Sunday July 24, 2005

Backstreet Boys are back (alright!)

No day off today.

We were on the road again right after lunch. Then we took the longest, windingest road you can imagine to get to Duluth, Georgia for the Backstreet Boys concert. We could've gone to John Mellencamp and John Fogerty but since it was on the other side of town, we figured we'd hit this one to make things easy. Well, it wasn't.

We got there on time but due to a mix up, I wasn't allowed to shoot the opener, The Click Five. They would've been a good get, too. As it was, Amanda and I sat there eating arena food and chatting with security. It wasn't bad but I came this 250 miles to work not to talk and eat junk.

If I'd have known I wouldn't have anything to do 'til nearly 9, I would've taken a leisurely dinner at a decent restaraunt. Oh well, no use complaining. The Backstreet Boys shoot was fine. They gave me plenty. Both Brian Littrell and Nick Carter posed specifically for me. The other guys had their poses down. It was the most choreographed thing I've EVER seen. I was surprised there wasn't more to their dancing. It was mostly synced up marching. Whatever. Didn't matter, the girls went absolutely insane for 'em. The shrieks drowned out the band just like the millennium never turned. Of course, this was at a non-sold out arena and not the Georgia Dome like the last tour but like 'em or not, they're still hanging in there.

Again - no tickets. So Amanda and I beat it on back home and were in Athens again by 11 or so.

Then back to our comfy, comfy bed.




Saturday July 23, 2005





Yep, a day off for once. I just couldn't take anymore.

I spent the day at my Grandmother's. After getting lunch for her, I spent a chunk of time getting my Dad's room closer to stripped bare. Most of his clothes were still hanging in the closet. Whether or not it's been nearly 2 years, it's still heartbreaking to be in that room alone putting my father's clothes into trash bags to donate them to charity. It just plain hurts. I hate this. I haven't been putting it off for any other reason than I'm so rarely free (even when I'm home) but I thought it would it least be easier with time. It's not.

On my next trip home, I can probably finish it up. And then it's done...

My friend and most-often musical collaborator (over the entire time I've been playing), Michael Rietveld has moved back to SC from North Carolina. I gave him a call. He wanted to just get away from the house so he came on over to my Grandmother's. We ran an errand for her then we just got in the car and drove. We wound up in Columbia with my looking for a sale on memory cards. I couldn't find anything worthwhile so we just drove back. During the drive, I played him the new CD. As critical as he always has been, he only had a few little comments that he said he'd liked to hear different. Coming from him, that's a major endorsement as far as I'm concerned. We did good. I still hate this mastering job, though. It's just got to be fixed. I don't care anymore if anyone else is bothered by it. I am and (to a lesser degree) Frank is. We need to fix it. Soon. The deadline is coming.

While driving around, Mike wanted to stop by the local music store. We went into Dubose music and the owner, Harry, wound up chatting us up for the better part of an hour. He remembered everything from my local history. Weird but very nice. He even asked me about the guitar my Dad bought for me when I was 14. It was the first really nice guitar I ever had. Dad bought it from Harry. He paid too much for it but he got me just what I wanted even though it was impractical. I'll never forget that. I'm still playing some songs I wrote on that guitar ("Everyday"). Of course, then he asked how my Dad was doing. Again, a knife went through me but I told him. He seemed stunned. He wondered why he hadn't seen him in a while. Then he told me about standing outside of LHOP with him about 2 years ago. Harry asked my Dad about me and Dad went on to tell him everything I was up to.

I wish he was still telling people what was up. He would be so proud of what I've accomplished in the last 2 years. A lot of it I'm doing for him. Luckily, I get something out of it, too!

Before long, we wrangled up Amanda and headed to the previously mentioned LHOP for dinner. We met up with Lori, Shawn and their brood Lauryn and True. I don't mean to spout cliches but my God, they've grown up fast. I'm proud to be their "uncle" and their two of the most intensely creative children I've ever known. I hope they can hold on to that.

At the next table, I caught a glimpse of my cousin Rod, his wife Kim and their boy Quade. I haven't seen them in a LONG time. Maybe holidays '04, maybe earlier. Rod and I used to be super-close. There are some issues between us now. And one major difference. He's an adult now. He's grown up. I'm still the same kid I was. Honestly, I'm proud of that. I'm still living the dream and I still have dreams that I'm actually fulfilling. It was good to see him. But the fact that I have to make special comments in and of itself shows a problem.

After dinner, we reconvened to Lori's and Shawn's for a little while. 'Twasn't a long one tonight, though. We all took off around 10 and headed back to Amanda's parents' to wind up the night.





Friday July 22, 2005

"Say My Name" but not without saying the other two girls' names, too!


Of course, I edited photos and tried to catch things up. Between all the recent shoots and approvals and this and that, it's been insane. Every day is a big ol' job. I'm not complaining...just a little tired.

Today we had to high tail it to Charlotte to photo Destiny's Child's farewell tour as it hit the Carolinas. They played last Friday in Atlanta but due to some weird technicalities and a DVD shoot, I wasn't allowed to photo. Yvette at Sony really went out of her way for me and put us down for Charlotte. Since our Columbia show got cancelled, it was just as well to be covering another one.

As a bonus, I got to meet all the cool venue peeps. Two NC photo-friends of mine were also there. Doug Shockley's the house photog at Verizon Wireless. I envy him a bit 'cause I don't have a house gig this summer (since On The Bricks didn't happen). Of course, if I had mine, I wouldn't be able to come out here tonight.

Daniel Coston was also there. He's one of them there artiste photographers. I just shoot what's happening. He makes what's happening into art. It's a totally different skill and I don't possess it. He's also tough enough to still use film...something else I couldn't handle at this point!

The openers tonight were relatively lackluster. Tyra was fairly boring and had iffy lighting. I got a few shots but not anything that great. Then Amerie came along. She looked great and the lights were good. I was thrilled at how close "half-house" is here. I could never get stuff this sharp and clean at Philips with my current equipment. Here, it's all good.

A mix up marred the next shoot. Mario had great lighting and really gave us the shots. But a typo made it where we could only shoot the first 60 seconds of the first 2 songs. The rest of the time we stood there looking stupid. I could've gotten really good stuff - and since he's a buzzer now, it could've been profitable. As it wound up, I barely had time to meter. Again - I got a few but nothing to write home about.

Destiny's Child was next. To my absolute relief, they'd gotten the "typo" straightened out so we had 2 full songs. The lighting was perfect, the distance wasn't too bad and the girls gave us plenty to shoot. And if I ever have to shoot from half-house, I wouldn't mind doing it here! While I was there, DC did super strong versions of "Say My Name" and "Independent Women." I was looking forward to the rest of the show.

When I went out, MK (who was wonderful) said there were no tickets for us. Hmmm....oh well, trying to look at the bright side (no photo agreement for one), I figured I at least didn't have to write another review. But now what do I do with the pics?

We'll take that problem and "save it for another day."

I'm going back to South Carolina to see family and friends tomorrow. I couldn't make it back to shoot Springsteen in Atlanta tomorrow if I wanted to.




Thursday July 21, 2005

Crackly and infected, we attempted to dust it off in Atlanta tonight.



I signed a contract with Sony Records today.

Yes, yes, all hail the corporation.

It was not, alas a music contract. It was for photography and a shoot I did back in April with Bow Wow and Omarion. Basically, it means I should finally get paid. for it. "The check's in the mail." It's always so frustrating. They always pay but they always stretch it out way beyond reason.

This evening was based around our show in Atlanta. I love playing at Rock Star Saloon. There's a great soundman, strong lights and Mike (the promoter) and his associates are always wonderful to us. Tonight had about 5 or 6 bands. They started at 7 with the acoustic acts. It was your usual singer-songwriter acts. Some were definitely better than others but no one was bad. While some played, I went over and played pool while I listened. I haven't played in years. My Dad taught me to play when I was a kid and I wanted to see if I could still do it. After an iffy start, I caught right up and by the end I coulda hustled you. Thanks again, Dad, for another relatively useless skill to have fun with.

Pre-show, I hung out with Tony Rinaldis. He's an artist / band management / promoter / publisher and booking type of guy. Unlike most of those types, he's a pleasure to hang out with. We would talk and get sidetracked in our excitement over certain albums that we both love and ideas that we share. We've met once before but this was the first time I've got to spend any real time with him. I enjoyed that time. He had some good ideas for us and seemed to like what he heard.


As for our show and thoughts on what went down, click here for the details and photos!

You can also click here to see a few of Scott Householder's shots of us which are up at Lantron Management's website (Tony's company).




Wednesday July 20, 2005

Carole King invites us into her living room.


I've always wanted to see Carole King. What an amazing talent she is. So many, many brilliant songs that you love and don't even know she wrote. I always miss her for some reason. I wasn't going to let it happen again. I went out there tonight for The Living Room Tour. Unfortunately, a storm came, too. Not just any storm but a monster thunder, lightning and rain storm. About 5 minutes in, it started. Horrible thunder claps over the soothing sound of piano. She cracked, "We have percussion tonight." Then pointed skyward and added with a smile, "He leads." Then another eardrum rupturing heavenward explosion. Yikes. I've never sat through a storm like this. Still, she gave us a full show and it was a wonderful one despite the worst weather I've ever sat through. Finally I heard "So Far Away", "It's Too Late", "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", "Natural Woman" (already heard it by Aretha, "You've Got A Friend" (already heard it by James), "I Feel The Earth Move", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "Go Away Little Girl" and too many more to mention. It was an absolute pleasure to hear if not to sit through.



Tuesday July 19, 2005

Simon LeBon gets confrontational in Atlanta.



Now this is it!

I saw the best show I've seen all year tonight. I've seen Duran Duran several times but there was something different here. They had an energy that bordered on ferocity. Andy Taylor was finally cut loose and allowed to run. He tore the place apart, adding more muscle than I've ever seen in this band. That only seemed to inspire Simon LeBon to take it to the next level. The other 3 just seemed to be keeping up. They did fine but there were 2 stars up there tonight - Andy and Simon.

There wasn't even a "Hungry Like The Wolf" or "The Reflex." But you didn't need them. It was a great and perfectly balanced set. I would've liked to have heard "The Chauffeur" but "Still Breathing" was just as good. One of the new cuts, "Chains" was also a highlight. The only slight misfire was the inclusion of "Taste Of Summer." Sure, it's seasonal but it was the most ho-hum moment. "Nice" wasn't the best opener, either. But the rest was absolutely stunning. The best show of the year. This one may even be making a bid for one of the all-time best. I can't explain it - although I'll try when I get time to do the review.

But please - if you get a chance to see 'em on this tour (whether or not you've seen 'em before), GO! This is a different beast...and it ROCKS!



Monday July 18, 2005



Nothing much to say about the day. You know the drill way to well at this point.

As for the evening, well, the band decided to go for a second night of rehearsals since we've a show Thursday and I'm booked the rest of the week. Most of it was a waste of time. We got sidetracked in things that have nothing to do with our tasks at hand. I admit that beaurocracy is seeping in through the cracks we've let grow over the past couple of months of relative complacency. It's summer and no one's here in Athens. Add to that the fact that my "other job" is at its peak, Frank's life has changed drastically and we're still recovering from the stress of making an album and I think it's fair that we needed a little personal time. But now we need to start pulling together and get things on track for the album's release on 9/13. Things are going to start speeding at that point. Right now, we're not on the same page. We're working on it. We'll see.

I am glad that some of the "new" songs are starting to come together. "You Don't Know Me" is even beginning to fall into place.


Click here for last week with Mark, Gabby, Les, Trey and Downtown Rocks.