Some fun at Natachee’s Supper’n Punch with David Beebe, Allen Hill, The “Dazzling” Pete Gray and Jim Henkel
I almost missed this show entirely. Horribly under-promoted and under-attended. Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto representing King Crimson rounded out with Tobias Ralph, Julie Slick and Markus Reuter.
The “project” has been touring as the opener for Dream Theater but since Dream Theater didn’t get booked in Houston we were treated to three hours of fantastic music, including an all King Crimson encore.
The first band was Stickmen featuring Tony Levin, Tobias Ralph and Markus Reuter. The second band was Adrian Belew with Pat Mastelotto and Julie Slick. The encore was all 6 of them.
My good friend Nick Gaitan of Nick Gaitain and The Umbrella Man called me Friday afternoon to ask me if I was planning to go see Garland Jeffreys at The Houston Continental Club that evening. I told him I had not planned on it and he proceeded to tell me a little bit about Garland Jeffreys and how he thought I might be interested in this show based on what he knows about my taste in music as well as my desire to photograph truly unique musical events when they happen in town.
Without going in to too many details, I will just direct you to the Wiki article on Garland. Suffice to say, I became VERY interested in seeing this show and told Nick I would see him there.
It is worth noting that Nick’s band was opening for Garland Jeffreys, but in all the years I have known Nick he has never been one to call me out to a show just because he’s playing it.
Of course The Umbrella Man put on a great show, but that night was all about Garland Jeffreys. The show was not well attended. But it was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. I am a music photographer, not a music reviewer, so I will just point you to the Houston Press review of the show for details. I should also note, the review does NOT feature my photographs as The Houston Press had Jason Wotler on call for this one. But I am glad I went and took my camera because ultimately, I shoot for my own archives and this is one I am glad to have captured.
All shot with the Sony A77 using the Carl Zeiss 85 f/1.4 and the Sigma 10mm Fisheye.
When I first got into shooting with a digital camera, I picked up the Sony A100 and the 50mm f/1.4 lens. Due to the crop sensor on the A100, the 50mm translated to a 75mm focal length making it just a little too tight for the kind of photography I was doing so it really didn’t get all that much use. A shame, really. This lens is fast and sharp and the images were outstanding. Even so, I found myself leaning on my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for that added wide focal range (equivalent 45mm on the cropped sensor) that allowed me to capture more of the scene I was shooting.
Now that I have upgraded to the full frame Sony A850 the Sony 50mm f/1.4 is finding its way back into rotation and I am reminded of how great this lens is.
There is no band I know of more iconic in terms of sound AND appearance than KISS. Love ’em or hate ’em, you know ’em when you see ’em and you won’t confuse KISS with any other band in existence. In the mid 70’s I went to every single show they toured, starting in 1975 and ending in the 1983 when they showed up with Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics as an opener.
When I heard they were coming to Houston for their 35th anniversary show I really, REALLY wanted to photograph the event. It took some wrangling, but I eventually scored press credentials to provide photos for Craig Hlavaty’s review in The Houston Press.
I’ve shot a lot of small and mid-sized concerts, but this was my first big rock show. I was really appreciative of Technology Bytes co-host Groovehouse’s presence at the show. He had an extra photo release form which I needed to fill out plus an extra set of ear plugs which really made the difference.
The opening act was a band called Buckcherry and we got to shoot their first three songs. I wasn’t all that interested in their performance, but it was an opportunity to get a feel for the layout and I treated it as a warm up. We were only allowed to shoot the first three songs by KISS and I was sweating it a little. The typical scenario is three songs and even it’s not a lot of time to settle in and get your shots.
For this show I carried both my new Sony A850 and my Sony A700. The former mounted with my Zeiss 24-70 and the latter with my Tamron 70-200. Both lenses served their purpose and I was glad to have them. Overall, though, the A850 with the Zeiss wide angle was the most useful rig for this show.
I gotta hand it to KISS, they really put on a show. For the first two songs they played it up for the photographers and gave us plenty of opportunities to get some fantastic photos. I’ve never had a band do that before and it was a real treat. Be sure and read Craig’s review of the whole show at The Houston Press for the set-list and other observations.
Here are a few of my favorites from the evening. Click any image to see a larger version.
Zappa Plays Zappa, a concert where Dweezil Zappa plays the songs of his father. This show gets better and better each year.
The Fab 40 pay tribute to the original Fab 4 with a free, live performance of “Abbey Road” on Saturday, September 12 at Discovery Green.
40+ (probably closer to 50) local musicians – handpicked by Beatles enthusiasts David Blassingame and Steve Candelari – performed the Beatles’ album “Abbey Road” from beginning to end.
It was an ambitious project. Nearly felled by illness, loss of critical instruments and the weather, it went very well despite all this.
You can see a slideshow of all the photos I took that night by clicking here.
I’d heard good things about Chango Man, mostly from the members of Chango Man but still, I wanted to check them out. Described as America Cumbia music it is a fantastic blend of Latin sounds that really sounds great. As front man El Fausto (Tino) Jackson likes to say: [paraphrasing] “There’s no reason Latin music can’t rock” and rock it does. It was a great show and definitely worth the time to go see.
Tino is great front man. I’ve seen him play with Beetle and Disco Expressions but when he is out front and taking charge is when he seems to be at his finest.
Additional photos in the Chango Man Gallery
Little Joe Washington @ The Houston Continental Club celebrating his 70th birthday.
Back in the 80’s, my brother John gave me a Yashica camera which was the first 35mm camera I ever used. I don’t remember the model or the specs, but it was pretty basic as I recall.
Zappa was coming through Houston in 1984 on his Them Or Us Tour and I wanted to get some pics. I knew I would have to smuggle the camera in and that meant flash photography was not an option. John told me about a technique called Push & Pull Processing where you increase the ISO setting on the camera to underexpose the film and then compensated for this in the darkroom. This would allow me to shoot without a flash and hopefully get something usable from the experience.
I had 7th row tickets to this show so a flash might have been helpful, but would certainly draw attention to what I was doing so I decided to shoot using this method.
Now back in the day security at concerts wasn’t all that secure. Still, if you had a camera bag you could get turned away at the door. And even if you did get the camera in the door, if security caught you shooting pics at a major show they wouldn’t take your camera, they would just take your film, usually pulling it from the camera or canister. I’d seen photographers lose a night’s work this way on several occasions.
With this in mind I felt confident my camera was not at risk, but I wanted to make sure I could pull off my plan and walk away at the end of the show with some photos.
I’d seen Zappa before. It was 1981 at The Fox Theater in San Diego. I noted that many of the fans came to the show dressed up in various costumes. I decided I would attend this concert dressed as a Sheik (a la Sheik Yerbouti). I could hide the camera gear in the folds of my robes and hopefully skirt security.
The plan worked better than I could have hoped. Concert security stood practically next to me during most of the show. They either thought I was supposed to be there, or decided that a guy who was dressed in such an attention grabbing manner could be ignored while they scanned the audience for real trouble. I was able to pull out the camera and shoot uninterrupted for the duration of the show.
The results were “so so” but I was happy enough with the results considering this was my first effort.
1984 Them Or Us Tour
Sam Houston Coliseum
Frank Zappa: guitar, vocals
Ray White: guitar, vocals
Ike Willis: guitar, vocals
Robert Martin: keyboards, tenor saxophone, French horn, vocals
Scott Thunes: bass
Alan Zavod: keyboards
Chad Wackerman: drums
The grand opening of the Houston House Of Blues was quite the event. They had the street blocked off to traffic as spotlights lit the Houston sky. The line of invited guests circled the block, waiting to get into the event.
the evening began with a performance by Wanda King which was followed by a choral peformance by a choir based out of New Orleans. Then Deb Eybers, president of The House Of Blues came out and toasted Houston as the latest member of the House Of Blues family.
The crowd was pretty worked up and ready when The Blues Brothers hit the stage. Jim Belushi did a fine job in his role and was not a distraction in the least.
The rest of my pictures from the evening are here.