Grasp The Moment Photography

Music… the greatest gift

45 RPM Weekend … Part 2

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…

Advertisements

Taking Photos On The Radio

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…


Music Is My Religion

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


The Freight Rumbles Through Greenpoint

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


Gettin’ Dirty With Sister Sparrow

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!


Creek, Heat, Vacation, Irene, Pops and Love

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.


O.M.F.

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


Me… I’ll Be Out Flying

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


It’s Always Been About The Music

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
.


Creature Of The Night

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.