We're going to see Jack White in concert this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in NYC! It should be an amazing show. If you've got some time, watch the video below, directed by Gary Oldman, of the full live show that we will be seeing. If you don't have a lot of time, just watch the first ten minutes where Gary Oldman and Jack White wrestle, cool studio footage (I love the styling!) of the songs I Guess I Should Go To Sleep and Blunderbuss and an interview between Oldman and White. It's good stuff. If you watch through to the live show, please take note that in the first half of the show, White's band is all ladies. And wow, can they rock. The ladies recorded 11 out of the 13 songs on the new record, and according to this Slate article, Jack White might be one of rock's leading feminists. When he appeared on SNL, the first song was performed by the ladies and the second song by the guys.
I will not be able to bring my camera to this one, so for additional shots of the live show, check out the live photos page of the website.
I'm loving all this music inspiration lately! I find myself to be far more inspired by a diverse range of topics instead of looking at creative work that I aspire too. Do you know what I mean? Constantly looking at work that is better than mine I can tend to feel jealous or inadequate, but looking at creative work that I admire but have no desire to do myself, is truly inspiring. It's why I read science and psychology journals, study architecture and enjoy live music so much.
It has a distancing effect that also allows you to be truly creative in your own work. I often worry about looking too much at other people's art or design, for fear of unintentionally creating work that is too similar. If you are inspired by work that is unrelated to what you do, it frees you up to explore things more fully and to create something that is more original.
What are you inspired by that is totally unrelated to what you do creatively?
Earlier this week I shared the photos of Amanda Palmer's epic crowd surfing moment and I'm back with the rest of the pictures from the NYC show at Webster Hall! You can check them all out on Flickr, but here are a few of my favorites.
The show was a perfect amalgamation of everything I've ever seen AFP do. It had some Cabaret flair and a similar entrance to the acoustic show we saw at Momenta Gallery for the Kickstarter art package. There were moments of both deafening, screaming sounds and quiet words spoken gently. The lighting was excellent and each song had it's own mood and color palette. Almost everything on stage was white. Costumes, props and sets were still slightly DIY, while feeling just a little richer and more produced. Screens onstage showed pictures that audience members had submitted or video close-ups of hands playing instruments. Amanda had four variations in her costumes and I loved how she was just basically striping off her clothes as the show went on to reveal different looks. The piece that she put on, rather than take off, was the custom made jacket by Kambriel for the Bottomfeeder crowd surf. It had an amazingly long train made out of three different colors of chiffon. Just look at how it's like a giant bubble skirt flowing behind her on the sea of people. Brilliant.
So, as you've heard me say already a hundred times: go SEE the show and GET the record. You can pay what you want for it, nothing if you are broke, or up to $20 if you want to support the effort. It's amazing, inspiring stuff. What Amanda Palmer is doing to the business of music is nothing short of revolutionary. She's changing the game, right in front of our eyes. It's upsetting to some and thrilling for others. This week she was at opposite ends of the spectrum, pissing off professional musicians and thier unions everywhere by asking for volunteers to play her shows and at the same time, crashing into the Billboard 200 music chart yesterday at NUMBER TEN. (Ukuleles rained down on the world when that happened and today Amanda and team have decided to pay all musicians on tour with them by pulling money from video budgets. I applaud her for this, it's the right thing to do.) I don't think there has ever been, in the history of music, a crowd funded, independent record in the top ten. It's really remarkable. She's a perfect example of doing it yourself, without corporate sponsorship, thinking on your feet and adapting to a changing landscape. You can stay in control of your music/art career, produce material on your own, and be successful doing it. It CAN be done. It's not easy of course, you have to build an audience authentically and organically and create something that people actually want, but it CAN be done. What's really exciting is that this model is true for pretty much any artist, be it musician, writer, painter, illustrator, inventor, etc. Creative people need to pay attention to what she is doing, what she is saying and what she believes in because it really can be the future of everything. WE ARE THE MEDIA. You and me.
During the New York City show at Webster Hall for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, there was a moment that simply took my breath away. During the song Bottomfeeder, Amanda gracefully entered into the most beautiful crowd surf in the history of music. She was wearing an epic chiffon train, created by her long time costume designer Kambriel, that stretched out behind her and covered dozens of people, rippling over everyone like water. It was so poetic and the act of literally being supported by her fans was not lost on anyone.
Quote from Kambriel:
"I’d venture to say her entrance into the crowdsurf was quite possibly the most elegant ever. Floating upon waves of outstretched hands. This amazing moment lasted the entirety of the song, and sent Amanda all the way from the stage to the very back of the venue, around, and up to the stage once more… It was magic."
I was lucky enough to be up in the balcony and to capture this amazing moment from high above. It would have been incredible to be on the floor and under the train as well, but I'm so glad, from a photography point of view, to have witnessed this from where I did. What a sight.
I've got a ton more photos from the show, but this moment deserved it's own post. Seriously, if you have a chance to see her show, you don't want to miss this one. It's full of beauty, power, emotion and inspiration.
Were you there in New York? Have you seen her in another city? What did you think?
Also, if you are interested, check out my post about the Kickstarter show at Momenta Gallery in NYC.
Tonight I will be seeing the amazing Amanda Palmer and her crazy Grand Theft orchestra at New York City's Webster Hall. It will be a little bit like this:
Cool, Yes? Well, the really exciting thing is that you can join me! It's a Party on the INTERNET! Check THIS out:
That's right, tune in to You Tube at 10pm EST and you can watch AFP and the GTO perform thier epic new album THEATRE IS EVIL. You will be on the internet and I will be there in person. Listen for me screaming, will you?
The first official video released for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra is for "Want It Back" and it's an incredible mix of hand written type, nakedness, stop motion animation, ephemera and worn down brick. I love, love, love it. Watch it now and be happy. Also, check out AFP's blog post about it with behind the scenes pictures and details.
Amanda Palmer and her new band The Grand Theft Orchestra have an album coming out in September called Theatre is Evil. She made music history by raising 1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter to fund the production, promotion and tour for the record. Chris and I bought the Kickstarter package that included a NYC gallery opening of the art work inspired by music from the record, as well as a special acoustic performance in the art gallery. It was an epic night.
I'm going to let the pictures mostly speak for themselves for the moment (I've got a post brewing about why I think Amanda Palmer is so relevant and important) but I will say just a few things.
- Almost the first thing I noticed when we got to Momenta Gallery was Amanda. She was heading outside to take pictures and she swept by us in bare feet. For the rest of the evening she was completely present and available to everyone who wanted a minute with her, not hiding in the back room until it was time to go on stage. It was awesome.
- The second thing I noticed was that the A/C in the gallery was broken. Sweat was literally rolling down my back but the oppressive heat was like another character in the performance. It made things sticky and uncomfortable and it added a rawness that might have otherwise been missing. That was kind of awesome too.
- The third thing was that Amanda pours her heart and soul into her performances and I was left wondering how she can take in so much energy from her friends and fans and send it back out again. It's like she is an emotional conduit for everyone and that connection is one of the things that endears her to fans and makes her so special. Again, awesome.
- The last thing was that her bandmates; Jherek Bischoff, Michael McQuilken and Chad Raines are incredibly talent musicians who are bright enough lights to stand next to Amanda and not get lost. It was amazing to witness their synchronicity with each other and I'm pretty sure they could make music with practically anything. Awesome, Awesome and Awesome.
Well done Grand Theft Orchestra and a huge Thank-you to Amanda for an amazing night I won't EVER forget. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a link to the entire set of pictures.)
Were you there at Momenta with us? Did you see this performance in another city? What were your thoughts or favorite moments? Personally, I loved the performance of Trout Heart Replica, with the beet cutting and also the performance and artwork for The Bed Song. The ritual of laying out the bed sheets was amazing and Kyle Cassidy's B&W photographs of people laying in bed were so touching, intimate and of course sad.
Finally, if you want to see it all, including MORE NAKEDNESS, check out the complete set of photos on Flickr.
Over the weekend, we met some friends at the Tuscan Cafe for some live music. It was early enough that the kids could come and Milo was enthralled. He loved all the band equipment and he sat attentively for most of the set. The band, Wooden Heart, was impressive with a big sound and a funky vibe. The singer was adorable and awesome, playing guitar and ukulele and she was joined by four band mates playing guitar, drums, bass, sax and trumpet. It was such a rich, wonderful sound that grew at one point, so magically, that I got all choked up watching Milo witness his first real live show.
Meanwhile, Quinn was weaving in and out of the crowd, restless and full of energy. He had on some super earphones, that blocked out a lot of the sound, but he still grew tired of the whole thing after a little while. He is still too young, but oh my goodness, was it ever cool to go see a live band with my kids. I cannot wait to do it again. It's like taking them to the drive in, this rarely done, adult kind of thing, that just feels awesome to bring them into.
With all of Chris's experience playing in bands and performing shows, it's easy to forget that Milo had never seen it for real. Chris pretend plays "band" with the boys, where they write songs and hire a booking agent (me) and get paid (or not) and play live. The band breaks up and then gets back together. It's pretty funny. Chris knows the routine so well that he brings all of the real life parts of being in a band into their play.
These shots were taken with my new Olympus PEN E-P3. I have been looking for the perfect camera to take with me when my Canon 5DMII is just too heavy, cumbersome or awkward to shoot with. I really love to document everything that I do, but the iPhone was just not cutting it for me and I was leaving my big camera at home rather than carry it around with me and strain my neck or bring it to restaurants and other crowded places where it might get banged around or spilled on. The Olympus is awesome, small enough to carry around my neck and not worry about it, but with a high enough quality of image that I don't feel like my images are so far below the quality I am used to.
It's a micro 4/3 camera, which means it has a larger sensor than a standard point and shoot camera, and it has removable lenses that are also larger than a standard point and shoot. This adds up to better image quality and more flexibility for shooting in lower light situations and with greater depth of field. I got it with the 17mm f/2.8 lens and the 45mm f/1.8 lens. For these shots I was shooting with the 17 mm on Auto (the camera came literally hours before we went out) but I have since learned how to make adjustments in manual mode and I have tried out the 45mm. It's an amazing lens with wonderful depth of field.
I look forward to sharing more images from this camera!
Full disclosure: I know the author of this book and I have invested my own time in it. Despite the fact that I might be Chris Kennedy's biggest fan, I don't feel like I am blowing fluff when I say this is an incredibly interesting book. You don't have to take just my word for it, Collector's Weekly just published Found Photos: When Rock Lost Its Innocence, an interview and review of the book.
"1950s Radio in Color gives Tommy Edwards his due recognition as the deejay responsible for perhaps the most important photographic and written documentation of twentieth-century music ever produced. Featuring over 200 color photographs, this book will transport readers back in time, allowing them to step into Edwards’s shoes for a moment and to feel the wonder and excitement he must have felt every day while witnessing a cultural revolution."
In October 2006, while searching for the elusive film The Pied Piper of Cleveland, Chris was focusing on Cleveland radio deejay Tommy Edwards, who had been at the St. Michael's Hall concert (see photo of Elvis above) featured in the film. Chris had located Tommy's nephew Keith and discovered that he had five color slides of Elvis that had been shot by Tommy on October 19-20, 1955. Copies of these images had been floating around the internet but in much poorer quality and uncredited. Chris was proud of his little find, but was stunned when a month later, Keith called to tell Chris that he had uncovered over 1700 more slides in his basement while looking for Christmas decorations. In February of 2007 Chris was on a plane to see the slides for himself. To say that Chris was thrilled when he saw them for the first time is a massive understatement. It was immediately clear that the slides were unique and special and should be documented and shared.
Chris also knew of a newsletter that Tommy Edwards had written every week for the duration of his stint as a deejay at WERE radio station in Cleveland, but was unable to locate it. In April 2009, after signing the book publishing deal and having already written some of the book, an old friend of Bill Randle's told Chris that he had found in his closet a duplicate copy of all the newsletters that Tommy had written. Years ago, Tommy had given a copy to Bill who in turn had given it to his friend. Once again, through luck, tenacity and simply getting in touch with the right people, Chris was able to find an important document of rock music's roots.
Together, these two archives that Tommy created would be the basis for all the untold stories that were waiting to be uncovered. The beauty in this book is not just the unreal color photographs showing the fabulous fashions and sparkling stars of the day, or the historical facts describing the most creative and exciting time in rock 'n' roll, it is in the fascinating human stories of the musicians, actors and personalities trying to make it big.
Each person in this book has a story to tell. There are many tragedies, some that we might be familiar with. Just five months after the below photo of the Big Bopper was taken, he died in a tragic plane crash with Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly. Many people didn't make it past alcohol or drug addictions and there are numerous salacious tales (one involving Elvis himself!) There are also many triumphs. It's easy to recognise them because they are usually the people who we still know and love. Michael Landon, Connie Francis, Rock Hudson, Conway Twitty, Tina Louise, Clark Gable, Johnny Cash, Frankie Avalon, Roy Orbison, Anita Carter, the Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, Pat Boone, Wanda Jackson, Charlton Heston, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Chuck Berry and of course Elvis Presley. Chris manages to bring a fresh perspective to all of them with his knowledge of music history and the music business. He's got an intuitive way of drawing out what might have been in their heads while the photos were taken. Of course, then there is the one where he wasn't able to uncover anything at all. If Melvin Smith is out there, could you give Chris a call?
There were many adventures along the way while Chris was researching the book. My favorite story is how he tracked down rockabilly legend Sanford Clark by calling the Epps, Louisiana sheriff and asking him to knock on Mr. Clark's door to give him a message. He wasn't too impressed that Chris sent the sheriff to him, but he gave a great quote about eating bologna sandwiches with Carl Perkins and getting drunk onstage with a tube running up his leg from his boot.
Reading the trajectory of Tommy Edward's career in the chapter introductions offers a glimpse of radio when the deejay was still king and it maps out how everything was primed for rock 'n' roll and Elvis to emerge as an electric sensation in 1955. It seems the world was not quite ready though. I was surprised to learn that this was just rock's first wave and the establishment was able to beat back the flood of rockers and their vile ways for a few more years, at least on the radio. After Elvis was drafted into the army in 1958, things became a little more generic and eventually radio pushed out the deejays like Edwards and relied on standardized programming. It wasn't until the Beatles arrived in 1964 that people really began to rock again.
There are many layers to this book and many ways in which to enjoy it. The fashions are outstanding, and besides the torpedo bras (see the photo of Gloria Mann below), I would love to see these gorgeous suits and dresses make a come back. The photography is candid and in the moment, showing an environment rarely seen unless you were there. Chris's research is outstanding and it's wonderful to have all these bits sewn together into a complete picture of American culture and music in the late 50s.
Chris was able to contact many of the people featured in the book and their quotes and remembrances of the era make it all come alive. Hearing these people reflect back upon these pictures is probably the most touching, they add details that we might have missed and most seem genuinely thrilled to revisit this time in their lives.
Fay Morley remembers that she only ever wore one glove because she kept losing them. Charlie Gracie noticed his monogrammed handkerchief from his future wife. Bob Labnon of the Short Twins remembered a car accident days before the picture was taken that explains the bandage on his head. Ethel Ennis thinks she looks like her daughter. Pat Boone remembered that during his on-air interview with Tommy, a fan had climbed up the fire escape and knocked on the door of the studio. Buzz Cason of the Casuals (photo below, on the right) said it was the best shot he's ever seen of him and Richard Williams.
I hope that you will pick up a copy for yourself! I'm also very happy to announce that I am giving away ONE SIGNED COPY to a lucky reader. Leave a comment below, telling me why you would like to win a book. Are you a fan of Elvis, did you grow up in the 1950s, will you create a fashion line from the outfits? Each person can only be entered once. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner. Comments will be open until 11:59pm on Sunday July 17th. Good luck to everyone!
Maybe it's all the time I've been spending over the last few weeks in my own head, writing and imagining scenes, but this video from Lykke Li (pronounced "licky lee") has mesmerized me. I feel like I need to create a back story for this video. It's so amazing. Watch it, then scroll down for my break down.
So initially, I was not all that impressed with the video, it seemed so literal, the girl following the guy. But then there is that moment where the music stops and you hear her breathing and all of a sudden I was the girl. When the music starts again and she starts running, I caught my breath.
She's like a ghost in the billowing black shroud. I imagined she was mad at him, they had a fight and he ran away and she was chasing him and was going to attack him, but that seems too simple. I thought, "she can't run in those shoes," and then she fell and took them off and continued running barefoot in the snow. What a beautiful thing. Running barefoot in the snow. No one does that.
She catches up to him and I am waiting for the attack, but he turns to her and he looks so sad, and then he cries. Why does a man cry? It's heartbreaking. What happened to this man? And she touches his face and kisses him and I'm crying now too. But then! That look at the end, where she looks at the camera. What secret is she keeping? Who is she?
Ahhh. I love it.
Can you tell me? What story can you imagine behind this video? On Youtube, crstrong78 wrote, "The guy was a soldier. The woman in black was someone he killed and felt regret for killing. He is being chased by the memory of her ghost until he can't go no further and relents to the sorrow of his sins. Her kiss which he is initially unwilling to accept seems to present forgiveness, but the last glance lets us know it's the kiss of death."
Some side notes: My husband Chris loves her other song, Get Some. Watch that one too, it's good. Doesn't Lykke Li look like Lady Gaga? I thought it was Lady Gaga at first, doing some side project, but apparently not. Here's her official website, I love how it's black and white! How unusual and cool.
I discovered a box of old cassette tapes. Remember those? Ah, the mixed tape. A lost art. The flow of one song to another, the timing, the stopping and starting, ending a side without cutting off a song or leaving too much dead space, the cover art, the giving and the receiving. It was a special thing, but I can't play them anymore. So sad. Happily though, most of my favorite songs are now on YouTube so I wanted to pull my favorite songs from the tapes and group them into a few genre-based posts.
These songs take me back to the beginning of high school. I was 14 and I started brooding, but I still enjoyed my Art and English classes. My new wardrobe included Doc Martens, knee high black socks, ripped jean shorts, plaid shirts and a leather jacket. I had short blond hair and I had a super crush on a boy with a mohawk. I was an aspiring punk but I had a lot to learn. For now I was just "alternative". I eased into the scene with the gentler music, the pop music, the sweet stuff.
Stay tuned for more posts in this series. I can't wait to do an epic punk post, throw together some electronic new wave and also a totally crying-in-my-bedroom moody one. This stuff is so nostalgic for me, some of it makes my heart pound just thinking of the angst that I was feeling while listening to it. But it was also so inspiring, putting to words the things that I felt, the energy that I had, the dreams that were forming.
Pixies - Where is My Mind?
Eat - Mr. and Mrs. Smack
The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey
Husker Du - She Floated Away
The Cure - Lullaby
The Fall - New Big Prinz
The Sugarcubes - Cold Sweat
Felt - Primitive Painters
Our friend Petter filmed a video for Swedish singer Tobias Froberg and it features Chris's race track! It's a beautiful video, elegant and sweet, and I think it's pretty cool that we were a part of it. My favorite part is the crash sequence and the night shot of all the cars driving by that dissolves into a day shot on the same part of the track. They were at our house for an afternoon and while Petter, Ryan and Chris filmed in the basement, Petter's girlfriend Serena and I played with Milo upstairs. It was such a fun day! Serena plays the girl in the video. She's a fabulous up-and-coming actress that you can see in The Architect and The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Last night Chris and I went to see Guy Joosten’s new Metropolitan Opera production of Romeo and Juliette. It was amazing. It is, of course, a very familiar story and we saw the ballet of it the night that Chris proposed to me. The opera was a wonderful change. The stage set, designed by Johannes Leiacker, was elegant and beautiful with a celestial theme. There was a large circular video screen for the backdrop that showed images of space, the moon and the sun to set the time of day and mood. The set right after intermission, at the beginning of the fourth act, is simply breathtaking. Romeo and Juliette appear to be in a dream-scape with stars and a floating bed with billowing sheets that drew applause from the audience immediately. The singing was also beautiful and while opera can sometimes be a little bit over-the-top for me, this had the right balance of flare and simplicity. There are only 2 more performances, so if you are in the city and you like this kind of thing, I recommend that you try to go.
It smells like rotting pears out in the backyard. The squirrels have been picking the pears, taking a few bites and dropping them to the ground, where they rot. I suppose I should pick them up, but maybe the bugs and the birds can have a feast too. Under the shade of the cherry tree it isn't too hot. The sky is perfectly blue with just a few puffy clouds and I can hear the electric sound of the cicada bugs in the trees. Robin eats them if they end end up on the ground and she usually gets a belly ache and won't eat her dinner. Batman is out here too. He only seems to enjoy being outside when I am out here, otherwise he would rather nap on the couch in the air conditioning. I can't water today, due to water restrictions, but other than the potted plants which died weeks ago, everything still seems to be green and alive.
I have been busy organizing all my paper collections so that I can begin an illustrated journal. It's amazing how many things I have stashed all over the house. I find ticket stubs, brochures, paper samples, flyers, letters, cards and other scraps of paper picked up in my travels in a number of drawers, boxes, closets and envelopes. Some of it is sort of organized, but most has just been put into whichever spot I was stashing stuff at the time. I feel like the squirrel in my back yard. I collect paper for either two reasons, to document things I've done and places I've been, or because I liked the way something looked. I am going to attempt to collect them into some kind of series of books. But I wonder, are they more precious just as they are, or will they be more compelling weaved together into a cohesive format?
I don't want to spend all of my time reflecting on the past though, and I plan to start drawing and painting about my current daily life and future dreams too. I've always loved being creative and crafty, but I feel like it would be neat to tie everything together into a book and give myself a context. I've been inspired by Danny Gregory's drawings and books and by a few book binding and handmade journalling books I have picked up lately at Pearl Paint. I can do a painting, but I feel like on it's own it isn't as powerful as when it's combined with writing and artifacts from life.
We saw Death Cab for Cutie at the Central Park Summerstage with the Decemeberists and the Stars (from Montreal). It was a great show and so cool to be outside under the full moon. I love DCFC and have been listening to their record Transatlanticism since my sister gave it to me for Christmas. Such great songs. The Stars were cool and energetic and I gotta love the Canadians. The Decemeberists were kind of folksy with a violin, accordion and stand up bass. I didn't immediately like it, but they had some great moments and I loved that they were doing something different. Chris and I couldn't figure out the violin player though, she looked sooo bored. Hardly cracked a smile at all, but the lead singer made up for it.
Grizzly Man is a documentary by Werner Herzog, was a portrait of a very strange man named Timothy Treadwell. He lived in Alaska among the world largest brown bears and considered himself their equal and their protector. He was ultimately killed, along with his girlfriend, by the creatures he loved so much. The movie raises interesting questions about not only the character of this man, but also about how humans should best handle wild animals. It seemed to me that he didn't respect the bears and their way of living. He saw human characteristics in them and was appalled when they actually behaved like bears.
2046 by Wong Kar Wai, is a visual feast of 50's era fashion, futuristic fantasy, hot bodies and artistic directing. This film ignores a typical linear story and jumps around in time and place. It's difficult to follow, but you almost don't need to. It isn't important to necessarily understand what happened when, but to see how different story layers and characters overlap and reference each other. 2046 is a continuation of an earlier film called "In the Mood for Love" in which the main character has a heart breaking love affair with a married women. In the new film, the same main character (and actor) recovers from that earlier affair by becoming involved with many beautiful women whom he cares about, but will never let himself be hurt by. It's a complicated, beautiful story which I need to see again.