Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Busy day, Busy week, Busy month.

I don't know about you all, but I have been crazy busy this month. Not only is it the Holidays, which I enjoy, but my "work work" at the studio had me involved in some more time consuming creative projects, and in between them, I squeezed in some final portraits for the year. I leave for sunny Mexico tomorrow then off to Detroit next week. There's going to be a bit of radio silence around here. When I come back rest assure there will be some music to talk about. After all, New Years in Chicago is a hell of a place to be for music. I will leave you with a couple shots from the weekend with Amazing Blues-man Pete Galinis aka "The Grim Reaper", and the young and talented singer, Ario Kimball, styled by my good friend, the best Asian stylist I know Aimee Joson :) Enjoy. Have a Great Holiday. Be good to each other. See you soon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Back to Basics

Both Rob Blaine and I got back to basics this week with the Acoustic video of "Must be Nice" off his Album Rob Blaine Big Ottis Blues. Rob Stripped the electric rig and changed it in for a beautiful Steel National. An amazing guitar, maybe not the best for playing outdoors on a cold December night, but it sure sounds good. When I started college it was for video. Something I loved, but a very restricting art form that required lots of money, and an east or west coast move. During my college years I fell in love with photo. It was very similar, only more controlled and I could stay in the great city of Chicago doing it. I could take my time and light a shot perfectly without worrying about the subject moving freely through the space. In the last couple years Digital SLR's have made incredible advancements in the HD video department. With the high quality lenses I use for photo I can also now shoot video. I have been working on getting back to my roots of video, while I still love photo, I'm looking forward to blending the two more often in intimate performances like this. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The best $7 show I've ever seen: Black Milk

This past Tuesday I jumped on Jambase to check out if anything was coming to Chicago. To my surprise, I saw that Detroit rapper Black Milk was going to be at Reggies Rock Club premoting his new CD, Album of the Year. Being a former Detroiter, I have a soft spot for Motor City musicians. Especially when it's one of the hottest young Hip-Hop acts on the scene. Black Milk, one of J Dillas proteges, is a producer rapper who happens to turn out some of the smoothest beats around. Milks beats bring in that Motown sound that made Detroit famous, while driving them forward with fast paced hard hitting drums. In Chicago on this cold Tuesday night, Milk brought along some friends to back him in a live band consisting of Drums, Bass, and some incredibly soulful keys. I love Hip-Hop, but even more, I love Hip-Hop with a live band. During the show Milk gave a toast to his friend and mentor J Dilla. The crowd raised their glasses and cheered, and Milk went back to owning the mic. The show wasn't very long, but it was full of energy , it was full of talented musicians, and it was $7. Don't miss this guy while he's in small clubs. Check out the rest of the pics here, and enjoy this video.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hulaween with Cheese in Hampton VA

Last weekend I drove 15 hours out East from Chicago to catch one of my favorite bands The String Cheese Incident preform a two night run at the historic "Mothership" the Hampton Coliseum. Cheese is notorious for their Halloween shows and VA being their closest show I had this year I figured might as well pack up the car fill up the tank and head east. The drive wasn't bad, aside from about $50 each way in tolls and two of the most boring states ever, sorry Indiana and Ohio. I picked up a friend in Indiana and as we traveled a bit south the trees began regaining life, and color and fall was back. We pulled into Hampton around 1:00, took a quick nap and made our way over to the lot to grab a bite to eat, a few beers and enjoy all the madness that comes along with Cheese.

Its amazing to see the amount of different license plates that fill the hotels and lot. It's a true testament to the community and music this band is a part of. People who don't understand it have never been in it. Its an experience that makes you travel across the country, sometimes across the world, just to spend time surrounded by wonderful people and music that simply put makes you happy. The first night was amazing. Solid set, solid playing. The guys all seem to be back on the same wavelength and as I heard it put the next day, they were "DEAD ON." The set list went a little something like this...

Set 1:
Best Feeling > Texas > Daryl, Walls of Time, Yo Se, Got What He Wanted > Black Clouds, Miss Brown's Teahouse > L'il Liza Jane > Miss Brow
n's Teahouse
Set 2:
Song In My Head, Just One Story, Joyful S
ound > EOTO > Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms, Way That It Goes, Sirens, It Is What It Is > On The Road
Jellyfish > Jump

Another good friend of mine flew in from Vegas for the shows and the next morning we bit the dog that bit us with a couple cold ones at The Pub. Shortly afterword we suited up. Me as Joaquin Phoenix and him as a hillbilly trucker and headed over to the venue for an amazing night of music.

Cheese always practices a handful of covers for Halloween and we were all anxiously awaiting what kind of different songs and surprises the band had in store for us. What should have been obvious became apparent in the second set. "The Mothership" landed, and the band brought it down with a set full of funk, confetti and surprises guests Keller Williams and Liza Oxnard. The show went as follows.

Set 1: Come As You Are, Restless Wind, Rain, Pack it Up, Turn This Around > Breathe > Turn This Around, Rivertrance, Las Vegas
Set 2:
It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)1 > Fly Like An Eagle, Born On The Wrong Planet, Motheship Connection2, Space Cowboy1, Groove Is In The Heart2, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Major Tom (Coming Home)1, Planet Claire1 > Major Tom (Coming Home) > It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Set 3:
Piece Of Mine, Bumpin' Reel, Shine, Drifting > MLT > Drums > Desert Dawn

Search, Howard

With Liza Oxnard
2With Liza and Keller

All in all great weekend. I hear they are throwing a festival on the old Rothbury grounds in MI. "A Rothbury Incident" Its a lot closer to me and even if it wasn't I will be there. Check out the rest of the photos from the weekend HERE.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guy King

I met Guy King just over a month ago, I saw him play with his Little Big Band up at Andys downtown. I was talking with him during his intermission and I told him about my Blues project. He seemed interested, we exchanged information and he went back on. This weekend Guy and I caught up at the studio for his portrait. We had a blast. When I first met Guy I noticed he had an accent. I couldn't pin point it though. A little New Orleans a little South Side, turns out hes from Israel. He was born and raised there and moved over to the states to play the Blues. He started down in Mississippi, moved to New Orleans, then ultimately up to Chicago. His accent, like his playing comes from all three places. Check out Guy all over town playing both Jazz and Blues.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marques Carroll Chicago Blues Project

On Wednesday night I added Marques Carroll to the growing list of artists I'm featuring in my Chicago Blues Portrait project. Marques is an amazing trumpeter, composer, teacher and community organizer. After spending some time with him I realized not only did he truly love music, but he wants to help the community with it as well. Marques heads up an after school program in Chicago as well as teaching on the city's east side. It seems he was strongly influenced by his father and grandfather. His father an graphic designer and artist and his grandfather a trumpet player. He told me a great story about his grandfather starting a brass program for kids in St. Louis in the 50's. During that time racial tensions were high, gangs were a part of life and he lived in St. Louis, the gateway to the south. The after school program, like many today, helped get kids off the street, out of gangs and focused on something positive. When his grandfather passed away many of the kids from his program attended the funeral and credited him for saving their lives. I loved that story. It moved me and obviously Marquess too. You can check out Marques with Guy King the BMC (Booty Movement Coalition) and about 20 other bands around the city. Check out all the photos here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A.A. Bondy at Schubas

A.A. Bondys When the Devils Loose is probably one of the highest played albums on my ipod. Prior to last night I had only seen about half of an opening act he did for Elvis Perkins just under a year ago. I was so impressed I bought his album and have been a fan since. I had high expectations for the sold out show at Schubas. Bondy hooked me with about 20 minutes a year back, I couldn't wait to see what he did with a full set. The small Schubas room was full and silent. Bondys music demands a certain level of respect, and to enjoy it you really have to listen closely, and everyone in attendance seemed to get it. His voice isn't particularly loud, or good for that mater. But he sings with conviction and confidence.

Now that I described who he is as an artist, let me dive into the actual show. As Bondy himself said, "This is the weirdest show of the tour." Why did he say that you ask? Because everything was going wrong. At first Bondy thought it was his guitar shorting out during "Slow Parade" After violently shaking it to no avail he smashed it over the ground in true rockstar/folkstar form. Plugging in his second guitar he promptly realized it was not the issue... He then systematically went through each cord and pedal throughout the set trying to find the problem. He threw his harmonica, gave out his tuning pedal before he "fucking breaks it" and came extremely close to "Putting his boot through his amp". Did I mention the crowd loved every minute of it. In the moment of working equipment there were flashes of genius in songs such as "Rapture" and "Vampyre." All in all an amazing show full of ups, downs, and everything in between. Check out more photos here. Also a little preview of whats to come...Im shooting a portrait with Bondys label Fat Possem Records buddy Lissie this Sunday. Its gonna be awesome so check back soon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hello Swississippi Records!

Last night was a triple official CD release party kicking off the new Chicago Blues label Swississippi Records. The Label, which was founded by harp player and Swiss native Chris Harper, showcased three great new albums at the beautiful Mayne Art Theater in Chicago's Roger' s Park neighborhood.

The night started with Peaches Staten, who was promoting her album Peaches Staten Live at Legends. That girl can sing, no way around it. Her voice and showmanship was out of this world and it didn't hurt that she busted out a washboard halfway through her amazing set. Make sure you check out the album if you can't check her out live yourself.

Next on the bill was Rob Blaine. I'm no stranger to Rob or his album Big Otis Blues, I shot it! and as always Rob brought the heat. Blaine played with his normal band more or less with Joewaun Scott on bass, Pete Galanis on guitar and Pooky Styx in the pocket. The band sounded tight and tore through a heavy set of Blues and Rock. The night closed with a bunch of Blues Legends doing what they do best. Jamming. Chris Harpers Four Aces and Harp closed down the night with a bunch of good old fashioned Chicago Blues classics mixed in with some of Harpers originals tunes. All in all the night was a success. A bunch of good friends getting together and celebrating something amazing. Something that most people don't ever get a chance to do in their lifetime. Put out an album, and for Harper three albums. All worthy of the Swississippi label and all a officially a part of Chicago Blues History. Check out some additional shots from the night on flickr.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy

I have been a little behind on the blog so tonight its time to catch up! Last week I got to check out Bonnie "Prince" Billy at one of my favorite venues in Chicago, Lincoln Hall. I had just recently gotten into him and wasn't totally familiar with his newest album, which is where he was pulled most of his set list from that night. The stuff that I do have and know is phenomenal. Bonnie "Prince" Billy is truly an amazing American song writer, and when he sings he does so with so much emotion and and intensity. Here are a few photos from the night, you can see the rest on flickr. I also threw in a video so you can hear how good this guy is.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Guy King and His Little Big Band

Last Friday I made it over to Andys Jazz for Guy King and His Little Big Band. For being a younger musician, Guy King controls his band like a seasoned veteran. Throughout the night King played a mix of covers and originals to the packed crowd over at Andy's. Seeing that the would be birthday of Ray Charles had just passed King filled the night with Charles classics which had everybody singing and clapping along with him. This was my first time seeing Guy King in Chicago and I will make sure to make it back.

Keeping the Blues project alive I hope to get Guy and the rest of his incredibly amazing band into the studio for some proper portraits. In the mean time here's a few shots from the night. A few side notes, big ups to my boy Rob Blaine for his live acoustic XRT performance tonight, also stay tuned for photos and a review from one of my favorite new folk singers Bonnie "Prince" Billy live from Lincoln Hall on 9/29.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jimmy Burns

This past Wednesday I stopped by Kingston Mines to see The legendary Delta Bluesman Jimmy Burns play his weekly gig in Chicago. Jimmy was born and raised in Dublin Mississippi in 1943 and moved to Chicago as a teenager. On top of an amazing performance, backed by an extremely tight band I got to talk with Jimmy about his early years in Chicago his family and his music. I really hope he will join me in the studio soon so I can take his portrait.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Last Thursday I had the chance to catch up with some good ol' Michigan boys The Macpodz at Martyrs in Chicago. They were stopping through on a two night run opening for India band Ali Babas Tahini which features Jake Cinninger of Umphreys Mcgee. I first met the Macpodz guys about a year ago shooting their promo photos. They are one of the few bands I actively sought out to shoot. Before we ever met I felt their music style was something uniquely different from everything else out their and I wanted to be a part of it in some way. Since I am pretty terrible at every instrument I have ever tried playing I did it with photos. It was great seeing the guys put on a killer show setting up the night.

Ali Babas Tahini followed with a solid set showing that even though they haven't played together live in 7 years!! they still hadn't lost their groove as a live band. As all good nights should end we rolled over to Kingston Mines for a night cap, some hot wings and a bit of the Blues. Tonight I will be heading back to the Mines to check out the legendary Jimmy Burns and set up a proper portrait session with him. God I love Chicago.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Projects Gets Down to Business

Last night I was invited into the practice space of Chicago Band, The Projects. For as much as I love music, and have seen it live, I have never been to an "Official Practice." It was really interesting to see the creative process that goes into each song. Whether its tightening up an original or twisting around tempos and verses making classic soul or jazz tune their own The Projects did it all with a sense of pride and professionalism. The creative juice was flowing "Beer", and the guys were all psyched about their debut EP which is in its final stages of production. The five song disk is due out next month and is sure to be a hit with four different singers bringing different elements to each of the records songs. Stay tuned and I will provide links to the disk as soon as they are made available. In the meantime enjoy a few photos from the evening, and look forward to photos from the Macpodz and Ali Babas Tahini which I will be taking tomorrow night.