Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Year End Top 10 Albums for 2011

I hope your 2011 was as entertaining musically as mine. Many live shows with my favourite bands and performers all year long. Here's how my top 10 albums shook out this year:

1. Wye Oak - Civillian
2. War On Drugs - Slave Ambient
3. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
4. Mount Moriah - Mount Moriah
5. The Kills - Blood Pressures
6. Gillian Welch - The Harrow and the Harvest
7. The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh
8. Phil Cook and His Feat - Hungry Mother Blues
9. Megafaun - Megafaun
10. Wild Flag - Wild Flag

Also amazing in 2011 (in no particular order):

Des Ark - Don't Rock The Boat, Sink The F*cker
Simone Dinnerstein - Bach: A Strange Beauty
The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck
Wilco - The Whole Love
Dolorean - The Unfazed
Hammer No More the Fingers - Black Shark
The Antlers - Burst Apart

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Revolution of the Mind

One of my favourite bands ever, the dB's, of Winston Salem, have release what I think is the best single for 2011. Its called "Revolution of the Mind" Its available as a download free from

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hopscotch 2011

Hopscotch is a very large music festival in Raleigh, NC featuring over 320 bands in 3 days over 15 different venues simultaneously, day and night, almost non stop. Some of the best that indie rock has to offer, quantities of known and unknown bands. Large touring acts like the Flaming Lips and smaller, less known but no less amazing bands. Doing this festival requires good shoes, a decent pair of ear plugs and more than a couple cups of coffee.

This years festival was more selective in its appeal but no less entertaining. Having sacrificed Friday night to a friends art opening I can only speak to Thursday and Saturday as far as evening performances.

What I saw:
Lynne Blakey, Kenny Roby, The DiBonzo Brothers, Frank Fairfield, Last Years' Men, Lower Dens, The Necks, The Love Language, The Black Lips

"Power of Narrative Song" Panel with Patterson Hood, Steve Gunn & John Truscinski

Lake Isle, Future Islands, Hammer No More the Fingers, Chris Stamey Small Group at the "Future of Pop" Panel with Wayne Coyne, Rosebuds, Superchunk, The Flaming Lips, Prayers and Tears, Des Ark, Bombadill, Lost in the Trees

This is a lot of music even without a full day Friday to drink in. Some highlights have to include the visceral fury and subtle control of Des Ark at Kings Saturday night, the lovely, restive interlude of the Chris Stamey Small group Saturday afternoon. Last Year's Men were angular, aggressive and excellent Thursday evening bringing their punk but clean energetic brand of rock. I have seen the Love Language numerous times but I thought what they gave hopscotch was pretty special on Thursday night. Local bands seem to shine at this festival, more so than usual. Those that went Friday night said it was exceptional, I wish I could have attended.

Des Ark - Amy Argote

The Flaming Lips - Wayne Coyne

The Love Language - Stu McLamb

New, Old Old Camera

This is a Rochester Optical Company "Universal" Camera manufactured in 1891. I recently bought this 4x5 film camera to begin learning about large format photography. This camera originally made images on glass plate, but at some point someone added a more "modern" film loading mechanism to the back (and even that is still made of wood). This camera came with a Bausch and Lomb 1890 "Rapid Rectilinear" lens. The first lens to offer no distortion in vertical lines. The construction of the lens is symmetrical. Identical groups of lenses equidistantly apart. Its called "Rapid" because it can focus and operate at f/8, which I am sure was quite a breakthrough for 1890. Rochester Optical Company was eventually to become a little company known as Kodak! I am going to have to learn about tilt and swing and putting this camera through its paces before I can remotely claim to have mastered it. I have gotten the camera light tight and have made some test images (see below):

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Postcard for an Exhibition

This is the front and back of the postcard for my next exhibition of darkroom prints entitled "Time and Light" at the Morning Times Gallery in Raleigh, NC. The show opens Friday, August 5th, 2011.

I have been working in the darkroom alot in the last 7 days to get this ready. The newer images are a larger 12"x12" square print mounted in a 22" frame. Larger prints make some elements easier to execute but flaws that might just slide by in a smaller image are writ large upon a significantly larger print. It also seems that getting good dark black tones takes more conscious effort in larger prints as well. All that aside I am pretty satisfied with the results of this concentrated effort.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Work From the Center

This is what I submitted to the ArtsCenter for the show and opening this evening;

Statement: Our best creative moments often come when we least expect them
all the while the practice necessary to receive that creativity has been integral to the process all along. Moments from the "center" for me implies the truer nature of an artistic process revealed in the practice of all phases of photographic reproduction; from shooting, developing, and later to the printing of these images. The "center" to me also implies a creative process that is my artistic "home." A place and time of complete understanding to me awaiting my technical interpretation to realise it. Whether wandering to long abandoned 18th century locations on the Rivers of North Carolina or exploring the marshland of the Piedmont the abundance of wildlife and diversity of flora never fail to overwhelm me. I am in my proper place in the world, that of the empathetic observer of the inherent timeless beauty of landscape and water.

Purpose: The purpose of this show is not only to exhibit these traditional wet darkroom prints on archival fiber papers but to remind the community of the great resource we have in the darkroom facility at the Arts Center in Carrboro. With traditional film rapidly dissapearing from the artistic landscape its essential we endorse and use what resources are available to keep them around as a viable option for future film enthusiasts.

The print in the photo above is a larger 14x14 print in a 24x24 frame, the one next to it is the standard 17x17 size frame with the 9x9 print I usually make... Here you see things getting boxed up and ready to go! Digital photo does not do the real contrasts in these justice! Lots of readable dark areas and Zone V starts pretty far down the scale so its a rich look.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pictures for an Exhibition

Its getting close to time, I have been printing, printing and printing. I switched papers to get the densities I wanted to be able to produce some negatives that have not been easy to reproduce on the matte. I am liking this Glossy FB, VC very much. I have 11 prints done and want to do 5 more and ultimately select 12 to put in the show I am having the entire month of April at the Arts Center in Chapel Hill in the East End Gallery. If I get through these 11x14's I am going to produce some 16x20's as well. Whew...

I have take to flashing the paper before printing to control the highlights. Its a simple idea that gives you a certain amount of control over desparity of densities within a negative.

Monday, February 28, 2011

If Not For You - Cat's Cradle Feb 26th, 2011

Peter Holsapple onstage with me; Photo: Stan Lewis

I had the pleasure of participating in a performance of the entire album of "All Things Must Pass" by George Harrison. The evenings proceeds were going to the Caring Community Foundation - an organization that supports chronically ill people in their every day financial needs for rent, food and just living. Having recently performed in a duo with Chris Stamey at the Alex Chilton memorial show at the Cradle it somehow seemed only right that I get to perform at this show with Peter Holsapple. Peter sang while the band and I played "Isn't it a Pity" for a packed house of more than 600. It's not a night I will soon forget. Having recently played to a packed house with my new band Cloudlines I have had two recent music experiences that have been back-to-back two of the best I can remember.

One of the best outcomes of playing the "All Things Must Pass" show is reconnecting with many, many people (there were over 40 people involved in this) I had not seen for years and performing with many of them for the first time ever. Folks like Chris Chamis, Lynn Blakey, Jane Francis, Rebecca Newton, Bryon Settle, Pete Gamble and Greg Bell are all long time participants in the North Carolina music scene and its was really superb to be able to finally share a stage with all of them. I am in debt for the organizer of this show (Jeff Hart) for including me in this unforgettable experience.