Smithsonian Rock Photo Contest

Beginning the first of this December and running through December of 2016, Smithsonian is hosting a rock photo competition that will culminate in the creation of a book. I am honored that they have accepted my 19 submissions, including having 14 up the day the site launched. Three of these shots are also EDITORSPICKS. I am also one of the 10 current SPOTLIGHT photographers in the competition, which is a huge honor. Go to the landing page for the site here, the SPOTLIGHT photographers here and my page of shots here. I have also been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine section on December 8th regarding this project, as can be seen here.



11 Days of Music Amongst the End

(Before City Paper’s demise, I was approved to shoot a bunch
of shows for their blog, including 7 of the following 9, with Madonna and Godspeed You! Black Emperor representing just a music fan with a point and shoot camera.)

           
Presented here for your approval is an 11-day snapshot of music for me with 19
bands (17 of which are shown in the gallery), 3 states, 2 shows with Pope
connections, 1 venue opening and 1 festival among them.

*Madonna (with opener Michael Diamond, not pictured), Wells Fargo Center, Thursday,
9/24: Playing behind her most recent record Rebel Heart, Madonna put on
a grand spectacle. Stating she felt the Pope was following her, as he was to
come to Philly the next day, Madonna was quite tongue-in-cheek about the
church, from scantily-clad nuns dancing on cross poles to a Last Supper-esque
tableaux. (And there were fans even in on the act dressed as the Pope.) It was
certainly a fantastic show by one of the world’s premiere performers.

*Low with opener Andy Shauf, Black Cat (Washington, D.C.), Saturday, 9/26: Rescheduling
their Philly date that would have been the night before because of the Pope’s
visit (they will next be in town in February 2016), Low drew me and my
significant other to Washington, D.C. to see them play behind their outstanding
new record Ones and Sixes. Lead by the vocal and guitar strength of Alan
Sparhawk and the drumming brilliance of Mimi Parker, they stunned the packed
Black Cat with a sound that can only be described as the echo of a frozen-lake
slowly cracking in a vast open winter night.

*Godspeed You! Black Emperor (with opener Xylouris White, not pictured), Union Transfer,
Monday, 9/28: One way to spend a Monday is with the dark droning beats of
Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A large crowd of stock-still Philadelphians drank
in the mystery and excitement of their music played in front of a backdrop of
barely-lit cryptic filmstrips. A show that would have benefited with a seated
venue to drink it in as an orchestral experience, they are a band one should
see once in their lives.

*Wolf Alice with openers Made Violent and Drenge, Trocadero, Wednesday, 9/30: Wolf
Alice brought their punky rock from London to the Troc with a bit of ferocity.
Led by Ellie Rowsell, they took a while to ramp up the energy. By the end of
the show the best of their 2015 My Love is Cool filled up the room with
electrifying consequences.

*Hall & Oates with Fillmore opening night shots, Fillmore, Thursday, 10/1: The
new Fishtown venue The Fillmore opened with quite a show in the form of
Philly’s hitmakers Hall & Oates. The space is stunning in its sound and
spaciousness and should be a great addition to our city’s live music
smorgasbord. Hall & Oates wasted no time in cranking out the hits with a
show opener in “Maneater.” No one could have left unsatisfied as their greatest
hits collection was on superdrive, ending with a 1-2 punch of “Kiss on My List”
and “Private Eyes.” It was a night Philadelphia will not soon forget.

*Kacey Musgraves with opener Sugar + The Hi-Lows, Trocadero, Saturday, 10/3: Kacey
Musgraves played her special brand of country to a sold-out Troc. With messages
outside of the mainstream of her genre and a penchant for catchy songwriting,
she and her top notch-band were a grand well-oiled machine from start to
finish. And to hear the crowd sing along more to her work than the Hall &
Oates crowd did a few nights before shows how her appeal is so deep. And let me
not forget openers Sugar + The Hi-Lows, who were a fantastic act that surely
won over many new fans.

*Modern Sky Festival with Lower, Miserable Faith, Mark Sultan, Song Dongye, Gang of
Four, New Pants and Yoko Ono, Rumsey Playfield (NYC), Sunday, 10/4: The impetus
to go to this seven band festival was the headlining Yoko Ono. It was sure
worth it to experience the rest of the day as well, which featured three bands
from China that rarely ever play the states. The finest of the bunch, Miserable
Faith, were full of grand rock energy. Song Dongye, a singer-songwriter,
brought on one of the oddest experiences of my live music life as he spoke and
sang exclusively in Chinese, getting the majority Chinese crowd to laugh and
sing along at a whim. He obviously was talented, but to be left out of the
whole of the vocal enjoyment was a fascinating alien experience that so many
non-English speakers get all the time. And sure the retooled punk Gang of Four
were brilliant while the other Chinese act New Pants unleashed pop rock joy. It
all led up to Yoko Ono and a unique Plastic Ono Band featuring all of Yo La
Tengo, Thurston Moore, Sean Lennon, Julianna Barwick and more. Ono was stunning
and devastating in her delivery of love and peace. Matched with some of her
films and pictures as well as the strings and beats of Plastic Ono Band, it was
a feast for the soul. One of her messages was of doing something with pure
intent and love and knowing that it can pay off someday. This is the note I
want to finish on for City Paper. I thank Pat Rapa for giving me a shot at
developing into a photographer and the City Paper as a publication for giving
me blog space to share my images and reviews. And to know that what we can do
as journalists and artists may not always be recognized at its moment of
conception but can be one day is a great message to take into the future.

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