Category Archives: Live Music/Concerts

Tuesday Viewsday: Saving Jane

I’m off to Chicago this week for work. The boys from the web team and I will be hitting the road to attend a three-day, Google-taught seminar on Google Analytics. What’s that you say? You wish you could come? You think it will be riveting? Yeah… me too.

How does one make lemons out of the lemonade in this instance? Bring a camera, of course! And my laptop. My fingers are crossed that since the hotel charges for daily wireless access, I’ll be within reach of a free network; it’s Chicago so there has to be WiFi everywhere, right? We will see.

With that in mind, I’ll be pretty silent this week, but I hope to share some images from the trip when I return so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here’s a story and photo about a concert.

Marti D., Please Marry Me?

You like that little rhyme there? Yeah… me too. Anyway, this morning as I was driving into work, the little music gnomes that live inside my iPhone decided to take me on a little trip down memory lane. For a moment there, I was transported to a warm, spring day on the Bradley University Quad.

Saving Jane (2010)

Saving Jane (2010)

At the time, I was diving headfirst into everything music that I could; from playing shows and writing my own material to listening and watching every band I could, music was my passion. When my creative mind led me to pick up my first digital camera, I started to divert that passion into two places; it was only a matter of time before they diverged in a place where I could satisfy both: rock photography.

On this particular spring evening, I was sitting quietly in the grass, waiting for a small band from Ohio to take the stage. I was disappointed as I looked around me; the turnout for “Saving Jane” was minimal. This Midwestern group was formed in the early 2000’s and was fronted by the beautiful Marti Dodson, still one of the greatest and most underrated female performers in mind. They had small notoriety around the United States with their hit single, “Girl Next Door,” but when you ask most people, they usually just say, “Sounds familiar.”

For me, “Saving Jane” and Marti Dodson are more than just familiar… they’re a comfortable place where the almost-cynical musings of a Midwestern high school outcast meet the very best of classic rock ‘n’ roll. Marti has a way of really taking the subject of Midwest life, and teenage/college angst, and spinning it into a way that resonates, at least it does for me.

I was lucky to be so close to this group as they took the stage those few years ago. I couldn’t take my camera down for a second and shot well more than I probably needed to, but the entire group commanded the stage with an undeniable presence. And take a look at what Marti is wearing… she stepped on stage in high heels, Jackie O. sunglasses, Dollar Store beads, and a dress that screamed “I’m not your typical housewife; I’m here to show you what I got!”

The show wrapped up after an hour and a half and when the lights went out and “Saving Jane” stepped off-stage, it was like nothing had ever happened, but I know that what I saw was one of the last flashes of greatness from a band that was on its way to retirement. Within weeks of that show, Marti announced the breakup of SJ and has since gone on with a former member of the band to start her first country group, “Union Rose.” They are mainly based in Ohio for now, but when they hit Illinois, I know one guy who will be front row with his camera.

Tuesday Viewsday: Willie Nelson’s Grandson?

It doesn’t seem like it’s been a week since our last time together, but it has been. This past weekend, the girl and I headed out to Elandorf Music Festival, a local festival actually started by the girl’s father back in the 1970’s and carried on today to the tune of over 5,000 attendees. Where is it, you ask? As my mother would say, “a few miles past where Jesus lost his shoes.”

I was looking forward to capturing some of the bands with my camera, as I’m prone to do from time to time, but it ended up that we were stuck inside due to major storms in the area. Rumor has it that the bands played on, but with the amount of lightning that I saw, I don’t know how they could with all the insurance liabilities and whatnot. Hippie music festivals just ain’t what they used to be, I guess…

Willie’s Kid?

Willie's Boy (2009)

Willie’s Boy (2009)

Speaking of hippie music festivals, I snapped the image you see here during my very first Summer Camp experience. For those who aren’t aware, Summer Camp isn’t just that place you shuffle your kids off to every year in the hopes that you and the Mrs. get a little peace and quiet (or something else for that matter) for a few weeks; it’s also an awesome homegrown music festival held in the small town of Chillicothe, Illinois, just north of Peoria.

What started off slowly with only a few bands every year is now a full-on three-day music extravaganza that hosts over 50 bands and 16,000+ attendees. Let’s just say it takes an entire year to air the park out where Summer Camp is held from all the patchouli and Bermuda grass.

I have very fond memories of the few years I got to go and the story behind this image is definitely among them. As I’ve said before, my good friend, Dude, was able to get me and a few buddies a job at Summer Camp parking RV’s every year. In turn for some super easy hard work, we got to catch all of the shows and stay the entire weekend for free! You can’t beat that.

On the last day of the festival, my buddies and I headed over to the main stage to catch Los Lobos who were to open up for Willie Nelson. Dude had grabbed me a press pass so I was able to walk about freely and snap images, free as a song. Big Steve and I were intently watching Los Lobos from slightly to stage right when I noticed this little kid, covered head to toe in mud, just wandering aimlessly, no parents or guardians in sight.

Steve said it was one of Willie’s grandchildren as he tends to travel with an entourage of his family, no matter how distantly related to him they are. I’m not exactly sure if that was true, but I’d like to think it is so I watched this kid for a few minutes as he looked out over the crowd. The boy had absolutely no interest whatsoever in Los Lobos, who were rocking the hell out of the stage not ten feet from where the kid was standing. Instead, he just stared off as if he was in a room by himself and not surrounded by throngs of dread-heads.

I was only able to capture one image and what you see here is it. I love everything about this shot as a candid portrait, the closest I’ve come to street photography really, and the expression on his face makes it for me.

Tuesday Viewsday: One Night with The Goo Goo Dolls

Aoki (2011)

Aoki (2011)

You may have heard this from me before, but I believe if you talk to most photographers in the world, they will each tell you a similar story about how they discovered which genre of images they love shooting.

Almost every one of us started off shooting everything and anything we could – weddings, engagements, glamour, fashion, families, landscapes, nature/wildlife, etc. – and slowly, particular types of photography rose to the top of what they enjoyed shooting. While most photographers will say they enjoy everything about their craft (and most of us do), they gravitate toward a particular set of images that meet their personal vision.

This is the case with how I realized the types of images I enjoy creating best: portraits (of all kinds), landscapes that focus on the lack of the human element or themes/scenes of a past generation long abandoned, painterly HDR landscapes that are driven by color and texture, and music.

Why music? Long before I was a photographer, I was a musician and always will be. I could elaborate a bit more on how I got into music and rock photography, but I’ll save that for another post. Let’s just say that in these parts, these types of images are my small “claim to fame.”

I’ve even written a few guest posts on the subject.

Johnny Boy (2010)

It’s been two years since I saw the Goo Goo Dolls perform at the Peoria Civic Center so the image you see here is long overdue. Let’s just say I’ve got some items in my unedited images folder that haven’t seen daylight in a few years, but I’ll get there… I hope.

This concert was a gift to myself for my 25th birthday. The Goo were performing here in Peoria during the same week and I have yet to miss one of their central Illinois shows since I was in high school.

Lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, Johnny Rzeznik, plays acoustic guitar onstage during a live performance in Peoria, Illinois

Johnny Boy (2010)

The Goo Goo Dolls hold a special place in my heart as they were one of the first bands I connected with a dear friend over.

My good buddy, Charlie, who is now an airline pilot in St. Louis, and I first saw the Dolls together back in high school. Since that time, both him and I have seen their show together for three performances.

The show I captured here, the only Dolls show I’ve seen since I started my photography career, was also the first one I saw without Charlie there. I can’t hear one of their songs or performances without remembering good times with my friend and knowing there are many more to come.

This image, entitled “Johnny Boy,” was taken near the end of the show, during “Iris” if I remember correctly. I love the composition here and the blue color really gives an added layer of emotion to the scene. Most times, concert lights are set to warmer colors like reds and purples, but I find cooler colors can add a different type of imagery to a concert and bring out the mood.

If you’ve seen the Goo perform, you know they jump back and forth between rock and acoustic material so the ups and downs of the performance are vital when capturing a band like this; lighting and composition is about the only way to show that in a two-dimensional environment.

For those who are curious, I shot this with my trusty Nikkor 70-300mm f/35-5.6 VR lens and I was sitting in the stage left box seats. When I know there is a show I want to capture at the Peoria Civic Center Theatre, I always get one of the box seats; they have a railing I can use as a makeshift tripod, I’m usually close enough to the stage for the 70-300 to work, and there are no obstacles (like the back of someone’s head) to get between me and the performers.

Got a favorite Goo Goo Dolls song? What is it? Drop a comment below!

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