Beth Hart Concert Review

20 Feb

zDSC_0250 Beth Hart Reduced

On February 3, 2018 I photographed and reviewed Beth Hart’s first leg of the current North American tour, before she heads back over to Europe. The review was published in Blues Rock Review and the link is below. If you click on it “like it,” if you feel like it.


zDSC_0148 Beth Hart


Country Joe McDonald Interview

6 Feb

The Country Joe McDonald Interview For The Wittenburg Door

I did this interview backstage at the Aladdin theater in Portland Oregon with Country Joe McDonald in 2007 and it never got published. Blueswax/Blues Review Published a version, but this is another version getting more spiritual.

Country Joe McDonald, Aladdin Theater 2007 Copyright

Since this is the forty year anniversary of the “Summer of Love”, and every publication fromRolling Stone to Time magazine has a spread on it, the Door didn’t want to be left out. So wedecided to jump on the bandwagon and interview one of the major players from the era. SinceJanis Joplin isn’t around anymore, we decided to interview her ex-boyfriend Country Joe

McDonald is an icon from the 1960’s, who’s career as a rock star initially began, when his band,”Country Joe & the Fish” headlined at the “Monterey Pop Festival”, the event that ushered in the”Summer of Love”, and made household names out of people like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Two years later, “Country Joe & the Fish” were famous enough to get invited to Woodstock,along with his ex-girlfriend.

His historic performance at “Woodstock” was permanently captured on celluloid by MichaelWaldleigh’s Academy Award winning documentary about that event. If you haven’t seen thefilm, it can be rented at just about any video store, and clips of his historic performance havebeen included in a variety of other films over the years, and can even be accessed on his web site at .

However, McDonald’s career didn’t end in the 1960’s, even though the “Fish” disbanded by 1970. He’s recorded 33 albums and written hundreds of songs in the last 40 years, as well as becoming heavily involved in Viet Nam War veteran issues. In 1969 when the war was using draftees as canon fodder, that eventually resulted in over 58,000 dead Americans, “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” became the most familiar anti-war anthem of that period.

Four decades later the Viet Nam war is ancient history, but as a Viet Nam war era veteran,McDonald has continued to champion Viet Nam war veteran’s rights, and more recently those ofthe Afghanistan and Iraq wars. He wrote a song for Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, calledSupport the Troops, and sang it and Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag, where Viet Nam wasreplaced with Iran, at a recent concert that the Door attended. Afterwards he graciously agreed to talk to fellow Viet Nam war era veteran, and Door contributing editor Bob Gersztyn about War, Politics and God.

Door: What is your new album “Natural Imperfections” about?

McDonald: This is an album of nature sounds and instrumentals which is for prayer and
meditation. And it is a bit esoteric and not everyone is interested in that sort of thing, but you said that you had some kind of a religious interest.

Door: Yeah, I guess you could say that. Exactly what is your religious handle and how would you advise someone who was searching to make some sort of a spiritual connection in their life to do so?

McDonald: First I think a person has to experience a bottom and become willing to take
suggestions, and to change. Without that, I don’t think that there’s any change possible. You will continue to make judgements prior to investigation and think about yourself in that way. First, I can only talk about my personal experience. I had to experience a bottom and relinquish control, and admit that there was a higher power, greater than myself, and I had to turn my life and will over to that higher power. I have to personally do that every day. Once you’ve done that, then you’ve made your spiritual connection. It’s just the beginning of a new journey, and you do that every day, which teaches you humility, kindness and a way of life. You can do that with formal religions if you want. I don’t know anything about that. It’s just what happened to me.

Door: What do you use for your source of input, to get growth or information to challenge yourself spiritually?

McDonald: I belong to an organization that I don’t want to mention. Where on a daily basis, I read the material and talk to other people. Mainly it involves listening to other people and caring about other people. That’s the nature of the organization that I happen to belong to, that I really can’t talk about, because that’s just built into it. Anonymity is part of humility. It’s easy to do good works and get patted on the back, but of course the greatest spiritual thing is to do good works and have no one know about it, except your higher power, and that’s enough. Going into a spiritual journey, and search, in my opinion, where you’re looking for a pay off, is a dead end. What I had to do was just realize that I was basically pretty insignificant, and I needed help, and reach out and get help and then help other people. That to me is what life is all about. Sharing what you know with other people without searching for…that’s the pay off. That’s it. That puts God into your life.

I choose to call to call my higher power God, just because it’s a way of communicating. It’s easy, but it can be anything else. On a spiritual journey, some people have rules and regulations, you know. You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, but in mine, I don’t really have those rules and regulations. The main thing is that if you want to be happy and have a spiritual life, you need to be humble and not do any damage. If you don’t do any damage you won’t feel guilty and bad, you won’t feel resentful, and you’ll be happy. You need to work on it every day. I need to work on it every day. If I don’t, I forget. Then I become a greedy asshole again. You can’t be a greedy asshole and have a spiritual happy life. [chuckles] Your going to have to just live your life one day at a time and see how it works out, because we only have today. Don’t we? Actually we only have this minute. We have no idea what’s going to happen. That’s not up to us, to control what’s going to happen. We can only control our actions and the way we behave and to do the right thing.

The right thing I think is obvious. Everybody knows what the right thing is. Treat yourself nicely, and treat other people nicely, and help and be kind to other people, by sharing your experience and what you can do. It’s as simple as that, and it really doesn’t involve dropping bombs on people. That is not a spiritual journey. Blowing yourself up, and other people up. Killing other people. Robbing other people. You can’t do those things and have a spiritual happy life. I don’t believe. You can try it, but I don’t think that the pay off is going to be very good.

You also can’t delude yourself constantly with substances. Addictions of any kind, which can be money, or women, or gambling or alcohol. You can’t do that. You have to just lead a normal life and try to be a good person and talk and interact with other people, and do nice things for people. And that’s the spiritual journey for me and the pay off is enormous. It’s happiness. Plain old ordinary happiness. Contentment. Tranquility. Serenity. Peace. All those things will come to any person, I believe. Any person. Any human being on the planet has it within them to reach that very simply and easily by simply admitting their faults, their insecurities and their powerlessness, and reaching out for help. It’s as simple as that. And hopefully this little CD that I made will also aid people to just calm down a little bit. Relax and communicate with the higher

Florence Nightingale heard a voice of God. So far my higher power hasn’t told me to eat a
hamburger Joe, or something like that, but that’s okay. It’s the journey, not the arrival. More will be revealed and I’ll never understand.

Door: Why are you so fascinated by Florence Nightingale?

McDonald: I think I identify with her family situation. The dynamic of her interaction with her mother ,and her father and her sister. She was also misunderstood, and I identified with that. I got started because she was a war veteran and a nurse and suffered post traumatic stress disorder. Also I like championing the underdog and she definitely has not been acknowledged in the 20th and 21st Centuries for the good works that she did and the importance of her as an historical figure. But her life is very rich and has many facets to it. As a Victorian person that interests me I like the Victorian era. And I obviously like the profession of nursing.

Door: What was the bottom that you referred to?

McDonald: I lost hope.

Door: When and why?

McDonald: The why of it, I don’t understand, but about five years ago I lost hope, in everything, and it was to me the greatest sin I could ever commit. I no longer hoped for anything, and that was bad for me. That was my bottom. I’ve regained that. I now have tomorrow’s and a future, and feel pretty good.

Door: I’d like to ask you about your 1970’s song “Hold On It’s Coming”. I had just become a Jesus freak at the time, and had been a Hippie in the Sixties. So when the Jesus movement came along I started reading the Bible and I was limiting myself to what music I was listening to at that time. When I listened to that song, I decided that it was a song that was OK for me to listen to. I’m sure it had nothing to do with spirituality, but what was the actual meaning?

McDonald: In a way it did have to do with that because it was about psychotherapy and my therapist and those notions of that, so it did have to do with consciousness expansion, and in a larger sense spirituality, but I have heard the interpretation that it did have to do with Jesus. People have told that to me. But for me myself as the writer it didn’t have to do with Jesus.

Door: So it was a Jungian kind of idea?

McDonald: It really was about my therapist.

Door: What are your feelings about the current war?

McDonald: I don’t like it. I think that it was a mistake.

Door: How do you think everything should have been handled from 9/11, to this point? What different directions do you think could have been made? What should have been done after 9/11, should there have been any retaliation?

McDonald: First off, there shouldn’t have been a 9/11, because the FBI and the CIA were asleep at the wheel. That’s for starters. It was their fault that 9/11 happened. The odds of those people, pulling off 9/11, successfully, were a million to one, and they did it. After 9/11, it’s all about negotiation, in the global community. You don’t drop bombs, you talk. They didn’t talk, they dropped bombs. Now we’re in a mess.

Door: What part do you think that theological ideology can play in the current war, as far as dialogue between cultures is concerned?

McDonald: The various religious bureaucracies are going to have to communicate, or else we’re going to be in a constant conflict, and that’s what’s going to have to happen. This is a new situation for the modern age, that there is essentially….If the Viet Nam war was an ideological/economic conflict, and indeed it was, between Communism and Capitalism, then the war that we’re facing now, the “War On Terrorism”, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan maybe in many ways economically based because of oil, and it certainly is…a lot of it has to do with, at least at this stage, ideological, formal religions. Their ideologies, rules and regulations, versus the reality of modern times. There’s going to have to be communication and compromise all around on that basis. It makes it very difficult for us to conceive. Religions, and there’s quite a few of them that have gender control in such a harsh way, so that’s a challenge, and also this concept of after life, and dying in such a way as to achieve a better after life than someone who doesn’t die in a certain way. Because millions, and hundreds of millions of people believe in these ideologies, the time has come in the global community for religions to begin to compromise and reach out to one another, or else we’re going to be in constant conflicts.

Door: What sort of impact do you think that the totality of the 1960’s, as far as everything from the counterculture philosophy, to civil rights, to whatever else may have been involved in the mix has impacted the 21st century and where we’re at right now?

McDonald: I use the metaphor sometimes of the flat world concept. When the explorers went out to prove that the world was round, and brought the information back, it wasn’t well received in all areas. Let’s say particularly by the people that were doing maps. They didn’t want to draw new maps reflecting a global reality. The flat world reality had a stockpile of old maps and wanted to get rid of that merchandise. So the 60’s brought us new realities. Gender realities, fashion realities, cultural realities, consciousness realities. It challenged just about everything that was known, and scientifically there were breakthroughs. All of these new concepts and new realities have not been well received. The concepts and realities of the Aquarian Age are still resisted in the Western world, but in the Eastern world, like in the fundamentalist Muslim world, then it really is sacrilegious to adopt many of the belief systems of the Aquarian Age. So that struggle will continue.

Door: What are some of the primary beliefs of the Aquarian system?

McDonald: That men and women are equal. That sexual things should be taught. That drugs should not be illegal. That fashion and style should not be controlled. That people can listen to music and dance. In Saudi Arabia this is illegal, that men and women…and in Hasidic Jewish religion men and women don’t touch each other, but it’s okay to touch each other, but it’s okay for men and women to touch each other. That the free flow of information should be shared all around. These are radical notions, still in the 21st century, and they were in the 20th century, and will continue to be, if God granted we’re allowed to live for centuries more, on this planet Earth, that will be the challenge, I believe.

Door: Explain what the “Free Speech” movement was and why there even needed to be one.

McDonald: I’m not really qualified to explain that, because I didn’t go to the University of
California, and I came to Berkeley after the “Free Speech” movement, but I can tell you a little bit about it. The students set up some tables to distribute information about the war and about segregation and about other things, and the University made the decision that they could not pass out information, and so they made it against the University rules for the students to pass out information on campus. And that started the whole “Free Speech” movement.

Door: So it wasn’t a Lenny Bruce type of issue?

McDonald: It had nothing to do with “FUCK”. It had to do with information. The free flow of information. The same struggle that’s going on today.

Door: Why did you part company with Jane Fonda, back around 1970?

McDonald: We had some disagreements about things, but essentially I think it was because they went off to the Philippines and I didn’t want to go off to the Philippines and Japan.

Door: What about her trip to North Viet Nam?

McDonald: I had nothing to do with that. I know she went, and it didn’t work out so well.

Door: What part did drugs play for you and the culture as a whole in the 1960s? Mainly the mind expanding drugs like LSD, mescaline and smoking pot.

McDonald: I don’t think that it influenced my music so much but it gave me a subject to write about. And drugs were around and maybe in the beginning they limited the amount of alcohol intake. That’s about it for me.

Door: Do you think that there was any creative direction that came about that wouldn’t have otherwise?

McDonald: I think that drugs create the illusion of creative direction. I don’t think that it
necessarily gives it. The creative direction was provided by, in my opinion, by the electronics that were just then being invented on a popular level. People had electric guitars, they had electric keyboards, and they had PA systems and they had amplifiers. Where as before they didn’t have them.

Door: What is your political affiliation?

McDonald: I’m a registered Democrat.

Door: Is there anyone that you could think of that you would like to be the next president?

McDonald: Well I hope that it’s a person that wants to be a part of the global community and believes in compromise and communication, and can inspire people to have moral and ethical dreams, for a peaceful world. Without military aggression. It needs to be that kind of a person. I don’t think that anybody from the current administration fits that category.

Door: What about some of the candidates that are out there right now, from Hillary Clinton to Rudy Guilliani and everybody else?

McDonald: I’ll vote for whoever the Democrat is. That’s who I’m going to vote for. In order to send a message to the Republicans, that they failed. Whether the Democrats will succeed or not, in what I would like to see them do, that remains to be seen.

Door: Who did you vote for in the 1968 election?

McDonald: Who was running?

Door: Humphrey and Nixon.

McDonald: If I voted I wouldn’t have voted for Nixon.

Door: Along with Eldridge Cleaver for the “Black Panther” Party.

McDonald: I don’t know that I voted, but I definitely did not like Nixon and I wouldn’t have voted for him. Even before the election I did not like him.

Door: What do you think the future of the United States in the world is?

McDonald: For the immediate future, in the next fifty, hundred years it will remain the same. It will be a superpower, and it will be inspirational, and it will be a dream of, still in spite of the bad relations we have with the world now, of freedom and democracy. A dream of living a good life.

Door: So that’s the “American Dream”?

McDonald: The “American Dream” is to be free to make your dreams come true, and to have freedom freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of movement, economic freedom to go up and down the social ladder. If you want to vote, whether you’re a man or a woman, without discrimination. That’s the dream. The “American Dream”.

Door: Do you think that the US could almost be like the germ of something spreading, that would spread across the world, or do you think that it’s just a phenomenon that will pass, within the context of a thousand years, let’s say?

McDonald: Well I can’t guess about a thousand years. Ecologically in a thousand years we may have problems that will make that kind of question immaterial. We may be running out of oxygen and things like that, but it has been for two hundred years capturing the imagination and dream of the world, and given a gift to the planet in many, many ways. To human civilization. Rock & Roll being one of the gifts. American music, that has inspired the whole planet.

By: Bob Gersztyn

Rod Stewart

26 Jan

Rod Stewart368 Photoshop

The first time that I saw Rod Stewart was at the Goose Lake Pop festival in Michigan in the Summer of 1970. I took my girlfriend Kathy and two of her girlfriends to attend the three day event. that featured 8 bands each day. The headliners on Saturday night were Chicago, Mountain, Ten Years After and the Faces, featuring Rod Steward on vocals and Ron Wood on lead guitar. Steve Marriott had previously held the dual position of lead singer lead guitar, but went on to form Humble Pie. I bought some blotter acid from one of the concession stands selling LSD, mescaline and marijuana and a hit of mescaline for my girlfriend. We were peaking when Ten Years after and the Faces performed. I considered Rod Stewart and the Faces to be the best performance of the entire three days.

Rod Stewart 1996 Copyright

I became a Rod Stewart fanatic and attended every time that the Faces performed in Detroit, Michigan where I lived, seeing him multiple times at the legendary East Town theater until 1971 when I moved to Los Angeles, California and became a religious fanatic whoΒ eschewed secular rock & roll.


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By the 1990’s I raised my family and through a series of synchronistic events I ended up freelancing as a rock & roll photographer. These photographs are from 1998 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon.

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Rod Stewart370Photoshop

Joe Satriani G3 Concert Review

21 Jan

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Joe Satriani began the 23rd year of his G3 Tour in Seattle Washington on January 11. Then the next day which was also the day of the release of his new albumΒ What Happens Next he played at the historic Elsinore theater in Salem, Oregon. I attendedΒ  and photographed that concert and wrote a review that was published in “Blue Rock Review.” Links to the review of the concert as well as the new album are below. I included more photos on this site than were used in the review. I took over 300 images of the entire show and included a half dozen or so of the best representational images.

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John Petrucci

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John Petrucci and band

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Phil Collen and Delta Deep

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Phil Collen

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Joe Satriani

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Joe Satriani

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The encore

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Three Blazing guitars by Satriani, Collen and Petrucci

Photography Classes

9 Jan

Beginning next Tuesday, January 16, 2018 the Winter semester for Chemeketa Community college begins and they are once again offering two of my classes. The flyers below give the information. and you can email me atΒ




Learn how to shoot ten different subjects in ten weeks: Flash, macro, concert, sports, landscapes, cityscapes, nighttime, special effects and weddings.


Learn how to construct complex photo mosaics suitable for framing.

Santana 2003 Photographs

3 Jan

Santana 2003320

Santana 2003

Santana formed in 1966 in San Francisco during the peak hippie era. By 1969 they were a featured band at Woodstock and catapulted to fame as a result of their performance of Soul Sacrifice, captured on both film and an album.

Santana 2003318

Santana 2003319



Three decades later after being inducted into the β€œRock & Roll Hall of Fame” he released Supernatural an album that had duets with some of the hottest artists of that period, like Rob Thomas of β€œMatchbox 20,” β€œEverlast,” Dave Matthews and Lauryn Hill. The album hit #1 and won 3 Grammy’s, sold 30 million copies and became album of the year, making Santana the first Hispanic to win album of the year.

Santana 2003321

Buddy Guy: Blues Legend

28 Dec


Buddy Guy 1996


George β€œBuddy” Guy was born July 30, 1936 and is now 81 years old and is still performing. He was born in Louisiana and began playing in Baton Rouge, but didn’t get serious about guitar playing until 1957, when he moved to Chicago. He befriended Otis Rush and Muddy Waters and was soon being overseen by blues legend Willie Dixon as he began recording. He began inserting guitar solos in songs where the voice or saxophone dominated and adopted a variety of styles ranging from Country Blues to Jazz. He influenced every major rock guitar player to come out of the 1960’s, after he signed with β€œChess Records,” in 1960. Rolling Stone listed him as being the #30 most influential guitar player of all time. These are some photographs that I took of him over the past 20 years.

Buddy Guy CopyrightΒ 2000Β  Β 

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Buddy Guy 2005225 Copyright2005

Experience Hendrix 2008 Buddy Guy.#2 Copyright


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Article & Photographs by Bob Gersztyn