Thursday, October 30, 2008

A New Old Camera

B Square

This is the very first image from my newest camera a Yashica A Twin Lens Reflex. The Twin Lens Reflex has a viewing lens and a lens that actually takes the picture. So you don't exactly see the image until the film is developed. You peer into the top of this camera at a 3 inch square of ground glass that reflects the image you are photographing like some sort of phantom television. This camera is 48 years old and has very limited shutter settings. With 100 speed film on a cloudy day most of the shots I took required me counting the seconds off on my watch for the exposures. Those exposures are called "B" exposures as you get to decide how long they are. 120 film (what this camera uses) is square format so the output does not require the whole portrait/landscape discussion in my head I do with 35mm. Seems I like portrait alot when shooting 35mm...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gravel Truck at the Cave

Thursday the 23rd saw Mitch Easters "Let's Active Cover Band," Gravel Truck quietly saunter in to the Cave and blow it apart with vintage rock goodness. Shortly after 10 pm the shout of the phrase "emotions are enemy agents - go home!" marked the beginning of a set of music that spanned the life of that 80s pop icon Let's Active. The band was spot on and Mitch Easter was masterful on the guitar once again. With this group of musicians backing him up this material was as muscular and tuneful as ever. With Jon Heames on the drums and Tim Lee (Windbreakers, Tim Lee 3) on bass, this band had solid grooves to hold up Mitch's fluid guitar and sprawling melodies. A rocked up "Every Word Means No" quickly followed its harder edges working decidedly in its favor. Songs Like "Ornamental" and "Horizon" reminded me of how heavy Let's Active could be. These songs absolutely sounded like they belonged in the canon of rock classics. Wistful and poppy, "Reflecting Pool" was a nice change of pace song in this set. The set closed with a classic reading of "In Little Ways" leaving me wanting to catch this version of Let's Active material anytime.

Set List:

Easy Does
Every Word Means No
Every Dog Has His Day
Still Dark Out
Reflecting Pool
Bad Machinery
In Little Ways

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shower the People - James Taylor at UNC Chapel Hill

Ok it does not get any more Chapel Hillian than this, James Taylor on the campus of the University of North Carolina at twilight on a beautiful, clear autumn day gently, intuitively serving up the hits one after another to a respectful, loving audience. It got to me. It was so in synch that the carillon in the bell tower played the quarter hour notes exactly when they would harmonize with JT.

This terrific evening of music started without the usual political rally proding and poking, but rather a gracenote for all those who had already voted and were working with or supporting the Obama campaign. Playing solo, James Taylor sprinkled in politics and started with a beautiful sobering open tuned "America the Beatiful" played and sung as only he could do it. He spoke about how sad it was that the word Government had come to be so reviled, about how purposeful and hopeful the Obama campaign was. A movement he said that had not had its like since the run of Bobby Kennedy according to JT.

As for the music. James was inspired tonight to great heights by the limited seating (making for intimate surroundings) and the beautiful scenery. He played all his hits and some great covers from his new album of covers. The set began with "Something in the Way She Moves" which he said was the first song he wrote worthy of playing for anybody else. I will say now that James Taylor voices on the guitar better than anyone I have seen in person and that his improvisational style and skill make his songs fresh even within their familiarity. He hasn't just been playing his hits for years he's been honing them. He knows where the melody could change just a tiny bit for the better here and there keeping the whole intact for the deep memory acquired from years of listening to recorded versions. A lovely version of "You've Got A Friend" introduced by a story of learning the song watching Carol King do it over and over during their nights at the Trubador in the early 70s. He worked up his version then and said "he had no idea he would be doing it practically every night for the rest of his life."

I want to say quickly that James was in Amazing Voice, he sounded like the early James Taylor, timbre, range and the comfortably familiar tone all in tact. Hits like "Sweet Baby James", "Fire and Rain", preceeded the material from the current cover record. And those were treats especially the Leonard Cohen song "Suzanne" which is a stunner of a song musically and lyrically. He also covered the Jimmy Webb hit "Wichita Lineman" from that record as well.

At the end of an hour of music the moment had come at last for "Carolina in My Mind" and sublime and perfect it was with 5,000 quietly accompanying the harmony. Taylor was in the moment all night long tonight. No band just him connecting with us.
He was funny, affable and damn good. He enjoyed himself enough to give us "Mexico" and "Close Your Eyes" as encores. But he also gently reminded us to vote and be proud of our support for Barack Obama.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yes Sir, I am an Artist....

I went today on my out and aboutness to the Circa 1958 Art Show at the Ackland Art Museum. It covers the sweeping themes in art around the time the Ackland opened in 1958. The exhibit features the work of Frank Stella (paintings), Robert Rauschenberg (collages), Claes Oldenburg (Sculpture), George Segal, a wonderful Andy Warhol image called "The Gilded Lilly" of a gold leafed lilly image inside a gold hi-heel shoe, decorated with glue on bric-a-brac. The catalog for this show goes on to say "Artists also began installing galleries and other informal spaces with interrelated objects and sounds to surround the viewer, invite exploration, and create 'environments'. As Happenings and Environments evolved, other artists, including Yoko Ono... ...created art objects that forced the spectator to consider his or her relationship to the work."

Hence the part where I got to be an artist today. There was a large gilded frame with a metal sheet within and a hammer and a box of nails and viewers were encouraged to get a nail and add a nail. I asked, the guard said "you are allowed to touch that piece, yes" to which I responded and "and hammer a nail..." he said yes. So PRESTO! I am contributor to this year's "A Painting to Hammer a Nail In" by Yoko Ono(and a nail by me...). When I was done I looked at the guard and said proudly "I'm an Artist!"

(This is a previous version, not the deluxe mirrored version I artistically drove a nail into today...)