She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stare too long, I’d probably break down and cry
Whoa, oh, oh, sweet child o’ mine
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, sweet love of mine
— “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, Guns N’ Roses
Have you ever heard a sweet, soulful and melodic cover of Sweet Child O’ Mine done as a duet? No? Well, that’s because YOU weren’t at the Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach last night! Dear readers, I have been promoting the awesomeness of Danny Hamilton and the Mudslingers for quite a while now. At the very least, you best be on his mailing list. Based in the South Bay, CA, Danny’s band has a roots-rock style that ranges from covers with his own unique twist (why else do a cover?) to original music – including “Bury the Devil”, which got Danny ranked in the #2 spot in last year’s CMT.com’s Music City Madness awards. You can read more about that from a previous post I did on another of Danny’s shows here.
First of all, let me rave about Saint Rocke. I’d never been there… apparently it underwent a massive transformation in the last couple of years. The inside is now cozy with candlelight; all sorts of sectioned, clustered areas to sit; colorful, ambient light with sconces on the walls in an otherwise dark, hip and sexy atmosphere – yes, you heard me right. It’s the perfect blend of smoky-dive-bar-meets-classy-upscale-establishment without any of the pretentiousness (minus the smoky dive – indoor smoking was banned in California back in the 90s). The lighting and sound system were first class (and as a result? They didn’t have to blast your eardrums!). They even broadcast the live show simultaneously on LCD screens throughout the bar, as well as on the internet. The assistant manager was also so accommodating; having photographed establishments from Viper Room to the Key Club to House of Blues, I’m used to working within the parameters of the House Rules. The first thing I do now is introduce myself and ask about what I’m allowed to do. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the classiness of this place.
Here’s some pictures of headliner Danny & his band; you’ll also see Mara in some of the shots. She was one of the opening acts along with Bill Purdy, and she rocked! (I’m sorry to say because I drove up from Orange County, I missed Bill’s show, but heard incredible things about him as well) Despite waking up with a cold that morning, Mara still sounded incredible. Darn pros – making us amateurs with colds look bad in comparison! 😉 Mara not only joined Danny in the aforementioned Sweet Child O’ Mine, but also in a lively rendition of June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash’s catchy Jackson. I’m still singing snippets of it today! (and trying to work through my desire to let out my inner rock star in public) 🙂 Be sure to read the captions too!
So, while on the subject of music, I want to also briefly touch on a few things that have been bouncing around my head today. Since this was my first gig of the year, combining some of my absolute favorite things (bar light and live music), I feel so revived after a busy December of shooting holiday portraits and even a small wedding. I started thinking about how the aperture of the human eye is the most incredible machine — so fragile yet powerful; BUT, with the technology and finesse of manipulating a good camera with a wide-open, fast lens, you can CREATE the frame of focus that our brains do on our own. That is: creating depth-of-field with a lens is simply an extension of what we see in our heads, where we judge the weight or importance of an image to be. The flow, the framing, the movement. The ability to extend what we see in our minds and want to show everyone else our interpretations of: it just boggles my mind.
Now, talking about “bar light”, I might also term that as ambient light. But technically, it’s still artificial, manufactured and intended, directional light. But the fact that I used no bounce flash is technically why I qualify it as ambient light. But there’s something about creating mood and movement with color and light, and even though I had to crank up the ISO to 3200 and even 4000 at times last night, with some great lenses, a steady hand (with a slower shutter speed), I just keep astounding in how I love bar light and the colored gel lights on a live show. Just because I love details and light so much, here’s some additional images I took at the Saint Rocke. (posted individually because I couldn’t post a separate lightbox gallery into one post, boo.)
What can i say? it felt old-fashioned and I just liked it.
Lastly, I was also reflecting last night after watching Mara on-stage, on something I’ve thought about a lot over the years: the difficulty of being a female performer these days. It’s so easy to be categorized as only one classification: a punk chick, a touchy-feely ballad songstress, an auto-tuned no-talent (but pretty to look at) or a hard-core-no-nonsense rocker (kinda feels like the Breakfast Club, no?). But there’s no meeting in the middle. Rock bands made up of men are allowed to constantly reinvent themselves, but women seem to get pigeonholed immediately and not allowed to deviate without fear of public harassment. I was actually talking about this with someone the other night: we do the same to well-defined but very narrow characters on popular TV sitcoms, such as Sex & The City, Seinfeld or even Friends. In life, most of us represent an amalgam of portions of each character, but no one is the extreme that each character portrays, and I think this spills over into the music world too. There’s no solution necessarily or right answer, but I often think how hard it is for women to be respected as seriously talented musicians when as a society, we tend to base our opinions on their looks and style first. Any thoughts on this? I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject.
Oh — and Happy New Year! Sorry this post is so long. In the meantime, hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures too!