Riot at Rio

Riot being the name of the band playing at the Rio Club in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Here’s some shots of them in action – getting used to shooting with my Fujifilm X-T2, taken with the Fuji 23mm and 56mm lenses.

(This is one of those places where the stage lighting changes color every second, washing out photos with deep reds, greens, blues, purples, oranges. I wonder if one day they’d let me shoot the band with just “normal” lights in the club.)

Subculture Live at B-Side

My buddies in the band Subculture played a Sepultura tribute show at B-Side and I tagged along, quite happy that I would finally have a chance to shoot a band with my Fujifilm X-T2. When I arrived there, I saw the bands were setting up to play in an area that had zero lighting – just the ambient lighting from the surrounding bars and the almost-full moon above. But I was there, I had the camera with me, I bit my lip and got on with it. Everything was shot with the Fujifilm XF 23mm F2.0 lens, most shots were at ISO 10,000.

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New Photo Gallery – Jeff Beck in Hong Kong 2010

I’ve added a photo gallery of my pictures of Jeff Beck, who appeared in Hong Kong at Asiaworld on March 22, 2010. The shot above is my current favorite from the batch.

As I mentioned earlier, as I’m allowing Spike’s Photos to wind down, I’m going to be adding photo galleries here. Rather than just copying over the photos from seven years ago, I’ve gone back into Lightroom and “remastered” them. Lightroom is a much better program and I’m much better with it than seven years ago.

The band included the great Narada Michael Walden on drums, Rhonda Smith on bass and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

While I’ve seen Beck live many times, stretching back to 1974 or 1975, this was his first time playing a concert in Hong Kong. And it was my first time having a “3 songs, no flash” pass for a major concert in Hong Kong. I’m really thrilled with how well these shots turned out (although when I go back to them now and see the settings I used, I’m amazed that they came out as well as they did).

I did get a little bit punch drunk while re-processing the photos, pushing things a bit to see just what I could do with them. They’re not in the gallery but I’ll show a few of them to you here.

 

I’m undecided about the results – they’re either artistic and unique or they’re goofy as fuck. You tell me.

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photo – Photo Gallery

I’m now going to be adding Photo Galleries here (rather than on Spike’s Photos). You can see there’s now a Photo Galleries item on the top menu. I might add in some of the older galleries soon.

I’m kicking this off with a gallery of what I think are my best shots from the OPM Against Drugs Festival held in Manila on January 14, 2017.  Here’s a few sample shots:

Click here to see the full gallery!

 

 

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photos Part 1

January 14, 2017 – 100 bands, 5 stages for the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) Against Drugs Festival produced by Rakrakan. The 5 themed stages were Move, Indie, Groove, Mosh and Slam. (I won’t comment on the “Against Drugs” bit.)

My friends Tribo Subculture were one of the bands appearing on the Slam stage and they arranged an all-access pass for me.  The festival kicked off around noon but I didn’t get there until around 10 PM or so, which gave me time to shoot some of the bands, wander around the crowd a bit, get some food, gaze at the “merch”, and of course enjoy the music that I heard.

I’m told that last year they had 24,000 people there and this year it was up to 35,000. Well, advance ticket prices were just P500 (that’s around US$10) and draft Red Horse Beer was just P50, so why wouldn’t you go if you could? The crowd was remarkably peaceful and friendly and I thought it was a great event.

I’m still working my way through the photos I shot but here are some of my favorites so far:

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Albums You Loved as a Teenager

A few people are posting variations on this new meme on Facebook – list the ten albums you loved most as a teenager.

For me, there are many examples of albums that were released when I was a teenager that I didn’t love at the time, and this includes albums that perennially feature in other top ten lists I attempt to do. Albums like The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East, Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and the entire output from the Velvet Underground.

I chose to select albums that I remember loving as a teenager, even if I don’t especially love them now or play them that often any more. But these albums were huge to me between the ages of 13 and 19 (for me that was 1967 to 1973) and very influential in my development, for better or worse. Most but not all of them have stood the test of time for me and I still play them almost 50 (gulp!) years later.

Here they are, in random order:

  1. The Beatles – The Beatles (aka The White Album) – what I remember is that this is the first time I was reading about an album before it came out (I had just started reading Rolling Stone Magazine), anticipated like crazy, and then it lived up to all of my expectations. These days I’d probably choose Revolver or Abbey Road as my favorite Beatles album but I still love this one too.
  2. The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out (or Uncle Meat) – I found Freak Out in the New York Public Library, (Fordham Road branch in The Bronx) which had a record section, and even a rock record section. They had this! The music was so strange and really drew me in. The list of names on the rear cover (most of which I’d never heard of) intrigued me. There was no Wikipedia to research them on, but they stayed with me. I think Uncle Meat, which came out when I was around 15, was an even bigger influence on me, but Freak Out was the first.  Yeah, I know you can’t read the names on the cover in the image below, so click here to find out more.
  3. Cream – Wheels of Fire – This is the first album I can remember listening to and thinking to my young self, “Is it possible The Beatles are no longer my favorite band?” I consider this album my real introduction to the blues. Listening to this, reading interviews with them, directly led me to Robert Johnson and all of the great Chess artists.
  4. The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request – Yeah, this one. Maybe it’s their worst album (up until almost everything from the 80’s onwards) but it was the first Stones album I bought. It had the 3D cover (I still have it). I had no idea what was going on with the music here but I still think the songs themselves were pretty damned good.
  5. Big Brother and the Holding Company – Cheap Thrills – My introduction to Janis Joplin, her best album even though Big Brother was a pretty sub-standard backing band. I played this over and over and over. My dad asked me, “Why is that white girl trying to sound black?” Which completely stumped me. I had no idea how to answer that other than, “No, she’s not, she’s sounding like herself.” It was also my introduction to the art of R. Crumb! 
  6. Pink Floyd – Meddle – Of course it’s tempting to go for Dark Side. But this was the first Pink Floyd album I got. I lost track of how many times I got stoned and laughed hysterically at “One of These Days” or how many times I turned out the lights, put on the headphones, and really concentrated on “Echoes.”
  7. Grateful Dead – Live/Dead – I really wore this album out. I never played Side 4 but I couldn’t play the other 3 sides enough. Everyone else I knew hated the Dead back then and I probably drove them crazy playing this over and over and over again.
  8. Al Kooper – I Stand Alone – Most of you don’t know who Al Kooper is, which is a shame. Blues Project, Blood Sweat and Tears, Super Session; session work and producing Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Stones and many others. A huge personal favorite. There was a magazine called Eye. It came with a flexi-disc. The disc had one track from the upcoming Blood Sweat and Tears album (the first after Kooper left and was replaced by David Clayton-Thomas) and a weird collage of sounds from Kooper’s first solo album. I bought the Al Kooper album. I did not buy the BS&T album. (I also saw him live for the first time around this time, the “Al Kooper Big Band,” which included Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums.) 
  9. Lenny Bruce – The Berkeley Concert – I had no idea who Lenny Bruce was before I bought this. After this I became obsessed with him. This was released on Frank Zappa’s Bizarre label and I bought anything Zappa put out. This 2 LP set was a complete and unedited show from the last years of Bruce’s life. Not so much a collection of stand-up routines as much as it was him talking about his legal cases, free speech, religion, basic human rights. It’s possible that this album is more responsible for how I think and what I believe than anything else.
  10. Delaney & Bonnie – On Tour w/ Eric Clapton – I saw them at the Fillmore East. I still consider it one of the best live shows I ever attended.
  11. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers – I don’t know why I loved this album so much back in the day. I recall playing the hell out of it. I don’t think it has aged well.
  12. The Who – Tommy – Because I saw them play it live at the Fillmore East twice. But I haven’t been able to listen to this in decades because it was everywhere and I just got sick of it. Maybe some day I can go back to it and appreciate it again. But not yet.
  13. Tim Buckley – Blue Afternoon – Again, I bought this because it was on Zappa’s Straight label. I had no idea who he was at the time but I became an instant fan. This was one of his more mainstream efforts (as opposed to the extreme weirdness of “Lorca” and “Starsailor”). His voice of course was unique and I still play his albums a lot, I can’t say that about Jeff Buckley.
  14. Bonzo Dog Band – Tadpoles. OMG, I almost omitted this from the list. I played this constantly. Probably these days I’d pick their second album (The Doughnut in Grannie’s Greenhouse, which in the U.S. was called Urban Spaceman) as my favorite of theirs, but at the time, this was huge for me. 

Yeah, that’s 14, not 10, because once I get started I can’t stop, and I could have kept going, believe me.

But what about you? What were some of your favorite albums when you were a teenager? Are they still your favorites now?

 

 

 

Sony MDR-1000X Bluetooth Headphones

So, dealing with listening to music on the iPhone 7+.

For the last couple of months, I’ve had the Dragonfly Red DAC and Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 and been quite happy with the sound, not to forget that I now have more than 2,000 songs in Apple’s lossless format on the device. But to be honest, this set up was a literal and figurative pain. Literal, because the MSR7’s grip my head tightly and become uncomfortable after an hour. Figurative because I’d have to plug in so much stuff and then deal with the cord dangling down (and sometimes getting the cord stuck on stuff in crowded situations).

I do have one pair of Bluetooth headphones, the original Parrot Zik 1.0, which I’d bought used several years ago and had fallen out of love with. Since I was in Hong Kong, I thought I might get myself a new pair of Bluetooth something but was hoping to get away without spending very much.

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Distractions

Mom is home from the hospital. There is still a long ordeal ahead. At least my wife and I finally don’t have to go to the hospital every day (something we did for 18 days) and can do some stuff for us, getting out briefly on both Saturday and Sunday.  Which was nice.

Saturday we just went out for a walk along Bonfacio High Street. The TLC channel had some huge event going on, celebrity guest that “Cake Boss” guy, not a thing for us. We had lunch at Pink’s, a franchise of the legendary Hollywood hot dog joint, brought to Manila by the folks behind Wildflour. My second time there. I stuck with “the Hollywood Legend” (your basic chili dog), my wife had the “Don’t Mess With Texas” (bacon, cheese, cole slaw, barbecue sauce). We agreed it’s quite okay but still prefer Lazy Bastard.

Sunday we splurged a bit and went to Salvatore Cuomo, the Manila outpost of an Italian restaurant from Japan, and as odd as that concept might seem, it was absolutely fabulous start to finish. Here’s their custom-built pizza oven:

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And here’s the pizza we had:

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A four cheese pizza onto which the server drizzled a small amount of honey – the right flour, the right kind of pizza oven, this may now be my favorite pizza in Manila. I also couldn’t resist their platter of salami, parma ham and mortadella and full marks go to their spaghetti with salmon, mushrooms and olive oil (which also included cherry tomatoes, olives and capers). Knock them down a notch for being a stand-alone restaurant that for some reason did not have a functioning toilet. Nevertheless, we will return. We were there mid-afternoon, were told at night reservations are an absolute must.

Another sort of distraction, looking at this web site that lists every show at the Fillmore East in NYC and trying to remember which shows I went to. I can’t pin down the exact shows (bands often played there 2 or 3 days in a row, 2 shows per night) but …

June 5 & 6, 1969 – The Who, Chuck Berry, Albert King

October 20-25, 1969 – The Who

February 6 & 7, 1970 – Delaney & Bonnie and Friends with Eric Clapton, Seals and Crofts, Wilbert Harrison

May 8 & 9, 1970 – Mothers of Invention, Insect Trust, Sea Train

May 15, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

July 9-12, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

September 17-20, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

(I probably didn’t go to all of those but can’t remember the exact shows I attended)

November 25-28, 1970 – Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

April 16 &17, 1970 – John Mayall, Boz Scaggs, Randall’s Island

April 25-29, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

May 20, 1970 – Leon Russell, Taj Mahal, Donny Hathaway

June 5-6, 1970 – Frank Zappa and the Mothers, Hampton Grease Band, Head Over Heels

Suffice to say that for every show I did go to, there were 5 more that I wish I’d gone to. Allman Brothers, Hendrix, Floyd, CSNY. How did I miss a night that had Joe Cocker, Fleetwood Mac and King Crimson?  Big Brother, Tim Buckley and Albert King? Neil Young, Steve Miller and Miles Davis? The Kinks and the Bonzo Dog Band?

The above prompted by seeing on Facebook that my piano teacher Barry Goldberg’s band The Rides (with Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd) is doing some gigs next year with Buddy Guy, and then checking the dates for the one and only time I saw Buddy Guy live.

Other distractions, looking at the mega-box sets coming out in time for Christmas.

Bob Dylan – The 1966 Live Recordings

36 disc boxed set of every recorded show from his 1966 tours of US, UK and Australia. Pretty much the same set list night after night. A relative bargain at US$106, but not so essential. All this stuff has been available on bootlegs for ages but probably/hopefully the audio will be noticeably upgraded.

Pink Floyd – The Early Years 1965-1972

Okay, fasten your seat belts. 11 CDs, 8 Blu-Rays, 9 DVD’s, 5 7-inch singles. “7 individual book-style volumes, featuring much previously unreleased material. The Early Years box set contains unreleased tracks, BBC Radio Sessions, remixes, outtakes and alternative versions over an incredible 11 hours, 45 mins of audio (made up of 130+ tracks) and live and TV performance in over 14 hours of audio-visual material. The content includes over 20 unreleased songs, more than 7 hours of previously unreleased live audio and over 5 hours of rare concert footage, along with 5 meticulously produced 7″ singles in replica sleeves, collectible memorabilia, feature films and new sound mixes. Previously unreleased tracks include 1967’s Vegetable Man and In The Beechwoods, which have been mixed for the first time, specially for this release.”

The price for all this goodness? US$571. I will have to take a pass. Even though this for me covers the Pink Floyd that matters to me. For me the Pink Floyd albums that matter are the live disc from Ummagumma, Meddle, Dark Side, Wish You Were Here. Then Piper and Saucerful. And then everything else (yes, including The Wall).

There’s also yet another reissue of The Band’s The Last Waltz (CD/blu-ray boxed set) and a 5 CD super deluxe version of The Who’s My Generation.

The Rolling Stones are flooding the market – following their recent mammoth Rolling Stones In Mono box (which sounds really great) there’s a new studio album (all blues covers) and the Havana Moon CD/blu-ray box of their recent show in Cuba. I’ve lost track of how many live albums/videos the Stones have released in the past ten years but this new one does have this:

(Watch it to the end – it’s worth it. Or if you’re really impatient skip ahead to 5:12 and watch to the end.)

In terms of TV, aside from The Walking Dead (season 7 episode 1 was so gruesome and sadistic that it took me 2 weeks to watch the entire thing, and I’m someone who is not put off by gore in film and tv), there is Westworld and John Oliver, of course. But also The Good Place (something I should really hate but don’t) and Pamela Adlon’s Better Things (stunning and original) and I’ve only just discovered Black Mirror which is amazing.

And we actually made it out to the movies to see Dr. Strange, and I’m glad I did.

And if all continues well, I’ll be in Hong Kong next week for a few days.

 

 

 

My Bob Dylan Playlist

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Bob Dylan speaks onstage at the 25th anniversary MusiCares 2015 Person Of The Year Gala honoring Bob Dylan at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The annual benefit raises critical funds for MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance and Addiction Recovery programs. For more information visit musicares.org.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Congrats to Bob Dylan, the first songwriter (and the first American since 1993) to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I didn’t become a Dylan fan until the 70s, more a factor of my age than anything else. I knew the singles and I knew him from the numerous cover versions of his songs. I never really focused on any of his albums until the release of Blood on the Tracks. Once I became a fan, I became a lifelong fan. The first time I saw him live was with The Band around 1973 or 74. I’ve seen him many times since then. I’d rank the Rolling Thunder Revue shows I saw very highly, but then again late 90’s in Jones Beach was also fantastic. The last concert I attended was a few years back when he came to Hong Kong. I’d gladly see him again.

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