Last month, I photographed Skinny Lister during their current United States tour. Will Varley opened at The Independent in San Francisco.
This was my third time seeing Skinny Lister. Before the show, I asked people at The Independent how they had become fans. Many people had similar experiences to my own. We had seen Skinny Lister perform as an opening band or at a music festival. One person saw Skinny Lister play during the 2012 SXSW in Austin; the played on the sidewalk.
I first saw Skinny Lister in the Summer of 2012 during the Vans Warped Tour. I photographed about 30 bands that day. At a festival known for unusual performances, Skinny Lister was different. I wanted to see them again. In 2016, I saw them in San Francisco. I photographed their show and wrote an article.
Last Friday night, I traveled to my old home town to photograph Brad Paisley‘s Weekend Warrior Tour. In addition to photographing Paisley, I also photographed Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell. I reviewed the concert for Stereo Embers Magazine, so this post will mostly include photos with links to photo galleries.
In the concert review, I mentioned that Paisley included a visual tribute to Salvador Dali on one of his album covers. The Time Well Wasted cover was inspired by Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory.” The Dali album also included a duet with Dolly Parton and, for surrealism, excessively corny outtake tributes to Hee Haw.
Paisley is married to the actress and author Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Kimberley wrote the best-selling book “Where the Light Gets In” that discusses how her family struggled with her mother’s rare form of dementia. When Brad Paisley performs, it is easy to forget that he is part of a family too.… Read the rest
I haven’t posted in a while, especially about music. I keep waiting for the right day, and since I pretend that I am not superstitious, today seems perfect. It’s Friday the 13th. (and it’s October)
For the last several months I have been receiving press emails about the female-led band Barb Wire Dolls. I went to the Tuesday show in San Francisco hoping that the band would be decent. I went to the Sacramento show the next day, because they were better than decent. (Most of) these photos are from the Sacramento show.
Last month I photographed “YES”, a band that was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. When I was younger, YES was one of my favorite bands. Their recent performance was excellent, but they lacked a new band’s hunger.
I photographed Nina Diaz one week ago in San Francisco at the DNA Lounge. It was the third time I have photographed Nina. The first time I photographed Nina, she was with her band Girl in a Coma. Last year, I photographed her when she performed as a solo artist.
This time she was touring ahead of her new solo album, The Beat is Dead. The album will be available October 28. A new single, titled “January 9th” is available now. “January 9th” was inspired by the loss of her grandmother fifteen years earlier. At the time of this post, the single can be heard on Nina’s site.
In the other two posts, I have written enthusiastically about Nina. My opinion has not changed. She is talented and charismatic.
She has been performing since she was 13. Most of that time was with her old band. With her new band, she does not need to play guitar (though she still does).… Read the rest
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.… Read the rest
We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine. – H. L. Mencken
Last Friday, Brad Paisley performed at the same Sacramento area venue where I met him in August 2014. On Saturday, he performed at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. (Both tours support his recent Moonshine in the Trunk album.) I have photographed musicians at both places and I had hoped to see him again so that we could continue an important discussion. More accurately, I wanted another chance to share a complicated story about epilepsy, music and apologies.
Last year, Brad Paisley invited me to his concert after I had written an open letter to him. People in the epilepsy community found some of his comments insensitive. (I have epilepsy and Brad Paisley CD’s.) I did not expect a response or an apology from Paisley, but he contacted me directly to apologize for his “poor choice of words.” When we met, he appeared genuinely sincere. I photographed part of the show and wrote about our meeting. Paisley impressed me and I wanted to share his gesture with a larger audience.… Read the rest
The Bay Area band Train is touring California again for their new album Bulletproof Picasso. I photographed two shows during their previous Mermaids of Alcatraz Tour for the California 37 album. The Script and Gavin DeGraw played both shows. Ashley Monroe joined Train during their set in August of 2013.
Can’t believe how time flies by.
I wrote a really good review for me … I mean, I wrote the review so that I would enjoy reading it. I don’t know if anyone else would find the review useful, but I thought I was quite clever. I liked my pictures too. I photographed the bands and the audience, and while some of the pictures were decent, I never posted my single most amazing concert photo. Perhaps I will share it with the lead singer some day.
A couple years ago, I was developing a project about artists who donate time and money to charitable causes. Some famous people probably contribute because their publicity agents direct them to do so, but many stars contribute because they care.… Read the rest
In downtown Modesto last November, I photographed country musician Craig Morgan. I found a hundred reasons for waiting to publish the pictures, and really, I am not trying to hide my motivations. I think that they will be clear by the end of this song.
Morgan performed at the Gallo Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, November 2, 2013. Originally, I had planned to photograph Morgan and his band a second time before publishing any photographs. These images were taken on the West Coast in early November. I was going to photograph him and his band again on New Year’s Eve in Washington, D.C. for The Concert for Epilepsy. I did not make it to the East Coast last Winter.
Because I was going to see them again the following month, I was able to have better access than I might normally have at a concert. I was able to stay longer too. I stayed until the end.… Read the rest
If Music is the best medicine, what do you take with a Whiskey Lullaby?
So I went to see Brad Paisley on Saturday night at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland, California. When I say that I went “to see Brad Paisley,” I mean that I went to talk to him and photograph his show. Paisley contacted me after I had written a blog post regarding a seizure joke he made on live television. Paisley seemed genuinely apologetic during our online communications, but until I met him in person I doubted if he had even sent the messages.
When people ask me what is it like having epilepsy, I can now tell them about the Brad Paisley Experience. Having epilepsy is not normal. Having epilepsy is watching television and hearing one of your favorite musicians say something that trivialized a deadly health condition. You will want to protect your friends who have seizures and your friends who love country music.… Read the rest
Train returned home to Northern California for two shows last weekend. I photographed both concerts. The first concert was north of Sacramento in Wheatland, California at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre. The second concert was at the America’s Cup Pavilion, a temporary facility at Piers 29-31 along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Irish band The Script performed before Train. Gavin DeGraw opened. Ashley Monroe played with Train during their set at both shows. Even though all the artists played nearly the same set lists, the concerts were different. In Sacramento, it was hot. In San Francisco, it was a typical cold foggy summer night. Still, both shows were excellent.
Train reminds me of author James Joyce. Coincidentally, Joyce and The Script are from Dublin, which might explain my recent preoccupation with Joyce. Joyce was known for playing with words and creating multiple meanings. Train songs are playful and funny in a similar way.… Read the rest
I first learned about Black Veil Brides when photographing the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. Chelsea Lauren, who I had met a few hours earlier, encouraged me to shoot the band, otherwise I may have missed seeing them when they wore more makeup and performed on one of the smaller Warped stages. Now I will follow every Chelsea Lauren concert recommendation whenever possible.
By 2011, BVB’s fan base resembled the KISS Army. (OK, maybe not THAT dedicated, but these fans cared.) The band connected to their fans too. Despite the costumes, they did not hide behind a mask or a veil. At the time, I questioned the band’s name, which probably illustrates my age. Old people do that sort of thing. When I was young, I do not remember caring whether my favorite bands had cool names. Many of my favorite bands had stupid names. (For example, The Who and KISS and Van Halen…).… Read the rest
After my last blog post on the Vans Warped Tour, I realized that I might learn something if I reached out directly to the fans and asked them questions about the bands. While I had not heard about For The Foxes before the tour, many other people knew their music. As soon as I posted a few photos, many people responded. (This happened with many bands)
Some people even recognized their hands when they saw this photo. I think they recognized their friend’s hands too. Some of those may have helped create the questions.
I also realized in the last post that many people did not see the link to each photo gallery, so I will make those more clear. Here is the link to the photo gallery. You can also access the galleries and the comment section through my Photography Facebook Page.
Here are the questions… let’s see if this works.… Read the rest
I have photographed the Vans Warped Tour the last four years and even though I am clearly not the targeted demographic, I have loved every year. (This year, I photographed twenty six bands in one day. 26!) After only one hour at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater, I was humming the (new/old Blink 182) song “What’s My Age Again,” and believing the Warped Tour’s slogan — “Best Day Ever.”
Now, for the challenge! I am going to translate the Vans Warped experience for older music fans.
Last week, one of my friends, Diana Butler Bass, asked her Facebook audience, “How, exactly, does one explain Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow to one’s 15 year old kid?” Many of her friends responded, but I do not think any of us had the right answer, perhaps because some questions are better unanswered. It is probably better that I never asked my parents to explain Starland Vocal Band‘s 1976 suggestive number one hit song “Afternoon Delight” when I was 8, which is about the same age as my children now.… Read the rest
Sometimes it feels that God is smiling on me. Monday was one of those times.
When I photographed Girl In a Coma on Monday, everything seemed perfect. (Go here to view the photo gallery of their Oakland Concert) I learned about the performance the day of the show from a friend who lives out of the country. Another friend helped with an introduction. GIAC is also from San Antonio and I have a special connection to the city. Joan Jett signed the band to her Blackheart Records label. I love Joan Jett. (Lately, I have chased a few black hearts.) I needed a new roller derby photographer shirt for tomorrow. My GIAC T-shirt is covered with black hearts, lucky numbers and horseshoes. Oh, and the band was amazing. One day my friends (or kids) might ask me if I have ever heard of this new band Girl In a Coma with the mesmerizing lead vocalist/ lead guitarist…
They are THAT good.… Read the rest
Sometimes a little guitar is just a little guitar.
The 2013 Carnaval San Francisco was held yesterday in the Mission District. It was the 35th annual San Francisco Carnaval. My two children danced with a popular Bay Area group Fogo na Roupa. My children and others from their Oakland school have been practicing this year for Carnaval, but I did not realize that the kids were joining such a fun group.
We arrived around 8:15 and met performers from other groups. (We were float 44 of 48).
We prepared and waited for about three hours, but we had a great time. Everyone dressed. Some people put on make up… almost everyone applied sunscreen (except me.)
After we started walking six blocks to the start of the parade, one of the organizers ordered us to run… so we did. Well, I stopped first to photograph everyone running. (I should have applied sunscreen.)
When we joined the parade route on 24th, I understood why people return every year for Carnaval.… Read the rest
In one month from today, I will do something pretty cool. At the JEA / NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco, I introduce Chelsea Lauren to the journalism education community. I have been looking forward to this day since I met Chelsea at the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. The presentation will be one of the highlights of this convention. The students and educators will love Chelsea.
Chelsea photographs concerts, celebrities and fashion events. While her content interests me, Chelsea impresses me for others reasons. Chelsea is professional, considerate and authentic. This unusual combination was apparent when I met her at Shoreline Amphitheatre in 2011. Chelsea talked to everyone, including me and the high school student, Cathy Rong, who photographed the music festival too. Chelsea also talked to security and the other photographers. Chelsea was genuinely interested in everyone.
Chelsea also talked to the musicians, and she talked to everyone as if they were people.… Read the rest
By the second day of the 2012 Treasure Island Music Festival, I was prepared to photograph fun. (Here is the gallery from Day 2 of Treasure Island Music Festival.)
I spent most of the days at the Painted Wonderland booth. I photographed a few bands and several vendors, but I mostly photographed the people of TIMF. After the first day, I was exhausted. Yet, I processed photographs until nearly 3:00. Each image energized me. Even the bad photos were alive. I woke up early last Sunday, so that I could continue uploading photos before I left for the second day.
On Day 2, there were more bubbles, brighter sunsets, bigger statues and a taller Ferris Wheel. I searched for The Samba Stilt Circus, but they were replaced by an eight piece band El Radio Fantastique. El Radio Fantastique was a hidden treasure.
I also saw the best water balloon contest ever on Day 2.… Read the rest
On Saturday October 13, I attended the first day of the Treasure Island Music Festival. For the last few years, I have photographed hundreds of musicians, at concerts and music festivals. This year I assumed I would photograph several more acts during the two day festival. Instead, I spent most of the festival with my friends at the Painted Wonderland tent.
I also remembered something about concerts. Concerts are fun. The Treasure Island Music Festival is a whole lot of fun.
The first few hours I felt out of place. Everyone was happy and I was sulking. I realized that I usually work concerts, and I had missed the point. Concerts are fun. Fortunately, some guy started blowing bubbles. Bubbles are fun. It is impossible to frown and see bubbles. There were a lot of bubbles.
At the Painted Wonderland tent, several talented artists created unique designs. The customers entered the tent happy and left happier.… Read the rest
T. Mills and The Vans Warped Parent Trap
At every Vans Warped Tour show, I see something unusual. In San Francisco this year, I saw a tent called “Reverse Daycare.” Parents gathered in the area while their children attended the concert. The tent was a great idea, but I always passed quickly, afraid that some magical force might pull me into the space reserved for old folks.
Usually, being a parent is comforting, but not at a concert.
When I photographed California rapper T. Mills, I wondered if should have been in the parent tent. T. Mills’ lyrics could be considered degrading to women, except nearly all of his fans are female. The young women cheered wildly, many singing along to all the songs. I probably enjoyed his performance more than I would have enjoyed being in the parent tent, but I was also grateful that I could only photograph three songs.… Read the rest
Two months ago I photographed a Mayday Parade protest in Oakland. I must have been influenced by the Occupy Oakland protests two months ago, because I was expecting an angry mob for the Mayday Parade concert at the 2012 San Francisco Vans Warped Tour stop on Saturday, June 23.
The crowd was colorful and loud, but even the woman with a rainbow mohawk could have been part of a South Beach (Miami) photo shoot instead of a South Beach parking lot music festival near AT&T Park.… Read the rest
Vans Warped Tour 2012 … Coming to a parking lot near you.
Some concerts are better outdoors. Some are even better just outside the stadium. The Vans Warped Tour is one of those events. It is better when it is in the parking lot.
When the 2012 Vans Warped Tour arrived in the Bay Area, the music festival stopped next to AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco. The festival sold out. When I photographed Vans Warped the last two years at Shoreline Amphitheatre near San Jose, California, the event felt cramped despite the amazing energy. There are approximately 80 bands performing on seven stages. There are vendors, non-profits and demonstration areas.
People need space.
I photographed about twenty bands. I took nearly 2,000 photos. A San Diego band, Pierce The Veil, performed on one of the main stages towards the end of the day. There are several bands that I wish I could follow during the summer, or at least shoot a few more times.… Read the rest
Now that it is summer again, I am looking forward to concert season, especially festival season. I usually enjoy shooting any music related event, but there is something special about a festival. Festivals always have great new artists and many opportunities for interesting photography.
Not all festivals are created equal. The Vans Warped Tour is my favorite as a photographer. Even in harsh mixed light, I was able to take several good crowd shots last year of Enter Shikari. In the slideshow above, my favorite part is the woman in slide 9 who is looking at the stage instead of the lead singer in the crowd. What could be so exciting on stage that she would ignore the lead singer on his back? See photos 10 and 11.
I have discussed the Vans Warped Tour, and other festivals, in the JEA national scholastic journalism publications and in JEA Digital Media site.Vans Warped is especially great for three reasons.… Read the rest
I placed these photos in the music category, but I could have put them in any of the other sections. The Music Expo is an education event, so I could have categorized the photos into either Education or Events. Melrose Leadership Academy’s after school program is also newsworthy. The elementary students attend a Spanish immersion public school in Oakland Unified. The students learn language and culture in a diverse setting.
One month ago, I traveled to Washington DC for the National Walk for Epilepsy. The night I arrived, the Wil Gravatt Band was performing downtown at the Hill Country Boot Bar. Wil Gravatt operates Wil Gravatt Entertainment when he is not performing. Wil also helps my friend Chad Barth organize the Concert for Epilepsy.
In 2007, Chad started the benefit to honor his sister. The first event, a “Karaoke-off,” raised $2,500. By 2011, Chad had recruited experienced event organizers and he was able to organize a benefit concert with two well known country acts. Gravatt deserves some credit for sharing his expertise with Chad. I have only met Wil a few times, but each time, he feels like an old friend. I am looking forward to September when we have the 6th Annual Concert for Epilepsy.
BF… Read the rest