Arizona Music Random

Smokey Robinson

@ Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.

It’s been some time since my last posting, and a lot has changed. At work, I feel like I’m living in two worlds, the one before layoffs and the one after. Most of you already know that the graphics desk at the paper was pretty much decimated that fateful Wednesday. I’m obviously not going to go into details but I will say is that the whole affair of notifying people was sadly mishandled there at the end.

Congratulations on my preservation poured in the next day. Was I happy to still be employed? I guess. But the idea of having lost the people we did was shocking. The implications were overwhelming, and yet thinking about them seemed selfish, part of me felt like I had to be in mourning.

Some people’s careers were tied to the paper, having worked here for decades. If I had gotten laid off, I would’ve lost a paycheck, not a career.

Can a company, any company, really take away so many years of a person’s life, just to throw them out on the street during tough times, with hardly any compensation? The thought that such behavior is considered normal gives way to all these hopeless feelings.

I keep waiting for some realization about my future to hit me, because I just cannot force myself to think about where I want to be in 15 years. And while I wait, some days I feel like I’m wasting time. I’m afraid that I will blink, and I will still be sitting here in two decades, wondering why I never had to guts to move on. I will look back with regret and justify it all thinking that I was trapped by bills, leases, laziness, people, fear. Some days I’m infuriated by my inability to just DO SOMETHING.

I don’t know how to fix that.

American Idols Live show tomorrow night. Hopefully some good pictures coming outta that. I still have to post photos from my latest sailing trip to Long Beach, and the Michael McDonald/Boz Skaggs concert. Till then…

Music Random

Random musical interlude

Recently I started catching a few episodes of “Rescue Me” on hulu, and I’m totally digging the opening credits song: C’mon, C’mon by The Von Bondies. 

Just wanted to share that, plus a photo of T and me.  

Arizona Celebration Music

A long weekend, brought to you by…

Furlough: live your life unpaid.

Phoenix Pride went down this weekend, and as part of Metromix’s coverage I headed over to Stratus to photograph the nightlife, the crowd, and the performer: Kat DeLuna, who you may not remember from that one single a summer ago, Whine Up. It’s still unclear to me what whine up means. To drink a lot of wine? Ponder about this at your leisure. 

I arrived at the venue with what I thought would be just enough time to snap plenty of photos of the crowd, get names and all that. Turns out that Ms. DeLuna was not going to perform till 2:30am… Yes, you read that right,  2:30am. I was conflicted between flinging it all to hell and leaving, or staying and fulfilling my duty. There were quite a bit of interesting people and sights going on, mostly involving half-naked “dancers”, although I’d say strippers is more the mark, so I stayed. 

Notice how a hand seems to be going up her skirt in that photo above. 

Frankee, Lola and Lex said “Hi”

I had a while to wander around and take in the scene. While equality is not where some of us would like it to be as far as gay rights, it was amazing to see all the people there, who despite whatever pressures or stigmas associated with their choices, were openly and bravely celebrating who they are. 

Then on Sunday (which I had requested off to go sailing but can’t really afford right now) I was supposed to go photograph M. Ward, who by the way is freaking great. The ridiculous stuff he was doing with his guitar was so amazing that the audience would break into cheers even before he was done with his riffs. He alternated between acoustic and electric, and the piano, playing all equally well. Do yourself a favor and go check out his music here. Anyways, I didn’t get to photograph him because the box office did not have a photo pass for me. It wasn’t a lost cause entirely since they did have my name on the band list, so I did get to enjoy M. Ward’s superb skills. 

The same cannot be said for the act he had going on before him. Because it cannot really be called a musical effort of any level. I’m not even going to bother looking up who they were, but their sound was a combination of poetry, caterwauling and, God help us all, signing. At one point, I thought that this was a comedic act, practicing upon the audience’s innocent expectations of, well, music. It was painful, and when they were finally, finally done, the people behind me were clapping out of mere relief, as if the waterboarding session had just ended.

Maybe it was yet another one of those super-progressive musical efforts that are just not meant to be understood or enjoyed in any fashion. 

Monday: I celebrated my last day off by getting into a car accident. I was dutifully waiting to make a right turn, with my blinkers on, while people were walking on the crosswalk, when a guy slammed full speed into the car behind me, with such force that that car then hit my car, pushing it forward into the intersection and knocking the living sunglasses of my face. So I’m thinking, clearly my car was damaged, only to get out and see the completely undamaged back of my car. Damn, who knew that the little Mazda could take such hits, the beast! I’ll probably still take it in to the dealer to see if there’s any internal damage. The car in the middle (the one that hit me) was pretty shattered in the back, and the car of the dude at fault was pretty much totaled, I’d say: airbags deployed, entire front scrunched in and, best of all, he doesn’t have insurance. 

Finally, Bill Starr, sailing instructor extraordinaire, asked me to write a piece on my experiences learning to sail. I don’t think it’ll be particularly enlightening, but anyways, I wrote it a few day ago and I’m letting it simmer in it’s own juices for a while before I go back for another edit. Here’s to hoping some actual sailing goes down soon. 

Music Phoenix

Rascal Flatts at Cricket Wireless Pavilion

I think we can establish that I’m not what you would call a country music fan. But I’m more than willing to give credit where credit is due. Rascal Flatts put on a cool, energetic performance last Thursday at Cricket. They had the high-tech, giant screens, hydraulic stairs that deployed space-ship like, and show-opening pyrotechnics so unexpected that I almost died of fright.


I also almost died of fright when I saw lead singer Gary LeVox’s jeans…

One word: bedazzled. 


The guy with a fiddle, a John “Chank” Jeansonne, was pretty ridiculous in an amazing way. And I don’t even know anything about fiddles. But I felt the amazingness in my musical heart. 

Obligatory Jessica Simpson shot…

She was opening the show. And yet she made us sign a release (Rascal Flatts didn’t), we had to shoot from far away and for only one song. You can arrive at your own conclusion on how I feel about that. 

Arizona Mesa Music

Josh Turner @ Mesa Arts Center

A few of the shots from that Josh Turner concert I had mentioned a few posts ago. 

Nice looking guy.

Also, I noticed that this site doesn’t look quite right when viewed in Internet Explorer. Not sure how to fix that since I don’t have IE in my computer. Hmmm… I’ll figure something out.

Also, also, I just want to say, thank God the NBA All Star stuff is over. Although it was nice to see downtown Phoenix looking like very lively and downtown-ish.

Music Phoenix


Heart @ Celebrity Theatre

That last photo was taken at about half a second, but there’s something about it that I like, even though it’s not your usual shot from the front. It was my first time at Celebrity Theatre, and it was an overall good experience. The parking people didn’t give me any problems nor did they make me pay. Also, they have a revolving stage! 

Ann and Nancy Wilson were rocking it out, and I wish I could’ve stayed for the whole show. Granted I did have tickets (technically, I could’ve taken photos the whole time. I love it when media reps give us tickets instead of just escorting us in a out of the venue!) but I had to get back to The Dark Tower to return a lens to Manny. At which point he found out I was shooting Heart, and I believe his words were “if I had known you were shooting them, I would’ve taken that assignment from you.” I’m thinking he was joking, besides, Manny, you just came back from the SUPERBOWL!! 

Also shot some country dude called Josh Turner earlier this week. I had to wait about an hour before he came on, while listening to random country music. I can’t quite explain, but I felt it in my soul, in my bones… how much I was not digging it.  I’ll put those photos up later on. Anyone watching the Grammys?

Amazing! Arizona Music Phoenix

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding

Finally! Photos from Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding. Those of you wont don’t know (all of you probably), this is a comedy and music event put together by Alice Cooper, with all proceeds going to the Solid Rock Foundation. 

I got there pretty early and met up someone from the PR company. Nice guy, that Sam. I was offered food, and a chance to go backstage. Now this is a big change from usually being treated like cattle. Go in, shoot three songs, get out. Don’t get me wrong, the media reps I’ve met are awesome, it’s the orders they get from high above that are pretty restrictive. Coldplay gave 8+ photographers approximately five feet of space to shoot from. 

At any rate, met the guys from one of the bands playing, Whiskey Falls, and then met Alice’s lovely wife, Sheryl. She actually helped me get Alice for a photo of the two of them (see below). It’s was kinda hectic, since everyone was getting ready for the show to begin, but it was cool to talk to some of the other bands, just hang out. I wish every concert I covered was like that! Even if it’s the Cheetah Girls (which I have to do tonight… don’t laugh!).

Other notable musicians that performed were…

Bob Welch (Fleetwood Mac)

The amazing Robby Krieger (The Doors). Did you know he is in Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time? Though, I often disagree with Rolling Stone’s “lists”. 

Love his little smirk in this photo.

Plus Arizonians Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Whiskey Falls, F5 (this guys actually put a link to my slideshow in their “news” section! Now I feel bad for not putting more pictures of them up, but I do have quite a few good ones of them) and Alice Cooper’s son’s band, Runaway Phoenix, amongst others. I’ll have to post pictures of these bands later. 

Although, here’s a picture of Brandon Johnson of Whiskey Falls, hanging out with Alice backstage. 

With wife Sheryl. 

And you all have already seen my photo with Alice (god awful picture of me, probably because I was in shock!). Nice guy, nice event, nice cause, can’t ask for anything more. 

Oh, and apologizes for taking so long. It’s been a hectic week and work, with odd hours that actual involve me getting to the office an “normal” people hours… yeah, out of my house before 9 a.m… blah. 

Amazing! Arizona Music Phoenix

Alice Cooper and me

That’s right…


The man…  



The legend…    



… and lil ol’ me


Photos of the actual concert coming up soon.

Arizona Music


That’s it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Coldplay…. 

Arizona Music Phoenix

LL Cool J @ the State Fair

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with Christina about how a lot of people think of photojournalism as a cool and glamorous profession, but seldom think beyond the exotic locations or the final photo. They rarely imagine how much work it takes to get to the finish line. Most of the time, the journeys are not that exciting, and the technical difficulties, including how to procure the right equipment, is less than thrilling.  

The reason I’m bringing that up is because just this past weekend, I had a sort of adventure that reminded me of that conversation. 

I got last minute approval to photograph LL Cool J at the State Fair, and by the time I saw the email, I was out of the office, and the guys from the photo desk who know me and kindly let me borrow lenses (yes, Manny, I’m bringing in cookies) were off for the weekend or just not available. It was just a few hours before I was suppose to meet the media rep at the Fair, and I had nothing but my crappy lens. 

I had to think fast, and decide if a) I was going to just deal with it, and do the best with my lens, and pray to the gods for great lighting, or b) try to find a better lens.  With the clock ticking, I thought of the wonderful Tempe Camera, where I’ve borrowed lenses before. But this was so last minute, I wasn’t expecting they’d have any f2.8 telephoto lenses. By this time it was 4:15 p.m., and the store closes at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give them a call. And such was my luck, they had a cancellation, and a lovely 70-200mm f2.8 was waiting for me IF I could get myself there from downtown Phoenix before they closed. Through the years I’ve discovered that photography is often as much about luck, as it is skill and planning.

Ran out of the building just to realize my car was, as usual, ON EMPTY and I had to stop to get gas because they light had been on for a while now, and I knew I would not make it to Tempe. So it was a mad dash to get gas and drive to Tempe before the store closed. I think I put a total of $6.39 worth of gas, just so could make it there. A stuck gas pump, speeding and a few traffic violations later, I made it.  And after all this work, I got to shoot LL for the three shortest songs in the history of concerts. 

What I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of work in photojournalism that’s not really apparent when people see pretty pictures. Most of it is not glamorous at all. There’s the time that it takes someone to set up your access, whether it’s to a concert or a tribe in the middle of Africa (what? you think the photographers just stumble upon these remote places and people? A lot of research goes into that, often done by the photographers themselves). Then there’s the decision of what equipment to use? If you don’t own the equipment, then where are you getting it from? How much is it to borrow it? Once you decide that, then how are you getting there? Even if it’s just a concert, you have to think, where am I going to park? How far is parking from the venue (remember you’re carrying heavy equipment in the thousands of dollars)? This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as logistical problems behind getting the shot. 

It’s just not for everyone, and that includes me. Doing it here and there is one thing, but to be a photojournalist for a living, 40+ hours a week, is a different story. 

LL Cool J was promoting his new line of roses.

I really liked that last one, even though it could’ve been better exposed. Just the way the light gives him a glowing outline. 

Heading to Cali this weekend.

UPDATE: I decided to add one more, and since this one was used for the promo on the main page of azcentral, I figured enough people liked it… I thought it was a bit too dark. But apparently, I think everything is underexposed.