Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Favourite Shows

1. Merge XX
2. X at the Cats Cradle June 9th 2009
3. Midori - Brahms Violin Concerto, Memorial Hall UNC
4. Richard Thompson at the Art Center
5. Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet at the Arts Center
6. U2 at Carter Finley Stadium
7. Lost in the Trees and The Love Language, Chapel Hill Outdoors
8. Elvis Costello at Regency Park
9. The Old Ceremony at the Cat's Cradle "Walk on Thin Air" Release
10. Kathleen Edwards at the Art Center

Very Honorable Mentions: Troika; Tim Easton show at the Berkley Cafe; Pains of Being Pure at Heart at Local 506; Drug Horse Cartel Show at Local 506; Wye Oak at Local 506;

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2009 top 10 Albums

1. Gather, Form and fly - Megafaun
2. Upper Air - Bowerbirds
3. Telekinesis!- Telekinesis
4. Walk on Thin Air - The Old Ceremony
5. The Love Language - The Love Language
6. Now or Heaven - The Broken West
7. Veckatimest - Grizzly Bear
8. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
9. St. Vincent - Actor
10. Wye Oak - The Knot

Turns out that alot of my favourite albums this year are borne out of the shows I've attended in 2009. I only wish I had albums to add to this list from Lost in the Trees and The Rosebuds. Maybe next year. An amazing music year all around from XX Merge to this years expanded and excellent Troika Music Festival its been pretty non-stop around here for great things to see. So excited to finally see St. Vincent and be re-introduced to Andrew Bird in such a strong way this year as well. Comments welcome as I am sure I left things off. The new Muse record being quite good and the new U2 slowly, slowly growing on me until I saw the concert this fall and gave in to this new one from them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Day in the Park 2009

A Day in the Park is an idea I have been kicking around for some time now. I had talked about wanting to do it so much I wasn't sure it would actually happen. In theory its a pretty simple idea. Go to New York City and spend the day photographing central park and fly home that night. One day, one shot and see what happens. The idea of combining my enthusiasm for shooting natural environments combined with views of the largest city in the US was a no-brainer. I had saved money for the plane tickets out of eBaying many items I no longer need or use. That part felt good. A useful experience out of no longer needed consumer goods!

Flights leaving at 7am and around 7pm were booked and I did a bit of research on the park and off I went. Seven rolls of film later I was in a cab riding to the airport to come home. An amazing day. Completely exhausted though as I had only slept 4 hours the night before leaving. The results are pretty nice overall if I do say so. I learned alot more about how to shoot in mid-day light and got alot of practice framing and shooting sites I had never seen before in person in such a way that they were photographs and not tourist shots. Must say that the iPhone was indispensable for keeping me apprised of what cross streets I was located near even when I was in the center of the park. Made finding landmarks pretty simple.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Matthew Sweet / Susanna Hoffs Photos

Bit of a lag between the post and now but here are some of the film shots from that night:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet at the Arts Center

In 2006, Susanna Hoffs, formery of the Bangles, teamed up with Matthew Sweet, and created a duo with the name "Sid n Susie." They went on to record fifteen cover versions of classic rock songs from the 1960s and 1970s for an album titled Under the Covers, Vol. 1. Throughout their careers they have made no secret of their love for 60s & 70s pop music. Its influence is found all throughout the Bangles catatlogue and is on full display in Matthew Sweets "Girlfriend" record. Almost inevitably Under the Covers, Vol. 2 was released summer 2009, which included covers of songs by Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart and more.

Tonight at the Arts Center in Carrboro these two plus Matthew's friend and bandmate Paul Chastain among others held forth with a list of pop hits that would entertain anyone. Extremely casual and very loose doing some songs they had practiced "less than once" according to Hoffs, the Sid 'n Suzie show dipped and soared managing to create still a strong set overall. The best and biggest surprise of the night was the amazing singing voice of Susanna Hoffs. There is a definite reason other than her looks that she made it! The diversity of the set list gave this show an unpredicability that added to the enjoyement of the performance. The Yes song "Your Move" was an inspired choice to begin with but to have Susanna sing it made it that much better. Must mention Matthews 5 toed vibram "sock shoes" kinda wierd.

Anyway here is the set list for this show:

I See the Rain - (The Marmalade)
Your Move - (Yes)
Second Hand News - (Fleetwood Mac)
She May Call You Up - (The Left Banque)
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (Neil Young)
Willin' (Lowell George)
All the Young Dudes (David Bowie)
And Your Bird Can Sing (Beatles)
Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young)
You're So Vain (Carly Simon)
What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding (Nick Lowe)
Different Drum (Mike Nesmith)
Hello It's Me (Todd Rundgren)
Couldn't I Just Tell You (Tood Rundgren)
Baby Blue (Badfinger)
Beware of Darkness (George Harrison)
Back of a Car (Big Star)
Maggie May (Rod Stewart)


To Sir (Lulu)
Here Comes the Sun (Beatles)
In Your Room (Susanna Hoffs)
Manic Monday (Bangles)
I've Been Waiting (Matthew Sweet)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

U2 at Carter Finley Stadium

The stars of U2's show at Carter Finley Stadium were clearly the bands themselves, but the state-of-the-art swiss army knife of a stage was a big participant in last nights show. An energetic set by Muse was the opening of the nights proceedings and was very good, in particular songs from their new recording The Resistance. Standouts from that set included the spirited guitar stabs of Uprising and the transe inducing Resistance.

U2 is in fine form with Bono in good voice for the entire night and the Edge and Company holding their end up with panache. The seeming unscripted parts of last nights performance were entertaining as well: like the child who was pulled onstage during City of Lights to whom Bono gave his trademark spectacles, or the off hand impromptu versions of standards like Amazing Grace and Stand by Me. Luckily a beautiful full moon and comfortable weather made the show that much more enjoyable.

Bono has not given up the bands political edge at all speaking last night on the topics of Burma, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, HIV, repression of freedom in Iran, the American war in Iraq and Afghanistan; with the recently detained Burmese opposition leader Ann San Suu Kyi a subject of an image montage while Bono literally sang her praises. I thought the songs from War were as fresh as when I heard them in Chapel Hill in 1983 at the Spring Fling where U2 kicked off he War tour in the U.S.

The material from the latest album "No Line on the Horizon" fared better in concert than I would have guessed and consolidated my liking of songs like Magnificient and No Line on the Horizon. The band did an largely improved very different version of I'll Go Crazy which holds up much better than the recorded version. There was a video presentation by the former Archbishop Desmond TuTu before the song One which was very effective and quite moving in its own way. This show sets a very high standard for artistic and multimedia integration in stage performances going forward for all bands at this level. As well as being musically satisfying it was without peer in regard to presentation.

Set List:

Get on Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day
No Line on the Horizon
In a Little While
New Year's Day
Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Stand by Me
Stuck in a Moment (acoustic)
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy (If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On
Where the Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lost in the Trees and The Love Language

The town of Chapel Hill conspired with the local 506 to bring us all a marvel of a live concert on the rooftop of the downtown parking deck. Lost in the Trees is a "folk orchestra" from Chapel Hill, NC, led by Ari Picker. Ari Picker, who attended the Berklee College of Music, blends American folk and traditional classical music in a way that is completely original. The band contains a full string section, horns, bass and versitle multi-instrumentalists along with a drummer. All Alone In An Empty House is the latest album from this band and its an instant classic to my ear. There are straight up classical sketches for strings (Mvt I & Mvt II) and there are smoldering electric guitar romps like "Fireplace." All of this was performed Thursday night with stunning grace and ease. A high point of this set is the embittered "All Alone in an Empty House." Ari and his large band go to the head of the class among the smart rock set.

Lost in the Trees

Next up was the Love Language whose lo-fi self titled release sounds nothing like the joyful noise this band makes in a performance. Polished and full sounding, this band is rather large as well featuring 2 keyboardists, bass, 2 guitarists and a drummer and for this show a trumpet. Bouncy, upbeat, hooky are all words that you could use to define them. Band founder Stuart McLamb finds himself in a really great live band after singlehandedly playing every instrument on the Album. From the country tinged "Stars" to the bubbly rocker "Lalita" the love language delivered a memorable set.

The Love Language

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Couple Hundred Bands I've seen...

A partial list. People on facebook are generating these and I thought I'd post one too.

10,000 Maniacs
Aimee Mann
Alex Chilton
Amy Rigby (2)
An Horse
Arcade Fire
Arrogance (3)
Badly Drawn Boy
Beat Rodeo
Ben Folds Five (3)
Billy Bragg
Billy Price & the Keysone Rhythm Section
Boss Martians
British Sea Power
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Springsteen (5)
Buddy & Julie Miller
Caitlyn Cary
Cat Power
Cheap Trick
Chris Stamey
Cliff Hillis
Conitnental Drifters
Corrosion of Conformity
Dave Davies
Dex Romweber Duo
Dillon Fence
Django Haskins
Don Dixon (7)
Eight Eyes
Eleni Mandell
Elliott Smith
Elvis Costello (3)
English Beat (2)
Fetchin' Bones
Fleetwood Mac
Flock of Seagulls
Gang of Four
Gillian Welch (3)
Glen Tillbrook
Glory Fountain
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5
Great Northern
Guadalcanal Diary
Hammer No More the Fingers
Heather Nova
Hege V
Hoodoo Gurus
Hotel Lights
James Taylor
Jay Bennett
Jeff Hart and the Ruins
Jeff Tweedy
John Hiatt
Johnny Quest
Josh Ritter
Josh Rouse
Jump Little Children
Ken Stringfellow
Kenny Roby and the Mercy Filter
Kick the Future
Killer Filler
Laurie Anderson
Les Paul
Let's Active
Long Ryders
Love Tractor
Lucinda Williams
Lyle Lovett
Lynne Blakey
Marshall Crenshaw
Matt Suggs
Matthew Sweet
Mayflies USA
Michael Penn
Mitch Easter
Neil Cleary
Neil Diamond All Stars
Neil Young
Nick Lowe
Parthenon Huxley
Pat DiNizio (At Pinehill Farm)
Patty Hearst Shifter
Paul McCartney
Paul Westerberg
Peter Bruntnell
Peter Case
Peter Holsapple
Polyphonic Spree
Pressure Boys
Psychedlic Furs
REM (4)
Rachel Nevadas
Rain Parade
Reckless Eric
Regina Hexaphone
Richard Buckner
Richard Lloyd
Richard Thompson (5)
Rick Rock
Robbie Rist
Robyn Hitchcock
Ron Sexsmith (With Nick Lowe)
Run DMC (in NYC)
Ryan Adams
Scott Miller and the Commonwealth
Snatches of Pink
Southern Culture on the Skids
Spoon (2)
Squirrel Nut Zippers
T-Bone Burnett
Talking Heads
Taz Halloween
Teddy Thompson
Ten Ten
Tenament Halls
Th' Cigaretz
Thad Cockerell
The 3D's
The Alarm
The Backsliders
The Church
The Churchills
The Clash
The Dots (from NYC)
The Fabulous Knobs
The Frames
The Gladhands
The Grip Weeds
The Hanks
The Individuals
The Jayhawks
The Kamikazees
The Kingsbury Manx
The Magnetic Fields
The Moaners
The Mothers (without Zappa)
The Music Tapes
The Never
The OAK Team
The Old Ceremony
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Posies
The Pressure Boys
The Radar Brothers
The Replacements
The Rolling Stones
The Rosebuds
The Sex Police
The Shake
The Shazam
The Silos
The Snap
The Sneakers
The Stars Explode
The Sundays
The Swales
The Swimming Pool Qs
The Three O'Clock
The Who
The Wygals
The X Teens
The dB's
They Might Be Giants
Three Hits
Tift Merritt (3)
Tim Easton (5)
Tim Lee and the Windbreakers
Todd Rundgren
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tommy Keene
Trailer Bride
Tres Chicas
Treva Spontane and the Graphic
Two Dollar Pistols
U2 (2)
UV Prom
Van Halen
Verve Pipe
Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings
Warren Zevon
Will Kimbrough
Wye Oak

Monday, August 10, 2009

20 Memorable shows I've played

Building on Jeff Hart's Idea, I typed this up...

1) Opening for the Replacements in 1984 at the 688 in Atlanta. My band One Plus Two opened for this legendary band on a night when they were ragged and right. We managed to drink some of their upscale beers and roll their dressing room before they came offstage. (1984)

2) 1+2 Opening dB's old Cat's Cradle Franklin Street - Pre "Like This" era dB's. Met Peter and Chris for the first time. Enjoyed chatting with Peter when he walked in singing "Sound of the Rain" from the newish Rank and File record which I had just bought. Affable guys great band! (1983)

3) 1+2 Opening for OH OK - Athens, GA, old 40 Watt downtown. That whole damn weekend was magic. The PA went out at the beginning of our set so we had to fill with junk music while MILLS,STIPE,BERRY&BUCK milled about the room. No I wasn't tooooo nervous. Met Lynne Blakey for the first time and Peter Buck! The band that played between us and (Linda Stipes band) OH OK? Matthew Sweets band called Buzz of Delight. What a night!(1983)

4) Swamis and Majosha at the 1988 Battle of the Bands in Durham, NC. Majosha. Ben Fold's nascent band played their first gig at Duke University's Battle of the Bands in 1988 and won in a final song "Play off" against US!

5) Chronic Night - Cats Cradle (2001) Played under my name with Brent Lambert accompanying me on guitar. This great tribute to REM was something I thought I would never get to play. I owe Frank Heath for thinking of me. I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to play for such a large crowd.

6) Guadal Canal Diary opening for 1+2 at the Cat's Cradle. Odd way things work with on of my very favourite bands of all time opening for mine. They were amazing and they split town as soon as they were packed up. (1984)

7. Borrowing from Jeff Hart, Songwriters alliance show at Berkeley Cafe - Guests were Ryan Adams, Sara Bell & Jerry Kee. This gig became a near riot and required Raleigh's finest to break it up. I was a newish quasi-regular. I left the stage area when the action got heavy. I could NOT get Ryan's name right all night long, I kept calling him the wrong name. He still spoke to me anyway and eventually, I got his name right. Ryan was playing a beat up Kay guitar and sounding better than my fancyish epiphone.

8) 1+2 Opens for Red Hot Chili Peppers to an empty Cradle on a Sunday Night! Unhappy Californians (1983)

9) 1+2 Opens for the venerable Hoodoo Gurus to a packed Cradle. I loved this band. What a pleasure to get to open for the Aussies on their first US tour. (1984)

10) Swamis open for Let's Active (1986) Every Dog Has His Day was the record. I had opened for Let's Active before but this show had momentum to be huge and it was an important gig for this new newish band of mine.

11) 1+2 Opens for 10,000 Maniacs at the Cat's Cradle. Geez it was unbelievable there almost
every night in the 80's. This show was no exception (1983).

12) 1+2 Opens for The Three O'clock at the Brewery in Raleigh. Unbelievably pop performaces from both bands. Everybody had their top button on their shirts buttoned, yeah? (1982)

13) Swamis and Chris Stamey - Brewery Raleigh, NC (1987) Unbelievable night of music from Chris. He had not played in the area for a while so this was a reentry show of sorts from him. Lots of material from fireworks.

14) Swamis Opening for Richard Lloyd on his "Field of Fire" tour. Amazing guitarist. Enough said. (1987)

15) 1+2 Opening for Beat Rodeo at the old 40 Watt in Athens, GA. Eating Pizza at Automatic for the People! Something in the air at that time that couldn't be beat. (1983)

16) 1+2 opens for the Rain Parade at the Cat's Cradle. I brought these psychedelic fellas back to my house to hang out after the show. Very cool band with a great sound.

17) Songwriters Alliance with Chris Stamey and Jeff Hart (199?) filling in for Wes LaChot it was my first time playing next to Chris Stamey. I've never seen a more prepared performer in my life. Lots of mental notes taken.

18) 1+2 Opening for the Fleshtones a the Milestone, Charlotte, NC (1983). As if playing the decrepit Milestone wasn't enough fun opening for the then venerable Fleshtones and this run-down gem of a club

19) Pound Notes Playing the Milestone in Charlotte (1982) Opening was Hope Nichols and a very early version of Fetchin' Bones as it was just Hope plus a guitarist (acoustic at that) Even then you could tell she was talent waiting to explode.

20) 1+2 Opening for Swimming Pool Q's (many times) I LOVE THIS BAND. Annie Boston can sing! (1984)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

August Photography Show

There will be a show of my wet darkroom prints at Crooks Corner in the month of August starting Monday and running the entire month. This is the culmination of so many skills and a convergence of people and places. Starting with Flickr 2 years ago and only shooting a point ans shoot digital. But having local friends like AmosFly who were also camera-centric and Flickr filmist friends like Flowerville, Jeff Dameron and Anne Marie Simmard who were constantly encouraging me to shoot. Meeting a nice group of Flickrites called the Raleigh Social Group and entering their summer project show last year which opened my local connections up wider. Beginning my adventure with film with a Nikon I bought at the thrift store! Meeting local photographer Bill Bamberger who told me my prints were good and gave me inspiration to shoot more. Meeting Elizabeth Mattheson who told me I had an eye but needed to adjust the format I was using (a crucially wonderful change). Meeting John Rosenthal, who patiently critiqued my portfolio(s) and later gave me lessons on how to frame an image. And even meeting John Menapace with whom I had a delightful conversation about shooting and printing and what makes a photographer tick. I appreciate all these people, its been a magic carpet ride of sorts as all kinds of doors have opened for me and I am grateful. So in order to to do this show in the last 6 months I have...

Bought 2 new Medium Format cameras

Shot 50 rolls of 120 film

Scanned 600 images

Learned how to print in the wet darkroom

Darkroom printed at least 200 images

Made a final portfolio of 40 of which 14 were
generously selectd by Elizabeth Mattheson for this show

Walked 25 miles of the Eno River

Walked 15 miles of New Hope Creek

And about 10 miles of the Haw River

Cut mattes for and framed these images below.

I must say I would not have missed a single minute of it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

World Wide Photowalk

As part of the World Wide Photowalk on Saturday July 18, 2009. 40 some Photographers participated in the Raleigh Photo Walk on and around Moore Square. My first real outing with my new 1967 35mm Nikkormat. Most of the Raleigh walk crowd consisted of people from the Raleigh Flickr group.

There were:

8.324 photographers register for local walks
47 Countries had participating cities
44 States in the US had Photo Walks
A total of 236 cities worldwide
More than 1,017,125 photos were taken on walks that day

This is a selection of photos of some of the Raleigh Flickr Group on the walk. My actual photos fromt the walk of Raleigh are going to be up at my Flickr stream.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Christian Marcalay's Video Quartet

Now showing at the Nasher Museum of art is Christian Marcalay's "Video Quartet" four simultaneously running adjacent screens of images that are sampled from more than 700 Hollywood films featuring images of hands on keyboards, horns and violins, as well as men and women singing, dancing and making other noises. Making a unique visual and sonic collage. From Jimi Hendrix to Marilyn Monroe and glimpses icons like Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, Video Quartet is a cultural flash card. Watching the settings and social norms of American culture is almost as interesting as the visual play that has elements like a falling drum cymbal turning into a vinyl LP. In the spirit of Marcel Duchamp's "ready mades" this art may have been found but it was painstakingly put together in revellatory new fashion. This is indeed art.

Also at the Nasher at the moment is "Photographs From The Duke University Special Collections Library." A wonderful show featuring printing styles and photographic subjects through the entire history of photography. Alot of iconic photographers are found in the show including; Atget, Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Minor White and Sally Mann. Having only seen these photographers in books it is wonderful to see their work in person printed. I particularly was drawn to the Minor White photo that is in the exhibit of an Appalachian coal miner. The detail and sadness of the Atget image of a very short man selling flowers. Also exhibited are negatives and projections of images on the walls digitally.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Elvis Costello at Regency Park

Elvis Costello brought his ace Americana backup band to the Koka Booth Ampitheatre in Cary tonight to do songs from his latest recording "The Secret, Profane and Sugarcane."
This crack band included the Dobro Ace Jerry Douglas, fiddler deluxe Stuart Duncan and the ever-talented Jim Lauderdale on vocals and guitar. The mostly acoustic set included some unusual covers and some Costello standards along with songs from the new album.

Predominantly material from "Profane" and "King of America" along with plenty of songs from "My Aim is True" stuck in the set as well. The dapper and energetic Mr. Costello set up the songs from the new record with jaw-dropping stories about the not-quite-courtship of Hans Christian Anderson and the Barnum Singing Sensation Jenny Lind set in time around the 1850s. The songs from this song cycle are brutal in content. "Red Cotton" for instance about selling scraps of a red (metaphorically soaked with the blood of antebellum slaves) dress in souvenir lockets. The song "She Handed Me a Mirror" being about the time Hans Christian asked Jenny Lind why she could not return his love (and HCA being so unattractive) she handed him a mirror.
Leave it to Elvis to take songs intended for an opera about a Swedish singing star and convert them into an Americana influenced song cycle.

Set List:

Mystery Train
All Time Doll
Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down
Down Among the Wine and the Spirits
Blame It On Cain
Our Little Angel
Femme Fatale
I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came
The Delivery Man
The Butcher's Boy
Indoor Fireworks
Hidden Shame
New Unpublished Song
Wicked Wine
Friend of the Devil
She Handed Me a Mirror
Everyday I write the Book
She Was No Good
Chocolate Town
Brilliant Mistake
Red Cotton
The Crooked Line
Red Shoes
Sulfur to Sugarcane
The Race is On
What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding
Changing Partners
Five Small Words (thanks D. Menconi!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

X at the Cats Cradle June 9th 2009

X is still a band to be reckoned with, judging by last night's scorching-hot set at the Cat's Cradle. Billy Zoom still has the Zen calm to go along with his classic metal-flake Gretsch Jet guitar and classic guitar licks (and an eye for the ladies), John Doe sweating profusely, grinding hypnotic rhythms and almost knocking his mic stand down, Exene was calm and aloof center stage as the cacophony of break-neck rhythm droned all about her and enthusiastic fans called her name and sang along. The band sounded as fresh and exciting as they did 27 years ago when I last saw them in Raleigh at the Pier and the punk generation in attendance got a long awaited fresh infusion of the real thing. This band and their music is timeless.

Notable Songs in a terrific set included We're Desparate, This House is Not a Home, Breathless (!), and Los Angeles...

Set list to be posted.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Geez, What Have I Been Up To?

Been to see lots of local bands including a terrifc show by The Old Ceremony at the Cat's Cradle for the release of their new excellent record "Walk on Thin Air." Great moments from this show included the new song "Plate Techtonics" and the old chestnut "Reservations." The Love Language opened up this show and were polished and very enjoyable. Other bands I've seen lately include Wye Oak, who did a super Sunday night show at the Local 506, the quirky and very original Americans in France, and the Raleigh trio Gray Young. At Reebus Fest on Sunday this past week I caught Kenny Roby and the Mercy Filter's tight, melodic, rockin' set in the 90 degree sun. Let's just say it was so good I didn't run for the AC until it was over. Lots of songs from his last release which sound as fresh now as when this great recording came out a couple years ago. There is alot of great local music out there we are so lucky to have such good bands.

Out of town bands I've seen lately include an excellent Tim Easton show at the Berkley Cafe in support of his terrific new recording "Porcupine." All the Tim Easton standards were thrown in for good measure, "Lexington County Jail," "Let Me Be Next to You" among others. Tim did have a nice rhythm section with him that was somewhat remindful of the Crickets of Buddy Holly fame. Another band I've seen recently is Australia's own An Horse. This powerful man/woman duo band kept the rhythms tight and the songs focused. Their single "Postcards" from their first EP was a real highlight.
Also seen at the Local 506 recently were the energetic and superb Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This quintet of rockers from NYC are destined for great things with their atmospheric arrangements and hook-filled choruses.

Photography wise I have been shooting and printing like crazy. Attended a superb lecture by noted local photographer David Simonton titled "Time Served: The Evolution of A Documentary Project." A presentation of David's work photographing the deconstructing Polk Youth Center beside the Raleigh Art Museum. As the buildings deteriorated and nature took over Simonton's skilled photographic eye made gold from them decaying hills. Also I recently bought a superb book called "Celebrating the Negative." No, its not an anti-positive thinking tome. But a cool book filled with images of negatives of famous photographs. You can see how the image was cropped or the fact that alot of them are 4x5 or 8x10 glass plates. Bresson's famous jumping man negative is a fraction of a cropped frame of 35mm. Fascingating stuff....

A taste of the book can be found here...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mid Century Moderns

Mid Century Moderns

This building and I go a ways back and were born in the same year 1961. From the News and Observer - "The National Trust for Historic Preservation's magazine calls the Garland H. Jones Building an 'eye-catching landmark.' Local architects say it's one of the best examples of Modernist architecture left in downtown Raleigh." As a boy my step father worked in this building so I saw it often. It was all shine and reflective chrome, glass and marble. The building it replaced was a lovely double arched victorian wonder of an corner building. And in our never-ending race to seem less provincial we have now torn this building down to the ground as well. But here it and I are one and reflected each to the other...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wendy and Lucy

Kelly Reichardt's meditation on the fringes of economic life "Wendy and Lucy" makes for good cinema as well. Wendy is a young someone searching for a way to make more money, and clearly someone who's been down on her luck for a while that decides to head for Alaska where the standards for getting jobs are not related to resumes and office casual styles. Simple enough story, she sets out with her only real possession/relationship, her dog Lucy, and after traveling across country from Indiana to Oregon breaks down in a small town. The loss of the car stops everything. Wendy has had the gift of a song she hums as her major pastime and it ultimately winds up to be all she has left. When you are on the economic margins small catastrophe's loom large (like the fact that it costs $50 to tow a car 30 yards because "that's what it costs"...) Emotionally played by Michelle Williams, Wendy is a quiet study of the inner thought process writ large on her face inspite of her stoicism. In Wendy we see a yearning for independence and simple aspiration that we are left feeling will be seen through regardless of circumstance...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kathleen Edwards at the Art Center

Canadian songstress Kathleen Edwards brought her angst ridden oeuvre to the Art Center last night with the impact of a 10 ton truck. From the first note the room was drifting on her amazing world weary vocal sound and the orchestral magic that came from the guitars of Kathleen and her husband/bandmate Colin Cripps. The show included all the favourites including a great renditions of "Six O'clock News" and "Asking for Flowers." A poignant moment in the show was when she did the song "Alicia Ross." About a woman who had her child abducted in Canada. She acknowleged that "this goes on every day." Edwards went on to say "You know, how could a parent get up out of bed every morning after knowing that that's the fate that their child met?" The meat of the program was made up of material from the superb "Failer" record as another highlight of the show was the moody "Lone Wolf." She recounted the first tour she did was the last time she was in Carrboro and that that was 7 years previous. She was clearly glad to be back and the audience was clearly glad to see her.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Richard Thompson at the Art Center

So raconteur, songwriter and guitar genius Richard Thompson played a sold out show for the second night in a row at the Art Center in Carrboro on Monday, March 9th. I won't recount the proceedings in their entirety (it was superb!) but want to emphasize two things. First that the man is a true artist. As always in the middle of his set he starts taking requests and someone calls out "Vincent Black Lightning." No surprise there, he must have played this song a million and a half times. He could just stand there and do a rote repitiion of the song in a spiritless way or he could just say "no way I'm ever playing that song again - ever!" Instead he travels all the way back to the spark of excitement that generated that song for him and he *brings it* one more time. The rendition of this song always sounds fresh and its because he re-finds the creative energy that generated it.

The other thing I want to mention is during the request taking segment of the show he said "how about lets do a Fairport song." And he proceeded to listen to requests and took an audience poll of what to play. Luckily the audience (and I) went for the elegant "Where does the Time Go." The amazing part was that as he was introducing this song he began to muse about Sandy Denny and her place in songwriting history and he got a bit whistful and slipped out of his normal bravdo into some other zone and had a moment of sorts himself that he effortlessly shared in a quiet, understated way with us how much he missed and appreciated his friend. A truer soft side, never seen before and shared with a full house. Now thats a man who's comfortable in his own skin.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yes, Artisanal

Batch Toning - Finishing Prints

Batch toning the last step in finishing these darkroom prints. This is an ongoing batch of photographic prints that are drying after being toned with selenium. It makes the silver in the print not tarnish with age and can heighten contrast. Adding a bit of permanence to the work is a good idea considering the time involved in shooting, developing and printing the film. Yet another wet process the prints are put in water then agitated in Selenium until the contrast is how you want it to be and then washed one more time in another tray and put out to dry and be enjoyed!

As you can see I've been printing alot of large images. Been shooting more medium format film which makes for very detailed larger images. Slowly my portfolio is coming together. I'm in a great area to shoot some amazing outdoor locations. The Eno River, Occoneechee Mountain, New Hope Creek and some very beautiful forest in Durahm County.

I felt like all this shooting ahd photography was "action stuff" until I started printing. Then I realised that printing especially a learned craft. So yes, I feel Artisinal when I work on these...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

So began the second act of the Broadway musical Rent which I saw last night at the very nice, brand new, Durham Performing Arts Center. This venue gives Durham a performance space on par with Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium. The acoustics in the space and the comfort of the seating combined with great vantage points for most seating locations makes this a nice place to see a performance.

On to the show. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize, this incarnation of Rent (loosely based on the opera La Boheme) finds cast memebers Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp reprising the roles they originated on Broadway. The narrative role of Mark Cohen (Anthony Rapp), a filmmaker, holds this whole play together through narration so it was a pleasure having the original seasoned Broadway performer in this role. The other role in this tandem of Broadway vetrans was that of Roger Davis (Adam Pascal), a musician who is HIV positive. This whole show is based on the chemistry of the relationships between love interests and friends. The previous experience of these two key cast members together made the rapport between the characters of Roger and Mark as friends seem so very natural. The show centers around a group of friends and their reaching for a creative open lifestyle that affords them freedom, money, love and creativity all the time. Of course, there are difficulties around each. There is a lesbian couple and a gay couple and they each have relationship issues like normal couples but also have other issues like HIV. In the end their relationships to each other as a group of friends strengthens eventfully through the loss of one of their number named Angel. The music for the night was performed by a terrific band consisting of a rock quartet plus a keyboardist/pianist. Adam Pascal(Roger) actually played guitar so it made him that much more believable in the role when he sang and played. A superb performance from everyone with creative staging and some great singing moments heralds a fine start to Durham's soon-to-be-tradition of hosting fine theatrical events in their new building.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. "

- President Barack Obama's inaugural address, 01.20.09

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Midori and Brahms

So the program at Memorial Hall Thursday was described as a program of music composers sharing a kindred spirit. I would say the program had a consistent thread but essentially was fulfilled in the first half of the program. The featured performer was the prodigy Midori. Now fully matured and in her mid 30s this is an artist who has the emotional depth and the technical facility to really interpret music. The program began with Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. Three of them to be precise with the first and third being precisely played and very much of a whirling dance feel. The second piece was of another sort entirely. The Slavonic Dance in F Major Op. 4 was played with the feel of an adagio movement inbetween these other two dance pieces making a concerto of sorts of the three. The beautiful melody and harmonic structure of this second dance piece would set the stage for the Brahms Violin Concerto that followed.

Enter Midori attired in a gauzy white and black patterned gown to quietly stun the room into the best kind of musical submission. Intensity with focus is the only way to explain how this piece was played. The Brahms Violin Concerto seems to be very much a players piece of music with lots of room to showcase phrasing and dynamics. The first movement began with what could almost be called a call and response format where the orchestra and the soloist each essentially played in response to the other. The segments of Midori's violin being emphatic in both body language and expressive playing. Midori does not just play she becomes the music at times. Thoroughly at home in the moment you never get the sense that she's doing anything but being a pure conduit for the music itself. So as for pitch and technique and tone, astounding on all counts. Lovely, resonant sustained high notes as well as clear,pleasing phrasing all around. After the first Allegro movement I could have gone home happy it was so terrific. The following Adagio gave us another view of the composer and the artist both stretching out harmonically. After this beautiful respite the intensity rose again for the final Allegro. This third movement was more integrated than the first as far as the playing went, soloist and orchestra together more. I must say the the North Carolina Symphony rose to the challenge of the dynamics within this piece beautifully under the guest conductorship of Michael Christie. This performance was another great evening of music from the N.C. Symphony season.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dead Sea Scrolls

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosted an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls through Sunday of last week. I decided to go the last day and mentioned to my son that we were going to see the Dead Sea Scrolls that day. A couple hours later he asked "what is this dead sea monkey thing we're going to see." So I had him google Dead Sea Scrolls before we went. Crowded with last minute viewers like myself the exhibition was still enjoyable as they strictly controlled the number of people who could go see the scrolls themselves as the room had to be temperature controlled. The leadup to the scroll room was a informative exhibit about Qumran (the place where these scrolls were found) and the people who might have created them. The scrolls themselves seem to have been hidden due to the advancing Roman army who were well on their way to destroying the second temple (and destroying everything in their path, including Qumran). These texts are the oldest known examples of verse from the old testament. Some 1,000 years older than any previously known written examples at the time they were found. Some of these fragments date back to 1 BCE. These scripts were the original books of the old testament in copies, Genesis, Isaiah, Exodus, Deuteronomy along with some communal rules and communal prayers. Those who wrote these believed they were the true people of God and that others were less faithful to the true calling of the teachings in the Old Testament. Turns out Duke University had a chance to buy a large collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s but declined the purchase. Some antique manuscripts from the Duke Collection were on display in this exhibit. Another surprise were that these scrolls were written on leather not parchment. Their preservation in cool caves inside of clay jars made their survival that much more likely than a paper equivalent.