Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update From My Website

Hello All-

I hope you’re all having a good summer. Here’s what has been going on around here.

My thanks to all that came out to the Charlotte Museum Of History, and the Neighborhood Theater for our release parties for the second edition of the NC 1960s book, There Was A Time. Both events were a lot of fun. Thanks also to those that came out for my recent booksigning for the NC Musicians book in Boone, NC. We hope to do some more with this book later this year, so stay tuned.

After some time away from photographing music, I’ve started to pick up some cool gigs again. Recent live and posed shoots include work with Procol Harum, the Beach Boys (via Endless Summer Quarterly), Loudermilks, Tom Maxwell. A new EP by the Howlin’ Brothers features a photo I took of the band last year. Other recent live shows include John Mayall, Phil and Dave Alvin, Marc Cohn, Ringo Starr, GTownsound, Alejandro Escovedo, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and many others. I’ve also done shot many events for the Charlotte Observer, and other clients. 

My friend Holly George-Warren has released her book on Alex Chilton, A Man Called Destruction, which features one of my photos and three of my interviews. Holly is speaking at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC on August 23rd, the night after my friends in Big Star Third are performing. If you’re anywhere near Chapel Hill that week, please come by and check out these remarkable events.  

I’ll have more info soon about events I’ll be a part of in the fall. More photos will be posted here soon, and also check out more of my work at my blog, and friend me on Facebook to keep up with my day-to-day adventures. Safe travels to all, and I hope to see you on the road.
July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Procol Harum pics, Durham, NC, July 19, 2014

Procol Harum
Carolina Theater
Durham, NC
July 19, 2014
all photos copyright 2014 Daniel Coston

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mad Monster Party photos, March 2014

Mad Monster Party
Charlotte, NC
March 23, 2014
all photos copyright 2014 Daniel Coston

Save You

Save You

I knew
this day
would come.
I knew
that this
would not
end well.
Yet I knew
that to alter
the course
would have caused
too many words
too many issues.
I let the world
play out,
each time
that I saw you,
that it might
be the last.

could not
save you.
There was
no way
to change
the circle
of others,
and, in turn,
why is it
and I still feel
like I

-Daniel Coston

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Big Star Third review, from Big Takeover Magazine website, 2010

A Tribute To Big Star's Third Album
various artists
Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC
December 9th & 10th, 2010

It's Wednesday night, one night before the tribute to Big Star's third album (known to many as simply "Third") bows before an audience. As the band churns through "Big Black Car," the strings come in, and everyone's eyes start to widen. At the end of the song, all of the musicians turn to each other, and simultaneously compliment the combination of the band and strings together.

In a moment, the thrill of these shows is crystalized. For years, Big Star's long-unreleased third album existed only in bootleg albums and cassettes, and in the minds of many of fan. The dark complexities of the album seemed unattainable, out of reach to many a listener. But with these shows, you were finally in the room with this album, sharing with the musicians the experience of witnessing the dream become real.

Put together by longtime Big Star fan and friend Chris Stamey, the band is a who's who of folks that were touched by Big Star's influence. Mitch Easter, Stamey's dbs cohort Will Rigby, REM bassist Mike Mills, and several of Chapel Hill's top singers and musicians. At the center of it all is Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, who now carries the band's torch with a quiet grace, after the recent passing of band vocalist and leader Alex Chilton.

After a Thursday night show that shared the thrill of opening night with a few rough edges, the band hit on all cylinders the following night. The packed crowd is ready for every song, from Matt McMichaels' vocals storming through "Kizza Me," to Django Haskins' spot-on vocals on "Holocaust." Throughout it all, the band and string section (led by Lost In The Trees leader Ari Picker, making his debut as conductor) stay faithful to the album's original sound, down to Megafaun's re-creation of Chilton's gleeful deconstruction on "Downs."

While Chilton might never have allowed himself to revisit this record, hearing these songs live brought a little more understanding about Chilton's muse, and the people that were a part of that  record. When Stephens stepped to the mic to sing "For You," a song he also wrote for Third, you could feel the crowd rooting for Stephens in a way that this album deserved all along, and finally found it.
-Daniel Coston

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

For David Pasquale

I first met David Pasquale in the second or third grade. We met in bus 42, the school bus that handled our respective routes. We both lived a good distance from our schools in Seneca Falls, NY. We had the honor of living the furthest away from town than any other kids. David and I bonded over a wonderment of life, adventure, and what else was out there beyond our rural lives.

David's family had moved to town a couple of years before. I remember that they lived a number of places before they had found their large old house just off of Route 96. David had started school a year before I did, but one of his previous schools had held him back a year. By the third grade, David and I were both enrolled at Saint Patrick's School in Seneca Falls.

We were best friends from the start. He was Huck Finn to my Tom Sawyer, or at least I thought so. Even then, I was dreaming of a world in, or near the spotlight. I wanted to be a filmmaker, a baseball player, broadcaster, musician. Anything and everything that interested me, I dreamed of it. My house was a mile or two away from David's, looking directly out over Cayuga Lake. My backyard had been the scene of a massive battle between Indians and the colonial army in 1780. Only two other families around us lived there the entire year, with others coming in for the summer. It was rural, to say the least, but it gave me a lot of time and space to dream. And David and I dreamed big, like children do.

David's experiences seemed more worldly than mine, even at that young age. He knew dirty jokes (at least to an eight year old) that I had never heard before. To this day, I can still recite most of them. David's house, which he shared with his parents and his older brother Chip, also shared in that alternate view of the world. It was a rustic place, with lots of acreage. There had originally been a wood stove in the kitchen with a pipe that had gone straight through the roof. By the time I started visiting the place, the stove was gone, but the large hole in the room above the kitchen, where David and Chip slept, was still there. To my young mind, that was wild! Between visits to each other's houses, we talked a lot about school, our families, and what we someday hoped to do.

For all my dreams of traveling the world, when my dad got a job in North Carolina in the fall of 1983, I really didn't want to go. I'd had a really good life to that point, and I didn't want it to change. And I didn't want to leave friends like David. We promised to stay in touch, and see each other whenever I came back. Truth be told, the first couple of years in Charlotte, NC were pretty hard on me, and I spent a lot of time wishing that I was back by Cayuga Lake. With David, all of my friends, and the life I used to know. Slowly, life carried on.

David and I wrote each other often for a few years. My family and I made a couple of trips back to New York. We swung by my old school, only to discover that school had been closed for that day. That summer, we stopped by David's house, but the family wasn't there. Within a year or two, David's family had moved to North Chili, NY, and we kept writing each other. In 1988, David wrote to say that his family was moving again to another town, yet he wasn't sure where. I wrote to David, hoping to catch him and get his new address. My letter came back, stamped "moved to unknown place". I still have that letter, still sealed by the 15 year-old version of myself.

In the following years, I slowly began to realize some version of my youthful dreams. Be on TV? Myself and high school friends did our own TV shows for local TV. Movies? I worked on a few film sets, before I realized that the individual moments in the camera, such as a still photo, held more emotion than the moving image. The Beatles? Seen two of them, and met and photographed their collaborators, children, and fellow musicians. I even went to Abbey Road, that place featured on an album I first fell in love with when I was four years old. I've had my ups and downs, but all in all, I've been very lucky, and still yearn to seek out the experiences that David and I first imagined having.

For years, I tried searching for David. Once, I thought I'd found him in a phone directory, but it turned out to be someone else. I kept searching for him, wondering where he was, who he'd become. I named one of my cameras David. Sure, I usually only named my cameras for loved ones that I'd lost, but David just seemed right. And someday, I'd tell him all about it. All of the things that I'd gotten to do, and wishing that he'd been there with me.

Earlier this year, I was doing research for a book, and had gotten pretty good at locating long-lost bandmates for North Carolina groups during the 1960s. I had realized that if I typed in the person's name and birthyear, I had a much better chance to finding that person. One night, I decided to look up David. I immediately found some information. Along with his death certificate.

Soon after, I located his brother Chip, who told me what had happened. In January of 1993, David had just joined the Marines. He had just gotten a motorbike, something that he'd wanted for a long time. He and some fellow cadets went out with their bikes. When another person on a bike in front of David suddenly stopped, David could not stop in time. He crashed into a pole, and died on the scene. One of the things that Chip wrote me was, "One of the reasons that I liked about you and David was that you both liked to have fun." We did have a lot of fun. David loved to have fun. One never knows where the things you love to do can lead you.

Gone. In 1993. Twenty-one years ago. The news is very hard to comprehend, even all these years later. Had I known all those years ago, even on some unconscious level? I don't know. As a kid, you hope for the best in yourself, and all your friends. Yes, it might seem naive to think that those dreams were possible, but they were very real to me, and I have carried them with me my entire life. And, now I realize, I also have carried David with me. The hopes, the dreams, the fears, the possibilities. These were things that David and I both created, wishing for our lives to come. And in that respect, David never left me. In some ways, David has been with me all along.

Later this year, I hope to return to New York. I hope to visit David's grave, and finally say hello, one more time. Chip Pasquale recently sent me his parents' phone number. The adult in me says, "What do I say after all these years?" The hopeful, excitable child in me says, "Just say hello! Go ahead!" Soon, I will listen to that younger version of me, and do so. Where does this circle lead? I wish I knew. All I can do is continue hoping for the best, and press on. Just like David and I always wanted to do.

Hi David. You have been gone from this place longer than you were here. Yet your memory is still very real to me. Recently, I photographed an event with a number of TV stars from the shows we used to watch. I found myself thinking, "The nine-year old version of me wouldn't have believed this." Yeah, David, we would not have believed it. You're still one of the best friends I ever had. I originally thought about writing this in January, on the anniversary of your passing, but I realized that I knew you as you lived. That is what I choose to celebrate today, on what would have been your birthday. I still see you in my mind, just as the dreams of children will continue to live on, be they in upstate New York, or anywhere. As long as there still are kids to dream big, and there are adults that still believe in their own childlike dreams.

Happy birthday, David. See you around, again, someday.

July 8, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

James Love/Electric Prunes interview

Electric Prunes: As It Was, And Is Again
Interview and introduction by Daniel Coston

Of all the Garage Rock/Psychedelic bands of the 1960s that pushed the sonic envelope, few traveled more terrain than the Electric Prunes. Founded in California in 1965, their 1966 smash “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” was a call to arms of the new sonic wave to come. When the storied Garage/Psychedelic compilation Nuggets was released in 1972, “Too Much To Dream” opened the album, confirming its importance amongst fans and record collectors.

In 2010, Electric Prunes founding members James Lowe (vocals) and Mark Tulin (bass) began work on one more Electric Prunes album, simply entitled WaS. This collection of live and studio tracks was nearly derailed in 2011 when Tulin died while assisting in the Avalon Underwater Clean-Up in his native California. However, time and inspiration gave Lowe the chance to finish up WaS, and prepare himself and the Prunes for whatever comes next.

My thanks to James for this interview, which was done via email.

Daniel Coston: How did this new record come together?

James Lowe: Mark Tulin and I were working on collecting some things out of the past recordings, and finishing up things we had started for what WaS to be our last studio effort. His untimely death stopped me in my tracks on this project. I thought it might never be finished up. Then [the Prunes] went to play in Japan and I got inspired to [finish the album] since I knew I would be in LA for a month or so. I went through all the correspondence between Mark and I and found the interesting cuts to finish up. In some cases I left Mark's voice on the demos, I usually replaced him once we had decided on the lyrics. I thought it was more interesting to sing along in some cases and let him have the solo spot. We liked hearing our voices together on cuts so this seemed a natural extension. The order was the hardest part and a lot of early morning walks with the iPod and shuffling the order took place. Mark and I had done two songs Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins had written for us, but I could not get ahold of him in time to include them here. They are good cuts but I like what I ended up with. Steve Kara, our lead guitar player offered to help get this thing in the barn and he was invaluable with his studio and musical talent. Also Ken Eros, a cool engineer/guitarist would lend the special spice to master, play some e-bow and mix the last bit of this with me. Friends make life easier! 

Coston: How much did Mark Tulin's death affect the overall sound, and feel of this record?

Lowe: Mark would let me do most of the decision work on the records, so it was not that different, except if you can't ask your partner how it is going you have to have the guts to push down the accelerator. I knew the cuts he liked and I stuck to the lyrics we had come up with for the demos. Sometimes he would get testy when I changed a favorite word or something, so I left it pretty much as we practiced and started the basic tracks. The hardest was selecting the things we both liked and having to leave some behind. It is always that way.

Coston: Talk about the partnership between you and Mark?

Lowe: We could finish each other's sentences, actually after all these years. Mark was the only other member that wanted to write songs so it was pretty easy to stay tight. Sometimes the song would start with me, sometimes mark. Sometimes just a title would spark it. Then we would get together a few weeks later and combine our ideas. I might say African Bees, then call him up and say, "they peer in your windows and pee in your trees". Mark would laugh and a few day later a line would come back at me. A cool way to work.

Coston: What were the inspirations (lyrical, and musically) for this new album?

Lowe: We always are aware of what our sound issues are so it is natural to play it as we always have musically. The band has always tried to take a side track to this stuff and we like it if you know it is us by the sound. The stories are as they have been, little pictures of things. If you don't get an image listening we have not done something right. I think we have some nice cuts on here.

Coston: What's next for you and the band?

Lowe: Probably playing some of this live would be in order if anyone will have us.

Coston: What are the differences between touring now, and in the 1960s?

Lowe: Nothing. You STILL get screwed out of the money. I would have thought this would have ended but it is still the norm.

Coston: Let's go back to the start. What got you into playing music?

Lowe: A friend played blues and folk music in Hawaii. I found it fascinating that you could move people with a guitar or banjo. I became hooked playing a few little clubs with him before the idea of a band ever came up.  

Coston: How did the Prunes originally come together?

Lowe: I was looking to form a band and got Mark and Ken Williams right in high school. We rehearsed for a year on our own stuff and tried to get a record deal.

Coston: What were your happiest days with the band?

Lowe: When the single "I Had Too Much To Dream" came out and there was all this buzzzz. And you heard it in the radio. That was cool.

Coston: The Prunes' records sounded like a band that was pushing the envelope. How did you translate those sounds into a live setting?

Lowe: We knew we wanted to sound different. We tried overpowering with a lot of amps but came around to trying to get the sound with smaller stuff and pedals (that had started coming out at that time). Wah Wah.

Coston: What would you say are the definitive documents of what the Prunes sounded like?

Lowe: A garage band, I would say?  We spent a lot of time in the garage. I think the style and sensibility has stayed he same across all our albums. Even this one. “Lost Dream”, “Too Much To Dream”, “Morphine Drip”, “Frozen Winter”, “Circus Freak”, “Tidal Wave”.

Coston: Was there a point in working with Dave Hassinger that you realized that he was taking over the band? [Hassinger used session musicians on Mass In F Minor and Release Of An Oath].

Lowe: Dave did the first album. If you notice we did the arrangements which in some cases WAS the production. He was distracted with Grateful Dead and we did Underground on our own, though he got producer credit. The Mass was David Axelrod's composition, so the arrangements were the key issue there again. Dave never owned the name, and never took over our sound. We had the ideas and I always ask why he couldn't do it with another group after us if he was that on?  

Coston: Post-Prunes, you did a lot of studio engineering. What did you learn about music from those experiences?

Lowe: Yes. I did albums with Nazz, Todd Rundgren, Sparks, Amanda Shankar, James Cotton, Grapefruit, Limelighters. I learned I loved music from the studio perspective. It was construction and that is always fun. I learned also that the music can be splitting your ears and no one in the band can hear their instruments. Can you bring up the guitar??? Ha ha.

Coston: At what point did you say, "I want to be in the Electric Prunes again?"

Lowe: Mark and I mixed the Lost Dreams collection for David Katznelson and we liked the sound of the old tapes. I had a studio in my guesthouse so we decided to play a little again. That was 1999. We got kind of hung up. Ha

Coston: Looking back, what is the legacy of the band?

Lowe: Noise is OK. That's it! Come on by and give the new WaS CD a listen. You might be surprised at how little things have changed. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RIP Steve Ruppenthal

Hello All-

I didn't know Steve Ruppenthal that well for a long time, but I knew his music. The bands that he was a part of, and the music that they made. Popes, Lovely Lads, Stumble, Public Good. When the Popes reunited in 2012, I interviewed and photographed Steve and the band for the NC Musicians book, as well as a stand-alone interview that you can find on this site. Steve was a fun guy, passionate about the music that he listened to and created. I always looked toward to talking to him. And now, suddenly, I will not have that chance again. And that is the hardest thing to accept in all of this.

To Steve's friends, family, and loved ones, I send along my best wishes. I hope that you cherish the time that you had with him, and know that he loved you. Safe travels, Steve, until we continue our conversation again,
July 1, 2014

My Presentation At The Mint Museum From This Past Sunday

Words From Other Voices

You arrive somewhere, and you see someone in different dress than your own. A costume from another time, something from the past. And you say to yourself, "Oh, they're pretending to be somebody else." Someone removed from what we know as the present tense. Too easily, the clothes and manners of the past can seem quaint, or removed from our day-to-day understandings of life. However, distance does not dilute the experience of human expression. Whether they are displaying joy, or in mourning, when we slip into another role, we are using someone else's voice to speak for ourselves.

When we take on the story of someone else's life, a part of our own personality speaks through the character. We may never fully know what it was like to step onto a Civil War battlefield, but we are fully aware of the minefields that we all deal with in our own lives. In stepping into another world, we push ourselves closer to something, or someone that interests us. Yet we are also stepping away for the moment from our own battlefields, and giving ourselves the chance to breathe and reflect on what is happening around us. Then, and now.

The wish to communicate through other means has always been with us. We write when we want to communicate, sing when we cannot talk, or pick up a camera when we are unable to articulate what we see happening around us. We can look out over the past, but it also helps us to understand the present. We may be speaking words from other voices, but they do, in so many ways, echo the sounds and visions of our own lives. Now, and in the future and past to come.

photos and text by Daniel Coston