Sometimes the thought comes to me as I am scouring the vinyl LP bins at thrift stores: Man, people are WEIRD. People and their music and sense of art design and just...everything. Of course, that all makes people AWESOME. Here's some more eyebrow-raisers for ya -- please to enjoy!
The record everyone has been waiting for: RAGTIME ON THE HARPSICHORD! Is it possible for an album to generate negative sales somehow?
Last year, I made a bit of a resolution: I was not going to photograph any concerts that I didn't really want to photograph. That was not quite the no-brainer choice that it might seem to be. I do really love shooting live music, and every opportunity to do so (and there are SO many here in Seattle) also represents an opportunity to improve my skills, which is important to me. But in the end, I went with my gut. I never again wanted to feel like going off to shoot was going to be a drag because I didn't like the performers or the venue or both. I only want to go into a show STOKED to be there, because that's where the best of what I can do comes from. Then it is a joyful thing, a challenge to match my love of the music to what I can capture and share. When I am photographing a band I am crazy about, I am determined to just keep shooting, to keep looking for the perfect moment, to do my best, even if I am getting elbowed in the kidney, covered in beer, am locked in a crappy view spot, or the lighting was designed by Satan. The only problem is that sometimes I do have to stop taking pictures to dance or sing or go WOOO!!!
So that's a long explanation for my shortened shoot schedule this year, which still included two super-fun large festivals (Austin Psych Fest and Bumbershoot), and 76 different bands shot in four different states. Here are a few of my favorite shots of the year, with truckloads of grateful thanks to the promoters, bookers, PR people, venues, security personnel, fellow music photogs, fans, friends, and artists without whom which I would just be folding laundry at home. Haha, that's not true...I don't ever fold the laundry! Please to enjoy, and if you REALLY enjoy you can always see more at my Flickr site HERE!
I can't believe it was already a year ago that I was in Florida for the ultra-cool one-off shows with Lars Finberg of The Intelligence and Cop City Chill Pillars! That these guys hit it off so well was fantastic good luck, and they performed their set of Velvet Underground covers with a perfect blend of raw nerves, talent, craziness, and possibly some measure of spirited beverages. Magic. This night was also notable for being the first concert held at Gramps, a massively-cool retro bar in Miami that is now considered to be one of the hottest spots in town.
Lars Finberg and Cop City Chill Pillars, Gramps, Miami, Florida 1/5/13
Excitement was in da air for wimps' record release show at Black Lodge, to say the least! The venue should have been renamed "FUN CITY" for the night.
Mudhoney, "I Like It Small" video shoot, Radar Hair and Records, Seattle, WA. 2/16/13
The weather at Austin Psych Fest ranged from warm and lovely to hot and muggy to a torrential downpour, but the crowd stayed pretty darn mellow and cheery throughout. I liked this shot looking back at the crowd from the photo pit, with the sunset filtering the clouds and the stage lights turning everyone a bright blue.
Austin Psych Fest, Carson Creek Ranch, Austin, TX. 4/28/13
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of my favorite bands, and I've seen them all over country. I had never had the chance to photograph them with a proper camera, so I was extremely motivated to make the most of the chance I had to do so at APF. I shot the entire show, and came away feeling like I had done work I was proud of -- a great relief and a very nice feeling.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Austin Psych Fest, Carson Creek Ranch, Austin, TX. 4/26/13
I did the same thing at Deerhunter's set at APF -- just kept at it, even though I could not stay in the pit the whole time. The gorgeous lighting made shooting another one of my favorite bands really exciting. Plus Bradford Cox in a dress, of course.
Deerhunter, Austin Psych Fest, Carson Creek Ranch, Austin, TX. 4/27/13
There were so many great bands at APF, but when I saw that White Fence was going to be there, there was NO WAY I was going to not be there.
White Fence, Austin Psych Fest, Carson Creek Ranch, Austin, TX. 4/28/13
One of the great '60s-era Texas psych bands was The Moving Sidewalks. They reunited at APF to close out the festival. Did I mention they were led by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame?
The Moving Sidewalks, Austin Psych Fest, Carson Creek Ranch, Austin, TX. 4/28/13
The one time I don't have my DSLR when seeing The Intelligence, and Lars Finberg climbs on TOP of the stage -- bah! But thank you, point-n-shoot camera in my purse, thank you.
The Intelligence, Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle, WA. 7/26/13
That time when Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips turned up at Seattle's Northwest Film Forum to introduce their film "The Fearless Freaks," and kindly talked with everyone who wanted to meet him, including a dude who brought him blueberries from his garden.
Wayne Coyne, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle, WA. 7/28/13
The challenges of being 5'3" in a crowded photo pit just means you have to sometimes rethink -- quickly -- what might make a good picture. !!! (CHK CHK CHK) was fun.
!!!, Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, Seattle, WA. 8/31/13
Having already photographed Tamaryn at APF a few months before, I knew this shot was coming. I just had to set up and wait for it. Success!
Tamayrn, Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, Seattle, WA. 9/1/13
I hope I get to see and shoot Redd Kross again because that was as fun as it looks!
Redd Kross, Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, Seattle, WA. 9/2/13
The Fancy Lads are a local Merseybeat-worshipping combo that is comprised of members of other Seattle bands that I know and love. When they played at a vintage clothing store one warm evening, I thought a very retro black-and-white photo treatment was appropriate. Fab!
The Fancy Lads, Indian Summer Vintage, Seattle, WA. 9/14/13
Thee Oh Sees are taking a hiatus now, and I shall miss them and wait patiently for them to return. Low light, high motion, crazy crowds make for a challenge shooting +, but WORTH IT.
Thee Oh Sees, The Crocodile, Seattle, WA. 10/14/13
And to close it out, Our Day With the Jacuzzi Boys made for my most favorite photos of the year -- of course! Jacuzzi Boys, Neptune Theater & KEXP, Seattle, WA. 10/19/13
Yes, nothing says "happy holidays" more than the gift of a carton of cigarettes! The smell of mentholated smoke just beckons ol' Santa to slide down the chimney! I think back in the early '60s we kids may have wrapped up a carton of Salems for my dad, which now seems completely insane. But at least everyone else was insane, too, as we might infer from mid-century magazine ads. Please to enjoy some of these jolly old holiday persuasions for lung cancer and emphysema, and don't listen to that ninny Ronald Reagan -- stop smoking in 2014!
I needed to get OUT OF THE HOUSE for awhile this evening, so made a late jaunt to the thrifters, as I find this a supremely relaxing activity. Both stores were quiet, save for the one guy who was meticulously testing every single preset sound on an Yamaha keyboard. NERT NERT! ZIB ZIB! CRANG CRANG! While he did that, I found some more strange junk for you. Please to enjoy!
I want you just to think for a moment just how awful "country clarinet" must sound. Shudder. Also, the name "Pee Wee Spitelera" is not the best to bring in the chicks.
I had to put some serious thought into my end-of-year music list this time, sorting through all the superb musical offerings of 2013. This is harder than it seems, because there is some amount of pressure to include the work of all the cool artists I have met and am friendly with and probably photographed, too. There's pressure to add in albums that a lot of other people like a lot, so you think you should join in. There's pressure to look at the measure of a "successful" album as one that sold a lot, or made a lot of noise in the press. And some of the records I would have loved to have loved (BRMC's "Specter At The Feast," Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City"), I only just liked.
So in order to make this list of any real value to anyone else, I had to stick to just two simple criteria: 1. The album must be made up of all-new material, on a full-length 2013 release, and; 2. It had to make me feelsomething big, and draw me back into it over and over. That most of it ended up being music made by people I like is a delightful coincidence. My hope is that if you are unfamiliar with any of the artists or albums I mention here that you might take a minute to listen and enjoy, and maybe even put a few on your list to Santa or Satan or a Sultan or whomever is gonna bring you stuff! Music is the best thing, you know.
Oh boy! I'm excited to tell you to GO ELSEWHERE! Just get RIGHT OFF MY SITE RIGHT NOW and click THIS HERE LINK RIGHT HERE to go to Spin to hear a brand-spanking new song from our musical punky Seattle pals, wimps! "Distraction" is featured on their new EP "Party At The Wrong Time," which shall be released on Help Yourself Records on January 21. Special extra bonus: you can see the band reclining on a boat dock in Wisconsin with a photo taken by SOMEONE YOU MIGHT KNOW.
In the midst of my usual All That Is December Stressfest, I know it is important to make a little time to enjoy myself. My favorite thing to do to counteract the onslaught of Christmas store emails, blaring commercials with jingle bells, and paper cuts on my fingers from wrapping presents is not to chill out, but go OVER THE TOP into FULL-ON CHRISTMAS MEGA-MAX-OVER-SCHMALTZ with the holiday songs of Red Sovine. The late Mr. Sovine was, as his Wiki points out, a country music artist most known for his songs about truckers, but I think Red's finest moments came at Christmastime. No one, and I mean no one, perfected country lyrical pathos better than our Red, and when you pair his brand of redneck melodrama with Christmas sentimentality, you have a nuclear meltdown of HEART-TUGGING HILARITY. It's TOO MUCH.
It just astounds me that people take these songs seriously. They were clearly a boilerplate construction: sick/dying child, benevolent Santa/other adult, lonely suicidal Christmas Eve dude, drunks, abusers, trucks flying off icy highways...you get the drift. Red could write these in his sleep, and people just ate 'em up, crying into their grits at the Waffle House, probably. The closest modern update to the Sovine franchise of holiday despair was Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take The Wheel," but even that soap opera doesn't have the extreme, twisting lyrical payoffs that Red delivered with such drawling sincerity. You think one of his songs won't go there, and then it DOES, and then goes even FURTHER into Santa's Sad Sack...so much so that I laugh my ass off, which thereby relaxes me. Aaaahhhhh.
So today I will share with you the unintentional comic delight of A Red Sovine Christmas with three of my favorites from his bag of holiday weepers. Grab yourself a lukewarm lumpy hot cocoa, some curdled eggnog, or a bottle of the cheapest whiskey money can buy, and take a listen. Please to enjoy!
This is the one that started it all for me. I don't want to spoil it for you but Billy clearly has multiple issues here, his family are big jerks, and I feel Santa's reaction at the end with the kiddies is a touch cheery. Jeez, Santa!
In my house, the Opening of the Stockings traditionally takes place first thing Christmas morning, and their heavy bounty from Santa is enjoyed by all. Toys, candy, socks, soap, novelties...you never know what's gonna be in there, which makes it fun. But there is a part of me that misses the Appalling Old Times when Santa really DID deliver a sock of coal to the naughty. Sure, it might ruin the holiday and all but there had to be some satisfaction to Santa's Ultimate Smackdown to Little Arthur, who refused to help Big Arthur plow the back 40, or Little Emmaline, who was a greedy little snit who wouldn't share her toys and was rude to her nanny. At least for 30 seconds, everyone at some point has wished to witness a "Coalsplosion" at Christmas.
Anyway, if you want to prod Santa to revive the whole retro Naughty thing, you might move him to action by suggesting he might load the stockings of your bad relatives with some of these things:
1. Old hard-boiled eggs
2. Wet cotton candy and fresh minced garlic, mixed
3. Laminated cat hairballs
4. Fried-out useless external drives
5. Sgt. Barry Sadler's entire audio catalogue
7. The keys to a Ford Pinto, which would be up on blocks in the driveway leaking oil
8. Tickets to "National Geographic's 'All About Snails' "
9. Every single sock that hasn't been put in the hamper for an entire year
10. A miniature cactus
11. A feisty, disoriented vole
12. Uncooked bacon covered in motor oil
13. An old talking Barney the Dinosaur toy that is broken and cannot stop singing "I LOVE YOU, YOU LOVE ME"
14. Hair sweepings from the local salon
15. Used waxing strips from the local Brazilian Wax spa
16. Very-slightly-used adult diapers
17. Moldy Thanksgiving leftovers
18. Coupon for a lap dance from Great-Grandma Eunice
I wait too long to get my Christmas presents purchased, wrapped, and boxed up, and I find myself with only a few scant shipping days to spare at my local post office. When I arrive, the line is out the door, everyone is grumpy and overheated, and I have to pay more to send the boxes than the value of what's contained in them. Every year, I tell myself what a putz I am for being such a laggard, while I awkwardly juggle my multiple boxes and visibly cringe at the checkout total.
This year was different.
I got to the post office today, with Christmas far enough away to not pay extra shipping costs.
The line was long, but not out the door.
I pushed my boxes along in line with my feet instead of carrying them in my arms.
But none of these good things were the best thing.
In front of me in the line waiting for service was a tiny, well-dressed, kind-looking older lady, probably in her 80s. After waiting awhile, she looked back at me and nodded and rolled her eyes in interminable line-waiting solidarity. I returned the gesture and smiled. We began to talk about the drag of our holiday task here, and about where our gifts were going. I found out she grew up in Oklahoma, and was very grateful to be a Washington State transplant and in a "blue" state. Well, right on, sister. We commiserated about the pathetic regressive politics of Kansas and how Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a weak-chinned fool. She told me she was going to be a great-grandma soon, and was excited about it. I told her I hoped grandmotherhood for me was a long, LONG way off, and she laughed. I had her put her boxes on top of my boxes so she didn't have to hold them for so long.
Finally, we both made it up to the counter. As I was still getting the insurance receipts for my packages, she walked up to me as she was leaving and touched my arm and smiled at me and spoke.
"Thank you for being so nice. You made my wait so fun! I hope you have a Merry Christmas!"
I smiled the biggest smile and wished her the very same, and I still feel that little bit of sunshine now as I write this, on a cold and cloudy day.
Back in the era when I made a sincere-if-ultimately-misguided attempt at Classical Suburban Mom Domesticity, I got into Holiday Gift Treat Making. Each year, I would try to make something new, or would combine tried-and-true favorites in a cavalcade of Christmas food overload, all tied up in bows and ribbons. Twenty pounds of carefully-baked Chex Mix? Three different kinds of fudge (peppermint, rocky road, walnut)? Giant pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolate and then rolled in either shredded coconut, red and green sprinkles, or chopped Heath bar bits? Check, check, and check. But that on top of creating, writing, addressing, and sending out over 100 Christmas cards, and all the present selection, buying, and shipping, and all the holiday stuff at school and work parties and charity stuff AND AND AND AND caused me to have a December meltdown of sorts. I just couldn't do it anymore; remember, the only class I ever flunked in school was Home Ec. I don't have the temperament to be Martha Stewart-perfect, but at least I can say I tried, and also that I never made food that killed anyone... I believe.
In genial honor of my seasonal failures, today I bring you a few ideas for holiday treat gift-giving that won't stress you out, break your bank, or cause Krampus to burst through your toilet and take you away to Mars, or whatever it is that he does to evil kiddies at Christmastime. Please to enjoy!
1. Dump a cup of white sugar in a ziplock bag. On the outside of the bag in red Sharpie write "FROSTY SNOW CRYSTALS" and instruct the recipient to enjoy with a spoon at their home or even on-the-go!
2. Find an old wine bottle with a twist cap (like you have wine with a cork anyway, lol), making sure it is empty. Take the old grapes you have left in the fridge and put them in your blender with a cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of store-brand lemon-lime soda that you have let go flat. After it is mixed, pour into wine bottle and replace cap. Use your printer to copy some fancy wine label (maybe a Chardonnay or something) and superglue it on the bottle. Tie red ribbon on bottle, and tell your giftee that it is from your family's "private collection."
3. Take 2 cups of stale Raisin Bran, mix in chopped up Halloween candy, put in Ziploc bag. Call it "REINDEER TRAIL MIX."
4. Take leftover meatloaf and stud it with chopped-up Gummi Bears and chill. Call it "GRANDMA'S SPECIAL FRUITCAKE." Don't worry about anyone figuring out it's meatloaf; everyone tosses out gift fruitcake right away, so no one will ever taste it.
5. Take three stale large marshmallows and stack them, secured internally by toothpicks. Chop up a couple of Xanax tablets and use the pieces to make a face on the top marshmallow. Call it "MOMMY'S LITTLE HELPER SNOWMAN" and give to an equally-agitated homemaker. Remind her to eat it at home after the kids are in bed, and to not die from eating the toothpicks.
In the midst of the annual holiday craptacular, I took a stress break and spent a few minutes over at the thrift store, in search of something to amuse and, thereby, soothe me. Laughter is the best medicine, so HO HO HO DAMMIT! Please to enjoy!
If ever there was a time to underline the fact that society has TOPPED OUT on crap to make and sell, it's Christmas. What a world! If there's some new GEEGAW or CONTRAPTION to sell to suckers with cash to burn (and certainly to hundreds of millions of people that really don't have cash to burn, but torch it in the name of Jesus' natal event anyway), Christmas is the time to do it! I get so many holiday store emails and shiny catalogs in the mailbox beginning in OCTOBER that it's almost comical. HEY LADY, they shout, WE GOT A COOL GIZMO RIGHT HERE YOU CAN GIVE TO SOMEONE! HEY! LADY! HEY! I'm not against some gadgetry here and there, but at some point with some of this stuff, one has to stand up and say, THIS IS SILLY AND PLEASE STOP NOW. Today I bring you ten items that I just cannot handle. I cannot. 1. HI-CALL BLUETOOTH TALKING GLOVE
This is not a joke. This company seriously believes that actual grown people are really going to want to walk around wearing clunky gloves, which take cell phone calls via Bluetooth by making the pretend telephone shape with your hand. Go ahead, try doing it for a second. See? COME ON NOW.
You wouldn't think my hearing would be any good at all at this point in my life, considering my decades of exposure to very loud music, but it's good enough to overhear all kinds of fabulous public conversations! Now before you brand me a No-Good Privacy Stalker, I will in my defense say that, HEY, if you are speaking loud enough in a public place for me, a middle-aged woman with some degree of tinnitus, to hear your every word clearly, YOU ARE FAIR GAME! Proceed accordingly, General Public.
I write these down on my phone as they occur, because I love you so much. Please to enjoy!
1. Guitar Center
Middle Aged Dad: (eyeing up a pricy electric guitar) Well...he'd sure love it. That's the one.
Middle Aged Mom: (exasperated) Sure he would! And then he'd PAWN IT in six months! Come on, Jim!
Boy: (crabby) I don't like pumpkin pie AT ALL!
His Mother: (mad) We HAVE TO HAVE PUMPKIN PIE!!
3. TJ Maxx
Thirty-something woman: (holding up a plaid scarf) For Grandpa?
Her thirty-something sister: Who knows? Just get it. Done.
Young male Starbucks employee: (after spilling a large box of food product) Oh, so sorry. I'll clean it up, ha ha. Sorry!
His slightly-older male Starbucks supervisor: (under his breath) Great. 5. Ross Dress For Less
Forty-something woman with huge cart in line in front of me: Why do they always take so long to check people out here?? They don't seem to care there's a line!
Me: You are right. (abandons cart, walks out of store)
I'm Marianne Spellman. I am in Seattle-ish. I like and make music and words and photos and coffee and have crappy eyesight, like every other blogger. I do freelance thingies for cool people and places every so often. I post here often.