Even though I shudder at the thought of becoming a wedding photographer, there’s no denying the magic that is captured when you look through the lens and see the pure love of a happy couple. That’s the reason I readily agreed to take on my second wedding, for old friends Jess & Billy.
They tie the knot in October, but I was lucky enough to do an engagement shoot with them in a lovely park near their home in Pennsylvania. Their son was there too, and in some accounts, stole the show. But for now, lets just look at the spark in their eye for each other and the smiles they have during tender moments.
If I had the world to give, I’d give it to you
Long as you live, would you let it fall, or hold it all in your arms?
If I had a song to sing, I’d sing it to you
as long as you live, lullaby or maybe a plain serenade
wouldn’t you laugh, dance, and cry or be afraid at the change you made
I may not have the world to give to you
But maybe I have a tune or two
Only if you let me be your world
Could I ever give this world to you
But I will give what love I have to give,
I will give what love I have to give,
I will give what love I have to give, long as I live.
If I had a star to give, I’d give it to you
long as you live, would you have the time
to watch it shine, watch it shine
or ask for the moon and heaven too? I’d give it to you.
Well maybe I’ve got no star to spare, or anything fine or even rare,
only if you let me be your world, could I ever give this world to you.
could I ever give this world to you.
Today is August 9th.
Fourteen years ago Jerry Garcia died in his sleep, ending the life of the beast known as The Grateful Dead. Fourteen years ago today the endless tour which begin in 1967, and only briefly took a break in 1975, came to a screeching halt.
It’s a day that I, and legions of other Deadheads, will never forget. At his funeral, Robert Hunter gave the eulogy. In it he asked, “now that the singer is gone, where will we go for the sound?”
For fourteen years, I’ve searched, and found, some of the most incredible music my ears could comprehend. With the likes of Railroad Earth, Gov’t Mule, Blue Rodeo, moe, Phish, and more, I have listened, smiled and danced. Of course, I’ve spent many hours lost in the sounds of the New England powerhouses, Max Creek, and Rev Tor. My veins have been itching for another dose of Tor’s magic, so when I saw he was playing only a few hours away, I knew I had to make the trek.
We left NYC and drove through some of the most amazing country New York State has to offer. The road was long and winding, but it didn’t matter. We drove over mountains and farmland until we reached tiny Stephentown, New York.
The Rev Tor Band would be playing a Friday night slot at the “2009 Rock, Rattle, & Drum – American Indian Pow Wow & Spirit on the Mountain Music Festival”. Depth Quartet, made up of Scott Murawski and Greg Vasso of Max Creek would be opening. Knowing the creative spirit of all those involved, I knew there would be a stage full of musicians by the end of the evening, and I was proven correct. Scott sat in with Tor for almost the whole set, Greg played drums on one song, and then shared the drum kit for a drum solo with Tor’s drummer in a way that only pure musicians could even fathom. Kim laughed and stood on a chair to watch it. They wove through originals as well as some great covers, ending the night with a monster “Shakedown Street”, then encoring with Tor’s rocking cover of En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind”… trust me it works.
The next morning, we dragged our asses back to the site, sorry to see that our friends who met us at the fest had left, and hung around to watch some of the Native American ceremonies and dances at the Pow Wow.
As the participants danced, and displayed their beautiful native outfits, I began to notice how connected they were to the beating of the drums. The drums led them, almost as if they were entranced by the sound, and my mind wandered back to the darkness of Madison Square Garden, feeling the same way as I could feel the notes of Jerry’s guitar around me. These dances they performed under the hot sun were timeless, being passed down generation to generation. Through the ages, the elders would pass it along to the young, so in their culture, the singer was never gone, the song was never lost.
Now, I need to go find some more music to be lost in…
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?
Unfortunately, even sitting in a bucket of water with a lighting rod helmet on the roof of the tallest building doesn’t bring inspiration shooting from the heavens above. I did however have a pigeon make a nest on my shoulder.
Its amazing how I can walk past the same plot of ground day after day and never see anything interesting and then one day – BAM – it’s there. The next day it’s gone.
I was stuck in my house one miserable rainy week and walking around, camera in hand, just looking for something shoot, anything. Then I saw it… and to be honest, I was baffled why I had no seen it before. It was so beautiful and it almost beckoned to be photographed. The amazing detail … the colors.. the textures… so I shot it… picking it apart in detail so it could be appreciated for all it’s wonderful glory…
But now that’s done.. what next? What mystical source will give me the next inspirational charge?
The help speed the process along, me and my friends at YourPhotoForum.com including the great Sue Henry and Lincoln Palmer have agreed to start an “Inspiration A to Z” challenge. The idea is simple. Using a list of words, we all have to write the words on paper, toss them into a can and draw them out one at a time. You can’t move to the next word until after you’ve shot two or three images based on the word you’ve drawn.
So I started today… and was shocked at my first draw… the word “Inspiration” itself. Yup, out of all the words I had to choose from…
Of course, the source of all my inspiration these days was an obvious choice…
Finally in the words of the Grateful Dead… “Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color; Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.”
So where will inspiration come from next? In what form will it be? I have no idea… but I know if nothing else, I’ve got a coffee can of words to get through.