On Wednesday, I drove into San Francisco to see Nina Diaz perform at the DNA Lounge. I photographed Nina Diaz and her band Girl in a Coma two years ago in Oakland. (You can revisit my earlier review and photos.) When I saw her in Oakland, I wondered if Nina might become a superstar. Now I am wondering if it matters. Nina seems focused on bigger things… Nina seems happy.
I still question why Nina is not more popular. Is it because she is a woman? Is it because she is a woman of color? Is it because she had an addiction problem? None of these issues disqualify some artists. When she takes the stage, Nina becomes electric. She impressed me off-stage too. I brought my eleven year old daughter to the all-ages show; Nina visited with us. Nina was self deprecating. At one point, Nina said that she was part of “the lazy generation.” (Nina was sweating before the first song ended and on the road to El Paso after the concert for her next show.) I also watched Nina interact with other guests, musicians and friends. Now that she is sober, she communicates genuinely. Her friends surround her on tour. I could see it and feel it. Isn’t that the role of an artist? To make us feel?
In the days since I saw Nina, one of my photography mentors sent me a note about another Nina (Nina Simone). A documentary about Nina Simone “What Happened, Miss Simone?” was released last year. On Thursday, Miss Lauryn Hill sang the Nina Simone song “Feeling Good” on The Tonight Show. Simone influenced many artists, perhaps because her path was often blocked. She continually discovered new dawns and new days. Perhaps Nina Diaz will too.
Here is my photo gallery. About half way through the gallery, I converted photos to black and white. I almost always leave my photos in color, but I wanted to acknowledge Nina Simone and the other artists from an earlier time, so I changed the color. I would have loved to stay for the whole set, but I am glad that I brought my daughter. Nina and some of the other musicians were gracious. The staff who served my daughter Shirley Temples were also very kind. My daughter has had the luxury of attending some large concerts and smaller shows and she has learned that nearly every musician must work hard. There are no lazy generations of musicians.