Category Archives: Music

Bluegrass Music of the Mountains

The glow of the evening sun sweeps across the vast valley casting hues that compliment the beauty of the natural world. I sit in peace surrounded by the mighty Cascades. The worries of daily living seem moot at this point as I recline into the comforts of my camping chair as I am present to the American roots of bluegrass music filling the air. There is something majestic about listening to bluegrass high up in the fresh mountain air. It just makes sense, lyrically, as the music blends into the mountains and where one chord starts and the other ends, the wind just carries each note away.

Growing up north of Seattle, the annual Darrington Bluegrass festival, was often talked about, but I had never attended. After spending over a decade away from the Pacific Northwest upon my return my attendance to this event had bumped to the top of my to-do list. Still, it took another two years for the timing to work out and now that I’ve attended only one day, the festival is on my calendar for next year in ink! In fact, my family and some great family friends are planning on camping up there for the full 3-days. This experience has made a lasting impression and already I look forward to attending next summer.

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Phish On!

Last Sunday evening I photographed the Phish reunion tour in Camden, NJ. It was a great show, with great light. They opened the show with Chalkdust Torture, next was Fee and then onto Wolfman’s Brother. When one photographs a concert the rules typically are the same, you are only allowed to photograph the first 3 songs, no flash. I’m escorted into the pit area, between the stage and the front row, where all the bouncers are. When I photographed the Grateful Dead last month we were alloted the first 15 minutes, due to their long improvisational jams. I was expecting the same thing with Phish but they actually let us shoot the first 3 songs, which was cool, gave us a bit more time to make some great images.

If you’d like to see some highlights of the show, click on the Sportsshooter link in the blogroll on the right, and enjoy!yu

A Simple Idea & an Inspiring Message

Ideas and inspiration come and go. My inspiration lately has been ho-hum to say the least with a multitude of stale ideas, figuring that the epiphany will hit sooner or later. Which I do believe, but in the process of over thinking I brush to many potentials aside while I wait for the big idea. In all of this self created mess I may have overlooked an angle, or I really am in a ‘shooters’ slump. People go in slumps all the time over all sorts of things, so it’s possible and more than likely probable. I’m not attempting to dwell and harp on it, but in order to move along I must at-least acknowledge it.

My 8th grade block teacher, I unfortunately don’t remember her name, used to take the class on what she liked to call was Bird Walks. I think it was a technique she used whenever she determined that the class was sluggish or overwhelmed. We’d get up and go take a walk around campus, to get the blood flowing again, get some fresh air, etc. Maybe that’s something I should investigate in.

So here I sit, headphones on and listening to some Keb ‘Mo, wondering what will kick start my “New Beginning”. All signs though point to myself, I’m the only one who can cause the change that I want to be. I guess one of the things that kind of kick started this particular blog entry was the trailer from an upcoming documentary film called Playing for Change: Peace through Music. This film has a great concept and includes the kind of passion I feel for music, photography/video and storytelling. After watching the trailer and a clip from two songs featured in the movie, One Love and Stand by Me, I sit here in Wilmington thinking why didn’t I think of this, it now seems so obvious to me. A simple idea with an inspiring message. That’s it. My time will come especially when I’m not so fixated on coming up with a great idea. That’s just how life works based on what I’ve learned.

If you’ve got 15 min. I’d suggest you watch Bill Moyer’s Interview with the director Mark Johnson and see what inspired him to create such a wonderful documentary.

Stand

I was pursing my iPod today to find an album that I either haven’t listened to in a while. I came across a Rascal Flatts album that I occasionally listen to. There’s a song on there that I really like that Sus and I heard once called Bless the Broken Road. It’s a great tune, if you’ve never heard it, you should check it out.

Well I have another one of his albums on the iPod as well and there’s a song called Stand, that I’ve heard before, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually got quiet enough to listen to it. This morning I’ve already played it on repeat a few times. I think it puts into words the spot that I find myself in right now. This struggle of 2008 was a very difficult year for Sus and I. Even just reflecting on it in my own mind it brings out a flood of thoughts and emotions that are challenging to say the least. Additionally, we find ourselves embarking upon a natural cross road and I’m worried that we don’t see eye to eye. I know compromise is part of being in relationship and I’m willing to work to find the half way point, I just want us to be happy.

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you’ve lost your fight
But you’ll be alright, you’ll be alright

[Chorus:]
Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you’re made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand
Life’s like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you’re given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

[Repeat Chorus]

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place
Oh

[Repeat Chorus]

The Pulse of the Blues

As many of you know my two greatest passions are my photography and music, so it seems like a natural direction for me to merge the two. As many of you also know, my head is filled with many ideas that sometimes bear fruit and others never quite come to fruition. One thing I’ve learned about myself and my ways to deal with some attention issues is to just express it, get it out. Sometimes that makes it difficult for those around me because I seem to always have half-cocked ideas and which one is the trigger going to be pulled on. I realize that I need to work on how I express these ideas, even myself knowing that many of them won’t be much of anything just a fun way to entertain an idea. Delivery and timing = maturity. Well with that in mind …. I’ve got an idea. Now, I’ve done some research here in-between jobs and it’s been done before, but I still think it could be a worthwhile project.

The blues are so entrenched in American music, it is the foundation of so many different musical genres, even with the shit that’s out there today jammin’ up priceless airwaves. Since our American culture continues to be divided between the haves and the have-nots, I believe that it’s so much more important. If we listen not just to the rhythms and find the beat but really listen and feel then some of these issues that face us today will disperse. I’m not trying to say that the blues is going to solve our problems, but it may be a catalyst for change. Highway 61 is approximately 700 mile stretch of road between Memphis, TN and New Orleans, LA that is also known as the Blues Highway. It is along this road, somewhere near Clarksdale, MS that the late great Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroad and sold his soul as long as the devil tuned his guitar and made him the best. What do you know, less than 10 years later, he was a household name and even to this day his legacy lives on. I do wonder who would be standing at the crossroad today, I bet the devil would have stepped aside to let Karl Rove purchase souls, he’s even more evil than the devil, but that’s another post. So here’s what I purpose, a rented Cadillac and an exploration of the Blues Highway, documenting the music, the culture, the food and the pulse of Americana along the delta. Ending up in New Orleans.

I figure the finished piece would result in a print show, a book and a multimedia piece. I figured the entire trip would be about 14 days, with 3-4 days in Memphis and in New Orleans and the rest along the highway meeting people. Right now this is just a thought nestled somewhere between reality and what was I just saying?

Viva La Revolucion!

Music, like history, always has a way of coming back around full circle. Today while at work I listened repeatedly to a song over and over because I think it’s so fitting for this day and age. Here’s the lyrics and below is a link to the youtube video so you can relish in the song as well:

Dont you know
They’re talkin’ bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Dont you know
Theyre talkin’ about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While theyre standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take whats theirs

Dont you know
You better run, run, run…
Oh I said you better
Run, run, run…

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution


Talkin’ bout a revolution by Tracy Chapman

Who knows maybe our revolution is rumbling awake from a deep slumber just like Mt. Saint Helens in 1980. We’ll see. Viva La Revolucion!

Soundtrack to Life

Dancing around in a room naked, playing the air drums in the car, belting out a scat solo in the shower—shooo-witti-DO-bop! Music is one of the key quintessential ingredients to life. It adds the spice, add a little reggae, throw in the blues, a dash of head banging rock, just a spoonful of country, it surrounds us. Even the crappy music in stores I notice. In fact here at my work, they pump in some jazz in the hallways, it’s faint and I bet these financial types don’t even notice it, yet I recognize it, especially when they play David Sanborn and Bob James’s Maptuo. You can see me bouncing down the halls doing a little jig here and there on my way to some senseless meeting. That’s neither here nor there though. I’ve always been that cliched guy who does live to a beat of a different drummer, and for some reason the drummer in my head is always off key, go figure. The iPod has to be one of the greatest inventions for a person like me, I can have so many tunes in such a small compact place that can go with me anywhere. I no longer have to lug around CDs. I like to travel light.

If you were to think about all the songs, artists, genres and come up with your soundtrack to your life what would it sound like? What tunes trigger those memories of a time gone past, or maybe you’ve got the foresight to know of a tune in the future. Even though an iPod playlist can hold so many more songs, let’s keep this to the 12-14 tracks a CD can hold.

My soundtrack:
1. Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club
2. Back to the Earth – Rusted Root
3. Bro’s Hymn – Pennywise
4. Old Man – Neil Young
5. Son of a Sailor – Jimmy Buffet
6. Ignorance – The Lashing Dogs
7. Wild River – The Samples
8. Living in the Promiseland – Willie Nelson
9. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes – Jimmy Buffet
10. More Than A Feeling – Boston
11. Barstools & Dreamers – Widespread Panic
12. Seven Steps to Heaven – Miles Davis
13. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash
14. So Much Trouble in the World – Bob Marley

Of course, this is a live document, ever evolving and changing. As it stands for now, this is where I’m at. Some are rooted in deep memories, others remind me of a place.

So what does the soundtrack of your life sound like?