Existing from 1988 – 1998 Washington DC’s Safari Club provided a home for countless local and touring bands, Offering an all ages atmosphere had a lasting impact that can still be felt today. I reached to Rich Dollinger and Shawna Kenney to answer some questions while sharing some memories of the time and the club.
Formed in 1988 and existing until 1998, Yuppicide were the first band I can remember to appeal to both the punks and the hardcore kids. Their music merged punk and hardcore with tongue in cheek lyrics that were humorous, yet intelligent. I still break out my Yuppicide records discs and especially, my copy of ‘Look at all the Children Now…’ compilation more than twenty years after their disbanding and almost thirty years after this ABC- No-Rio picture was taken. I feel very lucky in that I got to see so many amazing band while the collective was still putting shows on in their basement. While there was always a sense of community and intimacy about the Rivington St. space., being in the basement next to all those pipes always felt special to me. If you’d like to find out more about Yuppicide. I suggest you visit their website linked below.
Though I only saw the band once. Boundbrook, New Jersey’s One Nature left a lasting impression on me. With an incendiary live set, the first double ‘7-inch ep I’d ever seen and a sound that reminded me of the band Ignition as well as the many great Dischord Record acts of the’80’s. Though I never did hear from or see the band live again, I still own that double ‘7-inch and play it regularly. Thanks to an old friend for unintentionally reminding me of all the bands that, while I only had the chance to see once, left a lasting impression that still holds today.
While I attended countless shows at many storied venues over the years, it was the VFW, and Basement shows I was lucky enough to make my way to that will always hold a special place in my heart. The conversations and friendships struck up with once strangers and standing toe to toe within spitting distance of the band. Leaning in to sing the chorus you just heard for the first time just seconds ago. Pictured here is an image of the band 3 Steps Up. I saw them along with a slew of other groups, including New Jersey’s Lifetime, Weston, Cable, and others. This Staten Island “Dagobah Cafe” named VFW Hall show, was worth the long and arduous trip from Manhattan. Thanks to former Sleeper/Serpico guitarist/vocalist for info on the band and the side story about their European tour.
I’ve started to gather pictures for a book I hope to publish before the earth or yours truly goes “Kaboom!” It’s one of two projects I’ve had in mind for some time. The working title is “Bystander” which will focus on my years photographing and interacting with bands, musicians and artists within punk, hardcore and indie rock over the years. It will hopefully include anecdotes about the artists , as well as various quotes from the many interviews I’ve done over the years. I’ve already got someone to write the foreword and ideas as to which photos for the front, back cover and inlet will be. I’ve been posting about four pictures a day in one of my facebook folders. Allowing you to see new material on an almost daily basis. I’m posting a link below and welcome you to both visit and comment whenever you see fit.
I just wanted to take a moment to share some of my reviews and interviews featured on Jersey Beat. I’ve been photographing and writing about music for over thirty years now. Being offered my own column by one one of the longest running indie rock publications was an honor. Taking that offer and running with it has been an absolute pleasure. Below I’ve attached links to both my column and the many interviews I’ve been able to conduct over the last two plus years.
Whenever leaving home with my wife. she always conducts a thorough search of what travels through the front door. “Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Cell Phone? Check.” Anything beyond that, though, gets serious scrutiny. With my computer, hard drive and oversized headphones already packed and prepared for our end of the day stop for coffee and several hours of power writing and internet obsessive searching, the mere mention or sight of my camera bag usually brings on a scowl and interrogation as to what the hell do you need that for? (Now, granted, over the years I’ve added extra lenses, flashes and other tricks of the trade to my arsenal. Thus adding noticeable weight and the need for a bigger camera bag.)
However, despite a growing bag of tricks and a hard drive that’s busting at the seems, I still live and see through a photographers eye. After decades of shooting, I still feel the draw of documenting the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Still, that look I get from my wife coupled with the desire to travel light, I’m learning to enjoy things with documenting them. And while I often regret leaving my camera behind, having my cell phone handy allows me a little creative relief. I snapped these shots just off 6th Ave. in Tacoma while returning to our car. It reminded me of my younger days going to hardcore shows throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Over the weekend, my wife and I drove south for our first ever trip to Olympia. Aside from all the rain I became increasingly excited when I began seeing signs bearing the name “Sleater Kinney Road.” Being that a fairly recent vinyl reissue of the bands work has not only reintroduced, but enamored me to the band’s recorded history. I couldn’t help but imagine seeing Corin, Carrie and Janet seeking shelter under the nearest bus stop canopy. “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” I thought. After securing a parking spot. We headed over to the Capitol Theatre to get a glimpse at the historic building before crossing over to Burial Grounds for a hot cup of coffee. From there we dodged the rain drops and found an awesome book store to explore Browser Books before heading a few blocks over for some excellent pizza and 80’s eye candy at a place appropriately called Old School Pizzeria. As we drove home in the rain. We agreed on what a good idea our little road trip was. Adding that we both looked forward to returning on a warmer, perhaps dryer day. I noted how it seemed we were only there for a quick hour or so. That’s when she reminded me of the two hours we spent digging in Rainy Day Records. With all the time I spend going to record stores. I can honestly say, Rainy Days stock, prices and staff are all pretty awesome. I can’t wait to return with a thorough list and a few more hours to dig at Rainy Day Records
Below are the two records I picked up. “Why two?” you ask. Well, shopping for records when your wife is standing just a few feet away. Isn’t the same as shopping for records when your wife is a few zip codes away.
If you took time to read my July 21st post “A New Beginning” Here . You’d know I’m taking steps towards what I hope to be a new chapter in my studio and promotional work. In reaching out to the many friends I’ve made over the years as a photographer and music blogger. I hope to bring bands and musicians out of the comfort zones or the clubs, stages and recording studios and into my world to capture edgy studio and location images. Having had both my live and studio images appear in magazines, music media sites, record covers and inlets. I hope to build on my reputation and continue to earn the trust I’ve worked so hard to earn. With the studio and post production skills I’ve both learned and applied. I feel I can offer artists the professional and creative edge that will best represent their art and distinct personalities without feeling posed, forced or inauthentic. So, whether you’re a musican, artist, band, record label or creative spirit looking for images that best represent you. Reach out, we’ll put our ideas together and create something special.
In a recent conversation with friend, fellow photographer and mentor Kevin. I was questioned about my use of watermarks. I explained that I had so many of my music related photos used without permission, notice or credit over the years and how using a watermark gave me a sense of assurance that such branding would cut down on, if not eliminate the practice of taking without asking. As ridiculous as it might seem, it pisses me off when I have to ask for a photo credit after it’s already been used without notification. In the days of film, this never seemed to be an issue, due to the fact that you, the photographer, owned the negative. In a time of social media’s immediacy and a digital age where a file / image replaces the negative. Problems certainly have more of a chance to arise.
Still, his question and critique really made me think. Is it really worth it? Does it reduce the emotion or intended message within the image. If so, does that tiny assurance relieve any of the anxiety or paranoia of having one of your shots appear uncredited on someone’s band page? Probably not. But still, it’s an idea I’m still not ready to completely embrace. So, what do you think? Bands, Photographers? I’d love to hear from you.