I tried a new Pandora station for yesterday’s afternoon run – Alabama Shakes radio. It opened with an Amy Winehouse song and never looked back. Good stuff. When the first Alabama Shakes’ song, Always Alright, came on, it took me immediately back to Silver Linings Playbook, a movie (and book) I absolutely loved.
I started thinking about when I saw the Shakes back in June at Mountain Jam and how, as I was photographing the band for the Times Union, I was approached by a woman who requested that I share some of my photos with her. It turns out this woman, a hair stylist, had done the lead singer Brittany Howard’s hair that morning and was hoping to get some good images to help promote her business. Of course, I complied and emailed her a number of jpegs a few days later.
I wondered how I had ever created a life in which I occasionally get to take pictures of famous people. I mean, really? How friggin lucky am I? I thought about The Shakes, and the presence of their music in a Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence film, and considered how much I enjoy the talents of each of them. I shook my head in amazement that I could probably play Six Degrees of Separation and get to Bradley Cooper. It made me smile – despite the bag of dog poop I was toting.
Speaking of which, sometimes it feels like I’m closer to Bradley Cooper than I am to a trash receptacle when it comes to running my regular 5-mile loop. While I thoroughly enjoy the thought of having a connection to the very handsome Mr. Cooper, I think I’d be even happier if there were more trash cans available along Whitehall Road and New Scotland Avenue.
The first time I saw Robert Plant was at the Meadowlands in the late 80s. I was 21 or 22 years-old and had been a Led Zeppelin fan for as long as I could remember. Stevie Ray Vaughan opened up and absolutely ruined Plant for me. Stevie was just that good.
Since that time, I’m happy to say, Plant has come back to me and he’s been amazing each of the subsequent times I’ve been fortunate enough to see him. It’s like he’s grown more comfortable with himself, with who he is and what his range is these days. You might say he’s shifted his space, sensationally at that.
Friday night’s show was inspirational. Watching a man (nearly 20 years my senior) perform songs that span more than 4 decades, yet still remain relevant, is a pretty cool thing to witness. Catching a reflection of myself in the mirror and realizing that I was wearing an outfit (Frye boots, cutoffs, tshirt) that is probably just about identical to one I may have worn to my first Plant show, only added to the space shifting vibe.
I’m no rock star, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn a lesson or two about aging from a musical idol. Plant’s range may no longer be as wide, but his catalog has depth and with his awareness of his reach, he sounded great. Read this guy’s spot on review. The set list featured many familiar tunes, with the songs reworked, beats a bit slower, sung a little lower. They were different, but not diminished.
As we grow older its only natural that we, too, shift space. We move from being children motivated to please our parents and teachers to adults who often commit to being responsible for another’s happiness. Maybe that’s where we contentedly stay or perhaps we continue forward motion with a partner by our side. There are so many possibilities.
I’ve definitely arrived in a space where I’m interested in being who I am today. Me. I’m kind of done with taking directions, preferring to shift into a different gear that allows me to do the things I find most interesting and satisfying. I may not sing songs, but believe me, I’ve got more chapters to write. Ramble on.
I’ve been going through a Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac phase. It was prompted by the book I’m currently reading, a Stevie Nicks biography. The book is no where near the quality of the music I’ve been listening to on my Fleetwood Mac Pandora station, but I have learned a few new things about one of my teenaged music heroines.
My fondness for Stevie and “The Mac’, as the author insists upon calling them, isn’t a recent thing. Rumours was my very first favorite album and I recall both Bella Donna and Wild Heart getting a lot of play on my Walkman. It was definitely about the music initially but over the years, the lyrics have made an equally strong impression upon me.
Running today, the songs went directly to a place deep inside me. I thought about what’s going on in my life and how sometimes we need to hear that it’s ok to go your own way. Time keeps moving and sometimes we need to change directions. Love is only one fine star away.
In the early aughts,* we rented a house in South Chatham, MA, for 3 or 4 consecutive years. It was a simple Cape with a super comfortable vibe and, once I rolled up and stashed all of the potentially treacherous throw rugs which were scattered about, the perfect place to relax with young children.
There was a tiny TV room where we would gather to watch the Tour de France in the morning and various classic movies in the evening. One year, we caught a young Dustin Hoffman and the beautiful Anne Bancroft in Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Now maybe this wasn’t quite the ideal “family” movie, but the Simon and Garfunkel tunes were catchy as hell and “Mrs. Robinson” became part of our family soundtrack. Our tradition every year since, as we approach the Bourne Bridge, is to open the sunroof and lower the windows and blast that song as we drive across the canal. It is our signal that vacation has begun.
Two weeks ago, my oldest son graduated from Albany High School. The ceremony was long, but lovely, and he beamed as he walked across the dais and accepted his diploma. Next month he heads to the University of Hartford to study international relations and political science, but before that he’ll be riding shotgun as we head east to the beach.
I’d like to think my son will return from college with more focus than Benjamin Braddock, but regardless, I’m more interested than concerned to see what he does next.
*I can’t believe I’m running “aughts!”
I had a pretty busy weekend. If you have any doubt of that, check out the timesunion.com homepage from earlier today.
In the upper left hand corner, there’s my Seen gallery from Friday night’s Dave Matthews Band show at SPAC. Hitting at least one show at Dave’s annual two night stop in Saratoga is a tradition for me and one which I’ve been sharing with my middle son for the past few years. A couple of days prior to the show, though, he told me he’d rather go to his uncle’s lake house to hang out with his cousins than go to SPAC. I couldn’t have been more proud of his choice. Those are good priorities.
So, off I went solo. I drove up early to avoid traffic and get my photos prior to going through the gate. For the first time ever, I rode my bike around the park snagging my pics and it was a blast. Full confession: I did not wear my helmet because I thought it would be too weird.
I did, however, use extreme caution and was never really on a road at all. 100+ photos later, extra ticket sold for slightly below face value, I made my way to my seat and got my DMB on. It wasn’t my favorite setlist ever, Bela Fleck or not, but I still had a good time.
Sunday I hopped back on my bike, avec helmet, and rode down to Wolff’s Biergarten to snap some Seen pics of the crowd gathered together to watch the women’s World Cup final.The Independence Day holiday weekend combined beautifully with our USA women’s team to create a festive sea of red, white and blue. The energy, as always, was contagious and the roars of the spectators were deafening with each of our team’s five goals. Phenomenal and worth waiting 16 years to see!
I took a bunch of pictures of small groups and pairs of friends. I also worked hard to get an exceptional shot of the crowd, stepping in to the position that TU photographer Michael P. Farrell had occupied during Wednesday’s semi-final game. It was a good vantage point and I got a picture that made it on to A1 of the Times Union’s print edition, which was a thrill almost equal to the first 15 minutes of that final match.
For the first time ever, the Seen gallery was accompanied by a brief video. At an event such as the World Cup final a 12 or 15 second video conveys what’s happening beyond the power of still photos.
I mean, if a picture tells a thousand words, a video tells a million. Be sure to click on the video for a dose of competitive patriotism at its finest.
Filed under Albany, biking, Boys, concerts, Events, family, favorites, Local, Music, road trips, Saratoga, SEEN, soccer, Summer
I’ve been doing the Mountain Jam thing for a few years now and really feel like I’ve got this music fest under control. I know how to get to the event, where to park and the best landmarks for meeting my friends. I understand and accept that there will be red mud and rain at least one of the days and that the sun always shines when Michael Franti plays. I got this. For those who may not have had the good fortune to attend MJ2015, let me share some of my impressions from this year’s festival.
• Grace Potter is always an energetic and enthusiastic performer. I particularly enjoyed “Turntable” and her rip through “Cinnamon Girl.” The complete setlist is here.
• I’ve had mixed Robert Plant experiences, but amazingly enough he’s gotten better each time I’ve seen him. How’s that for longevity? That 66 y/o rock and roll icon was so smoking hot that he compelled me to drop an f-bomb when I captioned an Instagram shot of him. I had no other word to describe the thrill of seeing him rock once again. Prepare to be impressed by this setlist!
• Gov’t Mule’s Dark Side of the Mule inspired me to stay on the Mountain far later than ever before – it was definitely pushing 2:00 a.m. before we headed for the gates. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but Warren and the band (including 3 phenomenal female back-up singers) killed it. I hope to experience this spectacle again and my respect for the band has gone through the roof.
• The food and beverages in which I indulged were all of good quality and fairly priced. I was impressed by the sausage stand’s commitment to checking the internal temperature on their offerings prior to selling and thought $6 for a big cup of cider was more than reasonable. Take note, SPAC!
• Saturday’s headliner was the dynamic duo, The Black Keys. I’m most familiar with their junior Kimbrough tribute album, Chulahoma, as well as 2011’s El Camino. Well, these guys absolutely rock! The drums/guitar combination is always my favorite and watching these two play was unbelievable. I’d do that again in a heartbeat.
• Unlike other large musical gatherings I’ve attended, there was zero drama or aggression in this crowd. It was soooo mellow and pleasant.
• I already talked about Sunday on the mountain, but I wanted to add a note about Warren Haynes joining Franti and Spearhead during their set. What a treat it was to see Haynes play three consecutive days! And, his range – from Pink Floyd to jammy originals to Franti…wow! I even finally got a few good pictures of him, too.
- Check out all my photos here.
Have you ever had a day when the universe lets you know that you must be doing something right? You know, everything just goes your way, from the weather to the drive to the food you eat and the people you meet..every single thing just goes your way. For me, that was yesterday in a nutshell.
My day began a little bleary after two consecutive late nights (more on those in another post), but I fortified myself, and the guys, with French toast with strawberries and bacon, along with coffee. Lots of coffee. I refused to rush, but still managed to get some necessary chores done, read the paper and mow the lawn before heading south for my third day of music on the mountain.
I found myself with an unexpected opportunity to have a friend join me and immediately thought of my Franti-loving, Lunar B#tch friend, Chrissy. I knew she was on the road, heading north after some time spent with friends, and figured Mountain Jam might be the perfect pit stop – and it was. We texted and talked and put an impromptu plan together, including parking coordination and where to meet on the inside. And it all worked. Perfectly, in fact.
Franti was his consistent dose of sunshine and good vibes and the crowd was fantastic. Being in the pit to shoot photos has ruined me for all future shows, I’m afraid. It’s going to be like returning to coach after being bumped up to first class on an international flight. The other photographers were all friendly and cooperative as we moved around the area, each taking our shots and making way for one another. Security was cool, too, and there were no harsh voices to be heard. Amazing, just like the set Alabama Shakes laid down after Franti. Mercy, Brittany Howard takes no prisoners! She didn’t hold an iota back and I am so glad I got to experience this band live. If you have the chance – do it. No regrets, I promise.
I took hundreds of pictures this weekend and every single person I interacted with was pleasant and happy and totally cool. There were smiles and laughs as far as the camera and eye could see. It was one of those magical times when I couldn’t stop myself from continually wondering “How did I ever get to live this life?”