[Photo Post] The Lees of Memory at Exit/In

Recently a friend told me that she hadn’t received any of my blog updates since our email migration at work. That email migration was on August 23 and my last post was …

… also on August 23. So it’s not email’s fault — it’s your humble narrator’s.

In addition to my 40-hour-a-week job, I’m teaching five classes a week at TITLE and I now have seven paying personal training clients that I meet with weekly. I’m working on trying to finish this nutritional specialist program for my PT certification and my current workout program has me scheduled to work out four days a week (of which I usually only get in three). With that said, I think it’s reasonable to say that when I have some down time, I’d rather spend it sleeping or watching the Office for the fifty-leventh time on Netflix.

The concept of treating myself has certainly changed as of late. On December 9th I went from being 33 years old to being the ripe-old age of 95 and I can’t explain it. In the words of the carnival and side-show talkers I so admire, What has nature done?.

Despite the aches and pains that come with being another year older and following a 5/3/1 heavy-lifting routine, I was able to make my way to Nashville to catch one of my favorite bands — The Lees of Memory — play a hometown show at the historic Exit/In. I covered what makes these guys so special in my eyes in my previous post so if you want the back story, go there. Otherwise just know these guys are the real deal and never cease to amaze.

The opening acts included the Vamptones of nearby Murfreesboro and a Christmas jazz set played by Nashville legend Krazy Kyle (organist for the Nashville Predators) with his band The Sanatarium. While the two acts were completely different from the headliner, they set the stage perfectly for the wall of sound that hit the 200+ people in attendance on that rainy Friday evening in Music City.

The same crew from Birmingham was back together with Brandon Fisher on guitars and vocals, John Davis on vocals and a variety of other instruments, Nick Slack on drums, Sam Powers on bass, Dan Benningfield on keys, Jason Moore on guitar and Ethan Luck on guitar. The addition of multi-instrumentalist Josiah Holland — who performed with the guys at SXSW a few years ago — rounded out the Lee’s lineup. The setlist was made primarily of songs from their 2017 double LP The Blinding White of Nothing at All but also included fan favorites from 2014’s Sisyphus Says, 2016’s Unnecessary Evil and a couple of Superdrag covers from their 1998 classic record Head Trip in Every Key that closed the set.

When you get a group of accomplished musicians like this together, magic happens before your very eyes on stage and they definitely brought it. This magic was then paired with the psychedelic effects produced by Silver Cord Cinema’s liquid light show — literally the only way a Lee’s set could be any better. Brandon has since told me that they’ve unofficially decided that they can’t do another headlining show without them and I can see why.

Anyway, here are a few picks from the set as well as a hot picture of my super hot date. Everything was taken with my Canon EOS 77D with a 50mm lens (that was giving me hell with focus that night for some reason). If you want to see more, there’s plenty of them on my Flickr page.

If you want to rock out with any of the above mentioned bands, you can do so below. Show them all some love, they deserve it.

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[photo post] Thanksgiving Urbex, Part 1 + A Flower Man

At the time of this writing, the sun is just about to disappear over the western hills of Kingsport, TN. It’s about 4:30 and I’m hanging out at the dining room table at my parents’ house. It’s my first holiday home in almost a decade (if not a full decade). Dinner is later tonight and I’m excited. If it won’t be a new tradition, it’s at least a welcome change from my current day-to-day in Knoxville.

I had a few beers with my uncle at Sleepy Owl Brewery and Model City Tap House last night before having a hash brown night cap at a Waffle House around 10:30. When I woke up this morning, the sun had barely peeped over the horizon. It wasn’t even 7AM. I decided to throw my clothes on from last night, strap my camera over my shoulder and hit downtown for some Golden Hour shots of my home.

I roamed a few of the main drags but mostly stuck to the alleys between them. I’ve been through there several times before but there’s always something new for me to capture. So that’s what I did. Everything except the selfie was captured with my 24mm lens. The selfie was done with my iPhone.

If you want to see more photos high-res style, check them out on my Flickr feed. Otherwise check these out or follow me on Instagram. As always, thanks for having a look. Below is a story about the Flower Man.


In addition to it being Thanksgiving, it’s also my mom’s birthday. She’s working and we’re celebrating tonight. I can’t wait to see her.

On my way home from my photo session, I pulled in to the local Food City to buy her some flowers. I grabbed up two dozen roses and struggled to hold them together since my hands were still numb from the blistering cold I’d just spent two hours walking around in. When I got to the check out, the sweet cashier started speaking to me and a minute later her bag boy — a hunched over, short gentleman; older but not OLD; Pushing 60 I’m guessing — came over to help out.

The cashier and I talked about how cold it was outside. She then brought James into the conversation — “James, aren’t those beautiful?”

James studied them closely. Probably five or six very uncomfortable seconds passed before he said anything.

James: Well…I mean…I think a T-Bone steak would look a little better if it were me.

Cashier: (polite laughter)

Me: Honestly, James, I’d say the same if it were me, too. But they’re not for me or you — they’re for my mom. Today is her birthday.

James: It is!? Well how old is she?

Cashier: (condescending look toward James)

Me: How old? She’s 19.

James: 19!? I thought he said his MOM!

Cashier: He did! He said they’re for his mom and she’s 19 why is that so hard to understand?

Me: I can’t explain it, James. No one can. When your mom is forever young that just happens.

James: Well, honestly, my birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving — around every four years or so — it’s the 26th and I hate it.

Cashier; Me: (blank stare)

James: You get together with family and you’ve already got cakes and pies coming and it’s hard to tell who’s celebrating what. And I just don’t like it.

Me: Well, my mom is going to have a pleasant night tonight with her family whether it’s Thanksgiving or not. A lot of it is all in how you interpret things, I guess.

James: (silence)

Me: Happy early birthday, James. Y’all have a happy Thanksgiving!

[exit]

James was weird. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I bought your birthday flowers from a weirdo. Happy birthday either way!

[photo post] Lost Sew’l Organics, October 2017

You guys already know how much I love doing photo shoots for Lost Sew’l Organics. I did it back in August ’16, then again in November ’16, and most recently in March ’17. I love shooting photos, y’all know that, but there’s nothing I like more than doing these fashion shoots with Amber and her friends.

This time around, Amber wanted some shots for an all-black made-to-order line (released today) and she’d found a rad little spot in downtown Sevierville, TN — Off The Chain Cycles is a custom bicycle service and restoration shop that only recently opened its doors. When I was told “downtown Sevierville,” my first thoughts were I’ve never been there and where IS downtown Sevierville, anyway?

Turns out I’ve been by it the hundreds of times I’ve driven to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg over the last almost 33 years. I feel stupid for skipping over it because it’s actually quite beautiful. And budding, to say the least. Lots of new shops opening and rumor has it there’s a lot of new restaurants with outdoor seating slated to open in the next few months. And right in the middle of it — this custom bike shop.

RAD

Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to do the above photo shoots and work with her amazing friends Sam, Caitlin and Mal. Sam is world-famous at this point. She’s been the star of every shoot, and she was back again for this one. Amber also brought along her assistant Ali and her new model Angelika.

And gods bless America, Angelika…

I’ll let you figure out why I say that.

I did something a little different this time around in the form of a quick promo video. Consider this a teaser for the photos below:

I shot 626 photos and delivered 200. I’ve uploaded 47 to my Flickr account and will be pushing 17 to my Instagram. Below are 8 of my favorites. Get at ’em. Lens credits in the captions.

Also, thanks to Amber, Ali and Mark, we got a few BTS “action” shots. Dig ’em.

Even though Angelika and Sam did a great job making me look like I know what I’m doing, I’m always learning and looking to share my knowledge with anyone that’s interested. Here are a few things I learned on this shoot:

  • I’ve said this before but it’s way important to be over-prepared if you’re not sure where you’re shooting. This time around, I brought my 24mm, my 50mm and my 85mm lenses but only because I didn’t know what I’d have to shoot and how much space I’d be able to shoot in. Turns out, I used all three for three completely different shots. I was a little over-prepared, and it worked out.
  • I bought an LED that fits on your hot shoe a couple of years ago (like this one) thinking it would be good for handheld documentary-style video. Turns out, I was wrong. BUT…That handy dandy light comes in handy for some of these shoots if I want juuuust a little more light. This was no exception. While we had ample natural lighting coming from the windows of the shop, there were a few times that having a second light off to the side, turned down to about 50% or so, lightened up shadows just perfectly. That light has been rad, even though I’ve never used it for its intended purpose.
  • If you have a shady spot and morning light…USE IT. We agreed to go shoot in the shop and they were gracious enough to let us come in and do it, but I just couldn’t stay inside the whole time while we had such even cool lighting outside the shop. Some of the best shots of the day happened out there. Don’t be lazy, y’all.
  • And sometimes some people just can’t stop modeling with their face.

Here’s a lot of social stuff for y’all to get in on. Follow all of it, man!