Sunday October 16, 2005



Yeah - and I feel like crap today because of it...

The last few days have been a major sprint and I feel good about all I've done. But I am truly worn out and exhausted. Amanda got in during the early afternoon and we regaled each other with our individual adventures. Both of us wished we could've been on each other's adventure as well as our own...

In the late afternoon, Tom called. After a long discussion about our recent issues, misunderstandings and problems, he let me know that he is more than likely going to be leaving the band. I hate it. I really do. But I have to stand by what I know is working. I'm still hoping he'll come around but it doesn't look good. It's not the classic "creative differences" either. This one's personal...and it's a shame. Especially when it became so abundantly clear (through PROPER communication) that a lot of the problems weren't even based in reality. I'm hoping...still hoping...but not crazy.

I guess we'll have to keep the Critical Darlings name through at least the sales cycle for C'mon, Accept Your Joy but it won't be the Critical Darlings without him. So - unless he changes his mind, the next album will be under a different band name (although the first part will probably remain the same).

Keep your fingers crossed but either way, the band will be on stage on November 4 in Athens. Who knows whether it'll be a new beginning, an ending or a resumption after reflection? But the show will go on.





Saturday October 15, 2005

Stones roll in Atlanta...






Well, first off let me say congratulations to Amanda's cousin Rachel on her marriage today. It bothered me all day that I wasn't able to make it down to Savannah for the festivities. I'm glad Amanda was able to get down there but I had an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I was cleared to photo and review The Rolling Stones in Atlanta tonight. I was totally shocked and thrilled, I must say. So even though I was super-tired from last night, I got myself down the road to Atlanta. I got there really early (just in case) and had dinner alone in the CNN center mall. I went back to get my credentials but Wilco (the opener) had decided that no one could photo them and The Stones won't give their tickets until after the shoot. I didn't care. I was happy to follow whatever rules and guidelines just to be there.

At about 8:30, the Stones rep came out and gave all of us photographers a brilliant lowdown on what was going to happen. She even recommended shutter speeds, ISO levels and lens sizes (400 speed at 2.8 with a speed of 125/sec, 80/200 lens for those curious). She also told us how and where everyone would appear and let us know that the first 2 songs lighting was developed solely for photographers. The light would be pure white light and was uniform across every inch of the stage. Even super-photog Rick Diamond was impressed by the details and set up...

Right about 9, we went out to the arena floor. There, they led us right to the front of the stage and that's where I got the strangest warning I've ever gotten from crew. "When the lights go out, the stage is going to move forward to where you are." So I had to move or risk the danger of being RUN OVER BY A STAGE HOLDING THE ROLLING STONES. What a strange and potentially comic obituary that could've been. Then not long after, the lights went down, all the people leaped up and the opening chords of "Start Me Up" were blaring out. And it was fabulous. I don't even know what to say. I'm an old hand at this but I believe my hands were shaking throughout the shoot. "My God, that's Keith Richards looking straight into my camera and smiling for me. Wait, is that Mick creeping up on me?" My only regret about the shoot was that I didn't take more of Charlie. I made sure to get a few of him during the first song but then I just got so sidetracked photoing Mick, Keith and Ronnie that I just hoped I had everything I needed. The second song was "You Got Me Rocking." And while they could've picked so many better songs, it still felt classic tonight. Then suddenly my time up there with them was over. As the riff from "Live With Me" tore through the joint, we were all herded out to receive our tickets, put our cameras away and get through security for the rest of the gig. An added bonus was that the Stones actually provided a Rolling Stones legal pad to write the review on AND A Bigger Bang pen that glows bright blue so you can write your reviews in total darkness. What killer swag!

I got mine and ran like a madman upstairs to be a spectator.

The ticket I got put me near the back of the floor. When I first got there, I thought this was a bad idea - but you know what. They know best. After a few songs, I realized that being on my feet and having to look over shoulders on occasion really added to the experience in this particular case. It felt like I was in a small club and the house band just happened to be "the world's greatest rock and roll band". Adding to this was the fact that there were no real special effects (unlike the stadium Stones spectacle that I'm used to) aside from the temporarily moving stage and video screens. It was just these 4 guys with their accessory musicians tearing through the same songs a lot of bar bands do. The only difference was that these guys actually wrote 'em. Well, there was another difference...and that was in the sheer charisma and interaction between Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie and the audience. It was something other. I don't even rightly know how to explain it. But experiencing it tonight from the front and then seeing it from the audience side really shed some light on things for me. I found myself moved by "Wild Horses", impressed by how great the new song "Rain Fell Down" sounded live, then moved to air guitar on "Bitch". It was also cool that Lee Smith (writer for Creative Loafing and many others) was there beside me. He and I often encounter each other at shows but somehow we never manage to be seated together. So the two of us vets soaked it up like newbies. Following a rare performance of Georgia native Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful" (in return for Otis' covering of "Satisfaction" in the '60s), Keith took over. He seemed so zen, together and happy. He did "The Worst" which was followed by "Infamy". During the second one, he unleashed some of the greatest vocal phrasing (if not voice) I've ever heard. It reminded me a bit of Willie Nelson's phrasing. Then things got even better. During "Miss You", the band hopped up on the center stage thrust and the entire thing moved down the track that almost ran over me during the shoot. The Stones rolled across the arena floor all the way to the back of the floor...where I stood. The stage stopped a couple of feet from me. So there I was again, face to face with The Stones. This time, I was in the crowd. "Oh No Not You Again" rocked but when they pulled out "Get Off My Cloud", I got a chill...and for me that's rare. I felt so lucky to be there and a part of it as I shouted the "heys" back into Mick's face. Ronnie and Keith signed autographs and gave out picks between songs. In a rare instance of restraint, I didn't push for one...of course, I regret that now! But I was in the moment. "Honky Tonk Women" kicked in and the stage moved back. The whole time, the Stones played to whoever was beside them. They gave front row seats nearly every one lucky enough to be on the floor.

"Sympathy For The Devil" came next. And unlike the last couple of times I've heard it, Mick didn't wuss out the falsetto bits at the end. He attacked them. It was wonderful. Then they topped themselves yet again with a stunning version of "Paint It Black." Again - I've heard it before but it was nothing then compared to now. Ronnie was armed with an electric sitar and Charlie really built up the rumble for the ominous ending. I've never been lucky enough to hear him play like that. It really underlines why these people are who they are! "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Brown Sugar" were chaotic, raw and like the finishing punches in a knockout boxing win. The encore of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" turned into a massive lighter waving sing-a-long and a thumping, who cares if it's perfunctory, run-through of "Satisfaction." Yes, there were rough edges tonight. But they only added to it. I just can't believe they made a massive arena show feel so intimate and personal. Wow.

THE ROLLING STONES: Atlanta - October 15, 2005

1. Start Me Up
2. You Got Me Rocking
3. Live With Me
4. Tumbling Dice
5. Rough Justice
6. Wild Horses
7. Rain Fell Down
8. Bitch
9. Mr. Pitiful
10. The Worst
11. Infamy
12. Miss You
13. Oh No, Not You Again
14. Get Off My Cloud
15. Honky Tonk Women
16. Sympathy For The Devil
17. Paint It Black
18. Jumpin' Jack Flash
19. Brown Sugar
20. You Can't Always Get What You Want
21. Satisfaction




Friday October 14, 2005

Watt, me worry?



Today was all about the show...again. Nothing special really...

I did a little of the usual before beginning the preparation for the evening. I must say that I was excited about playing the 40 Watt for the first time with this band...especially on a Friday night opening for Cowboy Mouth. I got there about 6 and before long, the three of us managed to make contact. When walking by the bus outside, John Thomas Griffith (aka Griff) from Cowboy Mouth spotted us and came out with his usual big hug. I've missed him. We've never really spent a lot of time together but I feel a kinship with him and it's always like a family reunion or something when we see each other. If the truth be told, it's more like a reunion than it is with most of my actual family. Anyway - I introduced Tom to him, re-introduced Frank and Griff then regaled us with a few stories. He's had a rough '05 but he seems to be hanging on. I wouldn't expect less.

The techs were having some issues so Cowboy Mouth's soundcheck got pushed back a bit. Still, we hung out. Finally, the Mouth got up there and did their thing. It was pretty quick and to the point. Then they were out. The second that it was time for us to set up, it seemed that Tom had disappeared. Luckily, right as the stage hands started yelling about it, he came in. I should've figured he was up at the record store in front. I just didn't think about it. So anyway - we ran through a sloppy and not together "Colors In Black & White" first. I needed a lot more volume. Wendy from Southern Bitch was our monitor tech. When I explained what I needed and she gave it to me, it was like the heavens opened. Then we tore through "This Is The Night The World Changes" just 'cause it seemed like a funny one to do at the Watt. It sounded huge. By now, it was about 7:30 and they wanted us to kick things off by 9:15 or so. For the record, NO ONE comes out before 10 in Athens. I had to dash home to change and pick up Amanda. I didn't even have time for a shower. I did make a couple of phone calls to let people know we were starting early. Then it was back out there.

I didn't have as much time as usual for my warm-up rituals so I wasn't feeling quite together. We decided to drop the first couple of songs and join the set list "already in progress" at the third song. That way, we could just dash through a quick half-hour or so and be out.

Wanna know how the show itself went? Click here.

After our set, we all wandered and met those who came up to us. I signed a few CD's and talked with people who I hope are now converts to our cause.

Then we watched Cowboy Mouth turn a "compact crowd" into an arena-worthy spectacle. They may be the only band I know who can pull that off. I photo'd the show for Griff (and the Watt). Tom and I talked a lot during the set. He kept talking about what he was getting from Cowboy Mouth and how he'd be incorporating things into our show. Talk of the future from Tom made me feel a bit better. I hope he's coming around.

Afterwards, Amanda, Tom and I talked to Griff before we split. I hope it's not as long before we cross paths again. Then Amanda and I dropped off Tom at home and crashed at about 2 a.m.




Thursday October 13, 2005




'Tis the season for birthdays in and around my family. And no, I wouldn't dare tell you her age. All's I know is I'm thinking of her. I tried to call all day but couldn't get through to ANY of the numbers that I have. 10/13 just didn't feel right without talking to her. It's the first time in years I haven't been able to get through...I once more, Happy Birthday!

My mild shock for today came in the form of The Critical Darlings My Space page being deleted over night. Hmmm....that could only have been done by Mary Katherine, Tom or me. And I know I didn't. Of the remaining two, I hazarded a guess at who might've done something that was so apparently spiteful. As it turns out, I was right. Tom deleted all of our work. When I asked him about it, he responded:

" Regarding Myspace: I found out that someone obtained our password, then changed the password without our permission.  Mary Katherine and I deleted the site to keep that person from continuing to circumvent us."

Yeah, that's right...without OUR permission. Yep. Wow. Can you believe it? You know what? If Tom hadn't had the band password (which came from me) he couldn't have deleted it. That alone makes his "statement"...ahem...let's just say...not quite true.

Yeah - and Mary Katherine is blameless in this. She was just trying to help us out. I find it uncool that her name was pulled into something that's between the 3 of us. Mary Katherine is a friend and I see no reason that will ever change. She only did right - nothing wrong. We know that.

Oh well - once again, I'll redo something that a lot of work had gone into just because of someone else's problems. And you know what else? I'll do it much, much better than the one that was there. Wanna see for yourself? Click here. This is our new and improved My Space home. I'm just glad that I didn't KNOW what had happened when I sent out the email announcing the new version. Just saying that it mysteriously disappeared was much less frustrating and embarrassing than the reality.

I might sound like I'm complaining here but I'm not. I was, mind you, for the past week or so. I was depressed and hurt. Not anymore. Well, I am still a bit hurt if I'm being honest but when it comes down to it, now it's just a matter of facts for me, not feelings. There are some lingering ones but I don't see any new ones clouding my judgement. I can see clearly now. Since I've been forced to separate myself from it and accept the reality (as opposed to the Joy), it's just more business to be taken care of. I will still hold out hope for a rejuvenated friendship but I will also accept it if that's not an option. When I make friends, I keep them. Any one who actually knows me can and will attest to that. And I rarely add anyone to that rarified list of close friends. None of them has done anything to me this hurtful since I was a child and that one's more than made up for it since...and we're still the best of friends. And it's not like my friendships have been easy. There are bizarre and incredibly trying things that have happened. And we've made it through. But it took both sides to want to keep it together. I will continue to try but I'm not delusional enough to try to hold up both sides. I know that doesn't work. If the other half ain't in it, there's no whole now is there? Like with everything...I'll simply hope for the best and (this may be even MORE important) wait to worry.

And again (and again and again), short of dying, no matter how hard anyone tries to slow me, I will come back and I'll come back better every time...and I'll do it whether I want to or not. Because I know that eventually I'll be glad I did. And despite all obstacles, I will enjoy the ride. That's all there is after all.

And I still maintain as I look around the whole field that I call my life, even with all the problems, losses, challenges and frustrations, I'm the luckiest person I know. And I'm always thankful for that. I wouldn't want to be anyone else - except for maybe me as a kid - so I could do it all again and even better!




Wednesday October 12, 2005






Today when I picked up my snail mail, I had another mailing from ASCAP and guess what? Apparently I've won another ASCAPlus award. I still don't know exactly what it's for but this is the seventh or eighth consecutive one I've gotten. It's cool 'cause it pays $150 which instantly pays for my membership dues (times 3). I'm again pleasantly surprised.

Today I finally got the Critical Darlings My Space log in info. Our friend Mary Katherine started the site for us. Then Tom took over. I've been trying to get the info for awhile so I could update it and add some stuff. Well, I got it. So I got in and touched up a couple of tiny things, including changing the password to our default band password that we have for all of our "band" sites. That way, we can all add, subtract and have access. No big deal.

I did get a bit of another disappointment when I went to Tom's My Space page (which I just happened to stumble across - I've tried to get him to contribute here from day one). His only blog entry was headed "10 things I never thought I'd be told in a band context...but have (just this week!)" I figured this should be funny. I was looking forward to checking it out. What it turned out to be was serious stuff that I had said to him (and not all this week) in private conversations and email. He then posted them to the web as a joke. He took what I said completely out of context and even added typos that weren't in the originals. I was taken aback, hurt yet again and then rejuvenated. I still see it as a massive betrayal but at least I know where we stand now. And it's not even that he's talking about me behind my back. It's not even that I'm the butt of a joke. I can take that just fine. I'm a critic and I love criticisms of me and my work in return. That's how I feel I improve. Besides, I stand by every word I said to him and at least I did say the things that he said I did (even though I spelled them correctly). And I'd reprint the top ten list here if I'd saved it. But I didn't and he's now REMOVED my access. He's made it private and only for his "friends." I asked to be added and my supposed partner and friend has purposefully ignored it. What bothered me most, though, was that there was clearly no other intent than to make me look bad. Of course, it may achieve that. But it also makes him look worse in my opinion. And it doesn't do much for the band either. Truthfully, I always believed that band stuff should be kept between the band members. I never let you in on the most personal politics and interworkings until I found out that he'd been talking behind us to not only people we know but even complete strangers. Since he set that precedent, certainly he won't mind if I give you a general overview here, right? Plus, I think that anyone who takes the time and interest to read this has made enough of an investment to deserve to know what's going down ...just in case...

Yeah - I guess it is most telling that Tom hasn't "approved" me as a MySpace friend. That's alright. Business it is. I just hope he remembers how hard I've tried and why it's the way it is. I can maintain my professionalism. I can practice just as well. I can write just as well. I can sing just as well. I can play just as well. And I'd never cancel anything because of it. If you didn't know - you'd never know. And that's the way it should be. You shouldn't have to. All you need to know is that the three of us get onstage and try to share some songs that we hope you'll like. The three of us can continue to try and entertain and make others accept their joy. Even if it's harder for us individually as it should be. I'm still trying my best to follow the fish's advice. Know that.

I also got my personal My Space page up today. Check it out by clicking here. Add me on if you can and wanna.

In the evening, the three of us were supposed to get together to rehearse. We were to do it at my place, low key, low volume. Frank and I would play and Tom and I could work on the harmonies (we've neglected that too much lately). I wasn't surprised to get a call from Tom about an hour before. He was bailing again. All he'd say was that he "had a bad day." Alright. I know he'll still know the material. All that it really effects is that I won't be comfortable doing "Everybody's Trying" (one of our brand new ones) until we rehearse it some more. Maybe in November...

Frank and I still got together. We ran through the potential set and there were no problems. We seemed to have at least one crustacean audience member paying attention. Harry actually seemed to get into it, too. I've never really noticed him appreciating music. Maybe he'll become a producer too?

After Frank left, I went down to the 40 Watt. Velena (the booking agent and friend) asked me to come down and cover the Kings Of Leon / The Like show. When I got down there about 10:30, she wasn't there yet but there was a "no photographers" notice. Since Velena wasn't there and I didn't feel like "discussing it" with a tour manager, I went on home and got a decent night's sleep for once. I hate that I missed doing the trade shots for her but it happens sometimes...



Tuesday October 11, 2005





I got all the band pics pages updated. That includes the show report from Saturday, Tom pics, Chris pics, Frank pics and band pics. It takes longer than one would think to do all that. Especially with as many pics as were taken this weekend. Whew!

I'm feeling a bit better now. A little less depressed. That's just something I'm so not used to. I understand anxiety. God knows I understand grief but depression just seems so pointless and depleting. I'm glad to be on the lighter side of it today. I feel sorry for the people that have it chronically but I firmly believe that making yourself get out, go and get on with it is probably the best and closest thing to a cure. Like I've said here before - you can lay around and be miserable or you can accompish something and be miserable. My choice is to try and get something done. It usually helps cheer me up, too.

Oh and for those of you who've emailed me to let me know that you regret missing the CD release party after you saw what went down? Yep, you missed it. It'll be a minor miracle if anything ever happens like that again.



Monday October 10, 2005




Today's nothing special. I'm updating here and doing background stuff that'll show up later. I am definitely making progress, though. Nothing else for today so check out last week...

Click here for disputes, Star Signs and a little Joy...