LIFE IS A RIDE Those of you who know me IRL, know that Chris Joseph and I go back. Some difficult times, but always a kinship. Friends, business partners, not partners and eventually, friends again. Chris introduced me to Jazz Fest – after years of him catching dawn flights out of MSY to start the work week bleary eyed and buoyant, I knew I had to check this thing out. Some years later, he encouraged me to apply to shoot Jazz Fest for the Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive, a fruitful relationship that continues to this day. Chris and I would catch up at Fest, house concerts and other musical coming togethers, but it had been awhile when I heard from others about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and reached out before he traveled to Germany for treatment in 2017. Our friendship was rekindled as Chris flew with great courage into the big what’s next. That story, his story, his unconventional path into that big what’s next, took on a life of its own. Chris subsequently collaborated with Paul Sanchez as a lyricist to the song Life is a Ride, meting out all his fear and hope to Paul and co-writer […]

THROUGH THE LENS: The Many Memories of the Newport Folk Festival

July 28, 2020 No Depression, one of the foremost sources for Americana and roots music coverage, asked if I’d provide a retrospective of my Newport Folk Festival work for their Through the Lens Column, ahead of what would have been 61 years since the inaugural festival. If you have followed this blog at all, you’ll know I jumped at the opportunity to share a selection of images with the musical community No Depression speaks to. I’ve been damn lucky to get there since 2014, one of the few photographers from out west to do so. It’s been a highlight of my creative career, to be in the pit at Newport, alongside some of the best in the business, including Henry Diltz, Danny Clinch and Jay Blakesberg. But that pales to the spirit of the place, where songs as resistance and power loom as large as Pete Seeger’s presence, and especially this year, John Prine’s. This is a year like no other, stopping many of us in our tracks with challenge and loss, at many levels. But Newport Folk has weathered so much history and we will be back at the Fort sometime down the road. Because Newport Folk is bigger […]

Jim Brock Photography featured in One LP project

William Ellis is a charming fella and a richly talented music photographer with a project that completely resonated with me. Hailing from Cheshire from across the pond and in town a few years back, we met at a photo-centric event where I learned of his One LP project. The concept is simple and expressive. Chat with artists, musicians, photographers and luthiers about the one album that moved them and shaped their creative vision like no other, then take their portrait with said musical work in hand. Back in the day when some of us proudly displayed our recordings for all to peruse, I was that guy – a serial profiler of character who’d scan a collection and pass judgment. Yup, right up my alley. But in all seriousness, choosing one album, one collective work, that is so powerful as to hit you over the head and change your life, and then creating a visual record of the artist and that work, is just too good a subject. So, I was tickled when William wanted to include me and get a sit down. Flash forward a couple of years, and with the help of our mutual friend, jazz photographer Bob Barry, […]

Steve Hackett, Orpheum Theatre

October 18, 2019 We all have albums that transported us. Back in the day, find the sweet spot between speakers or put on some headphones, maybe have a puff, close your eyes and just listen. Dark Side was at the top for many, but mine was Selling England By The Pound by Genesis. I went places. Fantastical places. 46 years later, the album still holds true and Steve Hackett brought it to life again from start to finish (plus an unreleased track that didn’t make the cut) during the second set of his current tour. Hackett tours most years and the 1920’s Orpheum Theatre in DTLA has become his Los Angeles living room (capacity about 2K). The first of his two sets covered much of Hackett’s post-Genesis career, which I am less familiar with. The six-piece band (including Hackett) was muscular and dynamic throughout with shout outs to all, Rob Townsend on sax, flute and keys; Roger King on keys; Jonas Reingold on bass and 12-string; Craig Blundell on drums, and, Nad Sylvan on vocals. Blundell, seated behind a monster double-kick Paiste kit owned the stage at the end of the first set with an extended solo, and the flurry from […]

Remembering Paul Barrere

October 27, 2019 I’m 18 in a dorm room at UCSC and this dude from Philly puts on Waiting for Columbus. Knew the band, but really, didn’t know the band. Dixie Chicken, Lowell George, guys from L.A.. Sure. And then those first swampy grooves of Fat Man hit me like lightning. They still do. That will never change. The band took a big hit when Lowell was gone so young, but man, they kept it rolling. Right on through the night. 50 years worth somehow, even after losing Richie Hayward a few years back, and despite Paul’s health setbacks. These guys were a consummate band. The parts were awfully good, the sum, though, no one else. It was the coming together. The rhythm section that always left me punch drunk in the best way, the encyclopedic keys from stride to boogie to blues to just about every stop from coast to coast. And those tangling guitars, first with Lowell George and then Fred Tackett. But it was the syrupy Strat and slide of Paul Barrere that were unmistakable, and a body of work that will live on long after I’m gone, like the best does. I’ve seen the band in […]

Mark Knopfler, Greek Theatre

September 22, 2019 I was 17 the first time I heard “Sultans of Swing”, and I was not amused. Who was this nasally sounding, semi-spoken Brit with circular breathing like hammer-ons? But, it didn’t take me long to figure out that those tunes and that Strat playing were off the charts extraordinary. “Down to the Waterline”, “Water of Love” and, of course, “Sultans”, off Dire Straits eponymous 1978 debut, had a hypnotic ear lock on my head. To this day “Making Movies” is a high watermark that never receded, and “Telegraph Road” (in both it’s studio and live versions) from their follow-up “Love Over Gold” is definitely in the band’s pantheon. Then “Money for Nothing” broke, Knopfler switched his Strat for a Les Paul and the whole world was dialed in, and while I went along, it didn’t have the same nuance and elegance of previous records. The band held on for another few albums and I was fortunate to catch the “On Every Street” tour, their last, in 1991. Knopfler has released 10 solo discs since then and mixes his earlier catalog with this material when he tours. His latest, “Down the Road From Wherever”, is a quieter, thoughtful affair […]

David Crosby, Saban Theatre

September 10, 2019 Croz always comes straight at you and from the heart, burned bridges and all. No surprise his Sky Trails tour two-setter at the Saban Theatre was so warmly greeted, from the “In My Dreams” CSN opener to the “Wooden Ships” and “Ohio” closers. “Eight Miles High”, “Guinnevere” and “Long Time Gone” were first set touchstones, and the set closing “Deja Vu” stretched for all the band to showcase their musical voices. Drummer Steve DiStanislo working skin on skins to subtle and expressive effect, James Raymond, producer, arranger and son of Croz on keys spotlighted. Michelle Willis lending her Rhodes inspired runs and vocals. Crosby had an origin story for all, but especially bassist Mae Liesz, whose busking turn led to love and touring. And then guitarist James Pevar, who has been playing with Crosby for 30 years, brought the tune back from the edges to that rolling 6/8 we all know. The exquisite “The Lee Shore” opened the second set. Crosby later sharing some of his darker moments as a junkie and how Jackson Browne pushed him to finish “Delta”as a turning point in his recovery. An a capella take of “What Are Their Names” sent shivers […]

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Greek Theatre

August 16, 2019 If you have ever been into the Dead, and written off JRAD as just a Dead cover band, you are so missing the point. For me, this band goes places I haven’t been, fueled by the Dead’s musical canon. If you made it to the Greek (or any show on this tour), you know what I’m on about. No emulating here. No Jerry or Bobby role. Just flat out all in. They take it down, when they could go up and explode when they could go low. One thing is clear, the music will never stop. And isn’t that really the point? Some deep dish visuals from this one.

NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL 2019, FORT ADAMS, RHODE ISLAND

July 26-28, 2019 As the sun dipped to meet Naragansett Bay a few Sundays back, the 60 years since the first Newport Folk Festival seemingly came full circle. The Fort Stage crowd serenading Rambling Jack Elliott, and the dozens of singers and musicians paying tribute to the spirit and songs of Pete Seeger (who appeared at the first Newport in 1959) with one last chorus of “Goodnight, Irene”. On what would have been the troubadour’s 100th birthday, it was producer Jay Sweet who encouraged the audience to have the last word and shower the stage with the love shared by all who performed and attended over the course of the three days. That the Lead Belly lyrics so simply convey love lost and always eternal, was a fitting coda to a closing set that left me more than a little teary. In a good way. Let’s just say that there are moments as a photographer when you have to put the camera down, and take it all in, and this was one of them. Welcome to Newport Folk. Newport 2019 was true to form. Full of collaboration, a few surprises and plenty of discoveries. But what was most different about […]

Mack Avenue Records Takeover with Alfredo Rodriguez and Cameron Graves Trios, Mr. Musichead Gallery

December 12, 2018 What a monster night last Wednesday with the Mack Avenue Records Takeover of Mr. Musichead Gallery. Featuring two richly textured and completely energized piano trios. The new to me Alfredo Rodriguez was lyrical and joyful, as if the best of mid-career Pat Metheny flowed through the ivories via Cuba and Brazil. Bassist Munir Hossn, he of the cheshire grin and constant motion, would switch to a nylon string cutaway in quieter moments, and both Rodriguez and Hossn picked up the sticks to join drummer Daniel Rodriguez in percussive celebration before closing with a samba take on “Thriller”. (Q, a big influence on pianist Rodriguez). After a break, Cameron Graves took the rest of the night in another direction, mixing material from last year’s stellar “Planetary Prince”with new material for his trio, that includes Maximillion Gerl on bass, and the phenomenal Mike Mitchel on drums. Graves and fellow West Coast Get Downers Kamasi Washington, Miles Mosley, Ryan Porter, Ronald Bruner, Jr. among them, continue to shape and push and challenge and tug at jazz traditions, and hearing this trio do it’s thing in such an intimate space was a thriller of a different sort. Especially, drummer Mitchel, who […]