There in the swirling midst of music, in front of the Mark Mercer’s keyboards, Ryan found Sheri and Sheri found Ryan. They’re still there… at every show, dancing together. It’s a Max Creek love story at it’s finest.
I met Sheri and Ryan through Creek and it’s one of the best friendships I’ve formed in my life. They’re both so caring and friendly that it’s impossible not to like them. Since they opened their room at Rochester, and they opened their site at Camp Creek it was a joy for us to be part of their wedding.
Sheri looked beautiful in her wedding dress, and she kept her spunk with her funky purple shoes. Ryan’s eyes lit up when he saw her, the way they always do. True to their personality they were married in a gazebo in the park, followed but a small reception with close friends and family, and of course music.
“Each night I pray we’ll never part
Because the love within my heart
Grows stronger from day to day.
Best I try, hard I try
To reassure and satisfy.
You know I’d be lost if you went away.”
To see more images from their day, visit here
To see more images from their day, visit here
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
I’m no stranger to nature. As a boy scout, I went camping with my troop almost every month for years. In my teens, I was chosen to head to Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico, in the heart of San Cristo mountains. You couldn’t ask for a more rugged and natural setting.
But I live in New York City, where we seem to compartmentalize our nature. Little squares set aside in the middle of this metropolis reserved for nature. The term “vest pocket park” is the name given to the tiny oasis of green that pop up around Manhattan.
Nature in California seemed different though. As we drove down the Pacific Coast highway, the beauty and majesty of mother nature was surrounding us, getting thicker and thicker as we drove deep into Big Sur. I could never do it justice if I tried to describe it in words, so let me try it this way. My first knowledge of the Pacific Coast Highway was on one of those lists of “Places To See Before You Die”. After being there, I think it should be a requirement of life, maybe on a list of “Places To See So You Can Know What Life Is Really All About”. Now I can’t wait to see the all the other places on the list.
As usual though, Max Creek added their touch to situation. Kim and I left Monterey early and was one of the first visitors to Point Lobos State Park. We hiked along the rocks that jetted out into the Pacific. Waves crashed around us. Sea Lions barked below and birds of all kinds played in the air above. In the distance, we could see dolphins jumping in the water. It was a surreal scene for city slickers like us. We couldn’t imagine a place like this actually existed, much less that were standing there. As we took in the heaviness of the entire scene, from seemingly nowhere, Creek broke out with Mark’s keys leading into Scott signing “Something is forming on the edge of the universe…” and Kim and I just stood there, smiling, nodding our heads with a collective “yeah”.
The only thing that broke the mood was me realizing that no, the band hadn’t followed us, set up, and surprised is with a morning serenade… it was the ringtone to my phone.
But the nature was real…
More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…
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.
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.
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…
Max Creek sings “Blink goes the eye… and a moment slips by…”
How true. We don’t even fully appreciate how lucky we are to see what we see at the exact second we are meant to see it. But I guess that’s the job of the photographer isn’t it? To drag the experience from fleeting into frozen in time.
Truth be told… despite skill… despite everything else… there’s a hell of a lot of luck involved. Sure you can be set up right where you wanna be, right where you know you’re gonna get that shot dreams are made of, but if you pissed off some supreme cosmic being that morning, you might not get squat.
Like I said, it’s the right place, but just as important is the right time. Case in point… “The Steps Down”.
This stair case and I have a history of sorts. It’s a few short blocks from where I was born and raised, however it’s in the part of the neighborhood I was told consider “shady”. It leads from the street above the sidewalk in the underpass below. Besides riding my bike past it when I was a kid, I’ve done a few things there I don’t want to pubicily comment on. It’s always been graffiti strewn, usually with broken bottles around it, but the new 24 hr gym that bought the building across the street from it seems keeping that down.
So after a pretty annoying Sunday evening, I carried my stuff to the staircase. I set up and took a few shots, hoping I had captured what I set out to.
I was pleased. Judging from the comments on Flickr I guess some other people were too.
But like I said, it’s the right place… and the right time.
I took this staircase today, trudging from my parents back to the tree house where I live. As I guess you can probably guess by now, the graffiti was gone. It was all completely painted over. No, I didn’t have my camera, and even if I did, I doubt I would have taken anything anyway. This moment for me is forever solidified in the colors and textures of the image above. I’m just thankful I was given the opportunity to see it when & how I did, and to present it to you.