Monthly Archives: August 2011

Baron Wolman on The Rolling Stone Years

Article first published as Interview: Photographer BaronWolman on The Rolling Stone Years on Blogcritics.

Baron Wolman: The Rolling Stone Years

Only one person can lay claim to being Rolling Stone magazine’s first chief photographer–and his name is Baron Wolman. From 1967 to 1970, Wolman captured some of the most iconic images of musicians that graced the magazine’s pages. This August marks the release of The Rolling Stone Years, a collection of Wolman’s photographs from those three years, described by publisher Omnibus Press as consisting of “many … images from the late sixties and early seventies [that] have become iconic shots from rock’s most fertile era.” In addition to his amazing photos, Wolman writes a substantial amount about the early days of the influential magazine as well as his experiences photographing musical greats of the late 1960s/early 1970s.

At one point in the book, you express your preference to shoot in natural light. What is the appeal of using that kind of light for your photos? 

Natural light is just that.  “Natural.”  Nothing artificial about it.  What you see in the photo is what I saw when I took the picture.  For the most part, flash disturbs the subject and ruins the intimacy of the moment…

What was more challenging to do, decide which pictures to run in the book or writing the text to accompany the pictures? 

Both were challenging in the best sense of the word, not to mention the locales where the challenge was met: Paris, Santa Fe, Bangkok.  I wanted to add some international “spice” to the process.

Some of your subjects died far too young, how hard was it to look at those pictures? 

Not easy, of course.  Wondering how their lives would have evolved had they had the opportunity, sad for such talent ended before it had a chance to soar, remembering the moments we shared.

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Just Discovered: Largehearted Boy

So a few weeks back, I discovered a website that’s been knocking around for quite awhile, Largehearted Boy. To be honest, I discovered the website after it linked to my Kevin Wilson interview from two weeks ago. (Thanks for that, Largehearted!)

But once I discovered the main mission of the website: “Largehearted Boy is all about sharing the love I have for music, literature, and popular culture. A true labor of love, the site now features every day daily downloads of free and legal music as well as shorties (daily music, literature, geeky and popular culture news). ” I realized it was a site I should be visiting more frequently. And if you love pop culture as much as I do, you should visit the site as well.

Reader Recommendation: Gogol Bordello

So my pals from Crumsy Pirates recently recommended a band to me. To be exact, lead vocalist Tracy Van Voris emailed to tell me: “I share with you links from my new favorest band: Gogol Bordello.” Here’s some video of the band from a 2007 David Letterman appearance.

To further quote Tracy: “They are a multi-culti gypsy punk band fronted by a madmad from the Ukraine called Eugene, who is, incidentally, a refugee from Chernobyl. Their music sounds like an Eastern European wedding band on steriods – and they are one of the best live bands EVER. Seriously.”

Performance this intense should be appreciated fully, I second Tracy’s suggestion.

Mike Doughty on Yes and Also Yes

Article first published as Interview: Musician Mike Doughty on Yes and Also Yes on Blogcritics.

Mike Doughty (be sure to click the pic for a closer look at the Clayton Moore portrait behind him)

My appreciation of Mike Doughty‘s music started much later than most fans, as I first became aware of his work with his 2005 album, Haughty Melodic. When I found he had a new album, Yes and Also Yes, set for release on August 30, I immediately set up an email interview to find out what was in store for fans of his work. If you’ve never seen Doughty live, take a spin around YouTube for a bit and you quickly will realize that you should see him live as soon as possible. To best frame the album in proper context, I quote Doughty himself: “I recorded it in a studio in Koreatown, Manhattan, from July ’10 to April ’11. Produced by Pat Dillett. Notable musicians included my trusty factotum Andrew ‘Scrap’ Livingston on bass, and the pianist Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, who basically plays with everybody who’s groovy (Justin Bond, Antony and the Johnsons, Glen Hansard, The National, David Byrne, Yoko Ono). I’m releasing it on my own label, Snack Bar, through Megaforce. I split with Dave Matthews’ label ATO so I could run my own shop and have more control, business-wise.”

I had a chance to listen to the album in preparation for this interview, and I was pleased to find there’s not a bad cut among any of the 14 songs. One song that I hope will garner a lot of attention is “Holiday”, a Christmas duet with singer/songwriter great Rosanne Cash. About Cash, Doughty said: ” I did a show with her, and she said, onstage, ‘I feel nervous playing my new songs, because Mike Doughty is here, and he’s such a great songwriter.’ That blew my mind.” Honestly, to borrow a phrase from Doughty, their duet blows my mind. I am the kind of person that hates hearing Christmas music anytime other than December. But this song has such an amazing hook (as most of Doughty’s songs do), I ended up playing it seven times in a row the first time I heard it. The whole album pulled me in just as much and it was a pleasure to interview Doughty. We also get to discuss another recent Doughty musical project, Dubious Luxury, released earlier this month. My thanks to Doughty for his time and thoughts, as well as Rob Moore for facilitating the interview.

You’re an artist who clearly loves to play live. In developing Yes and Also Yes, how much did you play some of these songs before an audience prior to entering the studio? And did any of the cuts change drastically from how it was initially conceived compared to the final version?

I’ve been playing a lot of comedy shows, around Brooklyn and Manhattan, as a musical guest, and I played “Na Na Nothing”, and “Day By Day By” at nearly every one of them, plus, maybe, “27 Jennifers”. If I play something a lot, before or after recording it, the phrasing will change ever so slightly, so there’ll be a cumulative evolution that I barely notice, unless I listen to a five-year-old version, and then it’s kind of startling. So, I don’t really know.

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Places I Need to Visit Someday: Center for Creative Photography

Ansel Adams in the National Parks

I was recently reading the Ansel Adams in the National Parks book (released in 2010), and got curious to know who hosts his collection. It turns out that it is the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography. I have never had an interest in visiting Arizona, but this knowledge might change my mind.

Apparently the center was co-founded by Adams, as noted by the site: “Famed American photographer Ansel Adams (1902–1984) co-founded the Center for Creative Photography in 1975. His was one of five inaugural archives, and it remains a cornerstone of the Center’s fine art and archival collections. Adams’s career spans seven decades and a wide range of subject matter, including portraits, still lifes, architecture, and the landscapes for which he is most famous. Viewers often associate his lifelong environmentalism and advocacy for America’s wilderness places with his dramatic, panoramic photographs that celebrate the redemptive potential of the natural world. Many of his best-known images were made in the American West, including a large group of works made in Yosemite Valley.”

Novelist Kevin Wilson on The Family Fang

The Family Fang

So last week, I ran across an NPR review of Kevin Wilson‘s debut novel, The Family Fang. The premise of the book (adult children returning to the scene of an absurd childhood where they were unwilling stars in their performance artist parents’ pieces) fascinated me. So I contacted Wilson to see if he was game for an email interview, fortunately he was. As longtime readers know, I really enjoy interviewing novelists–to get a better understanding of their craft. In this instance, when I started researching Wilson, there was an added bonus fun factor. I discovered Wilson’s wife is respected poet, Leigh Anne Couch. Couch and I went to high school together–and in fact she was one of the kind classmates who supported me in our senior year, when my father died. In fact, a few years back, Couch and I almost did an interview about her work for this blog, but family commitments (aka the birth of their child) delayed the interview. Hopefully one of these days, we’ll get back to that interview. In the meantime, I am pleased as hell to discuss The Family Fang with Wilson–I get the feeling this is the first of many creative successes for Wilson.

Tim O’Shea: Frequently I talk to authors that speak highly of the cover design for their book, but you are the first author I know to get the cover tattooed on your arm. When did you realize you wanted to commit the piece to flesh?

Kevin Wilson: I knew pretty much the minute that I saw Julie Morstad’s artwork for the cover that I wanted to get the tattoo. I thought it would be cool to get a tattoo that was connected to the novel. Before Allison Saltzman, Ecco’s book designer, showed me the cover design, I thought I might get four sets of fangs on my forearm, but when I saw Annie and Buster, I knew I wanted that on my arm.

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