Sunday June 12, 2005

"Are we not men? D-E-V-O!"
They're back...


Today is not only the last day of Music Midtown but it's also Amanda's and my anniversary. Let's just say we've been together a very long time now. So long, in fact, that we can deal with it when two consecutive anniversaries have been steamrolled by my job. Last year, we were running around trying to deal with Van Halen's reunion tour opener. This year, I'm fumbling around trying to overcome one obstacle after another.

Either way, it doesn't matter. We were side by side through it all and that's what's important. I'm so lucky to have her in my life. I haven't and will never forget that. So happy anniversary, Amanda!

And hey...who else can say they were serenaded by DEVO singing "Whipit", Joan Jett doing "Do You Wanna Touch Me?", Public Enemy doing "911 Is A Joke", Biz Markie caterwauling "Just A Friend" and Kid Rock screaming out "American Badass" on their anniversary. Ours is a charmed life even at its most difficult, eh?

Speaking of difficult, that was today. We ran around trying to hit the only open camera repair stores in Atlanta to no avail. In every place was "We've never seen this before." Yeah, okay. Thanks. I almost dumped down nearly a grand for a new camera on the spot. So what if I can't afford that at all right now. Well, I didn't do it.

Luckily, I have friends...

Rick Diamond brought several D1X's for me to choose from. He was my savior today. He wasn't the only one because even though he had the camera, he didn't have the battery! So Amanda found someone for me who had an extra one in his car. We commandeered an Artist Hospitality van to retrieve it and then I ran out to figure this extra complex contraption out!

I got out just in time to catch Biz Markie doing "Just A Friend." That was worthwhile anyway. I couldn't figure out the camera. Rick stumbled across me and showed me a few tricks before I ran over to catch some of Joan Jett's set.

Who all did I photo today? Let's see.

Biz Markie, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Doug E. Fresh, Jo Dee Messina, DEVO, Montgomery Gentry, Public Enemy and Kid Rock.

Not nearly as many as yesterday but still...under the weight of the circumstances, I did okay. While I was wandering around Jo Dee Messina's stage, I got a tap on the shoulder and then a bear hug. It was my good buddy John Thomas Griffith. And I thought my life was going rough. He told me how his backpack was stolen from a hotel out west. He lost his computer and everything in it. For people like us, that's totally tragic. He also let me know that he's going through some very personal difficulties that I don't want to mention here. Let's just say he's having it much rougher than I am right now. I told him that I didn't mean any offense by this but he sure made me feel better about my day! Then he started talking about planetary retrogrades and the like. He feels like me. It's generally the people without the problems that try to console you with all that cosmic-speak. Oh well, it was good to see him anyway. I mentioned that the Darlings were ready to open for his band (Cowboy Mouth) and he mentioned that I should check up with him regarding some Carolina dates. So we will...

The highlight of the day for me was DEVO. I've always wanted to see them and they did not disappoint. It was pure D-E-V-O even if their paper suits have had to be let out a bit over the years. We rocked a long to "Girl U Want", "Satisfaction" and "Whipit" before I reluctantly pulled myself away to make a final run around the premises. Public Enemy was good, Kid Rock was killing 'em on the 96 Rock stage but DEVO was where my heart was. I got back over there just in time to see them ending with "Beautiful World." Man, I hope they come back through. I so want to see a full DEVO show.

With that, it was done. I dropped off my cards to the imager, Josh...who was great all weekend. When we tried to transfer my images to the new backup drive, it too failed. So I'd have next to nothing to show for the weekend. It's just been one thing after another. So now I've got no camera, no images (until Josh can FedEx them to me) and no anniversary celebration. Plus, I was starting to feel a bit sore-throatish...surely, I'm not getting sick, too.

Josh at one point said that he had "never seen such a concentrated run of bad luck" as what I had over the last 24 hours. That's the way it works for me. Everything goes brilliantly 3/4 of the time but when the bottom drops out, it really does...

Little did I know.

I gave up, packed up and Amanda and I headed back home. We were there by 10:30 due to the festival ending earlier.

I arrived to a message on the phone from my mother. She was crying. My Uncle Jim died today. My heart sunk. It looks like next week isn't going to be any easier...





Saturday June 11, 2005

Kanye West makes a killer guest appearance with Common at Midtown!



Amanda and I got up and about surprisingly well-rested for day 2 of Midtown. It was odd. I felt fine, strong and ready to tackle the day. This was a great feeling. We hit a cafeteria to fuel up before hitting the site. We did have to pay for parking today but $7 is nothing at Midtown. Most of the lots are $20...and we got a good 'un.

Today's shoot included:

Black-Eyed Peas, Alan Jackson, Five-Eight, Bloc Party, Darryl Worley, Tift Merritt, Robert Randolph & Family, The Features, Trillville, Common, Kanye West, The Killers, Keane, John Fogerty, Louis XIV and Modern Skirts.

It was all a fairly successful day today, although nothing really stood out to me during the day time. I did enjoy what I heard of The Modern Skirts. They're an Athens band managed by a friend of mine (Troy Aubrey) but I'd never gotten the chance to see them. I was glad to hear a few tunes from 'em between trips. At one point, the 99X stage photographer was busy dumping his photos so I had to fill in for him for a few minutes. In that little bit of time I did a couple of group portraits of The Features and hung out with Louis XIV and another friend of mine, Jonathan Baker of Second Shift. I was about to do some stuff with Bloc Party when Frank got back. Having your own stage definitely has its privileges. Oh well - that's not to be for me this year so I'm on the run again.

As the dusk began to fall so did the rain. It was a little too appropriate to hear the strains of John Fogerty nailing "Who'll Stop The Rain?" as I walked by the 96 Rock stage. I couldn't help but stop and take a few shots of him on the way to my next shoot. This turned out to be the highlight of the whole festival to me. I went to photo Common. I knew he was produced by Kanye West but I didn't know how closely connected they were. I loved the music instantly. It gave me that same feeling as Kanye's album. I was thrilled when none other than Kanye himself jumped out during the 3rd song to do a six-song set with Common. They did "All Falls Down," "Jesus Walks", "Breathe In Breathe Out" and several new songs. It was amazing. There were no effects. Nothing. Just two men with microphones...and they positively tore the place apart. It was incredible. Once again, Kanye restores my faith in rap as a live genre!

I got so wrapped up in photo'ing this that I wound up missing my shoot with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. I love 'em but I've got to say it was worth it to see the Common-Kanye thing. I also ditched on The Pixies. I just saw 'em last October anyway. Besides, things turned ugly in the night. Just before Black Eyed Peas went on, the sky tore open and drenched everything and everyone. Since there was no thunder, the show went on but it was an absolute mess. There's rain virtually every year at some point and I've always prided myself at negotiating the muddy hills without falling. That streak ended tonight between the R & B stage and the country stage. I was heading up to photo Alan Jackson with my camera wrapped in a poncho (that I was also wrapped in). I wiped out and sacrificed my arm to protect the camera. I wound up scraping my arm up pretty bad but the camera seemed okay. It did get some dirt and mud on it. I got over to Alan and took a few shots. It still seemed to be working fine.

I got back to the media room and cleaned my wounds while Amanda cleaned the camera and lenses. Then we took off back to the hotel room. I decided before going to sleep to check out some of my Black Eyed Peas images to see if anything came out from the rainy shoot. I was absolutely mortified to see that my camera was positively dead. Water must've gotten into the electronics. This is disaster. I've still got a full day to shoot and no camera. I fought panic and still managed to get a good night sleep. So Friday was just a fluke good day. This week has still been rough.

At least Common and Kanye kind of made it worthwhile!





Friday June 10, 2005

White Stripes headline the opening night of Music Midtown '05!



So now the summer can begin. For the last 5 years or so, my summer has officially begun with Music Midtown. This year, they decided to move it ahead a month and a week so my late spring hasn't quite felt right. Finally, it's here.

Amanda and I hit the road and got to the site with time to spare. No traffic jams, no problems parking (free believe it or not) and no problems getting passes. The weather was great, too. Not too hot, not too cold. A bit overcast but that was nice.

Here's who I photo'd today.

Billy Gentry, Young Capone, Kantrell, Ciara, Interpol, Trace Adkins, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Lou Reed, Francine Reed and The White Stripes.

The one complaint I have is that I wasn't assigned a stage this year. I was a roamer. Perhaps it was because I couldn't make the assignment meeting this past Monday. Who knows? On the good side, it meant I could shoot pretty much whatever I want. On the bad side, I get virtually no exclusives or backstage type shots. Oh well, I'll try to make the best of it.

The highlight for me was The White Stripes. I've always missed them before now for one reason or another. I only got to see 5 or 6 songs tonight but what I did see was pretty raucous. I liked "Blue Orchid", "Daughters Listen To Your Mothers" and "Little Ghost" the best (of what I heard) and those are all new cuts. I wonder if this was the first time they were ever performed as this is the first show of the Get Behind Me Satan tour. Either way, it was cool.

We got back to media room and started dumping stuff to the backup drive by 11 p.m. It worked like a charm here. I was not overly tired, I got some good stuff and was sound asleep in the hotel by 1 a.m.

Before we fell asleep I couldn't help but mention to Amanda that everything seemed to go almost too well today...




Thursday June 9, 2005



Well, they got my niece back it seems. She'd actually been gone for a couple of days. I'm pretty furious with her. I don't even really know what to say. She's going to get what she wants in a way. I'll never see her as a kid again. I have to treat her like an immature adult now. Hopefully, she'll grow into maturity without doing anything else this crazy but who knows. We do love her very much...but we are also very disappointed. It's been an incredibly stressful week. I'm just glad she's home and I hope she's come to her senses enough to stay there.

I tried to get back to a normal life today. Music Midtown starts tomorrow so I had to go buy a backup hard drive for my files. It should make things a lot easier. Unfortunately, that ain't the way it's working out. First, I went to buy one from Best Buy and the car broke down in the parking lot. So then, I have to walk home (not quite half an hour) on the first super hot day of the year. Then Amanda and I had to jump the car (thanks for the jumper cables and truck, Dad!) and get it to Batteries Plus for a replacement. Thank God that's all it was.

Then I finally get the hard drive and get it home to find it doesn't work. I took it back to the store and the guys plug it in, it works fine, they look at me like an idiot and tell me to try it again. So I did. I took it home, it won't work. I keep trying. I try in about 5 different USB ports. It finally works in one. It's too late to go back to the store now (it's after 9 p.m.) so I figure I'll hope that it works tomorrow (hmmm...).

It's been a very stressful week. Surely next week'll be better, right?






Wednesday June 8, 2005




Okay, my just turned 13-year old niece Nichole has lost her mind. I've been informed that she's decided to run away from home. Why? Because her teenage life is so tough. Jeez! I occasionally would take off without my parents' permission when I was a teenager and I was no angel...but I never hid and they always knew where I was. This kid has lost it. I'm very disappointed and hurt by it personally and of course, worried. The truth of it is that if something happens to her, it's her own fault. She does know better. She's a smart kid - former honor roll, etc. She's just associating with a lot of trouble and if you're around it all the time, you'll eventually fall into it head first. Well, she has this time. The cops are after her. Her family's after here. God forbid if I have to come home and look for her 'cause I could wind up in trouble, too. Oh well, Nichole - come to your senses and rejoin the people who actually love you and care about you. You know better. Don't blow it. You've got a little brother and sister that you have to be an example for. Come home...NOW!





Tuesday June 7, 2005




When we played back on May 13, we had a guy named Bill Turpin come in from Atlanta to check us out. He's one of the producers at Atlanta's Real 2 Real Studios. When I had some questions about the mastering of our disc and how I'm not yet satisfied with some of it, I figured I'd email him. Little did I realize just how helpful he'd be. He's been sending me these great, long descriptive emails on the history of mastering and what to do to get the most out of it. That's great 'cause mastering is probably what I know the least about in the recording process...although, I've learned a heck of a lot from this experience. We're going to try and finalize the album here in Athens but if worse comes to worse, we'll head out and enlist Bill and the Real 2 Reel crew to help out. Either way, it should be kickin' by the time you hear it!



Monday June 6, 2005



I'm again writing from the future. Luckily, I take notes on the diary templates to help me remember what went down on a given day. Unfortunately, there wasn't much on this day to mention. All I did was the usual Monday morning editing and catching up. I got the pics and report from Saturday's show done, too. Yippee! There's a lot on the way, though!

Click here for last week's entries...