Mildly Amusing Musings & Some Photographs



Snowball 37 with light trails

Snowball 37 with light trails

The trusty Nikon D70 still takes pleasing photos. It could be sharper but I like the trails.

From the Snowball 37 “Declasse” album release show May 5, 2013 at Maxwell’s.


Self Portrait in chrome

Self Portrait in chrome

I could have shot this Cadillac all day. Besides my reflection, you can also see Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre / Convention Hall.
Oh, how I miss chrome.

Brand New Cassette!



I designed this. I’m proud of it. Also, if you are in a band & you want cassettes made, go to National Audio Company.  Seriously, they are one of the best companies I have ever had the privilege to do business with.

If you are looking to snag one of these limited edition Snowball 37 tapes, please visit their site or contact me.


Brent, Brent, Brent!

Brent, Brent, Brent!

An in camera triple exposure of Brent Clore from Snowball 37. I did layer two different color processes in post.  I couldn’t do much about the grain so why not illuminate it with a cross process look?  I still think it is a little fucked up that I upgraded my cameras only to process them to look like they came from a shitty film camera. I like this one though.


“The posse’s one half mile behind and I’ve got Hell to pay.”

Snowball 37’s David Fagan at SXSW
Lyrics – “Ode To A Balladeer


Jimmy Three Times – Snowball 37’s James Faust

Jimmy Three Times - Snowball 37's James Faust

Here is an in-camera triple exposure of Snowball 37‘s James Faust rehearsing for their cd release show. I converted it to black & white, added some quick color blocks & tilted it just a little in post. Primary edit – Lightroom 4.3? 4.4? It always seems to be updating itself. Finishing, resizing – PS Elements 10.

Top 3 Ways to NOT use HDR

I am fairly certain that the in camera HDR built into my Canon 5D Mk III was not meant for this.  Nevertheless, I love it.

To me, it is much more playful than the intended use of adding dark blue outlines to your clouds.  Oh, & I also haven’t mastered the HDR landscape done right.  When I can create those serene, dynamic images, I may cringe at the thought of using HDR for anything less.  Until then, enjoy these shots of Snowball 37 at Hellhound Studio in Rahway, NJ April 5, 2013.

Here comes the story of the hurricane…

I had been waiting until I had access to my external hard drive so I could include “before” photos but I still don’t have a cord so I suppose I will have to stick with “after” photos & actually write about “before…”

Let’s start October 20, 2012.  Gorgeous day.  Unseasonably warm, we drove down to LBI so Dave could buy an acoustic amp for what we were planning as a March tour.  I even took a few shots of the sellers’ baby to start advertising for holiday portraits. Then, we stopped at the beach. When we got home, he played with his amp & I went to Bay Head until the sun went down.  I was shooting surfers & trying to stay out of the water with the new camera.  I frolicked (yes, there’s no other word for it when you run through the waves, splashing & laughing) in the water with the Nikon before switching back to Mk III anyway.  I was waist deep in the water & not even close to cold.  The next day, my friend brought her foster dog down & I tested out my new pin-up-esque swimsuit as we headed to the beach again.  It wasn’t as warm but it was still gorgeous for October.  As the week progressed, threats of Sandy progressed as well. Thursday, I went to Bay Head to get some more ocean video for this song.  While I was at the beach, I spoke with some older gentlemen who said they met there everyday for coffee.  I was speaking with one of them about our shared love of Mini Coopers. I wonder where they are now.

Growing up near the Jersey shore, my dad never told me “Be careful. The ocean’s dangerous.”  He didn’t have to.  Before, during or after a big storm, he would take me down to the inlet in the tow truck.  He did towing for Mantoloking & Bay Head too.  After the Nor’easter of 1991, we got our (now sold) 1966 Dodge Dart when it flooded.  The woman who owned it just wanted someone to remove it from her garage.  All it needed was a new battery (the miracle of old cars) but she still didn’t want it back.  Reminiscing complete.  On Sunday, I had a report to redo in Rumson so I took the long way there, looking for boarded buildings & stopping to pick up more water & canned food.  More than 24 hours before landfall, the inlet looked like this.  I knew this was definitely going to be a bad storm but I still figured we were pretty safe.  During Irene, the creek or whatever it is on the next street over flooded but it was still far from our house.  I cat litter sand bagged the garage with a tarp & barricaded the back door just in case.  I also dug a moat from the gutter to the front of the house.  Around 8pm, we lost power. There was still a slight trickle of energy though & the lights were buzzing.  Fearing more of these surges, I shut down the computer, not to restart it for two weeks.

Along with the power, we lost the internet & cell phone service. Thanks, AT&T!!!!  I didn’t keep notes so the timeline that follows is a little sketchy.  At some point, the kitchen window clasp snapped & I had to duct tape it closed because my mom couldn’t get the tape to stick. A transformer blew somewhere & the light was apocalypse bright, followed by the smell of burning. Then, around 11pm or midnight, I took a step into the bar/rec room & my boot splattered into a puddle.  It came in through the front door. I stayed calm at first & told Dave to gather all the towels & blankets we had. Holding flashlights in our mouths (I have since bought a head lamp to avoid this next time), we tried to barricade the front door with a tarp, blankets, the coolers of ice… It kept pouring in.  We thought about taking the cooler & the tarp outside to block it from the front but in the short time that had passed, the 2″ at the front door was now covering the wheels of the cars & we could see what looked like a telephone pole across the driveway.  The neighbors had moved their cars uphill onto their lawn but didn’t share this idea with us & it was already too late. The cars were blocked in & drowning. The smell of burning electric & dying vehicles was everywhere.  Big Papi died first – his horn honking & headlights flashing.  Later, the PT Cruiser did the same.  The PT Cruiser even started the next day & had a fit of locking & unlocking car doors as though he were possessed.  A neighbor’s car put the windows down & opened the trunk – an emergency technique to let people out if they were stuck inside.  Not a great shot, but here is Big Papi with his headlights on.  The water got higher than this but I didn’t want to get MkIII wet outside.

Back inside, we used every towel, blanket, newspaper & most of our clothes to block the water to no avail. It seeped into every room from the floors so we started the mission of saving what we could.  First was the computer but the plugs were already covered in water.  Fearing for my life, I took the flashlight to the fusebox & turned them off one by one. I kept thinking that as long as you have rubber shoes on, it is cool to walk through electrified water. Obviously, I didn’t get electrocuted but I also didn’t save the plugs for my computer or external hard drive.  We managed to grab my old photo albums, a few important papers, autographs from the wall, a cassette player & our Daniel Johnston tapes, the litter box, my cameras & chargers (not all of them, just the newest), but the rest was stuck.  In an attempt to “clean up,” my mother had moved our best records under a table to the most impossible to reach location that was also, of course, already underwater.  We now had to think only of surviving.  All night the wind whipped at the awning (thankfully, it was tied down) & pelted the windows.  We confined the cats to the upstairs area but still feared they may venture downstairs & drown.  What if the gas line broke?  We already knew the water heater & furnace were submerged.  Recollections of Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”  & my current reading selection, Nabokov’s “Bend Sinister,” had me thinking of the apocalypse. We should have made more ice.  We should have bought those $70 survival food buckets at Walmart.  I should have found a gun. We shouldn’t have thrown all of our clothes & warm blankets into the flood waters.  We can’t get the ax from the garage; how are we going to break through the ceiling?  Why didn’t any of the neighbors tell us to move our cars?  They want us to die.  They want to eat us.  Crazy thoughts pass through your head when the only other sounds are the wind, rain, swishing of a river in what used to be your bedroom, logs rolling into your dead/dying car that occasionally adds some horn honks to the audiosphere, oh & the shitty motivational? pop music on the radio… “For more information, visit us online… use your smart phone…”  Negative on both of those radio man, but thanks for playing “Had a bad day…”

Tuesday morning, October 30.

The water had already receded a lot by the time I woke up.  We still had no phone service, even on our land line.  There were people kayaking down my street & we were stuck.  No heat, hot water, electric, internet, phone. I think I slept all day.  Or maybe I went outside for a little & then slept some more.



When my brother didn’t hear from us, he called the First Aid Squad to give us a wellness check.  The First Aid/Fireman turned off our gas for us.  Around nightfall, Dave’s brother, also unable to get in touch with us, drove down to see how we were. He took us for a drive & found an open Target but no hot food. There were people there buying things.  By things, I mean things you don’t need.  I suppose this was when I first noticed that it might take a while to get over all of this.  It was hard to believe people would be out buying anything other than batteries, water, more food, necessities!!!!

Wednesday, we began the cleanup process.  The neighbors were already ripping off walls & piling things on their lawns.  We started by piling up all of the wet clothes, blankets & towels outside.  The water smelled highly unpleasant.  Besides the briny creek water, the sewers backed up (thanks, assholes who refused to move their leaf piles away from the sewer before the storm… not that it would have helped) so there was a pretty good chance that there might be some sewage in the water. I did find two fish in our house.  Having no access to our shovel yet, I threw one in the garbage.  A neighbor was jealous that we had a fish so I brought the second one over there.  As I put it in my gloved hand though, it started flopping, so I emptied a bottle of water & filled it with puddle water, plopped fishy in & walked two blocks to the creek to send him back home.




In the process of doing this I missed the Air Force One fly over.  Boo:(  I was really hoping I’d get a hug from Christie or Obama.   No one in the neighborhood had phone service yet.  Word of gas leak explosions throughout Ocean County prompted Dave’s brother to call out of work & remove us from the area.  They came back to “save” us & we have been with them ever since.  Well, over six weeks – Dave, my mom, me, our two cats & parrot along with them, their five cats, foster kitten, a foster pup that got adopted (yay for that!) & their fish.   Once we were back in civilization that night, we realized that gasoline was in high demand & low supply.  There was a guy with an expensive BMW pouring gasoline from a Tide bottle into his tank because he didn’t feel like waiting in the line.  Friday, we got a rental car with enough gas to get us back to our house.  Where to begin?  There had been 14-16″ of water on the first floor & 19″ in the garage.  We began moving dry items upstairs & wet items outside.  At the time, home owners’ insurance told us to separate them & make a list so we moved things that we may have been able to save outside to rot in the snow & cold until three weeks later when insurance told us these things were not covered.  That really put a damper on my spirits.

Besides our musical equipment (drums, keyboards, mic stands, speakers, et. al.), best records & Dave’s toys, we had been gathering things to sell on ebay to fund our tour.  Many of these things are now ruined too & we have spent the money that we had been saving to buy a van.  The following is the photo I sent to Bruce’s “people” & the other organizations that have been holding benefit shows.  I never realized how much Springsteen “stuff” I had until we lost so much of it.  This isn’t even the cds.  All of our favorite music was ruined, often in various formats – vinyl, CD, cassette, 8 track.  Awesome.


I bought record cleaner to clean the vinyl but most of the sleeves are annihilated. We had them in plastic sleeves too so they wound up not sticking together too much but the plastic trapped the water.  Most of the sleeves had to be ripped open to even get the vinyl out.  The PFAN-Stat cleaner made them super pretty & I have all the sleeves stacked in hopes of them being usable one day.   When I got too cold (the house is still dark & without heat) or too pissed off about a particularly un-salvageable record, I would work on the demo process.  I ripped off the paneling, pulled out the vinyl floor & carpets, chipped off the ceramic tiles, ripped off doors… Our paneling had paneling.  I thought about going to Rickels with my dad to buy it years ago & it made me miss him even more. This whole process would be much easier if he was spearheading it.


Yeah, that’s how Jersey Strong I am. I would have even been wearing those boots were they not simply a soggy, moldy metaphor right now.

Car insurance still hasn’t come to take the cars.  They did send the check for one of them but not mine.  After a month of not hearing from an adjuster, homeowners’ set a date of December 21 as the earliest they can come out to check the wind & siding damage.  We still have no power because we need an electrician to rewire the outlets that were dripping water.  Also, I lost my job because I no longer have a car to do my work.  FEMA sent a check to help with rent &, after six long weeks, we finally found a tiny 2BR that allows cats & is available short term.  We move tomorrow.   Were I already in a permanent place, I could have been adding to this daily.  Instead, our days have gone like this:  Up around 8 or 8:30, an hour plus drive home, cleaning of some sort, sometimes a hot latte, leave when the sun goes down, 90 minutes back to our temporary home (rush hour), paperwork, minor editing or laundry (we still have bags of wet, smelly clothes left to launder), dinner, bed.  I did learn how to play Call of Duty. I am terrible at it & it gives me nightmares but I like the mindlessness of it. When I’m playing, I am not thinking about how I’m going to pay the phone bill next month or afford gas to get to the photo shoot I just booked. I should be learning about my new camera or looking for more opportunities to shoot.  I really should find out how to save images so they don’t look like compressed crap. Until then, or until I get a website & access to my archives, visit me on the book face.

Let’s Have a Party! Wooooooo!

(C) Conn!

Pictured here is Wanda Jackson at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ on August 25, 2012.

This is one of the first photos I edited with my new computer & Lightroom 4.  Phase One of Operation Conn! has begun.  My old pc decided he wasn’t going to connect with our new internet provider so I took him for a checkup.  Said checkup revealed that his capacitors were dying.  The technician said I may have a few more weeks without glitches or a few months.  His last upgrade was about 15 years ago & there was also no easy way to revamp his system to make way for the extra speed & power a new camera will require.  Despite knowing that a mac or at least a laptop would be more practical, I opted for a touchscreen desktop HP.  I waited nearly a week to disconnect my old pal, buy Lightroom, and hook up my new friend.  My old friend served me well & I still didn’t throw him out.  I left him just where he has been for the past 15 years & set up the new pc in front of him.

Prior to the upgrade, Photoshop Elements 5 was my editing program but I kept reading about Lightroom 4 & how great it was so I made sure it was my first purchase (especially when I heard Wanda was coming to town).  I meant to write immediately to document my return to the future (or at least the today) but, of course, I didn’t so now I am writing as a fly has landed on my screen & continues to mess with my typing & as I have 400 photos open in LR waiting to be edited.  400?!  That is insane.  I used to only be able to open about 20 at a time.  With a week of LR editing behind me now, I definitely do not hate it the way I did on first use.  I still dislike that simple terms like “open,” “save” & “close” are “import,” “export” & “delete” in LR.  I also dislike not being able to add text or multiple layers but I now have Elements 10 to take care of that.  I am fairly certain that all sounds pretty amateur to whomever is still reading & didn’t stop when I kept referring to my old pc as a him or didn’t stop at the mere mention of *GASP* editing photos on a pc!

What else is new?


I LOVE Gaslight Anthem’s new album, “Handwritten” & cannot stop listening to it. I am currently eating a Fruit Roll Up.  Despite not watching them, the Olympics did what they have done to me every fourth summer since I was little; they made me start swimming laps again.  I broke my second lawnmower of the summer & had to weedwhack the entire lawn.  Snowball 37 has had some super fun, awesome shows this summer (including some special ones with some of my favorite people).  I ordered new red boots for my Wonder Woman costume.  We are addicted to “Entourage” & watched the whole series in less than two weeks & have not stopped watching for over a month.   I do not blog often enough but did start an Instagram to also not keep up to date.

That is about all.  I am hoping Phase Two, buying a new camera, begins within the next few weeks.  I am definitely leaning toward the Canon 5D MkIII but the Nikon D800 is also an option.  I will have to weigh the cost of lenses & batteries for both.

Oh, that isn’t all!  I love Wanda Jackson.  She rocked my socks off.

Flava in Ya Ear – May 15, 2012

I just uploaded my pictures to ADAY.ORG for their worldwide photo project.  The goal was to capture your daily life in ten photos shot on May 15, 2012.  I worked that day but I also had to to take Big Papi to Mini to have his power steering replaced.

My loaner was a 2012 Mini Countryman.  I loved the color & the SiriusXM.  I didn’t have anyone with me to take advantage of the extra roomy backseats but they looked really nice.   There was a sunroof for the front & a moon roof for the rear but I still prefer the full convertible.

Most of the day was grey & rainy & my workload was so spread out that I didn’t have much time during work to shoot anything outside of my route.  Around noon, I decided to take advantage of the loaner Mini’s SiriusXM radio & I started shooting what I was listening to as well as a photo of what was outside at that time.  Syncing the photos to the radio photos was a task I would never complete in a timely fashion & I couldn’t find just ten that worked well for the project.   This made me miss SiriusXM & it also made me want a radio that displayed all the titles of what I listen to.  I suppose an iPod would work too but I liked the idea of selecting from 100+ stations that I didn’t control.  I did take a break from the radio for a little bit to re-take the “There’s A Law” shot I missed last time I had a loaner.

Subsequently, I tested some of the other CDs I had with me to see which would register the song titles.  Besides those few, here is what I listened to May 15 between 11:57am & 6:13pm when I returned the loaner.

I wound up not getting the power steering repaired because they saw my brakes & tires as a bigger safety issue & I just couldn’t afford both.  Big Papi & I are in a very abusive relationship.  Whenever something breaks, I feel like I should sell him & get something cheaper to fix but then I see him & drop his top & our love affair continues…

I really love my expensive, little buddy. His brakes, two tires, a belt and an oil change came to $1100.  The power steering & new related hoses will be in excess of $1500 but they said I can’t damage it anymore than it already is & I can continue to drive him without power steering.  K turns are now Super Triple W turns but otherwise I almost prefer the tighter steering & my arms really could use the workout.  Already the driving muscles I used to have from driving the Dart are coming back.  I wish the Dart would come back too.

“I’ll close my eyes & listen to you read the story…”

I keep not finishing any of the SXSW posts that I start writing because I am too lazy to upload the photos for the third time (they’re already on facebook & flickr) SO I am just going to post a bunch of highlights, starting with my most favorite moment.

During the BLURT Magazine/ Dogfish Head IPA party at The Ginger Man on Friday, March 16, 2012 at SXSW…

This is Jon Auer & Ken Stringfellow playing/singing “Solar Sister” about five feet away from me.   I am not able to post my own video of this event because someone (me) was screaming a bit too loudly.  I get excited. I can’t help it, especially when I’m in an open space & may have consumed a few glasses of wine.  You can see a great video of it here & be sure to listen up for a special name change in the middle.  When I heard it live, I thought it was just my imagination.  Actually, this whole night was nearly out of my imagination.

Earlier in the evening, Ken started his set with my most favorite of his songs, “Any Love (Cassandra et Lune)” & also played my second favorite, “One Morning” as well as a boatload of great new songs whose titles I don’t know.

Mmmmm… Gretsch.  I love Gretsch.

I have continued my trend of being too close to get good shots.  Luckily, I have great memories despite having a crappy memory.  I shot this with my newly acquired Sony Mavica CD-400.   When we stopped in Delaware on the way to Texas, my brother gave me it because he wasn’t using it anymore.  I had previously had the 300, 400 & 500.  As my dad upgraded, I would get the old one.  I would then find a way to crack the LCD screen.  One time it was because someone said they saw a snake & I fell while running away.  Motherfuckin’ snakes.   Unfortunately, we weren’t in any one place long enough to charge the batteries fully so I didn’t shoot too much with this.

This was also our first time seeing Jon Auer solo.  His “Burn & Shine” medley was particularly exceptional.  He didn’t break any strings though. This might be the first time we’ve seen him play & not break a string.

His open hand was begging for a glowing orb.

I know driving to Texas isn’t free, but did I mention this was a free show?  It was AND there was more greatness to follow when Jody Stephens joined in for some rollicking Big Star songs.

Many special guests came out, including some of the great “Third” singers/players, John Doe, the guy from Blitzen Trapper, Ian Moore & Peter Buck from R.E.M.  I kept thinking Peter Buck looked like Bill Murray so I couldn’t say hello because I kept laughing, expecting him to start reciting “Groundhog’s Day” lines (because I am sure that is what the real Bill Murray does when he isn’t loading Tia Carrere’s band van).

I should start taking notes of set lists or get a new battery for my video camera so I can at least have a poor recording to reference.  Suffice it to say that this only fed my frenzy of adoration for these guys.  Every time we see them together, I fear it will be the last time & I don’t ever want that to be the case.  I do want the next show to be somewhere where it is ok to dance though.  The sitters behind me weren’t too keen on my desire to dance to “September Gurls.”  I hate sitting down almost as much as I hate being quiet.

These guys are the greatest.  Induct them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame now please (& don’t forget John Fry).

“Stuck in the mud, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey…”

I should be editing animal shelter pictures right now but I feel as though I should update this for my own sake.   So, let’s take a trip back in time to late February.  Our friend Nick asked my boyfriend to play a benefit show in Asbury Park at The Press Room.  The benefit was for the family of Tony Strollo, Bruce Springsteen’s longtime friend/trainer/assistant.  This led to inevitable rumblings about a surprise appearance by Bruce.  After seeing him twice in the past year at another small Asbury club, The Wonder Bar, I was pretty sure there was no way he would show up again.  I was so sure that I didn’t even charge all of my camera batteries or bring a video camera (two things that would be very smart to do if you knew your boyfriend was playing right before Bruce Springsteen).
February 25, 2012 – The Press Room – Asbury Park, NJ
Soon after we arrived, Swamp Eddy, who we know from the open mic nights, opened the show with a rousing acoustic set.   I’m not sure where you can find it but, I suggest listening to “Salt Creek.”  The slide guitar riff gets stuck in my head quite frequently.  He was followed by Rockstar Sissy & Quincy Mumford.  Then, as Dave & the boys from Snowball 37 were getting ready to go on, they were asked to cut their set to 20 minutes because Bruce had arrived.

My Nikon, permanently set to ISO 200 because of a broken LCD screen, was paired with a battery-less flash making the image above about the best I could do.  My Canon, with a nearly dead battery & still no working external flash, was only equipped with the 50mm lens which is normally all I would need in this situation.  In a typical SB37 crowd, I can move wherever I’d like so bringing a wider lens is just extra baggage.  This didn’t wind up being a typical crowd though.   I am fairly certain that by opening with “Ring of Fire,” Snowball 37 was able to capture a good deal of the audience before they went on to play three originals.   Quick note about the band – Dave sings & plays guitar, his brother Tim plays drums, James plays bass & sings backups and Brent plays guitar & saxophone.  There is no quiz later but that last bit of information will be important shortly AND it lets you know why their version of “Ring of Fire” is pretty kick ass.

Awesome shadow, eh?  I only took about 30 pictures of them.  In the back of my mind, I knew that the only time people not in my photos care about my photos is when they are of Bruce so I needed to save what battery I had left.   Also, I was having a great time.  They sounded great & there was a ton of energy, not to the point of disrespect though (this was a benefit after all).  When they finished, Dave stayed in the green room area rather than fight the masses to come back to where Maria, Rebecca & I were.

The fact that this was a tribute for a man who had passed far too young became relevant shortly after Snowball 37 finished.  Tony Strollo’s brother, Michael, was next to take the stage.  Bruce sat on an amp at the back of the stage and accompanied him.  I was just a few feet away from Michael & I felt really awkward taking too many photos of him.  As a concert photographer who also loves music & respects performers, I sometimes have a terrible problem in which I sacrifice capturing a moment with the camera just so I can soak it into my soul.  Michael has a beautiful voice & I give him so much credit for getting up there so soon.  This song in particular made me a bit misty.

At some point during Michael’s set, Maria received a message from her boyfriend Brent saying that he would be playing saxophone with Boccigalupe & The Bad Boys and, subsequently, Bruce.  Brent apparently had not read sheet music in years & the only song he ever played (from the list) was “Soul Man.”  Even if the Nikon was working, I was far too close to get them both in the same shot so I had to resort to crappy cell phone video.  Yes, I was one of the 80% of all the people there with my cell phone out.  Plus, it was killing me to not have full enough battery or wide enough lens to shoot this properly.  Maria’s phone takes better video so you can see them both here.

(C) Please don't steal it.

The above photo is intended to look like a split screen.  Brent was being playfully reprimanded for not having the music ready to start the next song.

At the previous two Asbury shows, Bruce didn’t play any of his songs which is fine because I loved the songs he did play, especially the time he did “What’s Your Name?”  I am a sucker for doo wop & golden oldies or whatever you want to call the music I associate with poodle skirts, tail fins  & “Grease.”  This time, he did both “Rosalita”“10th Avenue Freeze Out.”  It was super cool being so close for both of those, especially when he prefaced “the Big Man joined the band” by saying, “And this is the important part.”  Brent, having no monitors & not being a Springsteen aficionado, skipped the solo.   I told him to say that it was out of respect for Nick, that it was too soon to be playing Clarence’s parts.   He kicked ass though.   Damn.  What a cool addition to a resume (especially living in New Jersey).

(C) Conn! Please do not steal!

(C) Conn! Please don't steal it.

I sent the above photo of Bruce with his friend Tony Amato to .  My second time on Rolling Stone DOT COM.  I am still waiting for the paper version.  Then, I will feel accomplished.  Unfortunately, a few days later, I found this photo on someone’s flickr page, where they were claiming ownership.  A few “thief” comments later & it was gone.  I wish I left it at that, but I was pretty upset that the Rolling Stone website allows right click photo theft of pretty high resolution images so I let them know.   Even after my apologies (including a hand written one), I am not sure they will want my photos again.  That sucks.  The only time most people care that I “play with pictures” is when I take pictures of Bruce Springsteen or have a photo used on RS.  Then, they assume that I am paid & tell me I am a fool for not getting paid.  Hmmm… Let’s weigh my options.  I could go to shows, take pictures & never share them because no one wants to pay for them when 30 people with better cameras will send them for free OR I could go to show that I love, take pictures & be happy to share them because no one wants to hire me without previously published work.  Definitely a sword you can’t hold by the blade.

Back to the good…  In a text message after his set, when I asked what was going on, Dave wrote:  “I just walked into the back.  I didn’t want to bother him, but the promoter said, “These are the kids from Snowball 37.”  He said “Good job.”  Dave then apologized & Bruce laughed before going out front.  Dave hates bothering people, especially famous people.  I hate writing about him, but I feel the need to bottle that small success and leave it on this shelf to look at on gloomy days.

“…Believin’ we could cut some place of our own with these drums & these guitars.  We made a promise we swore we’d always remember.  No retreat, baby, no surrender…”

Special thanks to Nick Clemons for asking Snowball 37 to play this show, Out of Order for hosting such a moving tribute & Michael Strollo for bravely playing a great set.

“It’s in the silence, you can hear the same words…” – BEST of 2012

I’m only 17 days late to the new year.   Oops.

Best Albums of 2011 – “Virgins of Menace” – The Disciplines

& “Elsie” – The Horrible Crowes

Best 7″ – BIG STAR With John Davis:  Live Tribute to Alex Chilton – “Don’t Lie to Me”/”In the Street”/”When My Baby’s Beside Me”

The above also represents my proudest photographic accomplishment thus far.  To have one of my photos on the label of such sonic beauty makes me incredibly happy.

My VERY favorite photo of the year -

Boyd Tinsley - By Conni Freestone

In a year that I lost count of all the shows I could not shoot (due to lack of money, credentials or both), being able to shoot Dave Matthews Caravan was an extraordinary experience.   There are shots from the festival that are technically better than this shot of Boyd Tinsley but this one is my favorite.  It was the third night of DMB & they were playing “Seek Up.”  I just happened to be positioned right where Boyd stepped forward.  Looking at this, I can still recall my shaking knees.  I wanted to drop the camera & just dance along to the music and, at the same time, I wanted to make sure the settings accounted for the different lighting downstage.  I wanted that moment to last forever & now it can & that is why I love shooting concerts.

Runners-up for favorite moments &/or photos include:

Jody Stephens drumming "September Gurls"

Watching Jody Stephens drum  “September Gurls” at the Big Star Third show March 26, 2012.   From the balcony, I could see just how the sticks hit the drums & cymbals.  I was mesmerized.  Where was my video camera?!


Snowball 37

September 19 – Snowball 37 & Nick Clemons Band at Sullivan Hall – One of the most fun shows of the year.  This marked the live debut of SB37 with sax & the energy of the show was really high.   This is one of my favorite pictures because James looks like a cartoon eagle.  I love the shadows & absolutely could have cropped it differently, but it is still one of my favorites.  This show also rocked because Binky & Tony were there.


Snowball 37 - Conn!

Snowball 37’s Family (Re)Union Show with five of the six Fagan siblings & one next generation Fagan.  January 21, 2012  They played my favorite part of “Across the Sea” in a Weezer medley.  Ahhhhh…


Nick Clemons - Conni

November 5 –  Nick Clemons Band & Snowball 37 at Tiki Stadium.   Nick has an incredible voice & a band full of talented musicians.  This was another high energy show.  I love both of these bands.

Flaming Lips - Conni Freestone

Shooting the Flaming Lips gave me chills even though it was 85 degrees outside.


November 14 – That is my skirt & Ken Stringfellow’s shoe.  While I am sad to have not seen the Posies as a whole in over a year, it was more than pleasant to be sitting so close as he sang & played.   I do regret not having a camera that can shoot noiselessly over ISO800.  Too much flash was too rude so the actual photos of this show are not the best.    Good thing Ken has a new album coming out.


brian fallon - conni freestone

September 8 – The Horrible Crowes – I couldn’t afford the Gaslight Anthem shows this year & I would have missed this were it not for the great people at The Aquarian Weekly.


jonathan tiersten & david fagan - Conn!

Any time Jonathan Tiersten & David Fagan play together is great.  This particular shot is of their “Under Pressure” duet on September 11.  I chose this show because of JT’s performance of his song “Underbelly” that night.   Just go to the video & let him take you to church (or as much church as you can be taken to when Ayn Rand inspired the song).


My favorite show of 2012

Bruce Springsteen & JT Bowen - Conni Freestone

Twice this year, we found ourselves watching Bruce Springsteen play the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park (for $10 each).  The second time, July 17, was a tribute to Clarence Clemons and featured The Sensational Soul Cruisers with J.T. Bowen (pictured above).   Listening to J.T. Bowen, I was transported to the Memphis of my dreams, especially when he sang “Try A Little Tenderness.”  I wanted to melt right into the floor.   I can’t find video of that song but you can watch this instead.  Forward about halfway through & you can hear “Shake.”*   He absolutely, positively stole the show for me.  His performance alone would have made this my favorite show.  Other reasons this was my favorite – hearing them talk about Asbury in the old days reminded me of my dad, JT Bowen reminded me of my dad (looks, not voice), the music was so damn good, I had my honey with me AND, because of this show we now have another extremely talented, awesome friend.

*Please let me know why you would ever shake a bowl of soup though

Must’ve put a spell on you baby, Must’ve kept on coming back

When I took this picture a year ago, I tried to find out the name of the guitarist/guitar tech on stage.  I eventually forgot to keep looking.  I didn’t make the connection when I heard about The Horrible Crowes, read the liner notes or met Ian Perkins right before the show.  It wasn’t until I was editing my less than stellar shots of the Horrible Crowes show that I realized, & I am about 90% sure, that this photo is my first photo of The Horrible Crowes. 

If you want a review of the show, please pick up the September 28, 2011 issue of The Aquarian Weekly.  Because I am horrible at being objective & putting into words why I like something if I really like it, it took me about seven hours to write.  One hour of that was trying to find out the name of the last song that Brian McGee (the opener) sang.  I left it as the unknown Plow United song.  Then, I started trying to make a comparison between The Horrible Crowes & The Rat Pack but it just didn’t work out right so I cut it.  I also had difficulty expressing just how much I loved Ian Perkins’ guitar.  It is very similar (the same?) as Chris Bell’s that Jon Auer played “I Am The Cosmos” on at the Big Star Levitt Shell show. 

Ian Perkins' Gibson ES-335

The lighting at the show was very low which sets a great tone but make my cameras very noisy.  It didn’t help that the Nikon is stuck at ISO200 (see previous blog) or that I left the better Canon battery (that holds a charge for more than 15 minutes) charging at home.  Also, I had to respect the first three songs photo policy which meant I missed the really cool shots of Brian & Ian.  Next time, I must remember to bring a point & shoot for such instances.  The following are some of my favorites:

Alex Rosamilia playing the Nord.  He also adopted a pitbull from Liberty Humane Society.  This almost makes me happier than the music :)

Ian Perkins playing the aforementioned Gibson ES-335.

For more, please visit my flickr & keep an eye on The Aquarian.

Hey reckless mind, don’t throw away your playful beginnings…

 My first Dave Matthews concert was in 1998? with my bestest buddy in the whole wide world, Thindy.  After that one, there were many more.  I don’t think I ever appreciated the sound of the guitar until I saw Dave Matthews.  Listening to DMB made me feel happy, sexy, one with the world yet totally detached from it.   My Thindy moved away, my other friends don’t really like DMB & new worlds of music were opened up to me so I lost touch with my “playful beginnings” until this past weekend…

It was a tremendous honor & a re-birth of sorts that found me front & center in the photo pit for this past weekend’s Dave Matthews Band Caravan shows in Atlantic City.   I still have a ton of pictures to edit but I am not sure any will be as cool as this one:

Boyd smiles
This was from the Sunday show.  I believe the song was “Seek Up” but all I was trying to do was not let my knees cave in.  Boyd Tinsley violining like a fiend, making beautiful music mere feet from my eager ears.  I didn’t have time to double check the settings & prayed this would turn out so I could remember this moment forever.  Selfishly enough, my primary reason for wanting to photograph musicians I love is so that I can relive the experience.  If seeing the photos transports me back to the moment, I am satisfied.  Of course, it is also great when they take other people to that place too.  So, fan or foe, present at this show or not, here are a few other shots…


More photos will be added to my flickr

Thank you Dave Matthews Band for a weekend of beautiful music & reminding me of why I fell in love with you in the first place :)

All my life, you’re a friend of mine…

Ever since I was little, I wanted a hug from Clarence Clemons.  The sad news of his passing reached me in the middle of Jonathan Tiersten’s show in Philly.  He passed the guitar to Dave & an impromptu tribute was given.  As soon as we came home, I went to the record player & played “You’re A Friend of Mine” while dancing.  Since I have no words, please enjoy some of the beautiful tributes that were left outside The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.

For the complete series, please visit my flickr page.

Rest in Peace, Clarence.

“Well, I finally found a jungle I like. I’ll be swinging my machete tonight…”

My favorite new albums of 2010 – “Blood/Candy” – The Posies & “American Slang” – The Gaslight Anthem
My favorite live show of 2010 is one of the following or you can cheat & scroll to the bottom.  

Roky Erickson
Roky Erickson – December 31, 2009/January 1, 2010 – Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ

Brian Fallon
Brian Fallon – January 15, 2010 – Bowery Ballroom – NYC
More photos from this show can be seen here.

J Mascis Dinosaur Jr.
J. Mascis, Dinosaur Jr. – January 17, 2010 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY
More from this show here.

David Fagan - Snowball 37
David Fagan, Snowball 37 – January 22, 2010 – The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ

Wanda Jackson
Wanda Jackson – February 11, 2010 – The Knitting Factory – Brooklyn, NY
More from this show here.

J Richman
Jonathan Richman – February 14, 2010 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY

Snowball 37
Snowball 37 – April 17, 2010 – Wunderbar – Queens, NY
Binky Bianca
Binky Bianca – April 17, 2010 – Wunderbar – Queens, NY

Tim Fagan, Snowball 37
Snowball 37 – May 1, 2010 – Crash Mansion – NYC
An attempted terrorist attack cancelled the Binky Bianca show that we were supposed to see before this show.

Jon Auer Jody Stephens - big Star
Jon Auer & Jody Stephens – May 15, 2010 – The Levitt Shell – Memphis, TN
More from this show here.

Snowball 37
David & Tim Fagan, Snowball 37 – May 21, 2010 – Mexicali Blues – Teaneck, NJ

Misha, Grace Beats Karma – June 2, 2010 – The Local 269 – NYC

Sid Selvidge Amy Speace
Sid Selvidge & Amy Speace – June 7, 2010 – The Living Room – NYC
More from this show here.

Binky Bianca
Binky Bianca – June 25, 2010 – O’Hara’s – Jersey City, NJ

Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo – July 28, 2010 – The City Winery – NYC
More from this show  here.

Gibby Haynes
Gibby Haynes – August 1, 2010 – The Bell House – Brooklyn, NY

jonathan tiersten
Jonathan Tiersten – August 2, 2010 – Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ

Snowball 37
Snowball 37 – August 3, 2010 – Private Block Party – North Bergen, NJ

Brian Fallon
Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem – August 5, 2010 – The Stone Pony Summer Stage – Asbury Park, NJ

Brian Fallon - Gaslight Anthem
The Gaslight Anthem – September 1, 2010 – State Fair – Allentown, PA
More on this show here.

Weezer – September 1, 2010 – State Fair – Allentown, PA
More on this show here.

Eugene Mirman
Eugene Mirman – September 19, 2010 – The Bell House – Brooklyn, NY

The Posies
The Posies – September 23, 2010 – The Rock Shop – Brooklyn, NY
More on this show here.

Run Robot
Run Robot – October 2, 2010 – Brighton Bar – Long Branch, NJ

Snowball 37
Snowball 37 – October 7, 2010 – Clash Bar – Clifton, NJ
More on this show here.

Hugh Cornwell
Hugh Cornwell – October 23, 2010 – The Brighton Bar – Long Branch, NJ

Jon Auer
Jon Auer, The Posies – November 13, 2010 – Highline Ballroom – NYC

Ken Stringfellow, The Posies
Ken Stringfellow, The Posies – November 13, 2010 – Highline Ballroom – NYC

Brendan Benson
Brendan Benson (& The Bent Sons) – November 13, 2010 – Highline Ballroom – NYC

David Terry, Aqueduct – November 14, 2010 – Trocadero Theatre – Philadelphia, PA

The Posies
The Posies – November 14, 2010 – Trocadero Theatre – Philadelphia, PA

Brendan Benson
Brendan Benson – November 14, 2010 – Trocadero Theatre – Philadelphia, PA

The Posies
The Posies – November 17, 2010 – 930 Club – Washington DC

Brian Fallon - Gaslight Anthem
Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem – December 3, 2010 – Roseland – NYC

Gerard Way - My Chemical Romance
Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance – December 3, 2010 – Roseland – NYC

Stu McLamb & Chris Stamey
Stu McLamb & Chris Stamey – December 8, 2010 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC

Jody Stephens
Jody Stephens – December 9, 2010 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC

Matt McMichaels & Mike Mills
Matt McMichaels & Mike Mills – December 9, 2010 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC

Mitch Easter
Mitch Easter – December 10, 2010 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC

Big Star  Third
Mitch Easter, Stu McLamb, Sidney Dixon, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, Mike Mills – December 10, 2010 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC

David Fagan
David Fagan – December 23, 2010 – Clash Bar – Clifton, NJ

My favorite shot of the year:

Rivers Cuomo - Weezer
Rivers Cuomo, Weezer – September 1, 2010 – State Fair – Allentown, PA

Favorite concert moment:
Jody Stephens & Jon Auer performing “Blue Moon.”
Jody Stephens Jon Auer
Jody Stephens & Jon Auer – July 28, 2010 – The City Winery – NYC

My favorite show of the year: 
Big Star
May 15, 2010 – The Levitt Shell – Memphis, TN

Thank you all for making beautiful music!  I hope to see & hear you all again in 2011.

“I should’ve stayed on the farm…”

My job that pays me involves a lot of driving, taking pictures of houses for banks either because the mortgage payments are late or because the house is in or near foreclosure.  In the process of taking these pictures with a crappy point & shoot camera (this is definitely NOT a photography job), I get to see a lot of areas that are or used to be farms. The great thing about most of the McMansion “estates” is that they are often named for whatever they displaced (Rolling Meadows, Hundred Acres, Historic Battlefield) rather than what they actually are – oversized, hastily made, character-less, faux-brick facaded, ostentatious examples of a new America that is destined to continue faltering.  When I think of an “estate,” I do not think of these houses; I think of glorious architecture, well-maintained gardens, secret passageways, balconies that overlook miles of sand or forest.  I have a great many moral issues with the job I do, but luckily most of my day is spent listening to music in the car.  If I had to really think about the problems our nation faces ALL the time, I would definitely go crazy.  Yesterday, I saw another farm banished to the doom of “Coming Soon- (Insert grandiose bullshit, holier than thou, come live here so you can brag to your office pals about the snobby “community” you live in name here) Estates!”  This is just one reason why farms & farming should be embraced. 

These feelings were strengthened this past weekend when I spent some time with furry farm animals at my friend’s farm/learning center, Mapleview Agricultural Center.  I fell in love.  It was RFD-TV live & in person!   When I go back next month (to see Big Star’s “Third” performed with an orchestra), my friend said I can milk a cow!  I’m excited.  I think I need a cow… & a donkey… & some other animals…  I also need to thank a farmer.

Duchess of Earl…

It has been a while since I posted anything, let alone pictures of some of the fine animals at Liberty Humane Society.  In light of news that one of my favorite dogs has been adopted, tonight seems like a good night to share…

This is Big Star.  She was just adopted after being at the shelter since late March.  Her new name will be Duchess & she will be sharing a home with a boxer named Duke (& probably some people). 

Here are some of my other favorites from October.  Most of them have been adopted but there are plenty more who still need homes.  I promise.




Mr. Pryor


Snow Drop & her mom, Smoochie, came in very sick.  When I first took their photos a month ago, I thought for sure that they may not make it.  So, while this first photo may not be the best quality, it reminds me of the moment I saw them again, looking so much better. 




For more photos of adoptable cats & dogs in any area, please visit  If you are in the Jersey City area, please find Liberty Humane Society’s facebook page to view more photos.  Even if you cannot adopt, there are many great events & volunteer opportunities, as well as a donation wish list.  Don’t throw out your old blankets & towels, bring them to your shelter!

“I’m just a lil ol’ snake… trying to show you my point of view…”

I first saw Darren Deicide last year & was impressed by the way in which listening to him transported me right out of that little downtown Jersey City bar.  On this particular night, I was excited to not only see/hear Darren Deicide again but also see/hear two of my other most favorites – my very favorite singer, songwriter, bass player female extraordinaire, Misha, & the fantastically, fabulous Fagan brothers, Dave & Tim, performing Snowball 37 songs as a duo.   Now, that’s what I call music – a full night of nothing but great music at my favorite NJ venue, The Clash Bar.  If you’re ever there, try one of their special drinks.  I think the Blitzkrieg Berry is my favorite… or is it the Iggy Pop Punch?




“I keep dreaming of a map of the world. I keep searching the sky. I keep seeing the traffic signals passing me by…”

Oh, The Posies.

So, as I write this, I am still teary eyed from reading the lyrics to “Take Care of Yourself” (reminded me of my dad).  One of the many exquisite aspects of The Posies’ music is the way in which the music hits me one way so completely & I feel as though nothing could make this any better but then I read the lyrics apart from the music & I am hit once again…  

On September 23, 2010 we attended The Posies “Blood/Candy” Record Release Party at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn.  Besides hearing early acoustic versions of a few of the songs & “The Glitter Prize,” I had 43 seconds of “Licenses to Hide” downloaded on my phone & I kept playing it from youtube.  Otherwise, I don’t really like to hear new songs until I have the real thing in my hand.   As a big proponent of making the first listen a special experience, I am not sure it could get any more special than hearing it LIVE!   Waiting outside, I heard “Licenses to Hide” & it is just a beautiful song totally unwarranting of Ken’s “Blow-hemian Crap-sody” description.  I do believe it has a Queen feel to it but it is far from crap.  Nice try, humble Ken.  I think it is my favorite.   I cannot stop stomping my foot along to the kick drum.  Outside, I got so into it that I bumped my head on the glass. 

In an atmosphere like this, only really knowing those two songs, I think a lesser band with a less great album could have lost the audience with the songs that had yet to be heard but song after song, they were all really great!  “So Caroline” really stuck out for me as did “For The Ashes” which at first listen seemed like a companion to “Everyone Moves Away” & “Cleopatra Street” was super groovy but the song that seemed to rock the hardest & move me the most (even before I knew the lyrics) was “Take Care of Yourself.”  The music just hit me.  I  cried (if you read alot of these, you know that if it makes me cry, I really like it) because it was such a big, beautiful piece of music.  Everything about it just clicked with me.   I knew The Posies would be great but I really was not prepared for them to be THIS great.  After the “Blood/Candy” set, they played a few older tracks including, “Sad To Be Aware” which made me very happy to be there.  I was standing on the bench at this point & nearly fell off with excitement, especially at the “His name is Michael row your boat ashore” line that always gets stuck in my head. 

the rock shop  posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

After seeing this show, I am further convinced that most music critics & concert reviewers have no fucking clue about what “rocks.”  The Posies ROCK!   Now that I have “Blood/Candy,” I expect the November shows to be even better when I can sing along (sorry, neighbors).  I really like that the album versions are beautiful but when you hear them live they’re beautiful AND dirty.  There’s a real GRRRRRRR to them.  (Sorry, I’m not a critic so I feel no need to turn any of those words into flowery bullshit.)   These pictures are really not that great.  The light was really low & I was, once again, a bit too close… Oh, & I was excited too.  I’ll be better prepared at The Highline & maybe Memphis if we can get the money to get down there.  If not, I think we’ll have to go to Philly too.  I can’t get enough.

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the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

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the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

So, after the show, I had to wait almost FIVE days to get the album.  Luckily, Jack’s Music in Red Bank (yes I will give them a plug because they are awesome) had it (or you can order it here where I ordered the LP).  The rainy weather held up just long enough for me to keep the top down for the entirety of my first listen. 

conn! conni freestone

Besides “Licenses to Hide” making me almost hit the car in front of me when I kept lifting my entire right foot off the brake pedal, the song that really got me was “For The Ashes.”  I would really like to say that it sounded like a cross between The Beatles & Queen but I think that takes away from the originality of The Posies so I suppose you should strike that remark from my record.  Much as “Take Care of Yourself” moved me in concert, the beauty of this track moved me to tears.  I wish it wasn’t so odd to admit things like that, but if something is so beautiful, shouldn’t it make you feel something?  I think people are losing their ability to feel.  My remedy for this – stop listening to whatever trendy band du’jour you read was cool & go out & listen to live music.  Keep listening until you find something that makes you feel.  Passion is a good thing.  Get some.  Oh, & buy “Blood/Candy” because I said so & that completely contradicts what I just said :)

  the posies (C) conn! conni freestone

 I have said it before & I will say it again – Jon Auer & Ken Stringfellow are not capable of making music that is anything less than great.  Darius & Matt certainly add to the rockin’ness of The Posies.  Go see them!  Buy their stuff!  Tell your friends!  

Photos (C) Conn! Please do not use them without permission unless you are The Posies in which case, maybe you want to wait until I take some better ones.

“I’ll bring home the turkey if you bring home the bacon!”

On September 1, 2010, I saw Weezer at The Great Allentown State Fair where another of my favorites, The Gaslight Anthem, opened for them.

I should forewarn you that these are perhaps the best photos I have taken since I first took the D70 to see Green Day.  What a huge difference a giant spotlight makes on concert photos!  It didn’t hurt that I could not take my eyes off of Rivers.  He is quite the showman.  Apologies to Brian, Pat, Scott, & Josh – you are all superb musicians but with the spotlight on Rivers most of the time, it was impossible to not keep my camera fixed on him.   This made me even more pissed that I missed the Williamsburg Waterfront show that my brother in law sang “I Want You To” with Rivers :( 

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The only problem I experienced was when Rivers came into the crowd & caused a bit of a push… It jarred the memory card in the Nikon & rendered some of those photos un-openable.  This happened again when a crowd surfer landed their boot on my Nikon.*  If most people in the audience are wearing flip flops or Converse, why is it that the ones who choose to crowd surf inevitably are wearing hiking boots?  I know, I shouldn’t have a camera in the crowd but until some outlet decides that it is ok for a female who is under 65 & actually likes music to have a photo pass, I will have to stick to sneaking my cameras in & hoping for the best.  

weezer (C) conni freestone conn!

This photo above is my absolute favorite from the show.  I will do (nearly) anything to be able to shoot the Blinkerton tour, even if it was just for “Across the Sea” & I was kicked out right after :)  I cannot wait to see Weezer again, especially in a venue with great lights, great sound & an ability for me to be so close.

By the way, if you have not already purchased “Hurley,” I encourage you to do so yesterday!   My favorites so far are “Unspoken,” “Smart Girls” & “I Want To Be Something.”  Oh, & “Where’s My Sex?” & “Represent” & “All My Friends are Insects.”  Ok, so I like the whole darned thing!

All photos (C) Conn!  Unless you are Weezer, please do not use them without permission.

*Anyone know a way to open Nikon RAW files that give an “end-of-file” error in PhotoShop?  I can see the thumbnails in the preview so it makes it worse to know that they are there & they look good.  I do not have the Nikon software to open these files.  I tried adding them to the hard drive three different times.

“Give me the fevers that just won’t break… Tell me ’bout the cool he sings you in those songs…”

For my birthday in June, I bought tickets to see The Gaslight Anthem at The Stone Pony on August 5, 2010 & tickets to see them play with Weezer at the Allentown State Fair (PA) on September 1.   With all of the Ticketmaster fees, this nearly bankrupted me but seeing concerts is always more fun than having good credit & paying student loans, right? 

So, the August show… was full of the Gaslight fans who really like to mosh & crowd surf.  This makes taking pictures & having a good time difficult.  Plus, during my favorite new song, “Bring It On,” the lady behind me decided to start a fight with the girls behind me – pushing, punching & homophobic words were all pleasantly shared.   As with the Terminal 5 show, I had some moments of wanting to never see them again live, through no fault of their own.  We started walking to the car during the first encore & realized that the sound was actually way better from there (it was an outdoor stage & the car was about 40 feet to the side of the stage) & I loved them again. 

the gaslight anthem stone pony summer stage

Cut to:
September 1 – Allentown

I thought for sure the crowd would be full of people to see both Weezer & The Gaslight Anthem.  I like  love them both, so why shouldn’t everyone?  Oh, that’s right because people today need to be told who to like.   The only thing that could have made this show better would be if some version of Big Star/The Posies were playing too.  (Weezer pics will be in a separate post)…

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The Gaslight Anthem played a whirlwind set comprised of almost 20 of my favorite songs.  Since my last attempt at rocking out to “Bring It On” was a failure, this was the exact opposite.  When they started it, I let out a whooping scream that made those around me laugh.  Sorry for being excited.  What a crime!  It was SOOOO nice to be able to dance to these songs.  SOOOOO nice.   I even had the freedom to cry during “American Slang.”  I didn’t cry a lot but sometimes when I really get into it, my emotions get the best of me when he sings “We called for our fathers but our fathers had died…”  I love The Gaslight Anthem. 

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gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

Compared to other shows of theirs I have seen, I would rank this pretty high up there just based on being able to really rock out & sing along.  It was a bummer that more people around me didn’t seem very into it.  How can you hear these songs & not at least tap your foot?!   Not to mention that this incredible show was to be followed by Weezer!

The State Fair setting made it even cooler when they played “The Backseat” – “Come July, we’ll ride the ferris wheel, go round & round & round & if you never let me go, well I will never let you down…”

(C) conni freestone conn!

Technically speaking, my close proximity to the stage & the lack of flying feet into my head & camera (except for the last song) would have made this show pretty easy to shoot if I wasn’t so busy enjoying it.  Brian, Alex, Alex & Benny are all enjoyable to watch & highly photographable.   I did have some trouble making adjustments as the sun was setting, until they turned the big lights on.  See how technical I am with terms like “big lights…?”

“If demons come while you’re under, I’ll be a blue moon in the dark”

Since I waited so long to write about this, I have lost a majority of the minor details pertaining to my initial reactions.  That is not nearly as important as the music anyway.  I have included links to the video that accompanies some of these songs.  Please keep in mind that my video camera is crap & likes to turn itself off.  Also, I like to be as close as possible & I do not possess a wide-angle lens.  Sorry.  Just listen to the music & pretend the quality is better.  Then, go to a live show because live music is better for you anyway. 

The show opened with Chris Stamey, Sondre Lerche, Laura Chilton and others performing “Kanga Roo.”  It was absolutely beautiful. 

This was followed by Yo La Tengo’s set of  “Take Care,” Windows Hotel” & “My Baby Just Cares For Me.”  I had heard great things about YLT & they did not disappoint.  I would certainly see them again if given the chance.  Ira truly channeled his inner Alex for “Windows Hotel” & Georgia’s “Take Care” made me cry.

YLT also backed Jon Spencer on “Rock Hard” & Bangkok,” two of my favorite solo rockers from Alex.   I have never heard Jon Spencer’s music but if he always performs with such enthusiasm, I would gladly see him again as well.  In another venue, I would have been dancing but the City Winery is a bit tight for that. 

Alan Vega joined YLT & Jon Spencer for “Rubber Room” & “Dreambaby Dream.” 

Next up was a set by Gary Talley & Bill Cunningham from The Box Tops, Terry Manning (mix master extraordinaire) & Richard Dworkin.  They played “Free Again,” “Choo Choo Train,” “Neon Rainbow,” “Cry Like a Baby” “Soul Deep” & “The Letter.”  I absolutely could not believe how great they sounded.  Gary Talley has the voice to keep these songs alive.  I would definitely see a Bill Cunningham/Gary Talley Box Tops show.  Once again, I really wanted to dance.  Curses on tight seating!

Ronnie Spector then came out to sing “Walkin in the Rain.”  This was odd because I had no idea what correlation she had to Alex &, in all honesty, she seemed to be there more for herself whereas everyone else seemed to be there to honor Alex.  Such being the case, I would have liked to have heard “Be My Baby” since I remember playing it over & over again on my cassette player when I got the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack.  My best friend & I would carry it around when we took the dog for a walk, intentionally walking near the house of the boy she had a crush on hoping he would hear.  Back on topic, she then sang a song Alex wrote, “Baby, You’re Okay” with Fran Kowalski.   I love this style of music so I did enjoy both songs.

Danny Kroha from The Gories then sang “Tinaninanoo.”  

Then, Marshall Krenshaw sang “Guantanamerika,” “Dalai Lama” & “Little GTO.”  I was most partial to “Little GTO.”  I would say it was because I am not as familiar with the other two songs but I had never heard the two Alex Chilton solo songs YLT did & I loved them…

Having read some of the stories surrounding the making of “Third/Sister Lovers,” I was excited to see (Elizabeth) Lesa Aldridge (Hoehn).   She was beautiful & it was so enjoyable to watch her perform “Downs” & “Jesus Christ.”  It was particularly nice to hear her tell of the origins of “Jesus Christ.”

Once I saw this guitar on stage, I knew my favorite part of the show was about to begin – the Big Star segments!

Jody Stephens & Jon Auer were joined by Chris Stamey, Gene Holder & Terry Manning.  They performed “In the Street,” “When My Baby’s Beside Me,” “Back of a Car” & “Way Out West” (which was even more heart wrenching in light of Andy Hummel’s recent passing & the touching, heartfelt introduction Jody gave).

jon auer is awesome

jody stephens is a great drummer

terry manning

Evan Dando sang “Nighttime.”  Sorry, Evan, Susan Marshall will forever reign supreme as the premier coverer (I don’t care if that isn’t a word) of this song.  Unfortunately, her version is not on youtube.  I should change that.

evan dando

Jon Auer followed that (thank God) with “Thirteen.”  I missed Ken Stringfellow’s high harmonies so I sang them from my seat (poorly).

jan auer star filter

This was followed by most favorite part of the entire evening.  Jody singing “Blue Moon” while Jon played guitar & sang harmonies.  The video link is from someone else whose camera recording did this far more justice than mine.   I don’t have any words to describe how beautiful this was so please just watch the video & dream like I do that Jody, Jon & Ken will get together to play some more & Jody will sing more because he should.

jody stephens singing blue moon

jody stephens sings

jody stephens & jon auer are awesome

Sondre Lerche came back out (actually he came through the audience) to sing “The Ballad of El Goodo.”  I was still coming down from a “Blue Moon” high but I think this was probably good :) I know the drums were awesome.

sondre lerche

jody stephens

Last up was “September Gurls” followed by Jesse Malin leading everyone in The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton.”  I wish Jon & Jody or anyone else sang it.  Sorry.  I’m not trying to be mean.  I just didn’t get the Jesse Malin/Alex Chilton connection & I like Jon and Jody a lot more. 

Overall, it was an incredible evening & it was truly amazing to hear the variety in the music that Alex wrote & performed.  I do believe his friends gave him a most proper tribute.   My very favorite moment of the night was definitely “Blue Moon.” 

Getting a gorgeous print of one of Stephanie Chernikowski’s photos of Alex was a really nice memento too :)  I wish I could have met her & picked her brain for some advice.  Her rock photos are gorgeous.


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