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?