Sunday January 15, 2006



I had a hard time trying to side how to play today. Amanda's got tomorrow off for MLK day so we could stay home. But I've got so much to do that I don't know if I can lose another day. Eventually, I decided we should go on back home. Last night, Amanda got a sore throat and has been feeling bad, too. Just in case, I pick it up, I'd just as soon have already travelled safely home and have gotten a little done.

I went on out to Grandma's to make sure she didn't need anything additional done. She had a couple of things for me to do (switching out light bulbs, etc.). Amanda's Mom brought her over a couple of hours later. Then she agreed to take out the bit of garbage on the way back home so we wouldn't have to. That's the kind of thing family does, you know?

Anyway - we said our goodbyes and hit the road. It's so hard for me to leave that county every single time. It's especially hard 'cause I know that what that place is to me doesn't even really exist anymore. I couldn't live there. There's nothing for me professionally and the whole pace and vibe is totally inappropriate for me. But as I've said over and over, no matter where I go or what I do, that area will always be the center of my universe.

Amanda and I got home just after dark, safe and sound. We had a relatively relaxing evening and called it a night early.




Saturday January 14, 2006








Well, I'm suitably tired today. Getting in at 3 a.m. will do that to you unless you're on that schedule. And since we're playing so infrequently now, I'm definitely NOT!

Still, I was over at my Grandmother's by about 1 in the afternoon. It's always comforting to spend some time at that address. All roads lead there for me. Sometimes that's not a good thing but I'd be a liar if I said anywhere else was home. I was actually kind of hoping she'd have some things that needed being done. She didn't. So we just sat around talking. I had the very guitar that I learned how to play slung around my neck and while we talked I noodled. Before I left, I had subconciously completed the entire arrangement (including a note for note solo) for a new power popper still tentatively called "Dancing In The Park." I'd really like to come up with a title that doesn't involve dancing or evoke Bruce Springsteen but so far the song is still demanding to retain that identity. I've learned to let the song be who it is over the years. Trying to change them into something they're not only ruins it for everyone. All you can do is guide, influence and help them along. But ultimately, the decision is theirs. Too bad some people never learn that about other people, much less their work. But it's a truism for who you know and what you do when you get right down to it.

Now innit?

In the late afternoon, my whole family got together to celebrate my brother Benji's birthday. Since my Mom lives so far away from the home base now, she had the idea for us to all get together on the northeast side of Columbia. So that's what we all did. It wound up being Mom, Grandma, Vern, Missy, Dwayne, McKayla, April, Benji, Robbie, Nichole and her friend Erin, me and Amanda (13 people, huh? Why does that number seem so familiar?). Mom and Vern were a good half-hour late and unfortunately Benji was sick and Grandma was having a rough day also. So we stayed freezing in the entranceway (a breezeway would've been a more appropriate name). When we finally did get in, we had to wait to be seated and then juggled around. Eventually we did get in. Grandma was feeling bad enough to where she was having trouble getting around at first. It was hard for me to watch. I kept trying to keep an eye out for her but she kept saying she was fine. It's weird. I could see a night and day difference in her within 15 minutes of her having eaten her first platefull. After that, she was much stronger and together. It goes to show that she's just not taking care of herself (or being taken care of properly) at home.

My Grandmother's family sucks. Period. If I could divorce myself from those uncles, aunts and cousins at this point, I would do it in a heartbeat. MY family has its share of problems but HER family is an embarrassment to humanity. And if you're confused by the "MY" and "HER" terminology, you probably don't need to know any more. Let's suffice it to say that I truly believe that just because you're related to someone doesn't make them family. The people I'm getting at here are all relatives. Some have been family in the past and have gone the way of the dark side. And some have simply always been virtually worthless in my life and to the people who've cared about and looked after me. I wish them no ill. I don't have to. As far as the great cosmic picture, I'm not totally sure of what I believe but I do believe in something...even if it's nothing. Belief in itself is something. And I believe that you do reap what you sew even (if it's not always in fair doses on either side). I've seen too much evidence to dismiss it. That being said, I repeat that I don't wish them any ill. I'm sure they can look at their own lives and see the havoc they've wreaked already revisiting them.

Just because you've still got all of the pieces of the puzzle together, it does not neccessarily make for a pretty picture. And the new pieces only seem to be contaminating the old ones further.

Enough of that, those people have caused so many problems around my life that it's easy to get sidetracked on 'em even though I know that they're not worth it.

I, for one, was glad to have my complete immediate family with me. There are a few other relatives that I would've loved to have seen (and you know who you are) but it was still great to have us all together one more time even if some were so far across the room that we couldn't really talk. It was good just to know you were there.

I'm especially glad to report that Nichole and Robbie seemed so grounded, happy and in high spirits. Those not-so-kids-anymore have been through a lot of unneccesary crap. It's good to see that things are falling together for 'em now.




Friday January 13, 2006

Catching a little bit of that Charlotte air...



Today was built around us making our Charlotte debut. I ran through my daily errands in the morning and Amanda left work around lunch to hit the road. It was a miserable, torrential rain soaked drive all the way there. For part of the drive we listened to a disc of outtakes and stripped down recordings from Pink Floyd's Wall sessions. A lot of the lyrics were different and some entire sections were as well. It was very strange after having such an "in stone" impression of that album for all these years.

We still made it to Charlotte way early. When we found the Evening Muse, it was all closed up. So, we hit the road searching for food. We wound up driving and driving and driving. In fact, we finally wound up about as far on the other side of Charlotte as you can be before we found somewhere of suitable price and quality. It was just as well. It passed the dead time. We took in some of the local color and characters and did a little not-so-sight seeing. We're so spoiled living in Athens. You can walk a block and have your choice of any kind of food you want from a greasy diner to 5 star world class cuisine. We have vegetarian fast food and hot dog stands on the corners. Charlotte was good to us, but from what I saw, it's definitely not a gastronomically friendly (or efficient) city.

To read all about our Charlotte premiere, click here for the full show report.



Thursday January 12, 2006


Yep, I'm still playing catchup in an effort to get as much done as possible before this here long weekend out of town comes up. Amanda and I will be hitting the road for our Charlotte show tomorrow around lunch time. I do wish the lineup was solidified and we weren't so rusty but there's not a thing we can do about it at the moment. So we'll just keep things relatively low key and head out for the occasional show when we can.

I heard a rumor that we may be going into the studio next week for something. I wonder if it's true...



Wednesday January 11, 2006







Well, it's my brother's birthday today and as he slowly wears himself down to a nub (being the big boss man at his long standing job), I wish him the best a year can offer. He had a big one in 2005 and let's hope that 2006 finds him where he wants to be. Have a good 'un and I'll see you this weekend.

As for me, well...I'm doing the usual. I'm also trying to compile a proper press kit for the band. It's taking forever to get it together and then it's all made more difficult by all of my software problems. I need 'em soon, though, 'cause we're about to enter festival season. Beside that, we've got a lot of distant interest and I want 'em to get a good overview when they check into us.



Tuesday January 10, 2006





It's been a really long time since I've done a needless long post chock full of info you can get at one of my other sites. Maybe I'll make a habit of that this week just for fun.

Today I got SO much done that I don't even know where to begin. So I won't sweat it. I'll just say that I got my Strokes pics edited and out, managed to get all my snail-mailing done (the line behind me wasn't too happy waiting for proper postage to the likes of Australia and The Phillippines) and got a whole bunch of other stuff done too that is even LESS interesting to you readers who so masochistically read what is written here.

If you're interested in checking out what I got from nearly impossible shooting conditions, you can see thumbs of my pics from last night at WireImage. I'm looking forward to my first REAL shoot of the year.

Just for the heck of it, I'll post my Strokes review here first. I don't know if I've ever done that so here you go. Plus, I'm still having software compatibility issues with Concert Shots at the moment. So here's this...and mind you, I know I'm a bit rusty. I don't think I've actually written a concert review since Robert Plant last summer.

"Perhaps the hardest concert ticket to get a hold of in 2006 will come down to this warm-up show for The Strokes impending First Impressions Of Earth tour. With this date (one of only four in America) being announced at the last minute and held at a small club that holds only a couple of hundred, tickets were scooped up in minutes. Lines around the block greeted those who showed up late as some began lining up as early as 10 a.m. to take advantage of the general admission event. Outside, many of those milling about were ticketless fans who hoped for a miracle. Of course, 99X, the promoting radio station managed to save a handful of tickets to those willing to partake in the most silly and humiliating stunts. Were you too slow with Ticketbastard? Then all you have to do is get your fashionable clothes covered in ketchup and mustard and let a stranger lick it off of you. If you do it in the most entertaining way, you too can get in!

Once inside, the lucky few dished about the new record, released just 6 days ago. They debated on whether this would be “The One” or if Is This It was, in fact “it.” Opinions seemed about 50/50.

Still wrapped tightly in the hype of being the perennial “next big thing”, The Strokes sauntered onto the stage at 9:30 with no fanfare before bursting into the current single “Juicebox” (which may be the best “Spyhunter” rip off since Skid Row's “Piece Of Me”). The energy was high. The band was tight and ready to go. After the opener, the heat was turned down to a slow simmer. Every next song seemed based on the same angular riffs, pulsing bass lines, danceable beats and mumbled lyrics as the last one. There was nothing bad but there was also little that stood out. With the exception of the diehard fans in the front rows, the crowd was milling about within a half-hour. By this point, it was more about drinking, seeing and being seen. After a while, it felt like The Strokes were simply the backing band for a killer party. This effect may have been partially aided by the inability to actually see the band. No spotlights revealed their faces and back lighting obscured what might've been recognizable. If you paid to see The Strokes tonight, you were sorely disappointed.

Luckily, hearing them was no problem and every now and again, the band would hit just right and pull the attention back to the stage. The brand new “Razorblade” was one of these. A catchy opening guitar lick propelled a jittery beat similar to The Cars' “Touch & Go” and cut to a swinging chorus that even caught the attention of those deep in conversation. Simultaneously reminiscent of Television and Barry Manilow, “Razorblade” is definitely a winner. From there, the highlights were all obvious. The mid-set inclusion of “Last Night” started a modest bit of pogoing and “Hard To Explain” even managed to uncross the coolest kids' arms long enough to do a bit of fist-throwing. The only song from the band's sophomore album, Room On Fire , to make any real impact was “The End Has No End” but honestly, no one seemed to care or miss what they left out from that one anyway.

The encores were where it all came together. “New York City Cops,” “Soma” and “Take It Or Leave It” found the still poorly lit silhouettes flinging themselves around the stage in a way that would have been unimaginable a couple of years ago. The effort didn't go unrecognized either. The fans responded in kind and were inspired to create, not a mosh pit, but a dance party wherever it wasn't too thick to move.

Overall, it was an entertaining night out but don't let the upcoming media blitz fool you. This Strokes is the same as the one from last year and the year before. And that's not a bad thing. The Strokes make solid records and while their concerts have never been particularly interesting or special, they do throw a pretty good party."

Well, that's it. It's a re-start, right? I hope so. And I hope it shows up in Flagpole next week, too.

In the evening, Amanda had some more work to do so I fooled around and tried to author a DVD of my own that included a menu and index points. It worked but it's still not quite as perfect as is necessary to meet my qualifications.

Before bed, we wound up watching the first half of the 1940 original version of Disney's Fantasia. The coolest thing was that we can now listen in 5.1 sound which really adds so much. 'Twas a very trippy way to end an evening.



Monday January 9, 2006


Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes reaches his Loftiest goals in Atlanta...


I wish I could say that today was the planned new beginning. It looks like that'll be postponed 'til tonight. That's not TOO offschedule is it? I wound up spending the day finishing off those same loose ends that have kept me occupied lately.

In the evening, Amanda and I took off for ye ole ATL for a show...just like old times and probably a return to that reality in the making. I missed out on a lot due to recording the album in '05. It was all worth it and I can't wait to have to miss doing reviews because of my own shows but it feels good to be back in the pit and in the swing of it.

The Strokes have a new album out called First Impressions Of Earth. To knock some of the rust off, they've decided to do 4 warm-up shows in tiny clubs in the U.S. Luckily, the final one fell at a place called The Loft in Atlanta and I managed to score entrance for Amanda and me.

It was strange seeing 'em in such a tiny place. But what was even stranger was seeing so many friends and acquaintances that I hadn't seen in a while (sometimes in a couple of years). I always think of South Carolina as home but times like this make me realize that while SC will always be "home", I am now (more or less) a Georgian and this is where I'm most comfortable from day to day.

As for the shoot, it was even worse than most Strokes shoots as there was really NO front lighting to speak of. And the back lighting only made it even more impossible to see the band. Ack! When every single other photographer began using flash, I turned mine on and got a couple of shots fired off before I felt too guilty. Then I got an idea. I turned mine off and got beside the others using flash constantly (I couldn't do that, it was just impolite and wrong). Then I timed my shots off of theirs the best that I could. It's not a strategy I recommend but it worked. That's how I got the shot that you see over to your left.You can see my image as the colored blur from my low shutter speed and the image from the flash of the other camera sort of super imposed over mine for sharpness. I only got a handful of shots this way but all you need is one, baby!

And now, 2006 has officially begun.

Click here for the big '06 "Final Days Of Recharging" special and the reconvening...