Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Star Third - Cat's Cradle Dec 9th, 10th 2010

This is the drummer/singer/songwriter from the seminal rock band Big Star. Big Star is most known now by the song that kicks off a TV show called That 70s Show but back in their day they were one of the most innovative rock bands around. Their sound went on to influence many important bands The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Gin Blossoms, Wilco, Afghan Whigs, Whiskeytown and others. The 1987 tribute song "Alex Chilton", co-written by three members of The Replacements, was released as a single from the album Pleased to Meet Me and contains the lyric "I never travel far without a little Big Star". Standing behind Jody in this shot is the bassist Mike Mills from the American Band R.E.M.

So they are putting on a live show of the entire 3rd Big Star Record in Chapel Hill with a full string section and a horn section. It was LUSH to say the least. This show includes members of Local Triangle bands Lost in the Trees, Rosebuds, The Old Ceremony, The Love Language, Mayflies USA, The dBs, Let's Active, Tomahawks and more. There are a lot of people on that stage!

We got to setup stages in front of the stage at the Cat's Cradle to shoot this so we were shooting on a higher level than usual from the front. I also got to use a tripod which I never normally can in live music situations. In rehearsal on wednesday at Overdub Lane Studios in Durham there were so many documentary people and photographers that Will Rigby said the band had a String Section and a Camera Section.

Stu McLamb of the Love Language

Mike Mills of R.E.M.

Photo notes: this is T-Max 400 pushed all the way to 3200 as the long lens on the Hasselblad only stops down to f/4. I love how smooth this came out in stand development.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Best Albums of 2010

This is my top ten for the year end of 2010. There was so much good music made and seen this year. Between the amazing Hopscotch festival, a really nice local-centric Troika in Durham and large name band shows at local venues (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at the Cradle for one). This was a great year for music all around.
My top ten is as follows:

1) Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
2) Sharon Van Etten - Epic
3) Arcade Fire - the Suburbs
4) The National - High Violet
5) Lost in the Trees - All Alone In An Empty House
5) Megafaun - Heretofore
6) The Love Language - Libraries
7) Bright Young Things - Self Titled EP
8) White Rabbits - It's Frightening
9) Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
10) Spoon - Transference

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hopscotch 09/09/2010-09/11/2010

Taken during Broken Social Scene, Nikon F, Film.

Hopscotch - One-hundred thirty bands in three days, that's the promise of the Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh this weekend. It is set to be the biggest music festival in the history of North Carolina. Essentially curated by the Indy's Grayson Currin Hopscotch 2010 was an ecclectic and great bunch of music. From gritty rock to electronica, hip hop and everything inbetween. What was unique about Hopscotch was that the record companies and downtown establishments and businesses in Raleigh sponsored day parties in which many of the highlighted bands played for free to afternoon concert goers. Some of the highlights for me for the entire weekend happend at just such shows. As an example the "Friend Island" day party at the Pour House on Friday the 10th featured Collections of Colonies of Bees, All Tiny Creatures, Pattern is Movement, Family Dynamics and Megafaun and Breathe Owl Breathe. The entire afternoon was well attended by more polite than usual concert goers and the added attentiveness brought out
great performances. The Megafaun performance I saw that day was one of the best I've ever seen. They were beyond inspired and delivered an emotional full-throated punch throughout their set. Friday night brought for me Rosebuds, Broken Social Scene, Panda Bear a quick trip to Slims to see Austin Texas' own Followed by Static (very original music for cello and rock band) and then back to the Pour House for Ryan Gustafeson and Sharon Van Etten. A full day by any stretch and I left early at that.

Saturday started right back at the Pour House where I attended the Trecky Records day party which consisted of; With Butterflies, Embarrassing Fruits, Sharon Van Etten, Midtown Dickens and Lost in the Trees. A super inspired set from Sharon Van Etten who I felt had her Hopscotch sea-legs after playing the night before and put on an even more relaxed and beautiful program that afternoon. This was quickly followed by one of the most manic Midtown Dickens sets I've seen. Inspired and ecclectic it was fun to watch. For me the highlight of the day, maybe the weekend, was seeing Lost in the Trees put on a gripping, tight, extremely musical set of songs where they, like Megafaun the day before, quickly exceeded any previous performance I had seen. (and I have seen some very, very good ones) Then it was off to the main stage to see No Age and Public Enemy (!). The show was easily stolen that night by the Helping Hand Marching Band who marched through the crowd before Public Enemy took the stage with a step crew a flag brigade and a drumline complete with drum major. They were amazing, all the moves and the dancing. Then it was off to Tir Na Nog to see electro-pop from Motor Skills and Tiger City, followed by a walk to the Lincoln Theatre to see NOMO and some of Bear in Heaven before calling it a night.

Easily 18 bands in 2 days is enough for anyone.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Mountain Goats - 08/27/10

John Darnielle and company took the stage in the central park of their hometown to benefit The Coalition to Unchain Dogs. The Coalition to Unchain Dogs is a non-profit, volunteer effort dedicated to improving the welfare of dogs living outdoors on chains. The roughly hour and fifteen minute set was energetic and frenetic enough to include a subsequent stage dive and body surf by John Darnielle. Delays at the beginning of the show prompted an early performance of The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton getting this show off to a frenzied start. The Mountain Goats mixed it up doing slower thoughtful songs as well. A careful rendering of the slower Love, Love, Love was typical of the nice balance of energy throughout the night. Great stories and between song patter is a given with every TMG show and this night proved no exception. By the time of the set closer (This Year) we were seeing a band that is clearly relaxed, together and musically infalable.

Set List (courtesy TMG website)

The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton
Old College Try
Heretic Pride
Your Belgian Things
Psalms 40:2
Love Love Love
Woke Up New
"same four chords"
The Mess Inside
We Have Seen The Enemy
The Alphonse Mambo
Hebrews 11:40
Going to Georgia
Wild Sage
See America Right
Palmcorder Yajna
This Year

The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photography Featured in Art/See Magazine

My photography was recently shown in the Premier Edition of ArtSee Magazine, a new arts magazine for North Carolina. The feature was in connection with my work being accepted into the "SCOPE: The NC Landscape" show at the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh. The piece I submitted won a Merit Award for the show. You can read the magazine online at

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at the Cats Cradle July 16, 2010

Photo © Holden Richards

Sweating before the show, Alex Ebert looks like he just led a youthful tribe of Israel out of the desert. The frontman of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros wears a shirtless well-worn-out white suit with a long red sash draped around his neck. His hair is tangled mostly on top of his head with a few unruly strands making a rebellious dash for his shoulders. He speaks softly and carries an immensely big stick, his talent. Alex sings from the depths, and with his company of spiritual merry pranksters wants to lift you up.

The Zeros are on their way to greater successes with songs on radios and televisions everywhere but touring the east coast (as they are located in LA) with 10 people plus gear is no small task. The show at the Cat's Cradle was loaded with the Magnetic Zeros trademark energy and soulful sensibilities while giving the sense that if your guru-of-choice had a favourite band it might be these people.

Particularly memorable from this night are the crowd pleasing "40 day dream" and the effusive "Janglin'". But there is a serious and darker side to Alex's song writing that deals with the struggles of childhood, death and finding healing from the jolts and bruises of life. "Up From Below," is a ballad that compares recovery from addiction to reincarnation. "I've already suffered/ I want you to know God/ I'm ridin' on Hell's hot flames comin up from below." On "Om Nashi Me" its just the chanting chorus of the band singing "Om nashi me, I will love you forever" until it diminishes into an incantation of "aummmmmm" alone. Spiritual Energy? Good Vibes? Regardless, its redeemed a hundred times over before the night is ended. Songs like their hit single "Home" had them dancing from the first row to the very back of the club.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Bands

Full Frame documentary festival is a much anticipated annual event in the Documentary Community and those that love film. I went to this years festival and thought I would write about the two films that dealt intimately on the nature of relationships within rock bands. "Do It Again" by Geoff Edgers being one, (about The Kinks) and the other "Strange Powers" (about the Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt) which directors Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara spent 10 years making.

In "Do It Again" we get a mission-within-a-midlife-crisis movie. Geoff Edgers, feeling uniquely unaccomplished at nearly 40 decides to do something momentous, reuinte the feuding Davies brothers and thereby the legendary pop band The Kinks. Geoff's story is intertwined with asking other musicians (Sting, Zoey Deschanel, Robyn Hitchcock, Paul Weller) and music-biz people (Shel Talmy, Clive Davis) about their feeling toward a Kinks reuinion. Those in the know say no way but everyone agrees it would be a lovely thing. The film slowly unwraps the ugly truth around Ray and Dave Davies sibling rivalry. While inevitably connected in so many ways and so necessary to each other to have The Kinks, Ray just does not want anything to do with Dave. We see Dave belittled and beleaguard in archival footage. We see clearly Dave will endure it for a piece of the spotlight which he feels he richly deserves. Geoff can't seem to get to the Davies themselves and takes matters into his own hands and travels to England during a Kinks festival. He's allowed to see Ray perform but he's not allowed to film, greet or otherwise have contact with him. So we, the audience, settle for Geoffs penultimate choice of interviewing Dave. Its a sad interview. But its peppered with the light stuff of the movie (namely Geoff's attempts singing a Kinks song with each interviewee thats a musician). Dave says he'll tell Geoff what it takes to get he and his brother reuinited off camera. And that's when Geoff knows he's gone from an impersonal, improbable quest to a very personal, painful reality for Dave Davies.

"Strange Powers" is another film where the core relationship within a band is more functional than dysfunctional is the relationship between Claudia Gonson and Stephin Merritt. This is more than love as they are certainly not lovers. Claudia and Stephin do all things musical together since middle school. They hang out endless hours and become two sides of the same brain. Stephin the dreamer, writer and Claudia the gifted musician and manager of practical things. They become a force to be reckoned with together. As in "Do it Again" celebs are asked to weigh on the 'Fields (Peter Gabriel, Sarah Silverman, and Neil Gaiman among others), but there is no quest here other than to understand Merritt and what makes him tick. The shortlist: cigarettes, alcohol, writing lyrics, droll irony, love, controlled wrecklessness and somewhere in there would have to be Claudia refining and defining his life. As the movie progresses we see Stephin feeling the need to leave New York, which is a major change for the band and especially for Claudia. We are left to wonder what impact Merrit's move to California might have on the band, his creativity and his creative bond with Claudia. What ever happens we're sure it will be a killer quip in a Magnetic Fields song someday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hospital Ships - Wye Oak - Shearwater Local 506 3/25/10

Shearwater was formed in Austin, Texas in 1999 by Okkervil River members Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff. This year they released their terrific new album, The Golden Archipelago. They brought the tour for this album to the Local 506 along with Merge Records' own Wye Oak and a spinoff band from Shearwater called Hospital Ships. Hospital ships got things rolling with a low key, drummerless set of folk-inspired songs. Front man Jordan Geiger provided adroit song-craft and singing to this low key mix. Kim Burke (bassist for Shearwater) joined Hospital ships to play xylophone on a few songs.

Next up were Wye Oak. Wye Oak is a duo consiting of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner. Wasner sings lead vocals and plays electric guitar, while Stack plays both drums and keyboards, playing the drums with his feet and right hand, and the bass line with his left hand. They flow from song to song with noise-pop sensibility with songs often evolving out of interludes of seemingly random keyboard notes and looped guitar feedback or riffs. Jenn and Andy play with real passion and don't scrifice their expertise in the process. Ther new album The Knot is superb.

Shearwater is a small tribe onstage. A group consisting of 5 consumately talented individuals who create a palate of sound for lead singer Jonathan Meiburg's unique vocal sound. The song-craft is first rate. The music itself has a timeless, almost ancient feel. It's as if the songs were rescued from a dark past and brought to life on electric instruments. Epic is an over used word, but Shearwater brings epic to mind. The songs on "The Golden Archipelago" feel like an interconnected suite of music that is guaranteed to take you on a journey. The photos that follow are of Jonathan Meiburg on Thursday night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I am a Getty Images Contributor!

Getty Images is a supplier of images for advertisers, manufacturers,
and publishing with the largest archive of quality photographs and illustrations. Recently Flickr (a photo sharing site I use every day to get advice and comments on my images) and Getty joined together to establish a commercial licensing opportunity for photographers in the Flickr community. The Getty Flickr collection features photography selected by Getty Images editors based on their potential
to be useful to creative professionals (advertising and graphic design), the media (print and online publishing), and corporate (in-house design, marketing and communication departments). Getty Images has been inviting selected Flickr members to participate in the collection.

This is where I come in. After months of submitting and trying to get in I finally got noticed by some Getty editors and now am a Getty Contributor. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to make money from taking photographs!

DIY Film!

Orange County - Eno River

This is from first roll of home developed film ever. I shot it yesterday in some very flat light and developed it in Rodinal 1+100 in stand development (basically letting it sit in chemical undisturbed). These first negatives are dense with pronouced grain indicating some over-developement. Regardless, I got 3 shots where the grain was not too large, so I got some usuable negatives on my first try. I am so glad I know the exposures are right based on years of shooting and lab processing. Now I can taylor the development process while knowing I have the potential variable of the shooting correct. The best part will be being able to shoot film and see the results the same day. I've learned the entire process of film now, from shooting to printing and appreciate the amount of control one has over the whole thing. Film does become more artistically integral with the choices you can make about developing and printing film.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Re-focus an old Agfa folding camera

Re-Focus: This is one way to refocus an Agfa folding camera. If you're sure its out (in this case I am sure because the helical was stuck and I had to remove the cover to unstick the focus) you can respool the camera with wax paper between two empty spools. Then measure the distance to a focal object and focus the camera until that test object is in focus and reinstall the marked distance ring with the correct distance under the indicator arrow. Its pretty close I think. Suggestions welcome for other ways I can check this. This is the only one I have ever heard of.