In December, I had the good fortune of seeing the Punch Brothers‘ show at the Fineline music cafe in downtown Minneapolis. If you have not yet heard this group, headed by mandolinist extraordinaire, Chris Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek, you are in for a treat. They do things with Bluegrass that I never knew were possible; and they do them well.
I was first introduced to the Punch Brothers three years ago, when they played a show at the Cedar Cultural Center, in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Paul Kowert (an old friend of my partner, Tom’s, as well as the Punch Brothers’ bassist) had recently joined the group, and invited us to come see their show. That show surpassed all my expectations, and as Thile introduced one of four movements of his latest 40 minute composition, I immediately became a fan.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, it was quite a treat for me to have a chance to photograph them. So many thanks to the band, as well as their manager, Stu, for letting me shoot their show, and posting the photos on their site! Enjoy some of the shots from the evening, below. To see the whole gallery, visit my Punch Brothers Photoshelter gallery.
Tom, my darling partner-in-crime-and-life, has been playing with Andrew Ranallo, aka “Nallo” this fall. I first met Andrew when we were young (at least several years ago), playing with my brother, Dez, at the 400 Bar in Cedar-Riverside. Andrew’s sweetness and passion for poetry and music had me at hello; Tom has begun joining Andrew for a few select songs, adding harmonic, melodious overlays and insertions. They played this fall at the Hexagon, followed by Bethany Larson and the Bees Knees, who played a lovely set after Nallo and Tom.
A dear friend of mine, Mandy, was married in the end of August to Ben, her partner. Their wedding was a weekend-long affair, with colorful tents peeking through the woods in the park where their wedding took place, and where a production of Midsummer Nights’ Dream preceded the wedding. (Mandy & Ben are a part of the theater company, Upright Egg, which put on Midsummer as an open-air play this summer.) After this hilarious and rousing reminder of the state into which love can put us, Mandy and Ben were married, barefoot, both in white, (Mandy in her grandmother’s wedding dress and veil), under the gazebo as the sun sank into the western sky.
Mandy and Ben served up the food that they and many family and friends had prepared, on compostable plates, handing out a plate to each guest before sitting and enjoying their own meals. The love and sense of community were inspiring. Many, many thanks to Mandy and Ben’s lovely family and friends, it was wonderful to photograph all of you! Enjoy a few of the shots from the evening…
A few months ago, my partner, Tom, joined a new band. He has been through the rounds of the Minneapolis music scene(s) this past year, playing with a number of bands ranging from R&B and Funk to Jazz to Indy Folk Rock. It’s sort of Reggae this time, he said.
A few short weeks later, Tom and I found ourselves in a van packed with Irie Sol members, tugging along a small U-haul trailer filled with sleeping bags and instruments, headed for Nashville to record an LP at an analogue-only studio called Welcome to 1979. I had been invited to come along to photograph the whole endeavor, and had readily accepted. As our 8:30am planned departure time in reality became 6pm, I wondered if we would ever actually make it to Nashville; but as we drove through state after state, all night long, I began to believe in Irie Sol. We pulled into Nashville around 11am that Friday morning, and through a haze of exhaustion and sleep deprivation, gratefully stepped into the intense heat of a Tennessee morning.
For the next 48 hours, Welcome to 1979 was our home away from home. Chris Mara, owner, engineer, and producer, and his assistant producer, Bridget Guise, made us feel completely at ease in our new surroundings, the vintage-styled studio spaces decorated with ’70′s paraphernalia, cozily frayed furniture, studio magazine features, and an eclectic art collection. After a rejuvenating rest, the band started practicing, gearing up for the recording session the following day. There would be one run-through, the old fashioned way, and the record would be made; hours of practice would garner one 30-minute album, so the pressure was on. As repeated riffs became the ongoing soundtrack of my weekend, I wandered through the studios and practice spaces, gaining a new appreciation for all aspects of effort that go into making music. I spent the two days trying out new photographic angles and notions, battling the studio’s habitual low light, providing peripheral support and encouragement for the band, and observing the workings of this analogue studio. This was why I became a photographer; I couldn’t imagine a happier way to spend my weekend.
Irie is a Rastafarian term, meaning positive vibrations (source: OED online); Sol is the Spanish word for “sun”. This is a fitting name for this group, whose mission is to send out positive, sun-like vibrations wherever they go. I have rarely felt such respect and esteem from a group of self-proclaimed “raggedy” musicians. Many thanks to Irie Sol, for bringing me along on your adventure…