Johnny Clegg

6 May

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Last Thursday I went to the Aladdin theater up in Portland to see the Johnny Clegg Band. It was the first time that I’ve seen a South African rock star. Johnny’s son Jesse opened the show with an acoustic set as I began to take photographs.

I was originally just going to go to the concert with my friend Joe for enjoyment. However, a week before the concert I contacted Johnny Clegg’s publicist to request a photo pass and a ticket for a writer friend, which turned it into a working concert instead of just enjoyment.

I stood at the foot of the stage and shot images for the 1st 3 songs, like usual, but then, because of my photo pass I got in the building before the crowd and picked the best seats in the balcony. The Aladdin only holds a little over 700 people, so every seat is a good seat, but the front row, center stage in the balcony is the best. It gives an unobstructed view of the stage for photographs at exactly the right descending angle.

I talked to half a dozen people while we were waiting for the show to begin. Some of them were originally from South Africa. Everyone that I talked toΒ  had been to Johnny Clegg concerts before, reaching back into the late 1980’s when he first came to the United States. The age of the crowd ranged from the mid 30’s to senior citizens.

Jesse Clegg came on promptly at 8:00 P.M. and talked to the crowd in between songs about how he normally played electric guitar with a full band, but was doing a stripped down acoustic version for his first American tour. After a 30 minute set of excellent renditions of his Platinum album recordings he concluded his set.

After a brief period to reset the stage, the Johnny Clegg Band took the stage as Johnny sang and danced through a 90 minute set. He talked about his beginnings during apartheid and the danger involved in even attending a concert with police surveillance and arrests common place. Clegg is an anthropologist with an interest in the way that traditional primitive music blends with modern sounds and instruments.

Becky Garrison wrote an article about the concert for The Examiner.com at http://www.examiner.com/article/john-clegg-brings-down-the-house-portland-oregon that uses 20 of my images from the show for a slideshow.

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