Happy Birthday, Larry.
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time up and down the Blues Highway for work. I was trying to explain to a woman from Australia the difference between Clarksdale and Memphis blues and Louisiana Blues. The only thing I could come up with was that our blues are happier.
Maybe it’s because I know the stories of so many other people who have turned out to listen to the blues in town that even songs that could be depressing feel like badges of honor. Its like some how we have gotten to the other side of our own personal demons and are stronger because of them. We are triumphant.
The photos were a challenge but I got the one that I wanted. These are not great of Larry by any technical standards. But when Larry Performs, he always introduces his songs with preambles that nobody finds more amusing than Larry himself. It’s as though he has a secret reference point that only he and maybe a trusted ally know. Mona Lisa with a guitar….
This guy, Joe makes the best barbecued chicken in the world – I kid you not. He is also funny and charming and intelligent. You would never know that watching him play because he always has this serial killer type of look about him. I would not be stretching it to call it menacing. Its been a little more than 15 years that he’s been on the road with Larry and my suggestion is to give it a little more time to see if it turns into something permanent and if it doesn’t, he can grill chicken for a living. I would buy it.
I believe her name is Betsy Watt but I cannot remember. She was on some jazz tour in Europe and Larry was playing at the same festival. They had never met before and found it somewhat of a coincidence that they were both from Baton Rouge. Like a gentleman, Larry invited her to play with him. I thought he was just being Larry – you know, nice and all. What a pleasant surprise. Listening to Ms. Betsy play the flute with Larry and his band was like eating West African Peanut Stew. You never think you want to eat tomatoes, peanut-butter and garlic in the bite but once you do, you’re hooked. She was amazing and added a layer of interest to the music that was as simple as it was complex. Who would’ve thought.
Jared is a world class guitar player. He doesn’t really seem to realize it or more likely, he doesn’t care where he falls on the list of guitar players. When Jared plays, it is him and his guitar like a zen master breathing in and breathing out and always returning to the breath. His hands never venture further from the guitar than is necessary to find his way through a riff and his efficiency of movement is like watching ballet.
I am quite certain the drummer has a name. He is such a nice young man and I cannot imagine his Mama forgetting to name him. In fact, I knew the name last night. Of all the musicians on the planet, drummers are the hardest for me to photograph. It was especially hard for me to get him in the green lights on a dark stage at Phil Brady’s. Will continue to work on drummers.
This is the photograph I came for. It is getting close but not quite there yet. In my office, there are several prints of music. I don’t want bands or musicians so much as that which makes up the body of music that is part of my world. People love sports metaphors. I think in terms of music metaphors – all that which it takes to get even a single note floating through the air. More importantly, what makes a person want to hear the music?
So, I will keep working on this one. It occurred to me to just ask Larry or Jared to help me with it but when trying to capture music with a camera, it feels like cheating to ask the musician to ‘pose’. There is very little posing done in authentic music.
So, I will work on it until I get it right. The truth is that I hope I go to my grave wanting to get some picture or another just right.
So these photos are dark and grainy. It was a bar as old as the hills. It is a dark and grainy place. I know other shooters were there with their lights crafting their perfect photographs. I also know that they were unable to do so without the person or persons they were shooting being very much aware of their presence. Maybe one day I will jump the fence but for now I am more interested in capturing life than crafting photographs. And sometimes, life is dark and grainy. Still, I do want to see the professional shots taken by others. You know… just in case I decide to jump the fence from shooter to craftsman.
It should have been a great opportunity to work on photographs of music – not bands or musicians but a lofty attempt at capturing music, except for one wanna be UFC Fighter. I am not accusing anyone of taking illegal steroids but I can state openly and honestly that there was a fleeting moment or two when I was afraid I might be the victim of roid rage. I was asked to move away from the elite section of the stage reserved for some strange women wearing pink hats. I was good with that. Security is important – especially mine. But, every time I stepped away, Mr. ‘I don’t recognize social cues so please spell it out for me’ moved between me and the stage. Finally, I said, ‘Dude, you are not that cute. Move the fuck away from my camera if you want to quarantine me’. He pretended he didn’t hear me so I said it louder. He was not overly cooperative but I am still alive so I guess our little battle was a tie.
I managed to catch a couple of good shots but not what I wanted. There would be no point in being a shooter if perfect shots were merely wishes and desire.
I like their song, Home, best but the live versions on Youtube are veritable insults to the auditory faculties mainly because they were shot in bars with very enthusiastic fans in range of the mic. I found a live performance that I did like from the Country Music Explosion. It’s a great old song by Marshall Tucker and about 4.5 minutes into the song, you will understand why Jared Daigle caught my eye as a guitarist. My brother, Michael, had the Marshall Tucker CD before it was a CD. I listened to it almost every day after he died. Brings back memories.
I have never been a country music fan and I do not intend to stay in this universe long but the occasional visit to hear guys like this play is worth it.
So, there was a time when running into a group of kids goofing off at the Memphis Riverside would have spelled trouble. Lately, I’ve noticed that, thankfully, kids are growing up faster. They have found out that thugs and gangsters are no longer glamorous and they are treating others and themselves with more respect that I would have expected ten years ago. Their Mama’s and teachers would be proud.
I encountered this group of hooligans as I was still trying to figure out where I was and where I wanted to walk. Sadly, I had some technical issues with my camera but here are some of the better shots. I wish these kids well and I thank them for treating me with respect and regarding me kindly. Their laughter and joking around was contagious and I am looking forward to my next trip.