to accomplish most of what I wanted to pull of.
Danny’s happy with the results, which is the main goal. Especially since he spends so much time helping others, its good to give back.
All the shots of Danny can be seen here… on my site
I’ve got some people to thank for their invaluable help with this shoot. Of course we choose the hottest night of the year to do this, so standing in a back alley at 90+ degree heat wasn’t easy on any of us, but as usual, there was Kim as my beautiful assistant. She’s getting good at it … even starting to know what “Hey, I need the thing for the thing.” means. Of course Danny for being so co-operative even though he was sweating out buckets. Then there was Eugene who kept a watchful eye over us as we did what we did on a pretty mean and desolate street. Finally I gotta give credit to Melissa Jill Hester at Melissa Jill Photography. I found her blog in the hopes and getting some inspiration and ideas on wedding and event photography and was surprised to find a whole series she wrote on how to use off camera speedlights. For me it was a lot of “Ah-ha!” moments which I definitely was tapping into through the night.
Camp Creek is 4 weeks away.
I couldn’t be more excited when I read Eric’s post. I have a tendency to think of things in milestones, IE – Joe’s Graduation, Fourth of July, Vacation, James’ Birthday, Pool Party, Camp Creek. I tend to just think of whats next on the list. So when Eric posted the countdown like that, I was pumped.
If you don’t know who Max Creek is by now, you don’t read my blog enough. My favorite band on the planet, they’ve been bringing the most awe inspiring sounds and soulful jams for the past 40 years. I don’t think there’s a bad day that can’t be solved by the music of Max Creek.
But Max Creek is more that music, and that’s the reason I’m so psyched Camp is only 4 weeks away. Max Creek is family. Being outside the usual range of the band, I miss a lot of shows. It usually involves a few hours in a car, and a hotel room, and after awhile it adds up. Its more than worth it when we can though, because finally getting to a Creek show is like going home. All the friends are there – Jonathan (happy birthday man!) and Sarah, Ryan & Sheri, Steve & Debbi, Ken, Doreen, Buzz, Paul, Lee, Christine and so many more dancing spirits. There’s Ed – the man who collects the recordings of Phunky Zen, Fred, and all those before them and works tirelessly to bring the music to the masses and Ziola, the self portrait Queen, who’s always ready to tell me another “behind the scenes” Max Creek story. In the center of it all is Ian, who I call “The Mayor Of Max Creek” who seems to know every person in attendance, and wants pictures with them all… especially the pretty girls. Then there’s the band … who I am proud and honored to call friends. I’ve come to see Mark, Scott, John, Vasso and DeGugs as regular guys especially when the tequila bottle is going around. (That Mark is a dangerous guy!) And of course there’s Eric … love him or hate him, there wouldn’t be show if he wasn’t busting his ass to get all the ducks in a row (pun intended) The crowd is always filled with so many friendly faces…
So there really wasn’t a question about money or time when Max Creek hit the big 4-0. We were going and Kim and I were able to make two shows… including a rare hometown gig. But the big night was up in Providence, a town deep in Max Creek lore. The show was epic, as expected, exploding to a close with Vasso dusting of “Sympathy For The Devil” and the boys playing like a band possessed. The whole family danced in celebration because we realized that even though the nuts on stage had been the ones doing the hard work, we were all passing a milestone. It was our party, we were all celebrating.
So four weeks until Camp. For weeks until I’m home again.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with these guys many times, and the images can be enjoyed here … on my site
SpiTune is the only band I know that deserves it’s own word for the way you feel the day after – “SpiTuned”.
Kim and I have often felt SpiTuned the next day – which usually involves a drive home since the band hails from the New Hope PA area. Feeling SpiTuned is a mix of all things: maybe a tad bit too much beer, your ears ringing from some amazing sounds and your sides hurting from all the laughing.
SpiTune almost has a need to create their own vocabulary because they’re the only ones doing what they do. Combine the solid bass lines of Mike Krimm and Dave Haviland’s gifted drumming and you’ll walk away with a hell of a rhythm section. Through this Bill Fowler weaves his explosive guitar licks and blistering solos. There alone you’d have a hell of a band, but what seems to tie these guys together is the acoustic guitar of Fred Moore.
Fred also handles the vocals and the lyrics. Fred writes songs about the common man, in common situations – of sorts. Fred’s writing ability and humor mix to create some pretty memorable lyrics. Not for the young, but perfect for the young at heart, Fred sings to get out his frustrations out about stupid people, those who annoying him, and all the stuff his mother told him he shouldn’t say in public.
Come down to a gig – if the songs don’t have you laughing, the between song banter and the crowd interaction will. Then the laughter seems to stop suddenly as Bill wails on his strings and follows the path Mike and Dave skillfully blaze.
Saturday July 30th – Forumstock 6, Stillwater, NY
Friday August 12th – Jam At The Grove, Ottsville, PA
Saturday Sept 3rd – John and Peter’s, New Hope, PA
Sunday Sept 4th – Private Party
Saturday October 1st – Wang Dang Doodle
I was lucky enough to be hired by these guys for a private shoot. I love the results, their personality bursts out of every image. Dave came up with the “handcuffed to our instruments” idea and I’ll love him forever for it. It worked great.
The whole shoot, and video shoot afterwards can be seen on my site here… but here are my favorites…
is exactly what we need sometimes.
Kim and I have been jonesin’ for some live music lately. We’ve been laying low since Max Creek’s explosive 40th anniversary bash in Rhode Island (which I owe you a blog about, don’t I?) Between the heat, the kids and their busy schedules, and the empty wallets, it been hard to get out.
So there really wasn’t a question when we found out that the necleus of of the Funky Godmothers were hitting the beach with Guy Nevirs on guitar. We jumped in the truck, picked up some friends and headed to Far Rockaway, a place that would almost make you forget you were still in Queens.
You couldn’t ask for a better spot for a summertime gig. Out on the back deck, above the water, an incredible breeze in the air, although I could have done without the bar next door playing the same Johnny Cash greatest hits cd over and over – nothing against the Man in Black. The place was oddly enough a Thai restaurant (that served Itailan Ice, my buddy Jeff pointed out) but the beer was cold so it ok in my book.
The band set up in the corner and began grooving away on some classic tunes. They never got crazy all night, kind laid back, old tunes. A few more nights out and I know they’ll bring out the hard stuff. It was perfect though, for a nice relaxing night with some friends, some beers and a great setting.
It was my first night out with my new gear too… all the stuff I shot was with the D7000 on an unimaginable ISO and the most wicked lens giving me an unreal f2.8 aperture. Came away with some decent shots, enjoy…
I used to have a huge box of legos. Hundreds of them in an old cardboard box. I can’t remember a damn thing I built with them, but I’ll never forget the sound of digging through that box looking for one specific piece. I’d find it, fit it into whatever was taking shape before me, then dig again, that sound filling the air.
Soon my creation was done, and even though it was a now a house, or a car or whatever else I could think of, it was always made up of brick upon brick. The big cardboard box was emptied and I had found a way to fit the bricks together to form a shape.
That was years ago.
Kim and I drove the Rochester NY, a town that seems to be in need of a spit shine, to see the greatest band striking a note these days… Max Creek. The long drive wither went by quickly, or I didn’t even notice because I was so excited to get there. For years I had heard of Creek in “Rock-Chester” and now I was finally going to witness it myself. Better still … I had my camera and when the tough security guard gave me a hard time, I reached out the Creek’s manager and I got my response via a VIP pass around my wrist.
I shot from the pit both nights. A wild, trippy feeling being between the crowd and your favorite band. I worked my ass off. I strived for the best I could possibly do. I let the music take over and the whole experience became like those legos I used to play with. Brick by brick I took it all apart – it was the only way I could tackle it. Maybe all those hours I spent digging in that old cardboard box payed off. I say everything in moments … Mark’s intense concentration made him weave up and down… Scottie and Vasso exchanging looks and giggles…. John Rider hunching over when the notes got lower…. Degugs finding his way around his kit with his eyes closed…. Scottie’s broken string during the first song of the second night and the ghost he seemed to chasing in his pedals all weekend…. The smile on Casey Bloom’s face when he came up to play … the explosion into The Other One and sweet opening chords of Leaves.
Just like those legos I took those moments, and tried to make them into something. Not a house, or a car, but memories. Moments captured forever. Enjoy.
I think everyone must smile on their wedding day.
But Kim’s smile was beyond a frown turned upside down. Her whole body was smiling, from the moment we got there until the moment we left. It could have been the weather, it was the most beautiful day possible for an outdoor wedding. It was late summer in the Berkshires, and area I’ve become convinced that Mother Nature created just to give beauty a place to live. A few fluffy clouds drifted through the deep blue sky and the flowers which Tor and Kim spent months planting just for this day basked in the sunshine.
As the guests drifted in, and mingled through the grounds, I wandered around trying to capture the happiness all around. People laughed, talked about old times, and on the hill children twirled and danced with hula hoops to the music Mark Mercer was playing. Through it all, Kim floated through them in her simple white dress and her radiant smile. Tor shook hands, laughed and thanked everyone for coming, with a smile all his own.
The walked down the hill, hand in hand, connected and together and were joined as man and wife in front of family and friends. Afterward, in the greenhouse, everyone danced well into the night. But everywhere was this happiness and joy that could not be missed. Laughter and love was everywhere… and I tried to capture it.
In the end, it’s fitting it took place on a farm. The seed that was planted that day will grow for all time, and someday Tor and Kim will be on the pouch, in rocking chairs, old and gray. But they’ll still be together, and I know Tor will still have a guitar in his hand and a song on his lips and Kim will still be smiling with her whole being.
Some nights there’s nothing finer than sitting out in the summer breeze with a fine glass of wine, with Bob Dylan singing prophetically in the background. Its a time to think back on life, the meaning of it, and what it’s all about.
And others all I need to fill the empty reaches of my soul is a case of Yuengling and Spitune.
I first found Spitune at Camp Creek 2007 and I’ve been a fan ever since. As indescribable as they are, they’re the ultimate working man’s rock n roll band. The lyrics of Fred Moore are about real life people and situations, that lying jerk in the bar and the indecisive chick we all know and hate. Spitune not only hates them too, but doesn’t stop short of saying how they feel. The band could be taken for only that if not for how strongly talented they all are. The raw power of Bill Fowler’s guitar as he punches out his solos of over the solid and impenetrable bed of rhythm laid down by bassist Mike Krimm and drummer Dave Haviland is outstanding and demands attention. Fred’s acoustic guitar adds flavor to the mix, and like I previously stated, there are the lyrics. The songs wrap up in a great package which gets the crowd moving and just oozes fun. They’re definitely the best band to invite to your next barbecue.
Kim and I jumped into the truck and sped across NJ to be a part of a special event, the Spitune CD Release Party. I was looking forward to seeing them all again, hearing them again, and of course having another gig to shoot. The show did not disappoint, a rocking evening of Spitune, great friends, old and new, and lots of laughter. So now I’m introducing the neighborhood to the band, as the CD rages through my stereo and I’m anxiously waiting to the next gig.
I just got off the phone with a new dad.
Less than 24 hrs ago, Alison came screaming into this world and changed my best friend’s life forever. We spoke for over an hour, about stuff, and all I could think of was the words of John Lennon repeating over and over… Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans…
I know I’ve been absent for awhile, and I know I promised I wouldn’t let that happen, but it did. I knew/know someone who is photographer. In our conversations all would hear was the pressure of this and that, and how the need of the business cut off all other forms of life. I vowed I’d never let that happen. In my life I found it harder and harder to balance and juggle a job, a relationship, my kids, and the pressure to blog and, yes, to even pick up the camera.
So you know what I did? I took a break. I left the camera sitting on the shelf above the computer and when no one was looking, we’d talk. I’d tell it how my day was, about what I had for lunch, about what I did, and it would tell me about it’s day and all it saw …. which was limited because it never left the shelf. Then I’d start to apologize and it would shush me, and tell me it was all gonna be ok, because it would wait patiently for me until I was ready. So no matter what anyone said to me, I knew my camera wasn’t disappointed in me, so it didn’t really matter.
This weekend was gig. Same place as usual, but with a fresh “new” band. The Funky Godmothers, a band that regularly made feet move was back for a historic night. I brought my camera this time, and my new gift, the SB900 which is without a doubt the single most amazing piece of technology I’ve held in my hand. I think there’s a feature to run to fridge and get me a ham and cheese on a roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo and a little salt & pepper, I just haven’t found it yet.
You know those things people say to you and really don’t mean? “If there’s anything I can do for you…” or You sing wonderfully in the shower” or the often used “I’m not mad at you.” Well, I entered the bar thinking my camera might had been lying to me. It told me it was just waiting for me, and I wanted to believe it, but I fully expected to look through it and find nothing. Sure I had a few practice runs, the kids coloring eggs, playing around, and an afternoon walking around playing with the new flash.
I raised the camera up to my eye, focused in, and fell back into a world of music and color. The band was hot, smoking away with some serious rhythms. They had took the time and effort to actually jazz up the joint with lights. They tossed beads into the exuberant crowd and Kim even battered her eyelashes at the drummer and came away with a pair of bunny ears.
It was a phenomenal night of music. One of those beautiful occasions where the music seems to drip from ceilings and the whole bar is lost in the groove.
And I got some good photos. Nothing earth shattering, but hey, maybe I was a little rusty. Next time though …
And I hope next time won’t be as long as the last time was…
In “She’s Here”, they themselves say “It’s not everyday, that the best come to town, with those very special people hanging around.”
Max Creek, for me, is indeed, the best. A band that’s been playing together since 1971 and has a strong, dedicated following despite the lack of radio airplay, music videos or world tour. They play the emotion filled, exploratory music that I love, with roots in blues, rock and for lack of a better term “jam”. In all they years together they’ve never stepped foot on the stage with a setlist, only a general idea of where they were going.
I found them one afternoon when I received a collection of live Grateful Dead shows in the mail from someone I had traded with. I sent him more then he sent me, and as is traditionally done, he made it up with some “surprise” shows. He threw in Max Creek at the Northern Lights, 4/08/2000. I’ll be honest and admit that the disc sat there for a bit. I finally tossed it in. The show played in the background, and it was the last song, a cover of Dire Strait’s “The Bug” that grabbed my ear. I started back at the beginning and… well….
I traveled to 4 “Camp Creeks” in upstate New York, camping out, indulging in music, fun and life. (and a few other substances from time to time.) It was yearly fix, since I could hardly every make to to other Max Creek gigs. I followed them on-line though, downloading every show that was offered for free trade. I built my collection and tried to survive on that, but it was a poor substitute for the real thing.
There was no Camp Creek this year. Instead, the band would play an all-inclusive weekend at the Eastover Resort in Lenox, Mass. It would be three days of music, in a nice hotel with comfy beds and a shower. It would be paradise, but getting there was the only hurdle.
Kim is so wonderful in so many ways, but when put our names on the waiting list for a room, she outdid herself. When we got the call there was an opening, we were on our way.
Sure, I could cut and past the setlists for the three shows that Max Creek played. I would past the links to Carl’s Setlist page, or share the recordings at the archive, but nothing could come close to the sensation of being in that room those nights. The way the music weaved around all of us filling the corners with light and sound. From the moment they took the stage, the band stopped being 5 separate men and morphed into one being. They moved from song to song wordlessly lost in rhythms and grooves.
And it was good. It was beautiful. It was just what I needed to hear.
Great friends, a great girl, a great location and a band beyond description… a weekend in heaven.
Through it all, I shot. My lens caught every note Max Creek played, the music on the lawn from the Hot Acoustics, through Flipper Dave, right up to my pal Rev Tor.
More than a month has gone by since that weekend, and I can still hear Scott’s guitar when I close my eyes. At quiet times Marks keys or John Ryder’s bass thundering along with the power of Vasso & DeGuglielmo’s drums.
I need another fix… soon.
I was blessed.
When I was young… knee high to grasshopper some would say … I somehow stumbled upon Midnite Sound Studios. Midnite Sound was recording studio in the backstreets of Queens and home to Moose, a man that could turn a simple sound into the heavenly voice of angels, whether he had made it, or someone else. Not only was Moose a master behind the myriad of knobs, buttons and dials of a recording console, but he’s also perfect with a set of drums and a vocal mic.
Through the doors of Midnite Sound walked in musicians from all sorts of genres.More than a few nights blues were in studio A as death metal was in studio B which had been cleaned up from an afternoon of recording traditional Hindu prayer songs.
Midnite Sound began, for me, as a place to sneak beers that I wasn’t supposed to have yet, smoke a little pot, which I really wasn’t supposed to have yet, and have fun. I did do all that, however, something else began happening, almost without me noticing it at first. I fell in love with music. To me, the blues were just as interesting as the death metal and just as enchanting as the Hindu prayer songs. It became my passion, the most magical thing in my life. I helped Moose as much as I could, just to get closer and deeper into the music. There were weekend gigs, the recording sessions, and the late night jams with Moose, Tom, and Ron that were havens for deep, rich explorations. Through it all, the music was my mistress and I was it’s slave.
Then of course, I was introduced to The Grateful Dead, and all the rules were re-written. What I though I knew about music was re-defined. I began to crave music more and more, and over the course of my life, it’s been the one lasting consent. Whether it be Miles Davis or Max Creek, music has to be surrounding me or I can’t function.
Today, Midnite Sound is gone, a victim of the “I can do it myself” computer age. I think back and I choke back a tear, not just for the loss of the place I often called home, but because I would have been a madman in there with my camera!!!! But Moose is still… well he’s still Moose, and he’s still playing and I’m still considering myself blessed.
Cry Baby plays a monthly gig in a neighborhood bar that those displaced by the loss of Midnite Sound take over for the evening. Moose plays drums, and sings a tune or two, but usually lets Heidi do what she does so well. Her voice is sublime as it cuts through the heavy groove around her. Rob is nothing short than a powerhouse on guitar, his every note perfect impeccable. The bass has changed hands over time, but this last Saturday night it was Dan Prine who held down the bottom end and rattled your teeth.
The band is great, the music is great, but I get more out of them than just a great night of electrifying jams. The cool thing is, they let me practice as they play. They never bitch and complain as I scamper around, camera in hand, taking shot after shot. I learn as I go… I change modes, shutter speeds, flash strength. I study each shot and why it didn’t come out and I use it to better my ability.
The band doesn’t seem to mind.. in fact, I’m now faced with Rob trying to pose for me.
Great music, great friends, great photos… didn’t I say I was blessed?