I have published another short piece to Medium.com
This one is about The Beatles.
Psssst… wanna hear some music?
I have published another short piece to Medium.com
This one is about The Beatles.
Well, that was ridiculously easy…
In the 1980s, I lived in Hawaii and owned/operated a yacht charter service out of Lahaina Harbor on Maui. The boats were called “Scotch Mist” – the name bestowed by the original owner who sailed his Cal 36 sloop in a race from Victoria, BC to Maui in 1970. I acquired the boat/business in 1980, and in 1982 added another boat, the Santa Cruz 50 “Scotch Mist II.”
Sometime in 1982, I put together a mixtape of island and sailing songs – the old fashioned way: by dropping a needle into a vinyl groove, then recording the track onto a reel-to-reel tape. Stop the tape, find the next track, cue the tape, drop the needle, rinse and repeat a couple dozen times. It took about two days…
Last night I saw the name Danny O’Keefe in a thread that J Fred Knobloch started about great guitar solos. I recognized the name because a song called “Islands” – from his 1973 LP “American Roulette” – was one of the tracks in that “Scotch Mist” mix tape I assembled in 1982.
After finding “Islands” on Spotify, it occurred to me to see if I could find the same tracks and build a playlist on Spotify. I found all but one (Mark Almond, “Trade Winds”).
It took, oh, maybe 15 minutes to search for every track in the list and add them to a playlist, which is posted here for your “summer has arrived / Memorial Day weekend” musical enlightenment:
Originally from South Dakota, Rachel has a very interesting background:
Daughter of Mennonite missionaries, Rachel Ries hails from the inspiring, vast expanses of South Dakota, by way of Zaire. Her formative years were filled with Congolese spirituals, Mennonite hymns, Suzuki violin and The Carpenters. Currently splitting her time between rural Vermont and New York City, Rachel crafts sly and compassionate songs for the crooked hearted. With an electric guitar, clear voice and steady hand, she pulls the listener into her world of city grit, country dirt, and her open-eyed search for redemption and reason. Her songs are fine-tuned delicacy with a snarl and disarming candor. Proudly carrying the torch of her love for the domestic arts, Rachel’s homemade preserves and hand-stitched notebooks can often be found at shows, nestled amid the 180 gram vinyl, cds and t-shirts.
She also has a cool new album, Ghost of A Gardner.
And good as her music is, I think this album cover art may be my favorite so far this year: I
I’ve known Melissa Greener since she first arrived in Nashville (from native Detroit) about five years ago. We have traveled in familiar circles all that time, but I think I have actually heard/seen her perform just once, when she sat in for a few songs amid somebody else’s set… somewhere. The details are fuzzy, all I remember is she played a “fan fret” acoustic guitar – an instrumental choice indicative of a woman of some distinction, even if I can’t remember now what exactly she played on that exotic instrument.
Well I sure remember her material now.
Last Friday, Melissa performed a set at the Douglas Corner Cafe in Nashville – which she mentioned from the stage was her first full show here in the entire time she’s called Nashville home.
It was worth the wait. Boy, was it worth the wait.
For this show, Melissa assembled a full band (sorry, I don’t know the name of all the players – will update when that info comes across my transom). The stage was filled with keyboard, bass, drums, lead guitar and two harmony vocalists. And despite all that personnel, this was the blessed (i.e. rare) show where the quantity of sound did not drown out the lyric content.
Melissa Greener proved to be an incredibly compelling performer. Start with deft, intricate guitar figures played on both acoustic and electric guitars (no fan frets); add rich, thoughtful lyric imagery (that you could actually hear!) sung with a solid, soaring alto and joined byroof-raising harmonies from Kira Small and Vicki Carrico, and you’ve got the makings of one of the most outstanding shows I’ve seen in Nashville in quite a while.
The house was full, no doubt a testament to the many friends that Melissa has made over the five years she’s been among us.
But what was really impressive was the response when the show was over: these jaded Nashville audiences rarely rise at the end of a club show by a local; but this night, as Melissa Greener wrapped up her final tune, the audience was on its feet.
Or as one observer from the audience commented after the show, “we knew that she was good… but we didn’t know that she was that good!”
Melissa pours her heart and soul into every note and word. Hopefully these photos catch some of that spirit.
Listen to the opening track from Melissa’s 2013 CD “Transistor Corazon” while the slide show plays. When it’s over, click the Spotify link below to listen to the entire album. And when it’s over, don’t be surprised if you feeling like playing it again (as I am doing as I finish this post…)
Nothing is more
beautiful than a guitar,
except, possibly, two.
— Frédéric Chopin
Last Wednesday night offered a stark contrast to the night before.
Where Tuesday night’s performance by the New Dylans at the Belcourt Theater was nearly an hour of screeching instrumentation and unintelligible lyrics, the following night at the Station in was a perfect example of how beautifully crafted songs played with exquisite instruments can produce a totally satisfying experience.
Thomm Jutz and Craig Market actually wrote together for the first time while Thomm was producing The 1861 Project. They co-wrote two songs for Volume 2, including “The Old Songs:”
Thomm and Craig kept writing after that, and over the past couple of years assembled a collection of co-writes that they’ve now released in a collection called “Nowhere To Hide.”
I was called in to shoot some promo stills late last year. The slide show above features a few of those shots and some from the CD Release Party at the Station Inn.
On stage, Thomm played a 1948 Martin D-18, and Craig played a 1937 D-18. It’s hard to describe how beautiful those two guitars sounded together. That quote from Chopin will have to suffice.
Or just listen to the CD and hear for yourself:
Last night, a rogues gallery of characters from Nashville’s business and creative communities assembled at the Belcourt Theater to deliver what could be considered a start-of-the-New-Year self-assessment:
The first part was a short documentary film describing the origins, history, demise and resurrection of a band called “The New Dylans.” The film was the final, compiled installment in a year long effort to document the reconstitution of a group that broke up in the mid 1990s – and uses their tale as an object lesson on the State of The Music Industry in Nashville in the Digital Age. Read More
…and welcome to your first edition of The Weekly Digest.
(Oops. I got so wrapped up writing this this morning that I forgot to tag the relevant posts for this week’s digest – I thought I’d done that already. It should have included the first two posts below (Jeff T and Melrose Abbey) Doh!)
I’m sure there’s a better name for this recurring missive, but despite my vaunted creative genius that’s the best I’ve been able to come up with so far.
I am pleased to see that there have been a notable number of new subscribers to this list in the past week – which is even more notable because I don’t know who any of you are.
Most of the subscribers to this list are friends and family – people with whom I have had some form of personal contact since I started the list several years ago. But lately, I’m seeing new subs from people I don’t know, whose e-mail addresses I don’t recognize,
I recall reading somewhere that your ‘fan base’ isn’t really growing until it begins to spread beyond the people that you know personally – so it is gratifying to see that my reach has begun to grow organically beyond a certain inner circle.
I am involved in several realms of creative endeavors. My most recent business card (I make up new ones all the time) identifies me as:
…and each of those categories represents some measure of both accomplishment and aspiration.
Jeff Thorneycroft at The Family Wash, Nashville – Jan 14, 2014
It’s been a while since I’ve had an assignment to photograph a live performance, so it was nice to start the New Year out with a chance to shoot my friend Jeff Thorneycroft as he played bass with Tom Mason and The Blue Buccaneers at the Family Wash in East Nashville last week.
The Family Wash is not my favorite place in town to shoot a live performance. No, I take that back, it is my least favorite place (along with several others…) to shoot a live performance. There’s really no stage lighting whatsoever – just a few bare bulbs hanging over the center of the stage, in such a way that the featured performer on the front of the stage is actually back lit. And those that are back on the stage are lit mostly from above, which can cast some pretty nasty shadows.
But, hey, my calling card says “capturing the joy of making music – regardless of the lighting conditions. Yep, that’s my job!
So I brought my very fastest lenses with me – my 17mm, 45mm, and 75mm, all f/1.8 (these are Olympus Micro 4/3s lenses, their 35mm equivalent focal lengths are 35mm, 90mm, and 150mm). And since I don’t like to push my cameras past 1600 ISO, I didn’t even feel like I could afford the the loss of a stop to f/2.8 in order to use my 12-40 (24-80 equiv) or my fancy new and hardly-used-yet 40-150 (80-300 equiv) zoom lenses.
But there was one moment when I situated myself in the hallway toward the back of the stage. Jeff turned around to make eye contact with the drummer and fiddle player… and I got the shot! Several of them, in fact. And there are some good shots of pirate Tom Mason and the rest of his scurvy crew, I’ll post some of those starting next week.
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Are you a performer? Need some quality shots of your live show? Visit
Way back in February of this year, I got a call from my friend (and partner in The 1861 Project) Thomm Jutz inviting me out to his studio in Mt. Juliet to photograph a recording session with somebody named Sid Griffin.
I was not familiar with Sid at the time, but have since learned that he’s quite a fixture in the world of Americana and bluegrass music. He’s the front man for the critically acclaimed group “The Coal Porters” and, according to Billy Bragg, “Sid Griffin was playing ‘Americana’ music before that term was invented…”
I didn’t hear much from Sid after the session and shoot. So imagine my surprise when I discovered yesterday that not only has Sid’s new CD “The Trick Is To Breathe” (Spotify / iTunes) been released, but he’s used one of my photos for the album cover!
Needless to say (though of course I’m saying it anyway) I’m thrilled to see my work being put to good use. I’m particularly pleased with the shot that Sid selected. It’s one of only three that I shot with him standing in the doorway entrance to Thomm’s studio control room. Window light.. God’s own lighting (maybe next time a reflector? or… maybe not…)
I can hardly wait to get a copy of the CD for myself to see what else he might have used inside. In the meantime, here’s a slide show of the photos form the session, featuring Thomm at the controls along Justin Moses on banjo and fiddle and Sierra Hull on mandolin.
Watch the slides and listen* to Sid’s take on The Youngblood’s “Get Together,” and anthem from the days when we was all young and idealistic…
* that’s assuming that by the time this slide show goes public, Zenfolio will have fixed an issue on their servers that’s keeping the music from playing as I create this post. If not, well, enjoy the silence…
#nashville #music ©2014 email@example.com aka @driver49