Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Monkees Photos, May 21st & 24th, Georgia and North Carolina

The Monkees
Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater
Peachtree City, GA
May 21, 2016

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
Charlotte, NC
May 24, 2016

All photos copyright 2016 Daniel Coston
Follow the band's touring adventures on The Monkees Tour FB page

May 31, 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Brandi Carlile Photo, Charlotte, NC, May 27, 2016

Brandi Carlile
Fillmore Charlotte
Charlotte, NC
May 27, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

Drunken woman behind me, smacking me in the back, not understanding that I'm only down front for the first three songs- "Down in front!"

Me, not even looking back at her as I keep shooting- "Yes, I am."

May 29, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chris Stapelton Photo, Charlotte, NC, May 19, 2016

Chris Stapelton
CMCU Ampitheater
Charlotte, NC
May 19, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

Blumeys 2016 Photo

Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston
Ardrey Kell HS performing Mary Poppins
See more Blumeys photos at the Blumenthal FB page, and blog.
May 25, 2016

Quentin Talley interview

Quentin Talley: Play On.
by Daniel Coston
from the May 2016 issue of Tangents Magazine

If you’ve been anywhere near a stage in Charlotte over the last ten years, chances are that you saw, or saw the work of Quentin Talley. Actor, poet, director, producer. Founder of OnQ Producutions, which has brought new and classic stories of the black experience to Charlotte since 2006. Need a ryhme at a poetry slam? Quentin has got it. Need someone to host a gala, complete with dance moves? Yes, Quentin’s done that, too. Quentin has also begun to be recognized for his work. Johnson C. Smith University recently honored Talley as one of this year’s Arch Of Triumph honorees, a recognition usually only given to those with decades of work behind them. For all that Talley has done in the last ten years, his focus is now on the work ahead of him, and the possibilities that can come from theater and performance.

Tangents Magazine: What productions are you working on now?
Quentin Talley: At this moment, we have multiple projects in progress. we are participating BOOM, charlotte''s first artist led annual showcase of experimental/contemporary performance & visual art. OnQ will present a new work, entitled Mo’ Betta (a new age blues cabaret). Mo’ Betta is contemporary take on classic cabaret, vaudeville, and variety shows popular in the 30’s and inspired by the Spike Lee original film of the same name. This OnQ original is an eclectic mix of poetry, dance, film, comedy with the best in live music orchestrated by our music director Tim Scott Jr. and hosted & directed by myself. We will premiere this week April 8-10 at Petra's. Also, we recently wrapped auditions and callbacks and started preliminary production meetings for our last show of this season, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, adapted by Lydia Diamond and directed Kim Parati. The show runs June 1st-11th at Duke Energy Theater at Spirit. All of this while planning our 10 year anniversary season, which will begin in August.
Tangents: Talk about theater, and your company, as an outlet for talking about what is going on in Charlotte. Or for matter, the world at large.
Talley: Theater for me has always been a place for self expression and is the ultimate platform of creativity to tell a story through multiple mediums of art (i.e. from costume designer to scenic to lighting, video, dramaturgy, history, etc.) theater encompasses so much. as far as the work that the company does, I feel its truly important. We are the only theater arts non-profit organization in the city that educates & produces professional theater that reflects the black experience. Culture and history live through stories. One of the most dangerous things that can occur for a people is failure to tell their own stories. It is at the peril of being falsely depicted and virtually erased from history that we fail to tell and re-tell,celebrate and preserve stories from our lives. Comparable to none other, the story is too vivid, too varied, too vibrant and too vital to American history ever to be forgotten. OnQ has helped transform the Charlotte Arts Scene by filling a void in the cultural landscape by telling compelling stories, dedicated to lifting up black voices and viewpoints, authentically and artistically, through theater.
Tangents: Is there a dialogue that can happen with people throiugh art and theater?
Talley: Oh definitely. Theater has always provided a safe space to reflect and address issues that plague our society. Its an artform that is a timeless natural conduit for conversation.
Tangents: Are there more creative possibilities in working with a company of performers, as opposed to being a solo act?
Talley: Another definite. The more creatives in a room the better. Usually, it makes the project/performance. Even when im working on a solo project, its not done in a vacuum, as i reach out to artist i trust, to provide their critiques/ideas/opinions to make the project stronger.
Tangents: What do you hope that people get from your solo works, or your larger company productions?
Talley: Whether solo or as the company, I hope audiences will see high quality, authentic work that speaks to the resilience of humanity.

Bless These Sounds Under The City interview

Bless These Sounds Under The City: Voices Calling
by Daniel Coston

Sometimes, two people playing music on stage sounds like two people. And in rare cases, these two people can sound like a beautiful army of geniuses and misfits, singing and playing together as they reach towards the heavens in hopes of reaching a larger answer to life’s many questions. Into this latter category falls the duo of Bless These Sounds Under The City.

Before the duo came together in 2012, multi-instrumentalist Derrick Hines was a veteran of serveral Charlotte-area bands, including X-Periment and Baleen. Albert Strawn had been playing solo shows around town, before he and Hines began writing songs together. Their debut album in 2014 was a swirling kaleidoscope of sound and vision, mixing throughtful pop-rock with amber psychedelic waves that recalled Neutral Milk Hotel and Mercury Rev. With the duo now recording their second album at the Chase Park Transduction Studios in Athens, Georgia, the future of the band continues to evolve and grow with the two men that make up the band.

Both Strawn and Hines talked with us via email, and this was the result.

Tangents Magazine: How did you two come together?

Derrick Hines: We met through a mutual friend. I was in a band he was helping to manage and after looking at a few of my lyrics he kept insisting I meet Albert. He kept saying how Albert was this amazing songwriter and he thought we should collaborate. After an awkward forced introduction we never spoke again. He didn't give up. He dragged me to one of Albert's performances and we actually talked more. I was blown away by the songs and we found we had a lot of musical influences in common. I started going by to help with the recording of Albert's demo and started suggesting things for me to play on it. Fast forward through breakups, depressions, me moving to Atlanta and swearing of performing, Albert taking a performance hiatus (unrelated), and the both of us coming back to music, Albert called me and said he was ready to go for it and that I should come back to Charlotte to do it with him. Once he sent me two tracks he was working on (Fireflies and And You Start) I was sold. Tangents: How would you describe the sound of this band?

Hines: I called it Electric Indie Folk but the second album is going to complicate this answer even further. Tangents: Was there a conscious decision to play as just a two-peice?

Hines: Yes. Yes. Yes. (One for each and one combo yes).

Tangents: Are people surprised that it’s just the two of you on stage?

Hines: Most of the time, yes. Tangents: What are the pros and cons of touring, and touring as just two people?

Hines: Pros.
1. It's easier to be diplomatic about everything. 2. $$$$$$ Easy split 3. We get along. Odds are a third person would ruin things. Haha 4. Two schedules are easier to work around. We only have to talk to one other person when trying to book shows. 5. $$$$$$ travel costs 6.When your food is missing you know who ate it so food rarely goes missing. Cons: 1. Workload. Things take a little longer to get done when there are only two people and both have full time jobs. 2. Farts: there's no one to blame farts on when there's just one other person.

Tangents: You’re working on your new album now, at Chase Park in Athens, GA. Talk about recording there, and the new songs.

Hines: It's a completely comfortable and creative atmosphere in there. Andy LeMaster (Azure Ray, Bright Eyes, Saddle Creek, etc.) is a peaceful genius and we are very lucky, honored, and happy to have him use his magic and talent in helping us create this 2nd album. We all toss our ideas out openly and try everything that is suggested to see how it feels. Andy knows what he wants to hear and how to produce it and we agree with the direction he goes in. It's really that simple, which is extremely nice.
The new songs definitely have a different feel from the first album but should compliment it very well. Much like the first album most every song from the first to the last will carry a different persona of sound and style. There is a lot of correlation throughout this 2nd album with the story/lyrics. The basic gist of this new album centers around the beginning and ending of everything and a few events within/the center of the infinite symbol. The opening track is titled "The Sleeping Eight" which represents infinity/the infinity symbol.

Bless These Sounds Under The City: Voices Calling
by Daniel Coston
from the May 2016 issue of Tangents Magazine

Sometimes, two people playing music on stage sounds like two people. And in rare cases, these two people can sound like a beautiful army of geniuses and misfits, singing and playing together as they reach towards the heavens in hopes of reaching a larger answer to life’s many questions. Into this latter category falls the duo of Bless These Sounds Under The City.

Before the duo came together in 2012, multi-instrumentalist Derrick Hines was a veteran of serveral Charlotte-area bands, including X-Periment and Baleen. Albert Strawn had been playing solo shows around town, before he and Hines began writing songs together. Their debut album in 2014 was a swirling kaleidoscope of sound and vision, mixing throughtful pop-rock with amber psychedelic waves that recalled Neutral Milk Hotel and Mercury Rev. With the duo now recording their second album at the Chase Park Transduction Studios in Athens, Georgia, the future of the band continues to evolve and grow with the two men that make up the band.

Both Strawn and Hines talked with us via email, and this was the result. Tangents: Where do you draw inspirations for your songs?

Albert Strawn: The first album was from personal experiences or just about what I was going through personally and they/it needed to be expressed. I never even imagined i would record some of those songs on the first album. They originally came into existence purely for my survival. This second album is still personal but we tied a separate fictional story within that tries to combine personal with imagination in hopes of moving towards being a stronger person in the end. Love and hope are good things. Derrick is also writing more. On the first album he wrote the lyrics for Too Much Everyone. On this 2nd album he is writing 2 and a half songs lyrically. Tangents: You worked a local dance troupe last year. Talk about that.

Hines: There was/is a dance company in Charlotte called Baran Dance. We met them through Mark Baran of Sinners & Saints. Audrey Baran (the owner and main choreographer) loved our music and we ended of collaborating with Baran Dance and a local photographer named Sara Woodmansee. It was an amazing experience of live music and live dance while visuals were being projected on a huge screen behind all of us. The show was called Dance Under The City Sounds. Beautiful friendships were formed and we all got to share the unique experience of performing the show at Booth Playhouse in Charlotte, NC. We also performed pieces of it at TEDxCharlotte and Pecha Kucha.

Tangents: Do labels, or genre questions, get in the way of people discovering, or even enjoying music?

Hines: I think the purpose for genres and labels is to have a place to start when talking about music. I also think that people's listening habits have changed so drastically that labels should apply more on a song-to-song, or per album, basis rather than broad-stroking an artist. All the labels do now is make it harder for artists to get heard on a larger scale (radio, blogs, podcasts, etc.). If you don't sound enough like two or three popular bands of a specific genre or two then they have little interest in spotlighting you. Tangents: Finish this sentence. When it comes down to it, Bless These Sounds are….

Hines: ...ready for festivals: especially overseas. Anyone know a booking agent?

Sinners & Saints Interview

Sinners & Saints
interview by Daniel Coston
from the May 2016 issue of Tangents Magazine

Tangents Magazine: How did you two come together?

Mark Baran: I saw Perry play solo at Snug Harbor and his song writing struck me in a way that I was compelled to ask if he ever wanted to add a bass player to the mix. He hit me up about a gig after a month or so and we started working together.

Perry Fowler: Like all great romances begin, we met at a bar. Snug Harbor to be specific.

Tangents: How would you describe the sound of this band?

Baran: Americana, indie, folk haha just kidding. We get a lot of comparisons to the Avetts, sometimes to Violent Femmes, but as with any band the sound is a mix of our musical influences and sensibilities. Perry has a really broad range of influence, but for sure was brought up on that staple of classic and old country. I did not experience old country growing up, but came to find and love it later in life. To avoid the categories when someone asks me what we sound like I just tell them we are a two-man one-man band.

Fowler: Chuck-a-chuck-a click-clack boom-pop boom-pop

Tangents: Was there a conscious decision to play as just a two-piece? 

Baran: When we started Perry played a stomp box that he built. It's a wooden box with a tambourine on top. We asked a friend Chad Shores to play fiddle for us and so for a brief time we were a 3 piece. After Chad left we started playing with the drums and evolving to our current setup. From stomp box and a small kick, to small kick and snare, and finally a full kick and snare. Being a 2 piece that can make a full sound is definitely something that makes us unique and is one of the things we get the most comments about. A lot of people say "I didn't realize there was only 2 of you." For me there is a little worry that if we expanded we might lose that magic. 

Fowler: Most definitely. Drummers are a bunch of drunks and full of drama. 

Tangents: You all play out of town a lot. Was that also a decision that you both made early on? 

Baran: I think we both just decided that we were going to work really hard at giving this thing an honest go. Touring and getting out there is just part of that. It's been some of the most trying and rewarding things I've done. 

Fowler: Yeah from the very beginning we decided that we didn't just want to be a local band. Touring is one of those things that it's either in you or it ain't. And we love to tour.

Tangents: What are the pros and cons of touring, and touring as just two people? 

Baran: The greatest thing about touring is meeting some really wonderful people and experiencing a little bit of the culture of the places we visit. However, when we get to a town we don't really see it as a tourist. We load in, play a show, crash on someones floor then head to the next town. It can be pretty exhausting. A 5 hour drive followed by carrying equipment into a venue you hope doesn't have stairs, playing for an hour or 3, then hoping someone will let you crash on their floor and not want to party till 4 in the morning. After days and weeks in a row it can wear on you. Perry and I are a bit like brothers. We are very similar so we get along really well together, and mostly are pretty quiet around each other. Every once in a while we can drive each other crazy and the more days your in a car together for 5-6 hours the worse that can get. All that said I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything. We just think of it as paying our dues.

Fowler: It's definitely easier to fit two people and their gear into a van than it is 3 or 4. And it's also easier to keep track of two dudes schedules as far as practicing and making time to go out on tour. 

Tangents: Which recording do you think captures your sound the best, to date? Has that recording been made yet? 

Baran: I think that our Love & Misery recording by Doug Williams of EMR Recorders captures our sound best to date. On that recording we still separated out a lot of the tracks in the studio. We have plans with our next recording to really focus on making the process as close to our live show as we possibly can and record as much in one take as possible to attempt to capture the energy of playing off each other.

Fowler: I'm still on the fence. Don't get me wrong, I like all our recordings so far cause they basically all sound different since our instrumentation as far as the foot drumming has changed up over the years. I think each of our records has a different feel about them. We're in the process of deciding where we want to record our next full length and that's one of things we've been asking ourselves. How do we want our next record to sound? 

Tangents: Where do you draw inspirations for your songs? 

Fowler: A lot of people tell me my songs are really sad, even though a lot those songs are upbeat and sound like happy songs. I like to write about things like loneliness and depression and hard times and such, but give them a different feeling than what the words are actually expressing. Cause everyone has those feelings but not very many actually show it on the outside. 

Tangents: Sinners & Saints seem to connect with audiences. Why do you think that is? 

Baran: I think I can answer this from an outside perspective because Perry's song writing really spoke to me all those years ago at Snug Harbor when I first caught his show. There's a real honesty to his lyrics and melodies that I think most people can relate to. In addition to that his songs are both uplifting and heart wrenching. It's a very cathartic experience. Hence "Love & Misery" even though that track itself is more about letting go of that self pity.

Tangents: Wildest Sinners & Saints shows, so far. Tell us! 

Baran: Ha, probably a house show we had at Perry's place years ago. Like most of our stories begin "we had been drinking..." Perry ended up throwing his neck out from playing like a madman and the floor of their living room sunk an inch from everyone jumping around.

Fowler: Oh man, that's a entirely different interview. There was the time we played heavy rebel and were drenched in PBR and sweat afterwards because everyone kept throwing their beer at us. I guess it was a good thing because we were told that's how they show their affection for bands, by pelting them with cans. Theirs still had beer in them though I'm not so sure. Then there was one time we stayed over at a dudes house in Virginia Beach (we had never met him until that night). He was apparently a label rep and was interested in signing the band we were touring with and he also approached us about signing us. Well after our show we earned that he had taken acid right before the show had started so he was tripping pretty hard by the time we got to his house. It was definitely a weird night. There's all kinds of weird and wild things that happen on the road. 

Tangents: Do labels, or genre questions, get in the way of people discovering, or even enjoying music? 

Baran: Depends on the person. Americana... what is that anyway? Some people find them helpful in discovering other music they love. They are usually open minded enough to explore other genres as well. Others write off everything because it falls within a genre they are convinced has no value. Either way there is no escaping it because humans will always categorize. 

Fowler: I was talking to a guy yesterday about genres and how some bands can misrepresent a certain genre and turn some folks away from discovering other music tha fits a certain genre. And he told me, "Well every genre has their Mumford and Sons." So yeah I definitely feel that attaching labels to things can hurt in a way. But also, there's SO MUCH music out there. And that's great and it's a beautiful thing, but at the same time, it helps to "classify" things just to make it easier to find what you're looking for. But we run into the genre thing all the time. 

Tangents: Finish this sentence. When it comes down to it, Sinners & Saints is… 

Baran: Americana.

Fowler: a band, not a duo.

Hectorina Interview

Hectorina: What A Concept
interview by Daniel Coston
from the May 2016 issue of Tangents Magazine

Many bands run screaming from the ideas of concept albums, or larger statements that merge art and rock & roll into one huge statement. Is it art-rock? Is it prog-rock? Is it going to involve gnomes and fairies? And will I still be able to dance to it? Others, however, fully embrace the idea that all such things can exist together, and put it out there on stage and record for all to see and hear. Hectorina is one of those bands.

Hectorina first came to be in 2010, when it was originally christened as Dylan Gilbert & The Over Easy Breakfast Machine. After Gilbert, bassist Zachary Jordan and drummer John Harrell III renamed the band as Hectorina in 2012, the band began working towards a larger presentation of their emerging sound. Their subsequent release, Collywobble, a two-LP concept album released in 2013, has since been turned into a stage play and exposed the band to a wider audience. The band has since released two more EPs and two albums, including their self-titled LP in 2015. Gilbert, Jordan and Harrell have continued to push the barriers of what listeners expect from Hectorina, and what a Hectorina album will sound like. On stage or on record, you never know what to expect from Hectorina, but that is part of the fun.

Singer, guitarist and main songwriter Dylan Gilbert discussed all of these things are more with us in a recent interview via email.

Tangents: How did this band come together?
Dylan Gilbert: I was heading out on tour, this would have been Summer 2010, and I asked my friends Zach and John to come along for fun. We ended up having such a good time traveling and making music together during that tour that we decided to keep going.
Tangents: How would you describe the sound of this band?

Gilbert: That’s become an increasingly difficult thing (at least for us in the band) to pin down. I think that’s mainly because we all have a lot of varied creative influences. We’ve been labeled Prog and Math Rock in the past, which is flattering, but I don’t think we’re so technically efficient. I’d say we’re somewhere between post-punk and soul music.
Tangents: Do labels, or genre questions, get in the way of people discovering, or even enjoying music?

Gilbert: I love this question. The answer is ‘absolutely’. A lot of people in our culture are too quick to label something or categorize it, often before they even experience it. I’ve found that most music (and art in general) takes some level of focus and openness to really connect with. It becomes less about questions of “like or dislike” or “this genre or that genre” and more about mood and timing for you as the listener or experiencer of the art.
Tangents: Talk about the new album. How it came together, and how it is different (or similiar) to your other albums.

Gilbert: This time around we wanted to do something more akin to traditional pop or soul albums like the ones we listened to growing up. We wanted to record a collection of songs that sounded cohesive together. That wasn’t necessarily a goal early on. In some ways it does feel like a direct development from our album A Thousand Jackals. It’s difficult to talk about because we, as writers and musicians, are already on to the next project(s). I think the most noticeable change in our music thus far is our ability to relax and hold back as players and arrangers. With Collywobble we had this kitchen sink approach and our newer music is becoming increasingly patient.

Tangents: You’ve worked with Daniel Hodges on your last two albums. Talk about working with him.
Gilbert: The man is a genius. Unfortunately, he’s also one of my best friends, so there are plenty of times when we butt heads, but he always helps me clear away the bullshit and pushes us to go further with our music. Sometimes it’s difficult to see a song or projects’ true potential, so having a trustworthy opinion is important and rare.
Tangents: Three albums, and two EPs in three years. Would you describe yourself as prolific?Gilbert: I could, but then I think of my many musical heroes and their unbelievable output. John Zorn, Charles Minugs, Prince, The Beatles. 
Tangents: A rock opera. Dang. How did that come together?
Gilbert: The rock opera was more of a way to shake up the writing process. I wanted to take on something big and not overly serious where I could explore more aspects of songwriting as a challenge for the band and myself.
Tangents: The idea of Concept albums can make some music fans go a bit sniffy. What made you want to tackle it?
Gilbert: Agreed. Like I mentioned above. It wasn’t like we were all huge concept album fans and wanted to pay homage. I dig some of that stuff, but the inspiration was in the challenge of making something big that pulled from all of our creative skills. It was our first album together too. And I think giving ourselves the feeling that we were in over our heads, right off the bat, has given us the confidence to continue.
Tangents: Is it hard to keep a Charlotte base while still touring elsewhere?
Gilbert: Not really. Geographically speaking Charlotte is in a great spot. It’s so easy to plan an east coast tour from here.
Tangents: Which recording do you think captures your sound the best, to date? Has that recording been made yet?
Gilbert: If I had to choose I’d say the most recent record, but of course we’re still moving towards what we truly hear in our heads and I’d say that the music were making now renders past efforts, lovingly, obsolete. We always want to top ourselves and I think we have so far.
Tangents: Where do you draw inspirations for your songs? 
Gilbert: Geez anything. It just depends on how something makes you feel. A newspaper article, a life experience, a vague feeling, anything can be a song.

Tangents: Wildest Hectorina shows, so far. And go!
Gilbert: We’ve played a ton of gigs, so that’s tough. I’ll say that both of our residencies at Snug Harbor have been extremely fun and wild.
Tangents: What does being a hard-core music fan like yourself bring to creating one’s own music?
Gilbert: I think it’s a double-edged sword. I’ve often mentioned to John and Zach that I feel like we’re purists, in some ways, about music and that may be a difficult thing to overcome. We’re hard on ourselves, I think. We ask ourselves “Would we listen to this crap?” a lot.
Tangents: A lot of your songs have a strong literary sense, and wordplay. In an age where a lot of music has over-simplified lyrics, what do you look to achieve, or speak to with your lyrics?
Gilbert: That’s an extreme compliment. Words are something I put particular effort into because it comes less naturally to me than melody. And this is something I’ve thought about a lot as of late: Lyrics can easily feel generic and out of touch. I feel that way about a lot of pop songs. At this point I don’t want to write down anything that doesn’t have any meaning for me. Nonsensical lyrics can work sometimes, but the artists that I look up to had something to say about the times they lived in and I want that too.
Tangents: Finish this sentence. When it comes down to it, Hectorina is….
Gilbert: When it comes down to it, Hectorina is living the dream.

Mitchell Kearney Interview, Cover Story Of May 2016 Issue Of Tangents Magazine

Go to Tangentsmag.com for the complete set of photos

Mitchell Kearney: From CBGB’s To Charlotte, And Back Again
by Daniel Coston

When the sounds of what later became termed punk rock began emerging from various places—New York City, Cleveland, London, and elsewhere—what bound those bands together was a sense of being as far away from the mainstream as possible. All these years later, the spirit and sounds of 1977 are the mainstream. On TV shows and beer ads, movies, and t-shirts. Much of what is written now about that scene, and the New York scene in particular, is being done by those who weren’t there when it all was really happening. Only a handful of writers and photographers documented the music as it was unfolding. Charlotte’s own Mitchell Kearney was one of those few.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kearney went to numerous shows, worked for the now-legendary Trouser Press and New York Rocker magazines, and took lots of photos. When Kearney moved to Charlotte in 1983, most of his archive was put away in boxes. Now, with those days being recreated and rewritten by others, the time seems right for Kearney to let his archive loose again, to present the original sound and visions that sparked those ideas. Kearney also adds his thoughts about all of his subjects in these photos in a recent interview via email, coupled with another interview I did with Kearney in 2011.

Coston: How did you get started in photography?

Kearney: I watched my Dad take pictures for years during my childhood. He loaned me his camera. And I found two stacks of Popular Photography magazines, which I paged through for a month, realizing how much more fulfilling this would be than becoming an architect.

Coston: What were the first things you photographed?

Kearney: I was obsessed with super close-ups, macro photography of ice crystals on wood planks in the winter.

Coston: What brought you to New York City?

Kearney: I was born in Greenwich Village in NYC. My parents moved me to suburban northern New Jersey when I was one month old. I remember riding back and forth into Manhattan for Sunday dinners with my extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.

Coston: How much had you heard about the punk rock scene, or the other scenes, before you came to New York?

Kearney: I was accepted into the School of Visual Arts as a photo major, and it was in one of my classes that a new friend of mine suggested checking out the new music being played at a club called CBGB.

Coston: Early on, did you shoot and make yourself known from there? Or did you line up work with a magazine, or another outlet?

Kearney: I was already photographing assignments for an alternative weekly, much like the Creative Loafing, called the Aquarian Weekly. So all I did was tell the editor about this exciting new music scene in lower Manhattan, and if I would cover it he would pay for everything I could bring him back.

Coston: What were your favorite bands to shoot and why?

Kearney: The Ramones were the first band I saw live at CBGB. They were fully formed by '76 and only got smarter and better with each live show I covered. Patti Smith was the best live show for me, since she and Lenny pushed way out of their comfort zone, every time they got on a stage. Mink DeVille taught everybody something new, about music of all kinds. And the Dead Boys were, are, and will always be Young, Loud + Snotty.

Coston: How soon did you move from live photography into posed work with the musicians?

Kearney: When I started working for Ira Robbins at Trouser Press Magazine it was because, by this point in time, I had just graduated from SVA with a BFA and began working for Len Prince Photography on 5th Ave @ 21st Street, in the heart of the Photo District. I was learning how to light scenes with lots of studio strobes and applying my day job to my passion for portraits of musicians.

Coston: How did your work with Trouser Press and New York Rocker come about?

Kearney: So my opening came at Trouser Press because Ira wanted to upgrade the photo content to better reflect his now very edgy editorial story content. New York Rocker simply wanted the best photos nobody else had already run, period.

Coston: What were some of your favorite shoots from that period in your life?

Kearney: My interview with Lou Reed was a sea change. I expected one thing, and it turned out that Lou walked, talked, and told jokes just like my cousin Louis. Well, to be fair, Louis did grow up two doors down Christopher Street from the Stonewall Inn. My interview with Frank Zappa was, like the Lou Reed portrait, slated for a cover of TP. Frank corralled a dozen rock writers into a room for a 45-minute round robin Q&A session, after which I was the only photographer in the room. I had a plan and he was great with the impromptu creative process I served up. However, the most memorable portrait session of all my Trouser Press assignments was to photograph William S. Burroughs during an interview set up by Scott Isler, with Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale, the masterminds behind DEVO. What an amazing afternoon, on the Bowery, just blocks from CBGB.

Coston: How much did the music scene change during your time in New York?

Kearney: Well, as soon as the first and second waves of punk rock bands got signed it was off to the studio they ran, and then out of town for months of first album touring and promotions. So the NY scene was decimated for a time by the exodus of prime talent. The wind never truly blew as hard again for the punk bands as it did from early 1977 through the end of 1978.

Coston: What brought you to Charlotte? 

Kearney: An opportunity to partner with the best, Ron Chapple & Associates, and settle into a new phase of my personal life and my professional photography career, in this wonderful city, state, and region.

Coston: Describe the changes in Charlotte since you first moved here.

Kearney: Well, the sidewalks did sort of roll up in downtown Charlotte in May of 1983, around 5pm. And yet, there was a strong pulse running through a group of creative entrepreneurs in Charlotte in those days, which helped create the city we now enjoy.

Coston: How has the business of photography changed in Charlotte?

Kearney: It has always been in a constant state of evolving needs and moods. I have created photography for practically every type of business, in business here in Charlotte, and the region, over the years. And then there is the transition from film processing to digital capture and optimizing. It is wonderful to be able to perfect an image to match my aesthetics.

Full Length Jimmy Webb Interview

Jimmy Webb
Music & Lyrics
From May 2016 edition of Tangents Magazine

Jimmy Webb. Pronounced Jimmy Freaking Webb, around my house.

Webb first rose to prominence in 1967 when his song “By The Time I Get To Pheonix” became a hit for Glen Campbell. Over the next few years, Webb wrote and arranged some of the greatest songs of that era, and in the eras that have followed since. “Up Up and Away”, “The Worst That Could Happen”, “All I Know”, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”. He also wrote and aranged “MacArthur Park”, which Campbell cited as his all-time favorite song at a show in Charlotte in 2006. But it those songs with Campbell. “Pheonix”, Wichita Lineman”, Galveston, “Where’s The Playground Susie”, and many more that will always hold a special place in the hearts of many like myself. To this day, I can be any place, and in any state of mind, and all I have to hear is, “I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main road,” and the world stops again for a few, beautiful minutes.

Webb is now touring with a show that is dedicated to Campbell, which comes to McGlohon Theater in Charlotte on February 6th. In 2011, Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. His final tour in 2012 was documented in the well-received film I’ll Be Me. 

"I’m doing this tour as a tribute to someone who’s very dear to me,” says Webb, calling in from his current home in the northeast US. “Someone whom I spent the better part of 50 years partnering with. Someone who mentored me when I first came into the business. Someone who was singularly interested in advancing my agenda as a songwriter, and pushing my star higher. Even at the expense of his own career, he never failed to do something nice for me whenever he could. He recorded somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 Jimmy Webb songs.

"It’s about Alzheimer’s, a litte bit. It’s about Glen, and how suddenly he was taken away from us. He was a young, stalwart guy that would’ve gone on many, many more years. There would’ve been a lot more records. There would’ve been a lot more tours. That’s the terrible thing about that disease. It takes away who you were, and who you’ve been. In that sense, it’s my heart-on-my-sleeve tribute to this sweet guy who was just unparelled in his raw talent. In his ability to musicalize, to embrace all kindsof genres, all kinds of writers. He had this whole pre-Glen Campbell life as a covert influence in the pop music business, because he played on so many different records. We’ve discovered dozens and dozens of records that he played on since we started doing this show. And we keep adding them to the show. It’s a work in progress.

"The show itself is multi-media. It has lots of tapes. A lot of things that he and I made, sitting at the piano. Photos of us just clowning. Photos of our families. Both of our families are very close. Cal, Glen’s son, is producing my daughter Camilia. She graduated from Cal-Berkeley with a degree in psychology, and promptly decided that she wanted to be a singer. (laughs) That’s how it goes in my family."

Webb has also found the show as a way of coming to grips to the decline of Campbell’s health in recent years. "It’s definitely helped me to wrestle with this conundrum of the fact that he’s alive. Sometimes I lapse into talking about him in past tense, when I really don’t mean to. I just  have to pinch myself and say, Don’t do that. Because he’s still alive. He’s not performing. That’s the line of declination, if you will, for me. I would have never felt comfortable doing this show I’m doing, as long as Glen was performing. But now I feel like I’m out there, I can do some trumpeting on his behalf. Becuase for many, many years, he was undrer-rated. He was never given the credit that he truly deserved."

From the start, Webb and Campbell came from different places, but found a common ground in the music. "His politics were leaning to the right. My politics were, I’m not afraid to say this, leaning towards the left. It made it very difficult for us. In fact, the first thing that Glen ever said to me was, “When are you going to get a haircut?” But somehow, we managed to walk that fence together, and create some pretty enduring works of art together, for two guys that didn’t agree that much. I think that there’s a philosophical message that I occasionally and shamelessly point out to my audiences. Just because that we don’t share every little belief about something across the board doesn’t mean that we can’t work with other people. We’re facing a crisis in this country our ideological differences prevent us from working together and accomplishing things for the common good."

The friendship didn’t end with the songs that the two collaborated on. Campbell would introduce Webb songs to other aritsts, such as bringing Webb’s “The Highwayman” to Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Webb also introduced songs from other writers to Campbell. "I played 'Southern Nights' off of Allen [Toussiant’s] record for Glen at my house, and he grabbed the record and went running out of my house with it. He didn’t even say goodbye. Then he would take it into the studio and work on it, because he always works on these hooks, if you will. As soon as you hear that, you already know it’s a hit. And he was so good at that. The beginning to 'Wichita Lineman', which we wrote with [Wrecking Crew bass player] Carol Kaye”.

Ah yes, “Wichita Lineman.” "I wrote it all in one afternoon, in about two or three hours,” recalls Webb. "It was a very intense thing, because Glen and [producer] Al De Lory were calling me every five minutes from the studio, saying, 'Is it finished yet? Is it finished yet?' And I was like, 'Hey, do you want me to write a song?' I was starting to get a little annoyed, but I’m trying to rush it along. So when I got to the end, I was like, 'Well, I’ll just hum this last verse, because I don’t have a lyric for it. And if they like it, I’ll do some more on it.' Because if they didn’t like it, then I wouldn’t have to bother to put in hours and hours on something that they wouldn’t record. It got messengered over to the studio that afternoon. And I was busy that day. I was working with somebody else in the studio, and I didn’t hear from Glen. About a week later, I walked into a session that he was in, and I said, 'I never heard anything from you guys about that song.' He says, 'You mean Wichita Lineman?' I said, ‘Yeah.' And he says, 'Oh, we cut that.' And I said, 'You cut it? But it wasn’t finished.' And he said, 'It is now!' When he got to the part that didn’t have any lyrics, he just played that big Duane Eddy guitar solo, which turned out to be the best thing in the world.” 

Before Campbell found solo stardom, Campbell was part of the legendary Wrecking Crew, a collection of California session musicians that played on literally thousands of now-legendary records during the 1960s and 70s. Campbell conitnued to work with the Wrecking Crew after he found solo success. Which begs the question, did the other members of the Wrecking Crew respect Glen as one of their own that had found larger success? 

"Yeah, I do," replies Webb. "But they already knew that they were special people. Nobody else got to do what they did, and play on all of those albums. They were working all the time. They lost families. They were like cops. Divorce, suicide. Things I don’t like to talk about. They knew that they had gotten hold of the Golden Dragon, and they were hanging on for all that it’s worth."

Webb also found that working with this elite group of musicians also improved his own emerging skills. "All of the sudden, you find yourself in there with the greyhounds, and you say to yourself, 'Well, am I a greyhound? I guess it’s time to find out’. More than anything else, it was having their respect. That meant more to me than anything in the world. More than money, more than fame, more than anything. I sat right beside [keyboardist] Larry Knetchel for several years, and he nad I would split the keyboards. He would play Hammond B3, and I would play piano. Or he would play Baldwin electric harpsichord, and I would play piano. And he’s switch back and forth, and he mentored me. He taught me. 'Why don’t you try this?' And believe it or not, I came out of it with a pretty good reputation as a piano player. I never tried to live on it, but I played on a lot of records."

It has been a remarkable ride for Webb. One that began when he first heard Campbell’s 1961 single “Turn Around, Look At Me.” I had to ask. Knowing what he does now, what would Webb say now to his younger self, given the chance? Or would he say anything at all?

"I wouldn’t say anything at all,” replies Webb. "I was listening to my future. I didn’t realize it, but I felt something when I heard “Turn Around, Look At Me” that caused me literally to go to my knees by my bed, in our little Baptist house in Laverne, Oklahoma, and say “Dear God, please let me someday write a song as half as good as “Turn Around Look At Me”. And Lord, if you can find the time, please let me meet somebody like Glen Campbell to sing my songs.” And that’s a fact. 

"As I came through the ranks, I got a job writing songs for Motown. I got a song on the Supremes Christmas album. Motown had Paul Peterson, who was on the Donna Reed Show, at the time. He’d had a hit with the song "My Dad”. It was a ballad about how much he loved his dad. Motown was going to do a single with Paul, and they came to me and said, "You’re our white guy". They were always relally cool. "Give us your Paul Peterson song.” So I wrote "By The Time I Get To Pheonix”. I showed it to the producers, and they hated it. "Where’s the chorus? You need to write a chorus.” And I wouldn’t write a chorus. Finally, I said, "I’ll write another one, just give me back this song.” And they said, “Here, take it. Keep this one. If you feel that way about it.” I eventually wrote 45 songs for Motown, and when I left to take a job with Johnny Rivers’ publishing company, I brought “Pheonix" with me.

Johnny Rivers later told me that the first time that he heard “Pheonix”, he knew it was a hit. But he had already cut "Poor Side Of Town", so he had what amounted to a number one with "Poor Side". He knew about Glen [Campbell]. They had played together on records. He knew that Glen was coming off of “Gentle On My Mind”, and was looking for songs. Johnny called Al Del Lory, and said, “Come on over, I have something something I want to hear”. When Del Lory walked into Johnny’s office, he played a test pressing of his recordiing of “Pheonix". When it was over, Johnny said, "What do you think?” Al said, "Why are you giving us this song?” And Johnny replied, "Well, you can only have one hit at a time, Al.” And he was giving it to Al and Glen, and he did it for me. Al walked out of there, and within four or five weeks, “Phoenix" was on the radio. The first time I heard “Pheonix” on the radio, I almost ran into the divider into an 18 wheeler. I couldn’t believe it, becuse it had all come true. 

Whatever it took to get me from out there in the middle of the wheat field, which was a long way from anywhere. And whatever it took to get me from there, to having me walk in the same room with Glen, and having him look up and say, 'When are you going to get a haircut?' That was some magical transformation. There’s probably an alternate universe where he didn’t cut it. But thankfully, in this universe, he did cut it. So that’s my story. I’m sticking to it.

Update From FB

It seems appropriate that my first event on Saturday started with 1996 Olympic decathlon champion Dan O'Brien, because my schedule quickly turned into The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner. Let's review the last few days. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Saturday, photos with Dan O'Brien and the CFSC heptathlon, followed by driving to Peachtree City, GA to photograph the Monkees show. Drive home, sleep a few hours, edit a few photos, and then photograph Festa Italiana for the Observer, Northwest School Of The Arts event for the Symphony, and then the colossal event that the Blumeys has become. Congrats to all of the winners and participants, and thanks to the 500 people that have liked my photo of David Dabbon since Sunday night. Glad I thought to take that photo.

Sunday into Monday, edit Observer photos, Blumeys photos (check out the Blumenthal's FB page for photos from the event), and excursions with Andrew Sandoval, Rich Dart and the Monkees team. Tuesday, two events, and the Monkees concert at the Blumenthal. Congrats to Andrew, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith on what is turning into an amazing week. And thanks for letting me run off with the circus for a couple of days. And see you later this year.

Tonight, the Rolling Thunder Revue is photographing the Lake Norman Law event in Mooresville, and the Speedway Charities gala in Charlotte. I hope to see you all at Housing Fest at the Fillmore Charlotte on Saturday. Here's to more Pleasant Valley days to come, and see you on the road.
May 25, 2016