Sunday, March 31, 2013

New photos from the past couple of months

Top to Bottom:
Caleb Caudle & Haley Dreis, March 2013
Apache Relay, March 30, 2013
Antiseen, Feb. 23, 2013
John Corbett, March 2013
Delta Rae, March 2013
Cowboy Junkies, March 2013
Futurebirds, March 29, 2013
Anthony Hamilton, February 2013
Patterson Hood, March 2013
Matrimony, March 8, 2013
Milo, March 2013
Raphael Saadiq, March 2013
Justin Robinson and Rhiannon Laffin, tribute to Joe Thompson, March 8, 2013
Tyler, March 29, 2013
all photos copyright 2013 Daniel Coston

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Love This Freakin' Band - The Move

Whenever you work on a large project, be it creative, or for business, certain music can become the soundtrack to your time with that piece. When I was working on the NC Musicians photo book last year, my soundtrack was the first three Bee Gees albums, Shine On Brightly, by Procol Harum, and Nic Jones’ 1980 album Penguin Eggs. 

Recently, as I started working on a book on the North Carolina Rock & Roll scene of the 1960s, I found a podcast that specializes in music from that decade. Come To The Sunshine is fantastic show put together by Andrew Sandoval, and his shows just overflow with rare and cool nuggets from that great time for pop and Rock music. Included on the podcast was a two-hour show on the Move. I knew the band’s first album very well, and had even interviewed two of their bandmembers a few years ago. So, I’d thought I’d check out the show, and pressed play. And as the Velvet Underground once said, “And then my mind split open...”

What absolutely floored me was the show’s hefty inclusion of live recordings that the band did for the BBC. Every once in a while, your hear music in a different context, and you realize just how good someone was. And my God, the Move were good live. Yes, their own songs sound great in a live setting, but it’s their choice of covers was astounding. “Open My Eyes” by the Nazz? Check. “Rock N’ Roll” by the Buffalo Springfield? Yep. Love, Byrds, Everly Brothers, Tom Paxton? “California Girls”, with perfect four-part harmony? Yes,  yes, and heck yeah. On stage, the Move were an unequivocal Rock and Roll monster, capable of wiping the floor with any other artists that dared come near them. And they did all of this, and were listening to all the right songs, in 1968. 

The band’s story began in Birmingham, England in 1965. Inspired by a conversation with the pre-fame David Bowie, Trevor Burton and Ace Kefford begin putting together a supergroup of local musicians. Burton, Kefford, Carl Wayne, Bev Bevan and Roy Wood all “move” from their respective groups, and quickly form a powerful quintet. Much of their early shows are showcases for American R&B, Rock and soul, with the band boasting four potential lead singers (Wayne, Kefford, Wayne, and Wood), all trading off vocals. The band also adopted a smart fashion sense, with their early photoshoots looking like gangsters that traded guns for guitars.

Urged on by their new manager, Roy Wood begins writing material for the band, and the group begins beefing up their stage presence. Frontman Carl Wayne begins wielding an axe onstage, smashing televisions, and at one show, an entire car. Johnny Rotten would later remark that the Sex Pistols weren’t doing anything that the Move had done ten years before. The hits continued, although the band received a lot of bad press when their manager distributed a cartoon that got the band sued by the British Government. Roy Wood was later forced to give up all royalties from their next single, “Flowers In The Rain”, which became the first song to ever be played on BBC Radio 2 in 1967. 

Roy Wood’s songs also gave the band a unique, if quirky edge. The band’s roots were in Rock and R&B, but Wood’s songs came straight from fairyland, and fear of madness. Songs about hearing the grass grow, nights of fear, lemon trees, girls and fire brigades, and yellow rainbows, just in case the earth should fall. Wood’s high voice also began dominating the band’s music, leaving Wayne and the rest of the band in the background. 

Wood then led the band through more stylistic U-turns than a disoriented lorry driver, as the band began shedding their original lineup. The band’s “Wild Tiger Woman”, released in the summer of 1968, heralded a harder Rock sound, although the single’s poppier B-side, "Omnibus", should have been the A-side. When “Wild Tiger Woman” tanked, Wood went straight to the strings and pop angst of “Blackberry Way”, which put the band back at the top of the British charts. All the while, the band’s albums reflected their fractured mindset, and changes in personnel. After Carl Wayne left the band in 1969, Wood hired fellow Birmingham musician Jeff Lynne, who had been the singer and songwriter for the Idle Race. Be it late ‘60s hard Rock, chamber pop, or ‘50s Rockabilly, Wood and Lynne tried it all, and somehow managed to continue their run of hit singles.

By 1972, the Move were in search of a way forward. Wood suggested that they do an album that merged classical music and Rock, under a new guise: Electric Light Orchestra. After Wood left the band after their debut album (which was recorded at the same time as the Move’s swan song, Message From The Country), Lynne and drummer Bev Bevan led ELO through the heights of ‘70s superstardom. The history of one of England’s greatest bands of the 1960s became a prequel to ELO’s tale. One of ELO’s biggest hits, “Do Ya”, had even been originally done as a Move B-side, further enforcing the Move’s notoriety outside of England as a footnote to another band’s story. 

Time has allowed people to rediscover the Move, and the music that they created. What is the barometer that any artist leaves behind? Ultimately, it is the music that they leave behind. Some, like the Beatles, leave their footprints behind for all to see. The Move’s legacy is a little harder to dig for, but that does not diminish their eventual impact. BBC recordings, Youtube videos of live appearances on German TV, and of course, the records. Throughout the 60s, the Move weathered the changes, kicked ass live, and looked good doing it, which is all that any of us can hope for from any creative endeavor.
-Daniel Coston
March 28, 2013 

You can check out Andrew Sandoval's show at

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Info about my upcoming books

North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversations
out in June

There Was A Time: Rock & Roll in the 1960s in Charlotte, and North Carolina
Co-written with Jacob "Jake" Berger
out soon

Home Of The Blues: 35 Years Of The Double Door Inn
Co-written with Debby Wallace

Further info, and inquiries are welcome at danielcoston (at) aol dot com.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Word For The Day


As in, "Hopefully, I can cope with this."
March 26, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

SXSW article, 2009

As media coverage of the South By Southwest music festival (or SXSW, for short) has grown over the past several years, I’ve had more people ask me to describe the annual Austin, Texas extravaganza. Yes, a lot of bands do play it. Yes, a lot of journalists cover it. But for me, the event is several festivals in one. You can cover it from one angle, while someone else can have an entirely different experience. It’s really up to you, and what you do with your time there.

Wednesday began for me with recovery from the previous day’s 18-hour drive, eventually making my into town in the afternoon. The festival’s home base is the Austin Convention Center, filled to the rafters with volunteers, bands, trade show folks, and various other media types. There seems to be a turnover taking place amongst SXSW media, with the older veterans making way for wide-eyed college kids and their assistants. While it’s nice to work with journalists that have yet to be turned cynical by the world, they have a sense of entitlement that includes never reading the ground rules for shooting events, or even knowing how their camera works in manual focus. More than one event I shot during the week has frequently interrupted by someone’s red focus light. I hold my 1976 Canon AE-1 camera with pride, and off I go.

While I’ve always shot the Austin Music Awards in previous years, the Music Hall’s recent redesign makes it a pain to shoot, so I spend most of my time there hanging around backstage, taking photos  and swiping food from the caterers. I then made my way over to Stubbs’, getting there in time to enjoy a set from the Heartless Bastards.

Next up was North Carolina’s own Avett Brothers, who shined despite a shortened set, due to sound problems with the venue. Capping off the evening was the Decemberists, who were debuting their new album in its entirety. If the indie kids haven’t listened yet to pre-Dark Side era Pink Floyd, they should soon, because that’s what Colin Meloy and Co. are digging on the new album. Some of it works, and some of it may work better on record.

Thursday begins in the early afternoon, with a keynote address from Quincy Jones. Unlike the keynote speeches of recent years, Jones comes with a prepared speech, and gives a good presentation, accordingly. After wandering around the trade show area, I go to the press room to check email, only to find that Devo are holding court with a press conference. For over an hour, the media and I have fun with the band, running around like journalistic nerds interviewing their favorite band.

Thursday evening is highlighted by sets from Andrew Bird, Gomez and Akron/Family. Another problem with festivals of this size is the lack of sound preparation. Musicians come with their full stage setup, and are forced to put it together in twenty minutes, play for less than an hour, then set up for the next band in twenty minutes. Some bands pull it off, and others struggle. 

Friday night starts early in the morning, as I have managed to land a photo shoot with the Sonics, one of my favorite bands. The group recently reunited after forty years apart, and their set at SXSW is probably the one show I’ve been looking forward to the most. The shoot goes well, and I get the band to sign my copy of their 1966 album Boom, and we spend another hour talking and having fun after the shoot. This, for me, is the reason I come to Austin every year. Forget the mass media, forget the Rachel Ray and Kanye West attention-seeking types. I’ve come to shoot something that I couldn’t do in almost any other place and venue, and hopefully have a good time doing it. 

The Sonics do not disappoint that night, playing a roaringly loud 40-minute set that blows away every other show that I see that night. That includes the Felice Brothers, who should have thrived with playing under a large outdoor tent, but instead came across as under-rehearsed. Friends tell me later that I should give them another chance, and I might, but with the Sonics still ringing in my ears, I head off for some sleep.

Saturday begins with an appearance for the Hold Steady, who are being interviewed by their producer, who admits to nursing an extreme hangover. The producer refers to SXSW as “Disney World for alcoholics,” which is true for one segment of the festival regulars. I then bounce over to a sneak preview of the Neil Young Archives, which will finally be out  in June. While I don’t plan on spending $300 for the set, the wealth of early film footage of Neil is just plain stunning.

I then go over to a panel discussion on the Woodstock festival, with numerous Woodstock musicians and filmmakers in attendance. I also attend the panel’s after-party, where I happily feed my face with free hot dogs and barbecue, and take some photos, too. I cap the night off by seeing P. J. Harvey and John Parish at Stubbs’ (good show, but too much media there), and songwriting legend Jimmy Webb playing for the first time ever with his kids. Call me a music geek, but hearing “Wichita Lineman” sung by the man that wrote it was the best way for me to bring the festival to a close.
-Daniel Coston 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What It Is - Now Online With Pictures

Hello All-

I will be returning to Joe Kendrick's What It Is show this week. The show is now an online live video show. Check out my conversation with other music photographers, and see a few photos from my upcoming McFarland book on NC musicians. Tune in at 2pm on Thursday, March 21,  to A podcast will also later go up on 

Hope to catch you on the web. More essays here shortly.
March 19, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Not to the caricature that some have made this day, but to the heritage of my grandmother, Mary Collins King, and her family, the Scotch-Irish ancestry of the Coston family, and to St. Patrick's School in Seneca Falls, NY, which I attended as a child. To this I celebrate, today and every day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The NC 1960s book now has its own site, too

Enjoy, and stay tuned for updates on this book, as well as my North Carolina Musicians photo and interview book, both coming this spring.
March 7, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

THAT photo, part three

Hello All-

I've been meaning to give you all a final update on what happened with my photos of a certain Charlotte author. I finally got an answer back from Getty, and the Observer about their selling of my photos. The Observer/Getty can sell any photos of mine that they publish or distribute, and they keep the royalties. However, I still retain the rights to the photos, which allows me to sell the photos to other outlets.

So, here's how to score it. If you saw my photo of that author and it was credited to me/Observer/Getty/MCI, or just Getty/MCI, they got the money for that. If the outlet, like People, NY Daily News, or others bought it from me directly, I did receive money for that usage. Sure, I'd like to make money on when my photos are published, but it is a better deal than if I had a full-time deal with the Observer. In that case, the paper/corporation owns all rights to the work. Photography has been great to me, but sometimes, in all businesses, you must pick your poisons.

So, I didn't get rich from all this, and that's okay. That was never the goal. The attention was nice for a few days, and I made some new contacts, and learned a lot about how that business works these days.
The one outlet I missed in all of this was that someone from CBS emailed me via Facebook about the photo the weekend that the story, but for some reason the email went into the Other section, and I didn't see it for two months. Argh. But you can't win 'em all, even though we still try to.

I saw the author at an event recently. Sadly, it will probably be a while before she says hello. I don't think I'd know what to say, anyway, but I hope that she's doing well.
March 6, 2013

Word For The Day


Somewhere between a grunt and a shrug. Usually said, or thought, in the morning while reminding yourself that you should get up.
March 6, 2013