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.