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The Convoluted Path Part Seventy-Five

15 Apr

Uncle Eddy in front of my childhood house

I sent all the color film to Dale Labs in Florida and had the negatives developed that then were transferred to slides as well as digital images on a disk. I gave all the discs to Larry Norman according to the photographer copyright laws. When I delivered them I asked Larry for the thousand dollars for the week as we agreed and he wrote me a check. I gave all the unused film to Larry and then we went out to dinner. Larry likes Thai food but I talked him into going to the “Best Little Roadhouse” instead. Kerry came and so did Larry’s son Michael who accompanied Larry for almost everything. He was a caring father and tried to spend as much time with his son as he could. When we were at Cornerstone they would watch movies all night.

One time when Larry came over to the house and someone dropped him off I was driving him back to his place while I was supposed to pick up my ten year old son Jason from soccer practice. Larry was in a hurry to get home so he wanted me to drive him home before I picked up Jason. I told him that I was already late and couldn’t wait and he was upset. When we arrived to pick up Jason he was waiting and complained that I was late and he was getting worried. I could tell that Larry felt bad and he suggested that we stop at Diary Queen in West Salem before driving him home and he would treat us to ice cream, so we did.

I spent more time with Larry that Summer which is like a dream come true that I didn’t care about anymore. Back in the 1970’s I contacted “Solid Rock Records” when it was still in Los Angeles. I talked to someone on the phone and told them about my photos of Randy Stonehill and when they found out that I also had “Love Song” and Chuck Girard they asked me to send them the original slides and negatives to look at which like a fool I did. They never returned them and other than a few 4×6’s and a black & white proof sheet someone still has everything. One time I told Larry what happened and he said that he wasn’t responsible for what his employees did.

Jesus called spiritual wickedness blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10. The context of this passage is Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath as well as picking wheat heads and eating them. He quotes I Samuel 21 and Isaiah 42 to support his argument that the entire system was set up by man as a tool which had limitations as well as a purpose. This happened when individuals were filled with God’s spirit and were in the process of creating positive change or shifting the focus. When such a thing was happening all prvious bets were out the window. A new context was being created. This new context is simply the evolution of civilization into a more efficient form. This has occurred over the ages by the meeting between two cultures. Whether Semites and Africans, Judaism and Hellenism or Christianity and LSD.

Ever since Louise Dunlap left as the plant manager and Cliff Koch took over overtime began to increase. Since I was a perennial overtime desired list member and we were still on the verge of bankruptcy I took all I could get. However, it was different than back in the 1980’s and now I was older and had less energy as well as a number of outside activities like teaching photography classes at both Chemeketa and Portland community colleges. At the same time I was still shooting concerts on a regular basis and now I was even doing interviews with the artists for the “Door Magazine.” Kevin McGrory was the Tour II superintendent at the time and when he would call overtime and I had to tell him that I couldn’t stay because I had a class to teach that night he was upset. That’s the problem with the ODL when you have a lot going in your personal life but need the money.

In August of 2001 my godfather, uncle Eddy died and my aunt Irene called me to tell me and ask if I was coming to the funeral? We were struggling to pay the bills and even though I wanted to I told her that I couldn’t do it financially. She offered to pay my plane fare so I said okay and booked a seat on a plane to Detroit. Of course the post office was not happy that I would have to be gone on emergency leave for a week so I needed to make sure that I brought a note from the funeral director verifying the death.

One of the clerks had a son that died in the early 1990’s and the day of the funeral she had a wake at her house. She told me that Louise Dunlap and Cliff Koch knocked on her front door and she answered it. When she saw who it was she said, “did you come here to make sure that my son is really dead? When they denied her accusation she didn’t let up and said that she made them feel like shit. There have been cases where workers were off for a death and when they failed to bring proof, like an obituary or note from the undertaker they would mark you AWOL and deny you paid leave. By this time in my postal career I understood and accepted the rules so it was no big deal.

When I got to Michigan I stayed with my sister Karen and of course she would be at the funeral and funeral parlor. I connected with my old friends Jerry DeClark and Dave Loughead and enjoyed lounging in the swimming pool during the hot August days. The funeral service was held at St. Florian’s in Hamtramck and Orlikowski Funeral home where most family funerals took place. Many of the relatives from the Gersztyn side of the family came to either the visitation or funeral so I saw them for the first time in over thirty years and the last time before they also passed on.

I met my cousin Carol’s husband for the first time and we did not hit it off. It felt like a dick measuring contest and maybe that was just my impression but we didn’t have too much in common. He made a comment about how many kids I had and I said that I had seven because that is the perfect number and he pointed out that seven wasn’t always for good.  When he started talking about doo wop music I told him that my era was the psychedelic Jimi Hendrix period.

After I flew back to Oregon my aunt Irene called me a few months later and asked if uncle Eddy ever told me how much he was willing me. I told her that he once sent me a bank for to fill out for that I signed, dated and mailed back to him. Unfortunately I didn’t make a copy of it and aunt Irene said that she didn’t see anything in his records. Since she had been taking care of him in his last days she became his executor and controlled all his money. Karen’s husband Gunther is a successful financial advisor and he estimates that Uncle Eddy could have a million dollars save up.

Uncle Eddy never got married and never owned a car. He either lived close enough to work that he could walk or he would get a ride his entire life. He inherited his parent’s house that he lived in until he retired and went to a senior home until he was dying. The house was two story with two separate residences and he rented out the top floor. He worked 12 hours a day six or seven days a week for years. In the early 1980’s he had heart surgery and because of a botched anesthetic he was partially blinded and had a settlement after a lawsuit. When Fisher Body closed and he was either eligible to retire or could collect his full salary until a new plant was built he chose the latter. The day the new plant opened and he was called to work he put in for retirement, sold his home and moved to a retirement center.

Aunt Irene asked me if uncle Eddy told me how much he was giving me and I truthfully answered that I didn’t. She told me that she was going to send me a check for $10,000.00 from uncle Eddy’s money. I never heard from her again after she sent the money and when I sent my cousins Carol and Marsha Christmas cards they ended up being returned because they moved with no forwarding address. A few years later one of my cousins was searching the internet for something and they found Aunt Irene’s obituary. Her children, our cousins didn’t even inform any of the family on our side. Of course this drew suspicion that they wanted to distance themselves from the rest of the family because they didn’t want to share uncle Eddy’s wealth and for that reason acted like we didn’t exist. Who knows if that is true, but if it is then the God that they say that they believe in knows and will deal with it. The ten thousand dollars helped us to survive a little longer but it hardly made a dent in our debt.

After I returned to Salem after the funeral I returned to work at the post office and brought a letter from the funeral director verifying that I did in fact attend my dead uncle’s funeral. Over the years there was at least once incident that I remember where someone was off for a funeral and was shocked and offended that they had to bring in proof before they were able to get paid for their own annual leave. Otherwise they would be marked AWOL and forfeit getting paid. I already told the story that Betty Ritter told me about her son’s funeral.

On Tuesday September 11, 2001 they brought me into work four hours early on overtime so I arrived at 2:00 AM instead of 6:00 AM and helped out with the dispatch. After I returned from my break at 5:30 AM I began hanging orange airmail sacks that I always did after dispatch unless the dispatch clerks had time to do it before their shift was over. I had my CD player on and was wearing earphones when a few minutes after 6:00 AM Greg Parkinson came racing by and asked me what was happening now? I told him that I wasn’t listening to the radio and he said that we’ve been attacked as he raced to the break room with me following to see what CNN that was always on was showing. They replayed the video footage of the second plane hitting the tower beside the other tower that had a flaming airplane impaled in it.

After I finished hanging all the priority sacks I went out to the dock to help Parkinson and Dennis Stires’ with the city dispatches. Parkinson asked me what I thought would happen because of this and I said when they find out who it is they’ll retaliate and security will be beefed up. “What will happen is we will lose our freedom because of all the rules they’ll put in place.” All the planes were grounded after a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I had the next two days off and spent most of it in front of the TV set watching CNN reporting on the aftermath of all the planes crashing and the World Trade Towers collapsing. It was horrible and when they said that it was of Biblical proportions for once they weren’t exaggerating. I immediately thought of the story of Sampson in the Bible and how he collapsed two pillars in the temple of Dagon and killed over three-thousand people. He asked God to help him avenge himself for blinding him. He succeeded in his task and was buried with honor by his family. It seemed like it was a parallel story but with supernatural power compared to today using modern technology that would be magical to the Palestinian culture three-thousand years ago.

Three Finger Jack

13 Apr
Three Finger Jack & Duffy Lake at Dawn

Three Finger Jack is a blown out volcano that is just under eight-thousand feet. It was named after an outlaw named Three Finger Jack from the last days of the Wild West. When I first moved to Oregon in 1980 I heard about the beauty that could be discovered by going into the wilderness from loggers. They described beautiful meadows of wildflowers and lakes mirroring the mountain peaks. I longed to see it since I was a photographer and wanted to capture the natural beauty of Oregon after photographing the concrete cities of Los Angeles, California and Detroit, Michigan. In 1989 I met someone who invited me to go backpacking with them and I had two teenage boys at the time so we all backpacked into Jefferson wilderness. I went on a dozen three day treks during the 1990’s and brought all my camera equipment with me loaded in a backpack that weighed a solid fifty pounds.

After a couple of years of all four of us backpacking to a couple of locations, I decided to go in by myself one time in October because I wanted to get some shots of dawn at Duffy Lake before winter began. I hiked in alone on a Sunday afternoon and arrived at the spot at Duffy Lake that I wanted. It was only four miles from the trail head and was pretty much flat all the way, unlike going into Jefferson Park at the base of Mt. Jefferson that was six miles of uphill switchbacks that gained two-thousand feet of elevation.

Three Finger Jack and Duffy Lake

I arrived just as the sun was setting since I had left home too late since this was a last moment decision. I managed to pitch the tent and get everything set up before it was pitch black. There was no chance to gather wood to make a fire so even though it was only 8:00 PM I had no choice but to go to bed. I had a sleeping bag and a space age aluminum blanket but was freezing when I woke up at midnight so I put on all my clothes, jacket, hat and gloves and slept uncomfortably until just before dawn.

When I awoke I drank the coffee that I brought in a thermos and got my camera equipment ready and set up my tripod. After I determined my settings for exposure I began to take images as soon as the first rays of dawn touched Three Finger Jack and continued to shoot until the sun fully rose and I packed up my equipment and hiked out and went home to develop my black and whites and send in my color to get processed.

Three Finger Jack and Duffy Lake

Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction

11 Apr

Back in the fall of 1965 I was 18 years old and had just graduated from high school the past June. I was working a full time job in Detroit, Michigan as a “Wood Pattern Maker” apprentice for a year before I got drafted into the army as the war in Vietnam escalated. At the time I had absolutely no interest in politics so I was oblivious to the controversy about Vietnam and expected to be drafted into the army. I looked at it as an adventure and I wanted to get out of Detroit and expand my world so I didn’t worry about it. At the same time all of my relatives had served in WWII including my dad and I loved to play army as a kid so I looked forward to the military in a way. It wouldn’t until August 1966 that I was inducted into the military so I enjoyed my year after graduating high school as a civilian.

I purchased my first car for $1,150.00 at Roy O’Brian Ford in St. Clair Shores from a salesman named Dan Dwyer recommended to me by a co-worker. It was a burgundy colored white toped convertible that I loved. Now that I had my own car I could control the radio and was playing WXYZ AM one of Detroit’s top 40 radio station’s one night when I got off work. It was the first time that I heard “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire and I found it mesmerizing. As I listened to the lyrics they were a commentary on the world’s current political situation delivered in the most hopeless foreboding manner I had ever heard.

The song was originally written by P. F. Sloan as a protest song in 1964 and McGuire who was previously in “The New Christy Minstrels” was the second one to record it following the “Turtles.” The mix that used his voice was leaked to a radio station and it became a hit overnight. It was banned by some radio stations as being subversive, unpatriotic and damaging to the existing political system. After his chart success McGuire became a pariah of sorts but ended up doing some theater and film but also became involved in substance abuse. By the 1970’s he became a “born again” Christian and began releasing “Christian Rock” albums. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MIXEW68Qjk

The 10 Best Bonnie Raitt Songs

8 Apr
Bonnie Raitt 1998

Bonnie Lynn Raitt was born on November 8, 1949 in Burbank, California. Her parents were both in the entertainment industry.  Her father, John Raitt was a headline singer in Broadway musicals like “Carousel” and “Oklahoma, and her mother Marge Goddard was a successful “pianist/singer.” She was raised in a Quaker religious atmosphere and her parents were socially and politically conscientious. When Bonnie was eight years old she received a guitar for Christmas which began her passionate interest in music. After high school she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where she played in local coffee houses until she dropped out of school and “joined the East Coast blues and folk music scene.” She developed her act as she played alongside everyone from (Big Boy) Arthur Crudup to Sippie Wallace. She connected with artists from her own generation like Jackson Browne and “Little Feat” and continued to be politically involved by performing at “high-profile charity events.” Her early recordings beginning with her self-titled album in 1971 were made up of mainly “traditional blues.” That seminal period of development in the early 1970’s saw her evolve artistically into both a phenomenal vocalist and proficient slide guitarist. It was on Sweet Forgiveness her sixth album in 1977 that she recorded Del Shannon’s “Runaway” which became her first hit single and launched her career into the mainstream. Raitt is one of the world’s most talented female singer/ songwriter/guitarists and has released seventeen studio albums and won a total of ten “Grammy Awards.” In the year 2000 she was inducted into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

The Convoluted Path Part Seventy-Four

4 Apr
Randy Stonehill & Larry Norman perform at Cornerstone in 2001

As I was thinking about Robert Flores and how our lives have intersected for the 2nd time I felt that one of the most important things that God spoke to me during my HPNC years was to exercise perseverance. Perseverance in what? Obviously to continue in developing my sision for what I felt was my purpose or destiny as God revealed it. Whether I told God to get fucked or fell on my face before Him in adoration was irrelevant. The burning drive within me which was kindled during my army and hippie days was disciplined harnessed and focused during my Christian period. I’m now in my post-Christian period. I think that one of the most influential books that I read in the 1990’s was “Beyond Good and Evil” by Friedrich Nietzche.

We are candles or flames burning until they are exhausted and cease to be. While we burn we illuminate each other as well as whatever we come in contact with. Our responsibility or destiny is twofold, first burn as bright as possible and second, place ourselves in such a position that we are able to be seen by as many others as possible. Why? Because this is what God has communicated to us through those who have been before us. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus speaks of in the “Sermon on the Mount” when he equated disciples to salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16.

A true disciple is one who’s ideas season and preserve what already exists yet at the same time leads the way and illuminates new directions. Those new directions can and should be linked to the entire foundation and existing structure which we may define as this present reality. I believe that the whole of mankind is growing or evolving into its full potential. When we only see our lifetime it’s hard to get the right perspective. That is why we must occasionally transcend this present reality. Whether by religion, music, literature, visual arts, drugs or a combination thereof, the need exists. The more that we indulge this need the more we grow. Life is painful and hard as well as joyful and ecstatic.

I was just thinking the other day at work at the post office that in the early 1970’s I had a completely opposite role model for a man of God from Gene Hackman in the “Poseidon Adventure” film playing Rev. Scott. His anger and rage against God was the antithesis of my then pastor Laverne Campbell. I didn’t identify with Rev. Scott back then but I certainly did now and my rage was equal to his at this point on my ship that I was now only leading 5 people on. After Michael and Rachel got married and John moved out there were less people to worry about but there was still the entire bankruptcy issue that loomed over my head. I wasn’t as suicidal in my thinking as I had been a couple of years earlier but I still didn’t see any way out, outside of a miracle.

I was watching Lour Reed in a documentary called “Rock & Roll Heart.” One segment about the 1993 “Velvet Underground” reunion had a clip of Vaclav Havel, the now president o the Czech Republic. He spoke of how as a young man he purchased a “Velvet Underground” album and eventually became friends with Lou Reed. It caused me to think about how the “baby boomer” generation’s greatest weapon is rock & roll. It has infected the globe like a virus. It’s message undermines oppression and empires have and will fall before it. From the Iron Curtain to South Africa.

One thing a boring job at the post office allows is time to think which is good if you are a writer or artist that can create in your mind and take notes if necessary. The negative aspect of having lots of time to think is when you are up “shit’s creek” without a paddle like I was with my house and the debt that I could not sustain without a miracle. I continued to shoot concerts and interview many of the people that I wanted.

On February 22, 2001 John Fahey died after undergoing an unsuccessful operation at Salem hospital that left him on life support. His final wish was to have the plug pulled on the life support so Tim Knight who ended up being his sole representative by this time okayed it. I went to Fahey’s memorial service at Willamette University that was emceed by professor John Doan who was a good friend of John’s.

One of the biggest concerts that I did in 2001 was U2’s “Elevation” tour on Easter Sunday. P.J. Harvey opened the show and they didn’t give me a ticket but after U2 concluded their first three songs and the site manager escorted us to the backstage exit I walked in the opposite direction and entered the arena and climbed the stairs to the first level and found an empty front row seat that no one ever claimed. From that seat I took another couple of rolls of film of the entire stage with all the band members.

On Tuesday, July 3 Larry Norman had me come over to his house in West Salem to finalize all the details for the “Cornerstone Festival” that he was headlining on Saturday, July 7. His brother Charles and his two sisters were there and he introduced me to them all. Since their van would be over filled I had to have my wife Kathy drive me to the airport the next day to catch the plane on July 4 at 2:00 PM. Larry told me that his family was normally very quiet and didn’t talk much so it was best to not talk.

We left Portland, Oregon at 2:00 PM and arrived in Chicago around 9:00 PM and had to run to the other side of the airport at Ohare Airport to catch out plane to Peoria. When we took off it was a little after 10:00 PM and fireworks were going off in the air as we ascended. It was surreal and made me think of what it must look like if you being fired at by anti aircraft guns. It was a short jump to Peoria. When we arrived and got our luggage we sat outside in front of the terminal waiting to get picked up.

After about a half hour two vans pulled up that were driven by Kerry and John Thompson who was a member of one of Larry’s backup bands. On the way to the hotel that we were staying at we stopped at a McDonald’s and got something from the to-go window that we ate as we drove to Bushnell. I ended up getting a room with two double beds all to myself because which was okay with me. Before we went to our rooms Kerry told me to meet him in the lobby at noon tomorrow and we would go to the festival site.

The next day I sat in the lobby with all my camera equipment until Larry, Kerry and Michael, Larry’s son came down and then we got in one of the vans and drove to the festival site. We were checked in and given our laminates indicating where we were authorized. Larry went to a tent that there were tables and microphones and he sat where whoever was in charge indicated. Then people began to ask him questions as he sat at a table talking into the microphone. After he was done members of the band “Third Day” sat down for an interview after they greeted Larry.

After the interview we walked over to one of the tents that contained booths representing different artists and writers by selling their albums or books. Larry talked to the vendors that were selling his material and I walked around taking some photos and checking everything out. Jay Baker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker was selling his book “Son of a Preacher Man” and I took a photo with my telephoto on 200mm. He would have let me interview him for the Door but I was still not totally confident doing interviews.

After we left the festival site we went to a church where all the equipment was set up for rehearsals. There were two entirely different bands. One was led by Larry’s younger brother Charles who was lead guitar for an alternative band called “Softcore” that had a Norwegian female bass player and male drummer along with a female lead singer that was now part of a female chorus quartet. The other band was “Wayside” and was led by John Thompson with three guitar players that were all blues oriented.

On Friday Randy Stonehill was going to play in one of the tent venues and Larry was going to perform a couple of songs with him. They would be meeting face to face for the first time in twenty years. There had been a rift between them even though they were best friends all through the 1970’s. Larry divorced Pam his first wife and Sarah Randy’s wife divorced him and then Larry and Sarah got married and had a child. I took photos of them greeting each other back stage before Randy’s performance as well as the performance.

That night P.O.D. was the headline band and I photographed them but had to do it from the soundboard so I only got entire stage group shots and no tight close ups. Afterwards I wandered around to a couple of the tents that had punk and alternative acts performing and tried to get some shots but they were so packed that I couldn’t get anything decent unless I included the crowd.

The next day we met in the lobby at noon and I headed to the festival site with Larry, Kerry and one of the backup singers who lived in Chicago. She knew Paul Natkin, the celebrity photographer who I met in 1995 when I took his seminar and we had a great conversation. I photographed the band that played on the main stage after we arrived. Larry was going to perform at 5:00 PM and when he came on I shot his entire set from the stage. There were a couple of other photographers shooting at the same time.

Because I only had a photo pass for Larry Norman they made me leave the stage after Larry finished his set. This pissed me off since they didn’t have a photo pit either and I didn’t want to shoot from the sound board again so I went back to the hotel. When I got back Larry called me and said that all the band members were going out to dinner and I was invited so I went. Later that night I was talking to Ken Tucker one of the guitar players about how he was professional wrestler when he wasn’t playing guitar. I flew back to Oregon with Larry and his son Michael and when we arrived he had his Mercedes parked in the lot so we loaded up and arrived in Salem in the early evening.

It’s interesting how music has in some way always been important to me and after giving up all my music in 1972 God gave it back to me in a much bigger way by photographing, reviewing and interviewing the artists that I love. If music is a language then most of us are illiterate. That is as far as being musicians goes. All of us can sing to our own satisfaction in the shower. However, the scholars or artists who communicate their emotions through music can read, write and understand. The audience is the receiver of this message. Their emotional palate determines their taste in music. Music transcends politics and borders, even religion. It communicates universal ideas, but emotionally intelligent lyrics add the cerebral aspect.

The Birth of CCM

3 Apr
Love Song 2010

Bob Gersztyn | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

I was very involved in the birth of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) as an observer before I became a participant. After I was discharged from the army in 1968 I became a hippie college student that attended concerts and festivals every week for three years at the rock venues in Detroit, Michigan. At the venues psychedelic drugs like LSD and mescaline was readily available and I used them over a hundred times because I understood that some people said that they saw God on it. I used it until I had multiple spiritual trips that bummed me out to the point that they became bad trips. In 1971 I saw the world as a hopeless mess and didn’t want to be part of it anymore so I decided to become serious about religion since I was raised a Roman Catholic. I flushed all my LSD doses down the toilet and began to read the Bible starting in the New Testament with the gospel of Matthew while I smoked pot. Jesus Christ Superstar came out at this time and it fit right in with the counter culture by presenting Jesus as a hip counter culture figure. It was at the same time that I succumbed to the lure of realigning my thinking with a strict regimen of Christian theology to appease all my fears about life. My two sources of inspiration were first, the Bible and second the album Jesus Christ Superstar that I listened to while smoking pot. A few months later I moved to Los Angeles where there was a counter culture religious revival going on. The revival or “Jesus movement” as it was called produced their own brand of music called “Jesus music.” There was Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Love Song, Children of the Day, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Barry McGuire, Agape and hundreds of others who were as professional and polished in their performances as the secular acts that I had seen. In fact some of them had been in a few of those secular acts, like Larry Norman, Mylon LeFevre, Phil Keagy and Chuck Girard. I became a born again Jesus freak and changed my major from photography to theology and became an inner city pastor in Los Angeles working with Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa to produce local Maranatha concerts. In 2012 Greenwood and Praeger published my book, “Jesus Rocks the World: The Definitive History of Contemporary Christian Music, vol. 1&2.” Bob Gersztyn, Books | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Love Song 1972

Jesus Rocks the World [2 volumes]: The Definitive History of Contemporary Christian Music: Gersztyn, Bob: 9780313377709: Amazon.com: Books

Perfect Sound Forever

31 Mar

Perfect Sound Forever: Joanna Connor- queen of Chicago Blues Rock (furious.com)

Perfect Sound Forever is the oldest online music publication that began back in 1993. The title was originally a marketing theme for replaced vinyl 33 rpm LP’s with digital CD’s but is now just a general music publication that explores the nooks and crannies of music and pop culture that bring new information to light about old subjects or highlight new emerging artists and trends. This is an article about Joanna Connor the queen of Chicago blues rock and an expert slide guitar player.

Perfect Sound Forever: Joanna Connor- queen of Chicago Blues Rock (furious.com)

Rock & Roll Circus

30 Mar
Fire Eater and the Zen Tricksters 1998

Over the decades I found myself covering concerts and shows of a large variety as a freelance music journalist. Some of the most entertaining were with the “Grateful Dead” counter culture crowd. They liked to mix entertainment with music and it was like a circus with live music. That was the original idea of the counter culture gatherings, to create a circus atmosphere where anything can happen.

Ariel Act and the Zen Tricksters 1998

The Convoluted Path Part Seventy-Three

29 Mar
Kid Rock 1999

I was attending so many shows covering them for different magazines that I would run out of people to take with me to use the second ticket. Sometimes I couldn’t get anybody to go with me so I would sell the extra ticket to a scalper or even give it away to somebody.This may be hard to believe but everyone has work schedules and other commitment and this is my moonlighting job that is according to my schedule.

I would take Joe Brandner with me when it was his nights off on Tuesday or Wednesday if his wife Pam approved it. Over the decades I took many of my co-workers and other friends because then I could have them drive to save money since I provided the ticket. My first choice would always be my wife Kathy who accompanied me to countless shows in Detroit in our early days. Today she has her own activities just as I have mine. This is one of the things that makes our marriage strong. She does what she wants and I do what I want but we come together for meals, family functions and sex. Then there are our seven children who I alternately take with me depending on who the artist is and if they like them. Sometimes my kids or a friend would recommend a person and I would then take them with me.

Once I learned the ropes and got connected with a few high end publications along with getting interviews published and even republished in other publications doors started to open and I began to gain access to interviews with people that I never dreamed that I would but this was only the beginning.

I was still working the split shift that had me working graveyard on Thursday and Friday and day shift on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with Tuesday and Wednesday off. Because I was still on the ODL (overtime desired list) I had to work overtime anytime that it was needed. At the same time I was teaching photography classes at Chemeketa community college a couple of days a week. All the kids played sports and I always attended their games if I wasn’t working. Some day’s I couldn’t get as much sleep as I wanted and would be dragging when I got to work. One women told me that I was unfriendly and crabby, which is true but I told her that after she had a few more years under her belt that she would join me. Ironically a couple of years later she came up to me one day and told me that “she was a real postal worker now” and quit a few months later.

The post office isn’t that bad a place to work if you can adjust to a boring and repetitious job that becomes grinding drudgery after a while. What makes it even worse is the people that you have to work with because some of them make the job more exciting by being assholes and causing problems. At the same time there are power mad supervisors who micromanage you making your job more difficult than it has to be.

One of the biggest groups that I shot in 2000 was CSN&Y (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) who were doing their Y2K tour. I photographed Neil Young solo twice already but even though I’d been to a “CS&N” concert I never photographed them before. It was at the “Rose Garden Arena” and I had to shoot from the sound board. It really didn’t bum me out like it normally would since I didn’t Crazy Ronnie’s 600mm F/4 lens. Using my 80-200 F/2.8 zoom fully extended allowed me to only get two of them so I just zoomed out to get three and even four of them as a group without being able to get any tight individual shots unless they were extremely cropped.

This time I got in the concert using “Broken Arrow” which is Neil Young’s fan magazine which was published in Great Britain. My photos of Neil had already appeared on the cover of the magazine twice along with my concert reviews. Greg Willhite was still doing my website and I took his dad, Ken who was a post office truck driver that I worked with to the show.

In December I saw an advertisement for a Larry Norman concert at a church in Keizer on a Saturday night. Since I worked day shift on the weekends I was off at 2:30 PM and didn’t have to be back until 6:00 AM Sunday morning. One time that window was too narrow when I wanted to interview Burning Spear who was a Reggae artist that kept delaying it until it was 1:00 AM and he had his manager tell all the journalists that they had to go to the Benson Hotel where he was staying and then he would decide who to talk to. By this time I was so frustrated that I told his manager that I was leaving and went home to bed.

During the years that I sorted mail on the first class city belt I would come across items addressed to “Solid Rock Records” which I knew was Larry Norman’s record label. I even had “Solid Rock” record labels in my “CCM” (Contemporary Christian Music) collection. When I looked it up in the phone book “Solid Rock Records” was listed with a phone number that I called. To my surprise someone answered whose name was Kerry and I talked to him and told him about being with the “Door Magazine” and wanting to photograph and cover Larry Norman’s performance and possibly do an interview. He told me that I was welcome to come in the afternoon if possible for sound check as well as the evening performance.

I arrived at 4:00 PM at the church which was on North River Road and at the time they were expanding their sanctuary so they had a large circus sized tent just like Calvary Chapel in LA did during construction. It was connected to the main building and seated a couple hundred people. Larry arrived a little after I arrived and I introduced myself and gave him a couple of copies of the “Door” and even “Broken Arrow” to see some of my work and took some photos of him viewing them. I met the two members of his band that played bass and drums and watched them rehearse running through a couple of songs and even Dylan’s “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat” Jason Carter was the drummer and he also owned and operated “Wavelength” recording studio in Salem. They ran through a couple songs and even did

Around 6:00 PM Larry invited me to come into the main church building with him where there was a buffet that was for the musicians. Larry introduced me to Kerry his personal assistant and manager at the time and then he invited me into the Pastor’s office where we sat and they discussed the itinerary for the evening. When we went back into the tent sanctuary people were arriving for the 7:00 PM concert which was a woman who was backed by Larry’s band. I photographed the opening act and then when Larry came on I shot him from every different angle with and without the audience and band. When the evening performance was over Larry told me to call him when I processed the film so he could see some proofs.

I did the New Years Eve counterculture show with “String Cheese Incident” and “Ozomatli” but instead of getting a photo pass with the promoter I got it with Carrie Lombardie. She is “String Cheese Incident’s” publicist and I got to know her well over the past couple of years. It was a lot less stressful than covering the entire event and I enjoyed doing it more.

A couple of weeks into January I called Larry Norman and made arrangements to meet with him at Applebee’s in Keizer for lunch. I had proofs of all the edited images and brought them with me. Larry and Kerry arrived and after we ordered lunch Larry looked at the photos and chose some and paid me for them as well as paying for my lunch. I thanked him and that was the end of it as I drove off satisfied that this time things worked out pretty well.

“Guitar Player” magazine sent me a list of guitar players that they wanted  that included photos of  Kid Rock’s two guitar players. It was Friday and Kid Rock was going to be playing at the Armory here in Salem where I live the next night. It was too late to contact the record company and apply for a photo pass so the next day I went to the armory in the afternoon to see if I could connect with someone at sound check. While I was there a crowd was gathered and there was a guy passing out cassette tapes. When I approached him and talked to him he said that his name was Tory and he was in one of the opening acts and was giving out sample cassettes as promotion. When I told him who I was and why I was there and showed him my work in guitar player magazine he told me that he would give me a photo pass and admission with his band. Tory told me to meet him at the venue door at 7:00 PM before the concert started. He asked me if I had any weed and I told him yes so he asked me if I would give him a couple of joints.

When I arrived that night I brought a couple of rolled joints with me and met Tory at the front door that he designated. It was festival seating with a mosh pit and a photo pit in front of it. I talked to some of Kid Rock’s people about permission to photograph him but didn’t get anywhere. When Bolt Upright came on at 8:00 PM I photographed them and when their set was over they invited me to come to their backstage trailer which I did.

I gave Tory the lead singer who was the group spokesman my two joints and he said that he would save them for later. They offered me a beer that I took and then a guy came in with a large bag of pot buds that they spread on a silver tray and passed around. Then one of the guys pulled out a pipe and put a bud in it and lit it with a lighter. They passed it around and I took a couple of hits and was buzzed. I asked them if it was okay to take some photos and they said okay and even posed and acted crazy.

I missed “Powerman 5000’s” set and just before Kid Rock came on Tory led me back into the auditorium. I was wearing my photo pass so nobody questioned me and since it was festival seating I chose the closest center stage seat that I could find. Since many of the people were crammed down in the mosh pit there were many vacant seats. Once Kid Rock came on I took out my camera with my 80-200 zoom fully extended but to get tight shots I’d need crazy Ronnie’s 600 mm lens. I shot a couple of rolls of color film and after I had everything processed including some black & white that I did myself I sent off the best guitar shots I had to “Guitar Player.” I had 4×6 prints made of my bolt upright shots that I mailed to them along with a letter thanking them.

One day in March 2001 I was in the shower when one of my kids told me that Larry was on the phone. My brother in law’s name was Larry so I assumed that something happened with Kathy’s family and she wasn’t home at the time. I wrapped a towel around my waist and walked dripping into the kitchen where our telephone was and said, “hi Larry, what’s up?” A voice answered that I didn’t recognize and I asked “who is this?” The voice answered back in a surprised tone, “Larry Norman.” “Oh hi Larry,” I said “what can I do for you?”

Larry proceeded to tell me that he was going to headline the “Cornerstone Festival” in Bushnell, Illinois the July 4th weekend. He said that it was going to be his last big festival appearance before he had surgery later that year to implant a heart defibrillator. He was going to record his live set and release a Live at Cornerstone 2001 album and he wanted to include a booklet of photographs with the release. He asked me to be his photographer documenting the entire event. I was completely caught off guard and my first reaction was to tell him that I wasn’t sure to which he responded with surprise. He told me that it would cost me nothing and that he would pay for my plane fare, lodging and food the entire time along with all the film and processing. I told him that I would as long as he abided by the photographers copyright law that says that the photographer owns the images regardless of who pays for film and processing. At the same time he could use any of the images any way that he wanted. I also wanted a thousand dollars for my work. To my surprise Larry agreed to everything I asked for so I told him that I would do it.

Bolt Upright

28 Mar

In 1999 “Guitar Player” magazine sent me a list of guitar players that they wanted photos of and one of them was Kid Rock’s two guitar players. It was Friday and Kid Rock was going to be playing at the Armory here in Salem where I live the next night. It was too late to contact the record company and apply for a photo pass so the next day I went to the armory in the afternoon to see if I could connect with someone at sound check. While I was there a crowd was gathered and there was a guy passing out cassette tapes. When I approached him and talked to him he said that he was in one of the opening acts and was giving out sample cassettes as promotion. When I told him who I was and why I was there and showed him my work in guitar player magazine he told me that he would give me a photo pass and admission with his band. I agreed and he told me to meet him at the venue door at 7:00 PM before the concert started and I did. It was festival seating with a mosh pit and a photo pit in front of it. I talked to some of Kid Rock’s people but didn’t get anywhere. When Bolt Upright came on at 8:00 PM I photographed them and when their set was over they invited me to come to their backstage trailer which I did. These are some photos that I took while enjoying their hospitality. I was with them for the entire set of the next act which was “Powerman 5000 and then the lead singer who was the front man walked me back into the auditorium. Since it was festival seating I chose the closest center stage seat that I could find above the main floor and mosh pit. I proceeded to take a couple of rolls of film using my 80-200 zoom of Kid Rock and his guitar players but I needed Crazy Ronnie’s 600mm lens to get the shots I needed.

Back stage with Bolt Upright 1999
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