It never fails. Whenever I enter a record store, it happens. Something, whether it be a song, a record, a shirt or any exchange regarding music. A connection is made. From my days as a teen working in a record store or m\y visits to record stores in any town, city or country I’ve visited.
During my first days in Seattle I found myself in a small record shop talking to a native New Yorker who did time on the early New York Hardcore scene. He pointed himself out in a Live DVD of the first Bad Brains show at CBGB’s. Later on that week I struck up a conversation with another employee who used to volunteer at the legendary Gilman St. Project. Just last week I was pulling records out of the bin when I learned that the clerk behind the counter was also originally from New York City and worked at a record store just a few blocks from the one off St. Marks St. where I was working nights.
Then there was this Sunday when I visited a record store a mere block away from where my wife and I had just devoured delicious servings of chicken and waffles. I had been to this particular store numerous times when I first settled in the area and had always found something to my liking. On this day, as I took my stash to the counter. I noticed the clerk was wearing a shirt from the surf rock superhero band Daikaiju. I pointed out the shirt and asked when/where he had seen them. Adding that I had had the pleasure of seeing them up close at a bar in Brooklyn, NY.
In late 2017 I found a kindred spirit while talking music with the record guru at a local West Seattle record store. and found myself in deep conversation could go on and on with countless stories regarding friends and relationships that began while visiting record stores or going to shows, but I’ll spare you of my never ending tales of geekdom. Instead, I offer this images of the mighty Daikaiju from their show at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn, NY.
I’m lucky enough to have a Mom and a Dad who are both healthy and alive. And while I seldom give my Mother a break about her considerably bad taste in music. Both have played a major part in influencing and supporting my never ending obsession for so long. While I’ve learned to avoid conversations about religion, politics or any sociological topics. A good bull session about music is a great way to pass the time while helping to avoid any bloodletting during any visit or phone call. Though his love of the blues and New Orleans jazz can never be questioned. A conversation regarding Tom Waits, Frank Zappa or the Night Tripper, Dr. John (Gris-Gris) can go on for days. Some of my earliest memories revolve around sitting among my parents combined record collections. Strange how it remains one of the very few memories of my parents being together. Sitting within a pile of my parents record collection. No more than four, maybe five years old. Completely freaked out by the cover art of records like Leon Russell’s “Stop All That Jazz” Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” or Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. Album covers that told stories I might not be quite ready to read. One’s that might have me checking the closet or under the bed that night. A few years later, as my ear for music began to form. My Dad would sit me down and play Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton’s Blues Breakers, and for me, the most painful torture a nine year old can suffer, Frank Zappa’s 79′ release “Joe’s Garage.” Years later though, many of the records and artists my parents introduced me to reside in my own record collection. Artists such as Frank Zappa, Hendrix and especially Tom Waits get countless play on the turntable and all my other modes of music enjoyment. I pick up just about every Leon Russell and Frank Zappa I see and being drawn to record based on it’s cover art remains crucial to many of my crate digging adventures. Still, I can recall sitting in my pajamas among those piles of records, How each cover either told a story or inspired me to create one,
Last night I received a heads up that the print I had mailed to a friend had arrived. Just a week before, Cindi stopped in at the loft for a fun, laid back photo session that would hopefully allow me to test some new gear and experiment with high key lighting. I style I had just learned from a friend and fellow photographer. Looking at older studio sessions I often shot a darker, low key side that tended to produce, moody yet stark results. Hoping to bing light to both my work and mood. I enlisted one of my favorite musicians. The image below, her showing off my box set of The Replacements first four albums. Was a personal favorite. In the past we’ve shared our mutual love for the band. Sending her an enlargement was just my way of thanking her for helping me to try some new things while returning to the type of work that inspires me the most. Thanks Cindi.
Over the weekend I had a musician friend over for some promotional shots. During those two or so hours we tried several looks while playing around with different lighting setups. Later that night as I began going through our session. I began to compare color shots with B&W copies I had made. To no surprise, I found myself preferring the B&W versions over and over. Knowing how predominant my love of B&W can be. I thought it would a good idea to get some opinions on the matter. Comments welcome.
The other night I posed a simple, yet complex question to a friend and fellow music photographer. “Can you ever see yourself enjoying, or even going to a show or concert without your camera?” It was a question I had to ask, considering I’ve asked it of myself countless times. After what seemed to be a decades long pause, he exhaled “No. I don’t.” The answer was as much a surprise as it was a relief. Having asked myself that very same question numerous times over the years. I find it somewhat strange that I know for a fact that I couldn’t. I don’t see any time in the near of distant future where I’m hanging back with a beer in my hand taking the show in as nothing more than a spectator. Whereas I see myself now as the old man with the camera at the show. I’ll probably end up as the really old man with the moment capturing apparatus at shows twenty years from now. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
Though I’ve been using my Canon 50 mm 1.8 as a primary lens since I first purchased it some weeks ago. The original reason for the purchase was to have a backup lens for my concert photography. One that essentially eliminating the need for flash by using a faster (1.8 as opposed to my current 2.8) So this Sunday I headed down to The Cake Shop on Ludlow to test it out. Lucky for me, one of my favorite live acts, Stuyvesant, was playing along with a couple of other acts. Though the Cake Shop is less than ideal for shooting a band. It provided the space and distance I needed to try out the lens. Though I found myself shooting at an ISO of 3200, I found that I liked the results. And while I’m not quite ready to ditch the Canon 15mm I usually enlist. I know I’ll be doing plenty of experimenting with Canon’s 50mm 1.4 Below are some results. The one at the bottom features Sean Adams of the band Stuyvesant.
Back in 2013 I started a project very close to my heart. Bringing some of my favorite local musicians and artists into the studio for a short bull session and some time under the lights. The concept is a simple one. Photos built around conversation about common interests while chilling out to some good music. Add or subtract a tasty beverage, a favorite musical instrument or article of clothing. Leave the posing guide and glass smiles for the posers and just snap when the moment calls.
On this particular day I had my buddy Frank from the New Brunswick’s Holy City Zoo stop in after work. I met Frank and the band around the same time I started my music blog United By Rocket Science in the Spring of 2011. Since then we’ve formed somewhat of a mutual admiration society. His band has been featured on the blog numerous times. He’s also served us well as a contributor from time to time. Needless to say, I count him as a friend.
Like many of the musicians I’ve met through doing the blog. Frank represents somewhat of a paradox. A complete animal on stage. Frank is intelligent, laid back and soft spoken in person. As we began our session, Frank sheepishly asked “What do I do?” “Nothing” I replied. It was just a chance for me to get to know him a little better than I already do. Most of the people and friends I ask to shoot are ones I rarely get to really talk to in an intimate setting. I see them at bars, shows and on the stage. These sessions allow me to speak the best was I know how. Getting to know the people who make the music I love is a pretty special opportunity. Thanks Frank.