Sunday March 27, 2005

 

 

 


It's Easter today. That means family time for me. That's what I came for this week. I haven't been home all year. I need that every now and again.

I'm sure you know that I spent virtually all day at my Grandmother's. I even began the daunting and incredibly difficult task of dismantling my Dad's room (which was my room right up 'til I moved away from SC). It wasn't easy but it needs to be tackled. We've delayed for so long because I keep trying to schedule for my brother and sister to be there. I can't wait anymore. It's been almost a year and a half. I must go ahead with it. I'll be home again in two weeks to continue with this. I already filled a couple of boxes with stuff to donate to charity and at least one trash bag. Lemme tell you, even a year and a half later, it's hard to go through your Dad's deathbed and surroundings and throwaway the last things he spent time with. I know I'm a bit too attached and sentimental but it's rough. At least it felt like one more Easter with Dad. I saw a lot of pictures of him and my family that I've never seen and even read some more of his letters that he never sent to people...it was rough...but I'm ready to get it done.

After that I swung by my sister's house. So I got to spend a little time with her and my neices Nichole and McKayla. It was too short a time, though, as I had to get over to Amanda's parents for the big family Easter thing. It was positively the most needed and best meal of my trip home...it made me actually feel less worn out.

Tomorrow - back on the road...again...

 


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Saturday March 26, 2005

 

 

 

S


Wow! I'm never gonna get this diary caught up am I?

Well, today wasn't unlike yesterday. I spent the afternoon at my Grandmother's followed by an evening with friends.

Amanda and I hiked back out to Lexington to spend the evening with our friends Emily and Clayton. We figured we at least owed 'em a dinner after taking over their computer the other night!

It was good to see 'em again - it's rare that we do these days outside of Christmas time...and that's not even a given. Their yearling Ian was running around like a yearling should. He seems very inquisitive and smart. And he only smacked his head really hard once during the time we were there.

Most of our post dinner evening consisted of showing each other various absurdities on the web (you know, like my entire DISTRACTIONS page) and playing them said mashups. I think they went over better here than the other night. Emily even burned copies of a couple of the discs. Clayton seemed most impressed with Ben E. King singing "Stand By Me" over "Every Breath You Take." Emily was into 50 Cent rapping over "In The Mood." Good stuff no matter how you cut it.


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Friday March 25, 2005
 

 

 

 


Finally, a day to just kind of relax. I spent the biggest chunk of the day over at my Grandmother's house not doing much of anything. It was an absolutely spectacular warm, spring day. She and I even went outside and wandered around for awhile...and it's not easy to get her out, about and mobile these days. I hope it did her as much good as it did me to be out together in that yard that I've called home for my entire life. It's kind of sad that the yard's been allowed to grow over...a shutter has fallen from the window and there's no one to repair it...home's deteriorating...but the ultimate truth is that when I was out there with my Grandma on a beautiful spring day, I felt like a kid again...if only for a few short minutes.

In the evening, Amanda and I went to dinner with her Mom and sister at Sakura. We ran into Benji's friend Ben. I'm glad someone else knows about the place that I think is hands down the best restaraunt in ole Kershaw County.

After that, we went to see our friends Lori and Shawn and their brood (aka Lauryn and True). As always, it was good to see 'em. Shawn and True didn't seem to appreciate the mashups that I hadda play for 'em as much as Lauryn and Lori...maybe it's in the "L's". Who knows? Then we sat around watching that Ali G movie. It was extremely hit or miss (to put it mildly) but the funny parts were really, really funny.

 


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Thursday March 24, 2005


 


Today was one of those days. I didn't have time to do anything but chase the wind. Eventually I caught it.

You see - my photos from things like tour openers are extremely time sensitive. If I don't get 'em up and available at my outlet post haste, then someone else'll get 'em and mine are no longer newsworthy.

I had no idea how difficult it would be to get my shots uploaded in a timely way from SC. I wound up using my brother's computer to get the pics on disc and edited.

Amanda stepped in and made me go to the DMV to get my Dad's vehicles transferred into my name (now that the estate's finally closed and settled). I thought this whole thing would be about as fun as a trip to the dentist but it was alright. I think the girl that helped us was named Paula. She was great. She helped us navigate the course as cleanly as possible. So now I own a truck. (Thanks, Dad...and thanks for taking such good care of it.)

Then I had to find a hi-speed connection which ain't easy in Camden. Thank God for my good friends Emily and Clayton. I wound up driving the 45 minutes or so to Lexington to hijack their DSL in the early evening. I was blown away by how fast the link was. It makes cable (my connection) seem like it's standing still. It takes about 2 minutes per shot to upload at home. Here, it took about 30 seconds per. By the time all of the pics were even uploaded, 2 of the 3 folders were live at WireImage. Amazing. Maybe I've gotta upgrade again...

Thanks to Emily and Clayton for saving me!

Click here for the Donovan pics...

Or here for the Mellencampers...


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Wednesday March 23, 2005

John Mellencamp and Donovan give me a whole new visual interpretation of "Sunshine Superman" in Savannah.

 

 

Here we go again...

Amanda and I hit the road about 2 p.m. on the road South to Savannah. We got into town about 6 p.m. Unfortunately, we wound up having to eat at a friggin' Waffle House due to time constraints and no knowledge of the area. Frighteningly, we wound up right across the street from a dive bar called Blueberry Hill. Q-Sign played four nights there during our massive Earth Loops & Goodness World Tour (mmm hmmm, that's right). It was so weird to see that place again...and just know that it's survived longer than the band did!

Oh - and my favorite quote from the Waffle House was from our waitress Peaches. Amanda asked what was on the veggie omelet. Peaches replied, "It ain't got no meat on it, I know that." You think? Then she yelled back to order and the cook answered "We ain't got no veggie wraps." Yep, it was one of those kind of dealeys.

On to the show.

We got to the Savannah Civic Center and even managed to find a good parking spot. No problems at all. For some reason, I decided to take in my monopod and step stool just in case...smart move. Apparently Mellencamp makes you shoot from the soundboard. In this case, it was about 200 ft. back. Yep, another difficult shoot. We were allowed to shoot Mellencamp's first two only. Due to special arrangements made for me by super-publicist Bob Merlis and John's tour manager Julie Duffy, I was also allowed to shoot Donovan's first two songs - the first being with John and Donovan together. I was the only one allowed to get those shots...and as it's the opening night of the tour - I guess I'm the first and only person to ever photograph them performing together. That's pretty cool.

John opened with "Small Town." After the second song I let Julie commandeer my camera 'til I was allowed to shoot again. After about 45-minutes, my cue "Authority Song" came on. At this song, I was 'sposed to go back to the soundboard. I set up and even got to shoot John introducing Donovan as well as their duet of "Sunshine Superman" which I thought was pretty freakin' cool. Now, John wasn't the opener. In fact, Donovan was just a "surprise guest." And lemme tell you, when those Americana, meat & potatoes fans were left by John for a mini-set in the middle of a Mellencamp show, there were some unhappy patrons. These people just didn't want to hear "Atlantis", "Barabujagul" and the like. It really got ugly during an absolutely beautiful version of "Lalena". Some guy jumped up and let out a flurry of "You suck"s before he screamed "Go back to the '60s!" Hmmm...perhaps he didn't realize that Mellencamp could just as easily go back to the '80s. Oh well...Amanda and I enjoyed Donovan's set greatly. If only he would've done "There Is A Mountain" and "Rikki Tikki Tavi", I would've been even happier. "Mellow Yellow" was the only Donovan song that went over well and the older people there really got into it. The younger ones in attendance just looked horrified and wondered if John would ever return with his testosterone. He did, and he was good, too. He played a couple of early hits that he usually ignores in addition to the usual "Hurts So Good" and "Crumblin' Down" and "Jack & Diane". I was especially happy to hear "I Need A Lover" and (my personal favorite) "Ain't Even Done With The Night." It was tres bizarre when Donovan came back out late in the show to join in on "Pink Houses" and play harmonica. The night ended with the slightly anti-climactic "Check It Out." It was a good night of entertainment, though, and every single person in attendance got their money's worth.

Amanda and I hit the road going North at 11 p.m. and pulled into her parents yard around 2:30. We decided to just stick around the ol' hometown through Easter...

Now...how do I get my pics to Wire Image within 24 hours? Hmmm....


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Tuesday March 22, 2005

 

 


Well, this'll be easy enough to write about.

I got on the road about 10 a.m. to head back to Athens. I was home around 1:30 editing pics. I managed to make about 20 of the pics publishable with Photoshop. You can check out the pics I took of Robert Plant last night by clicking here.

The rest of the day was about uploading and relaxing. Tomorrow, Amanda and I are going on another long road trip after all. I hope the next one's easier than last night's!

 


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Monday March 21, 2005

Robert Plant notifies Myrtle Beach that "There's no Spring Break in the Misty Mountains."

 


This was one long day.

It began in Athens, tidying up and getting ready for a long week. By noon, I was on the road headed east. Sometime after 3, I was at my Grandmothers in South Carolina for a few minutes to stretch out. What a long, miserable drive it had been. I'm not used to travelling alone and I was pretty sleepy. Luckily, the rest of trip wasn't so bad. I met up with my brother Benji and we were on the road by 4. Where were we headed? To Myrtle Beach and the House Of Blues to catch Robert Plant. He's long been a hero of mine and I was very excited at the prospect of being allowed to photograph him. On the way to the beach, Benji and I grooved to my current fixation - a bunch of mashups that I've made for myself. My personal favorite today was "Paranoid In The Gay Bar." There was just something about hearing agressive-gay-euro vocals over Black Sabbath that delighted me today. What didn't delight me was the fact that gas prices were $2.10! Yesterday, it was only $1.98 before I left home.

Anyway - we got to the venue with just enough time to work out the problem du jour (they'd not left two tickets for me - only one - and neither of us was willing to pay $130 for a ticket. I called NY, the local people worked it out and they gave us our tickets. I think everyone I talked to was from somewhere else. People had travelled in from all over for this thing. This was one of only about 5 dates he's doing in the US and this was the penultimate date.

I was surprised when the opening act started at 7:45. Lovedrug was alright but nothing really special. They were a slightly more aggressive version of Coldplay. I didn't mind them and they didn't outstay their welcome. In less than a half an hour, they were gone.

In between bands, my photog friend from Wilmington came up to say "hi." It was good to see him again. We run into each other a couple of times a year and never get enough time to really get caught up. In fact, it was in the same complex as this (at the Loretta Lynn show last year) that he told me that Rick James had died. Apparently, they didn't clear him tonight for some reason. I was even more surprised when the house lights went down about 8:30...and I was the only photographer!

After a long droning intro under completely red light (and therefore impossible to get good pics in), Plant sauntered out slowly. He was only a couple of inches away from me as he began singing "No Quarter" over completely different music. A lot of people didn't even recognize it. Unfortunately, the photographer in me was in control so all I could think was how to get a usable picture in horrible lighting. During the whole 6 or so minutes of this song, I may have gotten 3 shots. Oh well...he made eye contact with me a couple of times, which was pretty strange. The second song was "Shine It All Around" which is his new single. Tonight, it was an ironic bit of torture to a photog - cause nothing was shining all around. There was not a spotlight in sight. This was shaping up to be one of the worst shoots...ever. Every once in a while, he'd lean his head back and I got a handful of usable / publishable shots but nothing spectacular...which would've been easy with a little light. He was doing all the poses, all the gestures and everything I'd need - you just couldn't see him. The third song was a drastically re-arranged version of "Black Dog" that lacked the guts of the original and virtually ignored the signature riffage. I think by now people were becoming a little disheartened with the show. I know I was. It was almost as if he was trying to tease / torture the crowd. I would've rather heard all new songs and / or solo career songs than hear him do whatever he was doing to the Zep tunes. Maybe it was just a way to make his new stuff seem better by comparison. That's a dangerous strategy but it definitely did make his new songs cook by comparison. "Freedom Fries" was pretty cool as were "Tin Pan Valley" and "The Enchanter." My favorite new one tonight was "Four Winds." It was a slow burn that occasionally would burst into madness and back. Cool stuff. I can't wait to hear the record. 2 of the 3 solo-era songs he did were covers. "If I Were A Carpenter" and "Morning Dew" were only okay. Only a couple of the Zep songs managed to not pale tonight. One was "That's The Way" which was pristine and perfect. This being a crowd full of college students on Spring Break, Plant felt it necessary to repeatedly declare "There's no Spring Break in the Misty Mountains" before "That's The Way." The other was the finale of "When The Levee Breaks" which never went electric but still somehow carried the legacy of Zep in it. The others...well...'tain't what it used to be. I've been a staunch defender of Plant as a post - Zep artist. Tonight, I'll tell you straight up that he was phoning it in. Not even the centerpiece of his last major solo tour, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" lifted up like it shoulda. Plant just didn't really seem to have that urgency. It was relaxed and nice...but it wasn't "Percy." The most fire I saw from him all night was delivering his Elvis impersonation on "Tall Cool One." The show ended with a version of "Whole Lotta Love" that used the Page-riff but ignored the solos, key changes and the interesting stuff. The middle turned into a boring techno drone. Oh well, I've seen Plant eight or so times now. Everytime he's been amazing. I guess he was due for a bad one. I'll go see him again next time with fingers crossed. It was still an interesting show. I'm glad I saw it. It just didn't live up to the possibility. I'm still excited about the new album. You know I'll give you the scoop on whether it's worthwhile or not.

Oh yeah, and he looked REALLY old up close...it's kind of scary. Jimmy Page is what, 5 years older, and he looks 10 years younger right now. I guess Robert's been wandering the desert for too many years with no sun screen...

Benji and I were on the road by 10:30. I dropped him off around midnight and I was crashed in Camden (at Amanda's parents') by 12:30. Tomorrow I've gotta go try to salvage this exclusive shoot and get the pics to Wire Image.

 

Click here to read all about last week's traumas and victories.


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