Sunday October 17, 2004



Ah, finally a day that's a little more routine. I talked to my Grandmother and Mom in the morning. Then I edited / uploaded last night's pics.

In the afternoon, the band reconvened for rehearsal. I, for one, hadn't touched my guitar since the last show so I was scared it was going to be all rust removal.

That's certainly the way it started. Instead of running through them, we ran into "Skyward", "She Walks," "Jewel Box" and "It's Never The Same." That's why we did 'em first I guess. They still need a lot of work.

It was much better when we just slammed through rehearsal set A. It hardly seemed like we hadn't played in over 2 weeks. Cool. I think we're finally gelling. I'm even getting where I can hit "the freakout" in "Phony" easily. The coolest part for me today was when I did a bit of juggling. At the end of "Down," it all drops back to just me. Instead of playing the outtro, I immediately slid into "If You Want To Go." It worked pretty darn well. It was a bit odd, but kind of cool. I may have to pull that out a show just for kicks. We even nailed "Deuce" on the first go 'round. That may be a first.

"It's getting all the better all the time..."

In the evening, I stayed in and watched Tape Heads, which is an old, odd movie from the late '80s. Shawn Young gave me the DVD awhile back but it's taken this long to sit down with it. So...thanks, Shawn for a relaxing night.





Saturday October 16, 2004

Brian Wilson SMiLEs without teeth in Atlanta.


Today was the day that Brian Wilson brought SMiLE to Atlanta. I'm happy to say I was there. Not only that, my whole band went. This is the kind of show that we had to go to. Every real music fan should've been there.

But before that...

I spent the day editing and uploading pics to various sites (Pollstar, Retna). Amanda and I also went a-clothes shopping for me. That's certainly a rare thing. What's not rare? Well, I didn't buy anything. I'm not buying to buy. I'll buy when I find exactly what I want. I didn't.

Around 5, the other Darlings started showing up at my place. Tom, Frank, Amanda and I pulled out a few minutes late (which caused us to be stuck in UGA game traffic) but luckily we still made it to Chastain with time to spare.

What can I say about the show? I'll admit, the first set was really slow moving and took a good while to kick in. Last time I saw him, he seemed more in control and verbal. This time, Brian seemed scared and isolated...almost non-communicative. The first set was much better on the Pet Sounds tour of a few years back. Luckily, he had his support team with him. The whole band gathered around and eased him into the show with an acoustic set. Songs like "Surfer Girl", "Sloop John B" and "Add Some Music" were just a warm up. The highlight for me was when he did a tribute to his brothers. Dennis Wilson's song "Forever" is one of the best Beach Boys songs ever written and most people assume Brian wrote it. Well, he didn't. But I was thrilled to hear him perform it. It was absolutely beautiful. He also played "Sail On Sailor" which is one of my personal favorites. Wow! The only bad moment in the show was "God Only Knows." Unfortunately, Brian's voice couldn't pull it off. It was definitely a cringer even if it was heart warming.

The second set was the dream.

I immediately got chills when I heard the opening of "Our Prayer" being performed right in front of me. This moment and the next 50 or so were as stunning as hearing the album for the first time. It was unbelievable. "Wonderful" lived up to its title, "Cabinesscence" chugged along, "Barnyard" was perfectly stupid (intentionally) and "Ms. O'Leary's Cow" was downright infernal. I don't think I've had this many consecutive cases of goose bumps this year. "Surf's Up" was the capper, though. It lost none of its jaw dropping beauty live. Here's a little bit of unsoliticed notation: this may be my third favorite song of all time. I know my first favorite is The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" and I'm pretty sure that second on that list would be Pink Floyd's "Dogs." "Surf's Up" is right there. I felt honored and privileged to be lucky enough to hear it. Soon after (from the sublime to the ridiculous), "Vegetables" found the band waving celery and carrots and chomping on them into the mics to authentically simulate the recording. Unbelievable. Noticing that a few people didn't seem to be getting it, Brian yelled out, "This is supposed to be funny!" It was.

But yes, it's true. Not everyone at Chastain was privy to what was going on here. It was clear that some just came to hear Beach Boys hits. A slew of 'em didn't know that this was a celebration of the greatest unreleased album in rock history finally being released! They didn't know what to make of those old weirdos onstage mooing and oinking. Some really seemed freaked out by it all. The geeks, on the other hand (me included) were just happy to be there.

"Good Vibrations" closes SMiLE so this is the moment where the "hits only" fans came together with Geekdom. It was thrilling to see that the joy this humble, frightened man created nearly 4 decades ago still brings smiles to faces today. It was inspiring to feel the warmth of the music bringing everyone to their feet.

Even though Brian and the band had already played for 2 hours at this point, they kept right on going. Following the massive standing ovation at the end of SMiLE, it only seemed appropriate to keep 'em dancing through the likes of "I Get Around", "Help Me Rhonda" and "Fun, Fun, Fun."

For the final encore, Brian spoke. "No more rock and roll. There will be no more rock and roll."

He then ended the night with a touching and poignant "Love & Mercy."

I'm such a lucky person to have seen it and heard it for myself.

Thank you, Brian.

"Love and mercy to you and your friends tonight..."






Friday October 15, 2004

Beasties stomp Gwinnett!



Well, my pics from last night of Dolly Parton have gone live 'round the world at Wire Image! If you'd like to see a preview, well, what's stopping ya? Just go to the site and type "Dolly Parton" into the search engine, Jack! I spent a big chunk of day editing pics but that's not all...

Keep your eyes opened for the band to announce a couple of cool shows within the next few weeks. I'm working on some potentially big ones. The only one I can confirm at this time is our big Atlanta date on December 30 at Peachtree Tavern. It's another minor coup for us. Thanks to Matt from Jupiter Coyote and Edgel from Sun Domingo for making it happen.

In the evening, Amanda and I headed out to Duluth (about 45 minutes out of Athens) for the big honkin' Beastie Boys Shows in The Arena At Gwinnett. On the way, we stopped by a convenience store. Imagine my surprise to see one of my pictures while flipping through the September issue of Blender (the one with Usher on the cover and a CD attached). That's the first time I've stumbled on one like that and it was super cool. That's 2 of my Courtney Love pics that the magazine has used. The weird thing is that the pic is in a story about Avril Lavigne! Check it out if you get a chance and / or see it on the newsstand.

Anyway - back to the report. We got to the venue a little early and I had another surprise. Marty Fort (an old friend from the Star Zero days who booked almost all of our really good shows) came in from South Carolina to see the B-Boys. It was cool to see him. We exchanged contact info and I'm looking forward to finding out what he thinks about the new lineup and live show (it's so different).

The concert itself started out with Bob Moore's Amazing Mongrel's. It was basically a Vaudeville dog show. The dogs flipped, jumped, walked tight ropes and tormented the host. I thought I'd hate it, but you gotta love those dogs. It was quite entertaining and (smartly) very short.

Next up came Talib Kweli. For some reason, we weren't allowed to photo him. Hmmmm.... It took a good fifteen or so minutes for him to hit a groove but when he did, it was on...

While walking to meet my contact to go down to shoot the Boys, I noticed something. The Beasties audience has changed from the hip, cool kids (although there were still a lot of them there) to the beer-swilling, frat types. Strange. The people that were there were gaga over them.

The Beastie Boys put on one of the most energetic shows of the year, although it did become monotonous on occasion. Most of my favorite moments came when the stage rotated around and the band was set up in a "beside the pool in a teen movie" setting. It's always good to hear them actually play (although Mix Master Mike was pretty amazing in his own right - I've never seen anyone scratch video before tonight).

For the first encore, they performed "Intergalactic" from a teeny-tiny stage in the audience. I was told that they had a giant robot and lasers for that bit. Well, those didn't make it out tonight. Too bad. It was still pretty cool.

I'm sure it's no surprise to you to know they ended with a skull-crushing live band rendition of "Sabotage" that was dedicated to the "future former president, George W. Bush." We can only hope...

We ran out before the final chords, beat traffic and were trying to catch the Ol' Sleepy Eye by midnight.



Thursday October 14, 2004

r togetherness Th

Dolly Parton opens her first major tour in 20 years at Greenville, South Carolina's Bi-Lo Center.


Man, I'm getting more and more tired everyday. I still haven't caught up on everything.

Here's something cool. I've been asked to shoot the opening night of Dolly Parton's big arena tour for Wire Image. It's actually the first thing I've shot for them since Music Midtown back in the spring. Almost all of my work goes to Retna.

During the day I edited shots from last night and started working on some plans for the band. I'm talking to a few people about a few super cool things that I don't want to mention and jinx at the moment. You'll see soon enough. Definitely stay posted. The Critical Darlings has been one lucky, well-thought out project. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Obviously, I drove out to Greenville to shoot Dolly in the evening. Frank and Tom had both volunteered to go (Amanda had another rehearsal) but both of them wound up having to work later than expected so I had to go it alone. I swear, I hate eating in restaraunts alone. I'm getting more used to it but it's still so weird.

When I got to the Bi-Lo Center, everyone was so nice. I got to see Nikki (who I haven't seen for awhile) and Jill was a pleasure as always. They're so helpful and down to earth there. It's a great place to shoot.

Dolly was (no surprise) phenomenal to photo. We started shooting from the pit area in front of the stage and after two songs, the tour manager had us move back to the mixing board. That was especially good for my brother Benji, who was one of the other photographers. I think this is only the second show we've both shot. Now we're both in competition to get the Pollstar shot! Good luck to him. If he gets it, I'll be proud of him.

Benji brought along April and I was glad to have 'em there since I had to drive up alone. I hung out with them 'til Dolly went on. She played most of my favorites right off the bat. "Here You Come Again," "Two Doors Down", "Jolene" were right there. I stuck around for a few minutes to hear her do an amazing version of "The Grass Is Blue" behind a piano. I wish I could've stayed for the whole show but it wasn't to be. I was on the road again by 9:30 and home by 11:30.



Wednesday October 13, 2004

Spreading a little Pixie dust on Atlanta...



It's my sister's birthday today and I just want to take the time to wish her a happy one. I hope you're doing okay and I want you to know I'm thinking about you.

I'm still catching up this website. The third of the four new songs to be uploaded within a month has been posted. It's called "I'll Be Fine." You can download it and / or read all about it by clicking this here blue type.

One more to come next week...the latest of the McKay / Defreese compositions!

Alright, well, the long fabled Flagpole piece on Brian Wilson's SMiLE written by our resident drumming fool Tom Bavis and me is in the issue that came out today. You can read it by clicking here.

What else...ummmm...

Oh yeah, in the evening I went to photo The Pixies and The Thrills at the first of 2 sold out nights at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta. It was so good to see my Wicked West PR friends Caren, Brian and Colin. I don't think I've seen 'em since Music Midtown.

Caren told me she's writing, too and that she may wanna use some of my shots on occasion. Caren's one of those who's been so great and helpful to me that I'll be thrilled to be able to return the favor any way I can.

Speaking of "thrills," I met The Thrills' tour manager Jeff. He was super cool. He gave us the first 4 songs and asked me to get in contact with him about the shots later. I enjoyed their set. They were actually much better than I thought they'd be. Reviews of their new album haven't been as good as their first but the new songs I heard tonight stood up taller than the ones from the debut. What do I know, though? If people cared what I thought about music, they'd pay me to write about it, huh?

I didn't stick around for The Pixies. I know, I know. They sounded really good but I've got to say they looked bored. It certainly wasn't exciting except that they were playing those songs. I shot the first 3 and took off to pick up Amanda from her rehearsal in Decatur.

On the way, I listened to the final presidential debate on the radio. As much as I hate to say it, Bush has improved significantly in each of the three. That being said, I still think Kerry edged him out just in confidence and expressiveness.

Let's hope it does some good.

Here's a little more propaganda for any of you who think the Republicans know more about the military. This is for those of you who downed Clinton for being a draft dodger but supported Bush. Here's a list of prominent members of both parties and their service records. I think it speaks for itself.


Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
John Edwards: did not serve.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star &DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart,
Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea


Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whiip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage ("too busy to go").
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
JC Watts: did not serve.
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete).
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. (defends Kerry's war record)
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.

Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.

Hmmm...maybe the right wingers are right. After all, how can the Democrats understand the military and the sacrifices of war compared to their Republican counterparts? Not only that - how could Democrats possibly lead better knowing what's listed above?




Tuesday October 12, 2004



I got asked to shoot The Pixies tomorrow for Flagpole. I had planned on taking the night off but I should shoot 'em so I will.

I spent most of today catching up the diary, etc.



Monday October 11, 2004


I spent my day trying to recover from last week. I'm so sore I can't even describe it. Ouch!

Of course, I edited the pics from the trip, too.

Not much else...

Click here to read about one of the most amazing weeks during this diary's tenure (with pics of Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, etc.)