Category - music

Psssst… wanna hear some music?

Returning once again to the archives…

In 2009, Pru Clearwater created a musical show unlike anything #Nashville has seen before or since. Inspired by an encounter with a sea turtle while diving in the Virgin Islands, the “Pru Clearwater and The Infinite Field” combined music, chanting, dance and recitation in an experience I called “Rock & Roll #Kirtan.” .

The “Infinite Field” derives from a concept in physics: within every atom, in the space between the nucleus and the electron orbits, as well as the vacuum between the stars, there is a field of energy, “the quantum sea.” But in all of the Universe, there is just ONE such field, not only infinite but effectively uniting every thing – animate or inanimate – in its continuity. .

With “The Infinite Field,” Pru expressed her belief in “the one-ness of everything,” and in the moment captured here, demonstrates the ecstasy I’m lookin for when I go out to shoot “The Joy of Making Music™.”


Speaking of Maui…. . .

From a return visit in 2010, while driving “UpCountry” – the verdant slopes of the great (dormant, at least for now…) volcano called Haleakala. As the Brothers Cazimero said, “Where I live, there are rainbows….”

Rainbows all around
Can you find the silver and gold?
It’ll make you old
The river can be hot or cold
And you should dive right into it
Else you’ll find
It’s passed you by
––from Page 43, by David Crosby

The Brothers Cazimero


Barry Flanagan: Maui, 2005

I recently started sorting through some of the photos I’ve shot over the years in concert and club settings, and over the next few weeks I’m going to share some or those archives here on Instagram. So I thought I’d start at the very beginning… .

After years of dormancy my life-long interest in photography was re-awakened when I got my first DSLR (a Nikon D100) 2003. But it wasn’t until 2005 that I shot somebody in performance.

II lived in #Hawaii from 1980 to 1994, on the #Lahaina side of #Maui. About a year after I moved there, another New Jersey native named Barry Flanagan showed up and started playing at the bar in the Pioneer Inn – an historic old hotel adjacent to the harbor where I owned a yacht charter service (“Where do we go? Sailing is the destination…”) Once arrived, Barry immersed himself in the music of the Islands, eventually becoming the lynch pin of an award winning duo called ‘Hapa’ (that’s Hawaiian for “half,” as in “half haole, half Hawaiian”– Google it if you have to).

I left Hawaii for good when I moved to Nashville in 1994, but went back to visit for the first time in the winter of 2005. While I was there, Barry and his group played a show at one of the hotels, and I got my new-ish DSLR out and started shooting. It’s funny to think now how little I knew then: at one point somebody asked me to turn off the flash. The flash? I’m not using flash… That’s when I discovered the little light on the front of the camera that sends a beam out to improve the auto-focus in dark situations; that’s also when I discovered you can turn that little light off….

So here’s a shot of Barry Flanagan from 2005. Look him up on Spotify:


photo ©2005

Elle Mears – Live at The Tin Roof

My friend #musicproducer@saulisdope (secret identity: Michael Lovett) is working with the wondrous @ellemears; they invited to shoot a showcase she performed recently for the Country Radio Seminar at The Tin Roof near Music Row in Nashville. My gawd the conditions were awful… there were only a few dim LED lights on the stage and the sound was so loud/awful that it physically hurt to remove my earplugs! But sometimes you make do with what you’ve got, and in this case pulling all the distorted color out of the images produced some quite effective B&W stills. ©

“Straight Up” – the #songofthesummer is already here! !

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week

This past Thursday night I attended the sold-out opening screening of “Eight Days A Week” – director Ron Howard’s ode to The Beatles that focuses primarily on their touring years, from 1962-1966.

It is hard now not to think of The Beatles as anything other than a phenomenon – Beatlemania! – and an iconic force of musical nature.  They were all of those things, but what this movie so effectively reminds us – as John Lennon famously said somewhere in the “Beatles Anthology” – is that they were “just a band.”

But oh my, what a band…

With vintage photos and film clips from the late 1950s and early 60s, “Eight Days A Week” shows us  four guys who grew up together (OK, maybe not so much Ringo, who joined The Beatles just as they started their recording career, but he shared their scrappy Liverpool origins).  It was essentially John’s band from the beginning, but part of his gift was his ability to recognize in Paul and George talent and ambition equal to his own.

The mission of the documentary is to trace the full arc of their years as a touring band:  from the clubs of Hamburg were their sound was forged, to the Cavern Club in Liverpool where they found their audience, and eventually around the world, where their concerts were drowned out by screaming fans.  Throughout the arc we are watch as the role “pop music” in the cultural firmament is transformed in front of our eyes and ears.

But the full power and sheer artistry of The Beatles is more fully conveyed in the 30 minutes of concert footage that follows the documentary.

Here are The Beatles in a truly epic setting: Shea Stadium in New York – the first performance of their final tour in 1966.  They dash out on the field and climb atop a stage that looks like a boxing ring erected over second base, in the middle of the vast expanse of a baseball field, 50 yards away from the nearest fan, some 56,000 of whom are screaming their heads off through the entire show.

Still,  you can’t help but be impressed with the quality of the performance.  The set includes both covers and originals, opening with “Twist and Shout” and ending with “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help.” Showing the complete concert after the documentary is its own tour-de-force; it reminds us what the phenomenon was really about: the sheer power of skilled musicianship, the intensity of accomplished artistry.

The documentary is a 90 minute setup; the concert footage is a 30 minutes payoff – the undeniable proof of everything postulated in the film.

Ron Howard’s film also reminds us just how much “Beatlemania” was a reflection of the times.  In America especially, The Beatles arrival in February 1964 was the medicine a grieving nation needed after the shock of the Kennedy assassination.  Their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show carved the opening cracks in what would eventually become the “Generation Gap.”  We are reminded of the tumultuous history that The Beatles were part of, from the conflagration in Vietnam to the Civil Rights movement.

One detail in the documentary that surprised me addressed the matter of race as it is uniquely experienced in America: The Beatles had a clause in their contracts that declared that they would not play for segregated audiences.  A voice over from Paul McCartney explains how foreign the whole idea of segregation and Jim Crow was to their experience in England.

Howard deftly gives all four Beatles nearly equal screen time for retrospective commentaries.   The surviving Beatles, Paul and Ringo, appear on screen several times in their current incarnations; There are equal amounts of archival footage of John and George looking back on their years as Beatles.  Their commentaries lend a “Rashomon” like perspective to the whole experience.

The Beatles 1966 tour ushered in the era of the stadium concert – despite technology woefully suited for the purpose; George explains how Vox built amplifiers especially for this tour: “I think they were a hundred watts…” – and much of the audio was piped through the crackly stadium PA system: “Now playing at second base… The Beatles!”

I think it was Ringo who described the aftermath of what would history would record as The Beatles final live performance, the last concert of the 1966 tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco:  After the show the band was raced out of the stadium grounds in what Ringo describes as “a meat wagon” – a bare metal armored police wagon, the kind that ferries convicts to prisons.  It was pretty much within those lurching steel confines that all four Beatles decided “we’re not going to do this any more…”

Freed from the demands of a touring schedule, The Beatles dedicate themselves to the studio.  There is footage from the EMI studio at Abbey Road of audio tape loops strung between tape machines… and then there is “Sergeant Pepper.”

From there the documentary quickly traces the remainder of The Beatles recording career: 5 albums in three years, from “Magical Mystery Tour” to the “White Album,” “Abbey Road” and the “posthumously” released “Let It Be” (which was released after the band announced its demise early in 1970).

The movie ends with  the most footage I have ever seen from The Beatles last-ever ‘concert’ – that day in January 1969 when they set up on the roof of the Apple Corps headquarters in London and played to the people on the street below.  It’s more than three years since the last time they performed “live” together, and the footage proves, once and for all that The Beatles were still, and always were, a great fucking band.


“Eight Days A Week Is” playing at The Belcourt.  Info and tickets here.  It will also be released to streaming video via Hulu next week. A subscription will be required. So go see it in a theater with good surround sound.

They Said “No Photos!”

but when has that ever stopped me?

File this one under the hashtag: #OnlyInNashville:

I went to the Ryman Auditorium last night for the “Guy Clark Celebration” – a tribute concert for one of Nashville’s most revered songwriters, who went on to the great writing room in the sky back in May.

The tone for the evening was set early on by host Vince Gill, who promised “three hours of music an no shitty songs.”

And no shitty singers, either.  I’ve been going to stellar shows in Nashville for more than 20 years now, but this was a lineup like you’ll never see again.

How’s this for name dropping:  Jerry Jeff Walker, Vince Gill, Terry Allen, Shawn Camp, Verlon Thompson, Sam Bush, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Joe Ely, Steve Earle, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Robert Earl Keen, Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, Chris and Morgane Stapleton, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Gary Nicholson, Delbert McClinton, Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd.. (thanks to Jim Moran for posting the cast of characters on Facebook).

You really can’t see ’em, but that’s who all is in the photo at the top of the post.

As I posted myself last night “I don’t need to go to any more concerts this year, I’ve already seen everybody…”


The Ryman was insistent throughout the evening that there were to be absolutely no photos of the show.  Every time somebody in the audience pulled out a cell phone, an usher showed up to point an admonishing finger at them.

But when that stellar ensemble gathered on the stage for the last two songs, there was no way I was not gonna record that moment.

I got out of my seat (near the back of the upper deck, aka “The Confederate Gallery”) and went to the very back of the venue, got my iPhone out, discretely got it ready, and then brought it up to eye level and grabbed the ONE shot above.

Then the photo-Nazi usher ran up to me and said “No photos!”

And I said, “OK…” and went back to my seat.


If you were not fortunate enough to be present for last night’s tribute concert, consider going over to iTunes and investing in the tribute album that Tamara Saviano put together back in 2011, “This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark” – which includes performances by a lot of the artists who appeared last night.  Or if you still believe in plastic delivery, you can get the CD at Amazon  (it does not appear that the collection is available thru Spotify).

Then listen to it and give yourself a master class in songwriting.

"This One's For Him" - the Guy Clark Tribute album.

“This One’s For Him” – the Guy Clark Tribute album.




What Ever Happened to
The Age of Aquarius?

The Oracle of Facebookistan has reminded me that this week is Woodstock Anniversary Week.  It’s some odd anniversary, like 47.

I have already composed and posted my recollections and reflections on the subject.

This is an excerpt from a book (or maybe it’s a one-man show?) that I was working on earlier this year.  I kinda hit a wall with it, and then life happened. I’ll get back to it one of these days…

Whatever Happened To The Age of Aquarius? 

That’s the first of three installments, just follow the links at the bottom of each to get to the next.

Kira Small: You phoenixed the shit outta that…

Monday night I was present for one of the most outstanding shows of the year – the release concert for Kira Small’s “3 AM” CD.

The CD is all about the demise of Kira’s first marriage and the salvation of her soul in the wake of those devastating events.

And, as fate would have it, but the time she got her CD about the breakup out into the world, she’d already recovered her spirt, found new love, and gone through the whole cycle of betrothal and remarriage.  Now, ironically, she’s left to sing about stuff that happened to her like two years ago.

Music and art are like that.

I was gonna say “here, listen to the CD…” but near as I can tell she’s withheld it from Spotify.  I guess you can find it on iTunes