Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Odetta 1930-2008

Odetta with rose at a tribute to Alan Lomax at Cooper Union. April 12th, 2003

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eula Cooper, NYC debut at Dig Deeper


This past Saturday was another satisfying soul night at Dig Deeper with the first ever NYC appearance of the sweet and charming Eula Cooper. Ms. Cooper is known for only a small, singles-only discography on indie soul labels Tragar, Supersound and Note (with one picked up for distribution by Atlantic) but her 30+ year absence from the music scene did not seem to slow her down one bit. For whatever reasons she left the music business (and there are many good ones) she reemerged as youthful as ever, sporting $69 red patent leather heels from TJ Maxx and a smile to match. Goes to show that a great singer is a great singer regardless of notoriety.

Credit also goes to DJ Honky, Mr. Robinson and the Sweet Divines band for turnin' it out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby

Friend Ted invited me out to see UK original Stiffy and fine songwriter Wreckless Eric with his ably matched counterpart and partner Amy Rigby when they played at the Spiegelworld last month.

just a few pictures. go see them next time.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

O'Death Music Hall of Williamsburgh 10.30.08


O'Death played last week in Brooklyn to mark the launch of thier new album, 'Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin', on Kemado Records. It's probably the only time I've seen punks doing the waltz in the mosh pit.

Harlem Election Rally for Obama

(You can click on the photo to see a larger version)

It was a great night in Harlem, my new neighborhood. This is a section of the crowd that spontaneously gathered to watch and then celebrate the election returns. An amazing night!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dean Parrish - Dig Deeper 9.27.08


Dean Parrish, real name Philip Joseph Anastasi, made an (ironically) rare hometown appearance at the Dig Deeper series at the Five Spot in Brooklyn. Despite strong singles on a smattering of labels, Dean never hit mainstream success in the United States. Part of the issue being that he was an excellent soul singer who happened to be a white Italian-American. Unbeknownst to to him, his music took on a second life in the UK's Northern Soul casinos with tracks like "I'm On My Way" assuming anthemic status. It was only a few years ago that UK soul enthusiasts tracked him down in Staten Island opening doors for succesful gigs in Europe.

Dean didn't miss a beat despite a 40-some-odd-year absence from American stages sounding strong and soulful with a heartfelt performance. Nice Guy. GREAT performance. He had at least one fan in ecstatic tears.

Thanks Dean and the Dig Deeper crew for the excellent night.

Make sure to check out the oh so funky Harvey Scales in October

Steve Earle, Judson Memorial Church

No time to write at the moment, but here are a few photos from Steve Earle performing Friday, Sept 26 2008. My friend Ted Barron invited me to go, you can see some of the photos he's shot of Steve at a recent recording session on his site.

FYI, clicking on the photos gives you a larger view.

Steve at the Judson

Steve and his wife and fellow musician Alison Moorer

Sweet Divines Photo Shoot

NY soul band, the Sweet Divines, stopped by the studio to work with me on group portraits that matched their love of 60's style, groove and soul. With the group's matching Chiffon dresses and avocado Wurlizer, we were already halfway there. The photo you see above is a composite of 3 photos, we shot the gals in 2 groups and then JB at the Wurly to give us multiple elements that could be mixed and matched to use in several potential layouts.

This gallery of outtakes gives you an idea of the process.

The approach to the shoot is update of the great cut n' paste album art that was common in pop, rock n' roll and soul music in the 50's and 60's.

Thanks to everyone in the group for being so open and matching my excitement for the project.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Astroland Closes : Photo

Last day of Astroland at Coney Island, it was hard to get a shot without another photographer in it but surprisingly I haven't found that many good photos online of the last day. Went out there with my girlfriend, Leslie and photo pal Ted. Weaved through the crowds, had a hotdog, rode the Wonderwheel, had coffee in Brighton Beach, played skeeball, got pistachio softserve, shot up the Bonanza shooting gallery, ate greasy sausages at Ruby's. We only really apreciate these things when they are gone.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Roots of American Music Festival Lincoln Center

Closing the season for Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival was the second day of the 25th Annual Roots of American Music Festival. It was a varied lineup that started with a smattering of regional blues musicians from the Music Makers stable followed by some punked out dark and dreary country from the Knitters with hot stuff guitar man Dave Alvin and X founders John Doe and Exene Cervenka. In the second half of the evening Charlie Haden debuted his new country music project featuring about half of Nashville and his three daughters, son and wife. Patti Smith closed the night with a set that included a cover of Jimi's 'Are You Experienced' that sublimated its psychedelic swirl into a clarinet solo.

Nate Chinen of the NYT had a much more thoughtful review but I might have got better pictures...

Full Gallery with Large Images Here

Adolphus Bell breaks out the moves.

In the grass with the Knitters

Haden and musical progeny

Patti and Lenny

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Inside the Brooklyn Masonic Hall

A month or so back, I went to the Brooklyn Masonic Hall to catch a show by Brooklyn neo-disco band Escort. The whole stage was lit by not much more than a single bulb, and even with my fancy camera, there wasn't much to shoot with the super-low light. The building itself proved to be a much more fascinating subject matter.


Down in the basement there were women frying fish and also a lounge where local Masons sat at a small bar having drinks. The building has a very strange energy and moving up the stairs and into the hallways, I found myself into a labyrinth of large, near-empty rooms connected by narrow hallways.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Brian Wilson @ Seaside Park, Brighton Beach

Brian Wilson sits calmly behind a keyboard, never really playing it - more protected by it. He is presiding over his creations and sometimes waves his arms like a conductor. The band is large - three guitarists, two drummers, a reedsman, a second keyboardist, another on mallots, a theremin even emerges for ‘Good Vibrations’ - and almost everyone contributes to the intricate and gorgeous vocal harmonies, falsettos reaching high and swooping. The band is dutiful, clean and strong; this is Brian’s orchestra.

Its an odd mix of Coney Island Riff Raff, oldies nuts (headed by Brooklyn pres Marty Markowitz), and the odd hipster out to pay homage. He’s playing some of his most timeless hits - Surfer Girl, California Girl, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, When I Grow Up - and although they are easy crowd pleasers I get the feeling Brian is choosing the ones he’s proud of. It hits me when “I Get Around” starts moving that this is not just a hook but a fugue. All the parts lock in, themes repeat and interlock and the reaction is no different than listening to Bach with all the voices moving separately, building a euphoric experience.

The Pet Sounds and Smile material was some of the strongest of the night. ‘Heroes and Villains’
‘Good Vibrations’
‘God Only Knows’ , was absolutely gorgeous and was introduced by guitarist Jeff Foskett as his favorite.

A new song from Wilson’s upcoming album, “That Lucky Old Sun” titled ‘Going Home’ started with a churning blues but broke into surprising and complimentary vocal interludes.

Overall, the band was wonderful, fleshing out all the intricacies of Brian’s visionary music in great detail. He paid respect to some of his influences covering Chuck Berry, the Crystals (Spector), Frankie Lymon (Too Young) and covered a wide range of his material - pleasing the crowd but also revealing a musical autobiography that was fascinating to see in person.

I didn’t shoot the show, I was enjoying from the grass with my lovely girlfriend Leslie. We rode the Cyclone and had Nathan’s hot dogs before we headed home.

Good job, Brian and thanks!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ralph Jackson in Time Out New York

Here's a fresh clip from this week's Time Out New York, it's little, but it counts.

The photo helped my friends Rabbit Factory with a bit of exposure for this Sunday's JellyNYC Pool Party featuring Ralph 'Soul' Jackson, Roscoe Robinson, Hermon Hitson, Herbert Wiley and the Checkmates and Ronnie Spector.

The show is Sunday at 2PM at the McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Don Gardner Dig's Deeper at the 5 Spot

Don Gardner, known for his infectious vocal workout "I Need Your Lovin'" and the obscure but highly sought 45 "My Baby Likes to Boogaloo" made a rare appearance at the 5 Spot Soul Food Supper Club in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. He hadn't played a show in New York since 1969!

Party organizers Mr. Robinson and DJ Honky brought Mr. Gardner in from Philly for the first night of 'Dig Deeper', a monthly party that combines soul DJ-ing with performances from the over-looked artists who recorded the music originally.

Don Gardner had a musical background in gospel, jazz and blues and had a top 20 hit with "I Need Your Loving" , a duet with Dee Dee Ford, on the influential New York label Fire. Fire was one of several important labels founded by Bobby Robinson, a recording pioneer that helped transition blues and R&B into Soul and continued innovating into the Hip Hop era.

Don Gardner's company in the Fire/Fury/Enjoy roster includes Lee Dorsey, Elmore James, Gladys Knight, King Curtis and many many others. Respect your elders!

Next month's Dig Deeper features the inimitable Tami Lynn.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vampire Weekend Kid Sister SummerStage

full photo gallery here

Live from Central Park - It was beyond wet! Rain came down in two separate downpours, photographers scrambled to keep under cover and stage workers squeegeed water off the stage by the gallon. Lightning almost shut the whole thing down as organizers stood on the stage wringing thier hands and contemplating whether or not a field of soaked teens were capable of a riot.

I didn't get to the park in time to see Born Ruffians who according to taste-makers are worthy of a listen. A group of young folk standing in the front row told me they had lined up at 5AM to the see the darling (and talented) Vampire Weekend.

After a tense delay, the clouds finally broke and A-Track came out to warm up the drenched crowd. Shortly after, Kid Sister pranced out with a can of Coors and a pair of Mad Max Teletubbie backup dancers.

And then finally, we photogs were herded like livestock into the 'pit' for our 3-song feeding. Ezra thanked the crowd for staying and told us we looked more beautiful as drowned rats. (not in those words, he was being sweet)

About 10 minutes after we were cleared, the rain came back with a vengeance and VW huddled closer from the edge of the stage to finish their set which included a couple songs not on the album (very Gracelandy) and a cover of Tom Petty's 'Don't Come Around Here No More'

Despite the 'union house' rules 'strictly banning' photography of people in a public place dealing with an act of God, I had the stubbornness to shoot a bit more while my D3 absorbed the rain.
I was like: who gives a fuck about an oxford comma?

full photo gallery here

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mighty Hannibal Portrait Shoot

On Memorial Day I had the opportunity to travel to the Bronx with Mr. Fine Wine to visit his good friend and ward James Shaw, aka the Mighty Hannibal. Hannibal made many good soul records including the national hit 'Hymn No. 5' and had been brought back into the scene through Matt's knowledge and guidance. Filmmaker Ezra Bookstien was also there to document another moment of daily life, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming film.

Norton Records recently released the excellent compilation 'Hannibalism' - a wise purchase both for the music (much of if hard to find as 45's) and the autobiographical liner notes. Hannibal also made a triumphant appearance at this year's Ponderosa Stomp.

We ate curried chicken prepared by his health aide and grabbed shaved ices on the way back on the train. A good Memorial Day.

Oh yes, and as Matt points out, we had about 30 mugs of McSorleys on top of the hamburgers we ate at the Corner Bistro when we got back to the city.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley Dies at 79

Who, or what, is Bo Diddley? He was black, he came from Mississippi, he married a 15 year old white woman as his third wife. He was banned from the Ed Sullivan show cause he played his song and not the one Ed told him to. (Maybe Elvis Costello was thinking about this when he played ‘Radio’ on SNL) His pompadour could take Little Richard’s in an alley fight. He took blues and noise and church and bad dreams and mutated it into rock and roll before anyone knew what to call it. He made guitar pedals out of car parts, he made a guitars out of a box of wood and invented sounds that had never existed before. His rock and roll sounds more like rock and roll than Elvis and came two tears earlier. He was a natural man, a strange man and a strange and natural genius of music.

Bo Diddley was the first Black musician on the Ed Sullivan Show

listen to the nonsense vaguely racist introduction from Mr. Fathead... Dr. Jive carries himself with infinitely more dignity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bad Album Covers - The Real Dirt

Today I heard from Paul, the man behind the original Museum of Bad Album Covers

According to him, AM NY isn't the first person to piggy back of his vinyl fanaticism, it happens all the time, all over the world. Who knew there was such an interest?

"We spend ages sifting through bargain bins, ebay and record dealers all over the world, paying money, making images, writing about the albums and generally doing all the hard work"

True. True.

So, if you want to support the REAL zany collectors check out these ORIGINAL sites:

Museum of Bad Album Covers
Show and Tell
Bizarre Records

and forget all the phoneys!

Update Update: (further clarification from Paul)
"While we all cross over quite alot, I'm more pure bad album cover designs, Nick Di Fonzio (Bizarre Records) tends to be more bizarre old kitch, and Ron Dante's best ones can be completely mindbending in all kinds of ways! While he has plenty of unbelievably awful covers, he's more into weird and wonderful music and bizarre album concepts such as old corporate records, home made "vanity" albums and that kind of thing. He has a huge collection of jaw dropping American weirdness at it's very finest! He still sells stuff on ebay from time to time."

why are we vinyl people so misunderstood?

Worst Album Covers = Laziest Journalism ?

Hoping to evade the boredom of my commute, I picked up a free AM NY newspaper at the entrance to the subway. On the top right corner there was a feature that caught my eye: "The Worst Album Covers of All Time." The 3/4 page feature on page 24 was credited to staff writer Emily Hulme.

That's funny, cause I've been aware of a website for at least 4 years called the Museum of Bad Album Cover Art.

And guess what, 4 of the album covers in the printed feature were lifted straight off this site with no reference or credit to the website. You can see in certain cases where it's the exact same image, with the same creases and price stickers.

The Frivolous Five
The Many Facets of Roger
Alla Pugaljova - Superman
Ken - By Request Only

And then I found a couple other sites:

That accounted for almost all the other album covers in the story and in the online article.

Oh yeah, one more funny twist: One of the album covers (Cody Matherson) is probably phony and most likely a Simpson's homage.

The feature also ran in AM NY's sister papers, the Chicago Tribune and the Sun - Sentinal

It bothers me that the whole concept was taken whole-hog off the internet and hacked into space-filler for a profitable newspaper with out any reference or credit to the sources. Its enough that these papers regurgitate the AP feeds, why do they have to steal our own dorky web content?

Bloggers take stuff from everywhere too, but at least we're honest about where we take it from.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

St. Louis Record Stores - pt. 2 Euclid Records

Euclid Records
601 East Lockwood
St. Louis, MO 63119

Euclid Records is another great resource for the St. Louis music community offering large and well-organized CD and vinyl inventories. The store’s history goes back about 25 years with separate vinyl and CD stores that eventually merged into their current Webster Groves location. Vinyl-wise, Euclid is the destination for rare and collectible vinyl. They are also one of the top dealers on eBay for in-demand classic jazz albums.

Hunting strategy: I usually start with new arrivals for a taste of the offerings and move onto specific areas of interest to see what’s floating around. If I find things that fill in some holes at a fair price tag then I’m happy. There will be many things that make my heart a-flutter and then sink upon seeing the price sticker. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself to something special, this is the place to come. Interesting compilations and reissues are a bit easier on the pocketbook and they have plenty of clean staples too.

Large inventory, impressive rarities, amazing jazz LP selection, extremely well organized both in the store and on their website. New arrivals are added to the website almost as soon as they come in.

Weaknesses: I couldn’t imagine a crummier turntable to audition $50 records. Prices are overall fair but certainly not cheap, on par with NYC and eBay.

In Summary: The shop in St. Louis for experienced vinyl people but does having everything you ever wanted take the fun out of it?

St. Louis Record Stores - Vintage Vinyl


St. Louis is my hometown and where all this record nonsense started. Either by instinct or simple economic discovery that a used record was cooler and cheaper than it's CD counterpart, I started buying vinyl in high school. I soon made a second discovery: The records that got me exited seemed older, heavier and mustier. Every time I opened the sleeve of a Columbia Miles Davis LP and looked at the label, there were more eyes staring back at me; first two, then six! A record nut was born…

Let me begin with Vintage Vinyl as this is the store that I am usually at within 3 hours of my plane landing and the place where these early music discoveries were made...

Vintage Vinyl
6610 Delmar
St. Louis MO 63130

hours: Sun - Thu 10AM - 10PM
Fri and Sat - 10AM t0 12AM

Vintage Vinyl has been an anchor of the U-City loop for over 20 years and does a lot for the music community: creating big window displays for current releases, hosting in-store performances of local and touring bands and serving as a general magnet for grungy loopsters. There is a permanent but mild and comforting smell of incense that seeps into everything in the store. I can still smell it on some of the records I've dug up here. The reason this is a good place to shop for records is that interesting stuff floats in with the common stuff and it all gets priced about the same.

Hunting strategies: Delve into the deep x-factor of the store.

Things show up in the used racks that are truly magical - nice James Brown records on King, original Dixie Hummingbirds on Peacock, Don Covay records on Atlantic, Etta James on Argo - all with prices averaging around $10-15. I don’t ever look for anything particular, I just look. You never dip your toes in the same Vintage Vinyl twice.

Strengths: grungy community fixture, takes it’s role as a record store seriously without taking itself as a record store too seriously. Rasaan Roland Kirk serves as their spiritual leader and mascot. Open late.

Weaknesses: no easy way to preview records: gotta hand them to a guy behind a DJ booth, I’ve never bothered. ****UPDATE**** John from VV wrote to tell me that there is now a turntable for private listening, so there you go.

In Summary: grimy, homey musical Zen

coming soon: Euclid Records and Record Exchange...

Friday, May 23, 2008

R Stevie Moore at Cake Shop 5/20/08

I returned to the scene of the crime to catch up with R Stevie Moore and his loyal entourage. This week's fashion report: wizard hat, 50's album cover, pajama bottoms with the Monopoly Man on them, not quite big enough clip on shades, tacky plastic American flag necklace. Illustrating that nothing has really changed in the last 20 years, the set featured 'Show Biz is Dead'. Oh, and you missed an impromptu cover of Mariah Carey's 'Touch My Body'.

RSM has one last show of his Cake Shop residency on 5/27 and word is he's got a great studio album in the works...

check out the photo gallery!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ponderosa Stomp no. 7 2008 Photos

Hey kids, I've posted these links in a couple of places but hey, why not on my own derned blog?!

7th Annual Ponderosa Stomp at the House of Blues, New Orleans

Night One featuring Buckwheat Zydeco, Barbara Lynn, Tony Owens, Wardell Quezergue, Dr. John aka Mac Rebbenack, Sonny Burgess, Betty Harris, the Bo-Keys, Mary Weiss, the Collins Kids and Travis Wammack

Night Two featuring the Green Fuz, The Hi Rhythm Section, Syl Johnson, Spencer Wiggins, Henry Gray, James 'Sugarboy' Crawford, The Mighty Hannibal, Ronnie Spector, Roky Ericson and the Explosives and ? and the Mysterians.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

NYC Record Stores - Rockit Scientist

Rockit Scientist Records
33 St. Marks Place

Rockit Scientist is one of the few remaining original East Village record stores that do a good job of covering a bit of everything from the 50’s on. It's about as much record store as you can cram into a basement level nook on St. Marks place with records on the floor, every inch of wall space and all over the ceiling. This place is a good resource for the now out of print UK and Dutch imports on Charly, Ace, Mr. R&B, etc. that cover early rock ‘n roll, rhythm and blues, soul and blues. The collectable albums skew a bit more towards rock and psych but I’ve also seen good soul records on the wall. This is also a good spot for CD buyers looking for reissues of out-of-print material.

Where to look: Up! (and also the 50’s Rock n Roll and Blues crates)

Best recent find: Original Riverside Mono pressing of ‘Monk’s Music’, a little water damaged but played great - $20

Strengths: well-versed on a wide spectrum

Weaknesses: a little cramped

Arbitrary Rating: 7.5 / 10

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

R Stevie Moore @ Cake Shop 5.06.08

R Stevie Moore appeared tonight at Cake Shop in his large glasses, a horrible tie, a mylar balloon that read "I'm Sorry" tied around his neck and a 'Visitor' badge peeking out of his pocket. That he played for an enthusiastic crowd of about 20 is and isn't surprising. Plagued by his own obscurity, RSM embraces his image of strangeness while throwing it back in your face along with everything else that is false and absurd about our culture. Imagine an approach blurred along the spectrum of Daniel Johnston and Frank Zappa.

I admit I had never heard of this man before tonight, but I was immediately pulled in by the directness and craft of his music. R Stevie Moore's music rocks hard is really quite approachable with very logical pop structures and hooks. Although I already played the Zappa card, I think there are also valid comparisons to Beefheart with the lyrical free associations and plays on meaning combined with a soulful beat underneath all the layers. RSM is no crazy old coot - he is a sharp observer of society with genuine musical skill.

R Stevie Moore is playing every Tuesday this month at Cake Shop and his performance is well worth seeing - go check it out!

For more info I would check out the enormous amount of info on his website.
And here's an awesome video of his from the early days of MTV

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wall Street Journal - Ponderosa Stomp and Dr. Ike

The Wall Street Journal did a nice profile on Dr. Ike and the Ponderosa Stomp in last week's Weekend Advisor section featuring a portrait I shot of him at his house.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hanging With Rabbit Factory at the Ponderosa Stomp

Stepping outside my hotel in New Orleans I came across Ralph Jackson and Hermon Hitson , who along with Roscoe Robinson came to play the Ponderosa Stomp this year with thier management and protectors Rabbit Factory out of Chicago.

Impose Magazine shot some video and has a blog post
, check me out snapping photos off to the side.

Friday, May 02, 2008

LA Times features the Ponderosa Stomp - Ronnie Spector

I've been in New Orleans this week with the Ponderosa Stomp for the third year in a row. A photo of Ronnie Spector (who was awesome) was featured in a very positive review in the LA Times

many many many more photos to come...