Festival time again ;-)

Right better head off and get some sleep, up in a few hours to get the red eye over to Birmingham to begin the annual pilgrimage to HRH AOR in Pwllheli, North Wales. Shooting again this year and it’s going to be a busy few days, though as always great fun too meeting up with friends from far and wide.

This year’s headliners are the legendary Lita Ford, Slaughter and The Quireboys, with a plethora of great bands from both sides of the Atlantic including Autograph, FM, LA Guns, Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate, The Radio Sun, Bang Tango, Romeo’s Daughter, VEGA, Bailey and many more……..there will be much running around, but sadly with the review side of things also in play there will certainly be some acts that will be missed over the three days.

Look out for a few photos over the weekend and will be doing a full weekend review for the great guys at Firebrand. The one above is from FM’s last performance at HRH AOR in 2015.


Another great night with Jo Harman

Jo Harman may not yet be one of the biggest names in music, at least not quite yet, but Jo’s talent, ability, hard work and determination will pay off soon I’m sure. Sun 19th February 2017 provided the official launch for Jo’s second album People We Become, released on Feb 3rd to much critical acclaim and rightly so. Considering Jo and her team have always done so much of the distribution work themselves they have done a great job in promoting her name and her music.

Following on from 2013’s excellent Dirt On My Tongue, the new album takes on the mantel and just pushes so strongly forward, really well written songs and having Michael McDonald as a guest on the track “When We Were Young” (now playlisted on BBC Radio 2) is no harm at all.

Having followed her music since 2012 it’s been brilliant to see the development as an Artist and the new album is just stunning, as was her performance on the night in the Jazz Cafe, the new tracks sound amazing live and with an extended 8 piece band it just worked so well, having such a talented backing band must be a big help too. It was a pleasure to be in attendance and and even bigger one to be able to bring the camera along and take some photos. Working on them at the moment and hopefully will have a gallery uploaded over the next couple of days.Seriously go check out Jo’s music, if you like Soulful Blues, with a number of influences and a great voice, it would be criminal to miss out on this. There will be plenty of Live dates this year in the US/UK/Europe so if you can make sure you get to see the live show.

New Year – New Challenges – 2017 bring it on.

tof-2016collage-pic2So as we roll into the second day of 2017 I wonder what the hopes and aspirations for this year are for my friends and fellow music nuts. A new blank canvas awaits, there’s already a calendar filling up pretty rapidly, a number of old favourites and newly added Festivals that we will see if they can take flight and establish themselves. Personally I’m looking at 4 or 5 for the year, depending on how things work out, it’s never an easy thing these days to put your name down for something that’s a year away, life can change plans so quickly sometimes I think it’s foolish to plan ahead too far – but then again at least if there’s some sort of schedule formulated you have a chance to make it happen.

2017 is looking like AOR, Blues, Rock, Metal and maybe some more AOR, add in a number of shows already inked in and it’s an exciting looking year ahead. There’s a possibility I’ll finally get that Camera hardware upgrade that’s been on the wishlist for a while now, that would be interesting and bring in some new things to learn, which is always good.

Sadly as our musical heroes are aging, just like ourselves, we will continue to lose more of the stars, more of the lesser known but no less talented people, but lets hope the rate of attrition is nowhere near as high as the 12 months of 2016 were, the loss of global stars may be more thought provoking for the masses, but every loss is significant to someone.

Away from the Camera 2016 saw me reviewing over 40 Albums, 20 Gigs and Festivals and put together a couple of Interviews – which considering the amount of time I’ve been unable to get any work done is a pretty valiant effort, but hopefully the coming year will being at least that same level, working on a number of items already so fingers crossed. 2016 also saw some of my photos making Album booklets, contacts from promoters to shoot shows and some things a bit further out of left field, which all fill the heart and make things interesting.

So here’s hoping we all manage to have some success in what we do, and most importantly enjoy and have fun doing it, because when that goes it’s time to stop.

The work involved in Shooting & Reviewing a Festival solo – Part 2.

As I’m wrapping up my final Festival of the year, photos done, still a bit of writing to tidy up, maybe it’s time to take some stock of how things have gone and maybe how we can make things a little easier in how I work next year. More work during my time away at the Festival could reduce the amount of work required at home later, but the offset is that you are more tired each day and will that affect the quality of your work, never straightforward decisions really, and especially as you get older. Had I been doing this sort of thing when I was in my twenties it would have been getting attacked with relish, now the worry is that a hobby you are very passionate about would become a chore more than fun, and that could definitely ruin things.

Today marks 2 weeks since the last day of the Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, and as great as it is that I’ve at least got my photos done, 2 weeks is too long to be getting work submitted, but work has been particularly busy, leading to being overtired, which doesn’t help one little bit, and things just get in the way and push dates back, at least as I type this words are flowing a little easier. Will get as much done today as physically possible, head is pretty sore so if I don’t make it out later I’ll have a really good run at it but I sure don’t want to miss seeing one of my favourite atrists in an intimate venue. That’s another thing that knocks out schedules, gigs, although a lot have been missed out on this year through health issues there have still been a few since the return from Rockingham, so that’s a full night taken out of the free time and not being enough I’ve a review of one of the shows and some CD’s to go through.  But hey that all just sounds like negative stuff, there are so many positives, the Festival itself was just brilliant, great bands (some from the Bucketlist – the likes of Jean Beauvoir, Lee Aaron, Steelheart, The Defiants, Trixter etc….) great lights, and the chance to catch up with wonderful friends (just wish there had been more time for me to hang out with people) and a really great fun weekend.

Always a pleasure to see Rob Marcello playing guitar – The Defiants – Rockingham 2016

So over 2 full days and an evening that’s 18 bands Photographed and to be Reviewed, a lot of things to remember along the way, things that maybe other people didn’t see or that you see from a different angle, it’s a busy and large body of work to get through, between 2.5k and 3k Photographs to sift through and polish up, and maybe some additional research to be done while writing the reviews.

There’s plenty to thing about, ideas that might help out a lot – I think making quicker decisions on what to get rid of and not waste time working on could save a lot of time, that could also free up some time each day to start writing, I think that’s the way forward for the moment and see how we get on next March at HRH AOR.

Next year, the plan’s going to be work smarter, and keep trying to improve the work I’m doing, let’s hope that we catch a few breaks along the way. Expect to see a lot of Galleries on the site in the near future from Rockingham 2016.

The wonderful Lee Aaron – Rockingham 2016

The work involved in Shooting & Reviewing a Festival solo.

It’s been almost a month since 2016’s edition of Ramblin’ Man Fair and my review for the second day only got submitted over the weekend, finally, I’d felt it at the time, but when you take a step back and look at the work involved Reviewing and Photographing the guts of 20 bands over a 2 day Festival can be quite tiring while you are there doing it, having to run from one stage to the next to ensure you are in the pit early enough to get some shots and listening to and noting important points of the set for your review. People do things in different ways, personally I do my gig reviews from memory rather than writing physical notes while a band is on, that way I think you can immerse yourself in the show a bit more.

The Dead Daisies – Doug Aldrich.  As always killing it at Ramblin’ Man Fair


But the real work starts when you get home and start editing and trying to put it all together. The reality is that it’s a time consuming process and even more so when you have a busy full time job and a 9 month old son at home, time is not always your own and when you lose a couple of days to life the whole project becomes that little bit more involved,  more stressful and plays on your mind a little, add to that you know you have another even bigger Festival coming up with only a three week gap – where does the time go 😉    So you keep chipping away piece by piece, when the words aren’t flowing work again on the photos and vice versa, but it always depends on the time of year and the other life influences. On the plus side I got to work with my new Sigma 70-200mm lens at Ramblin’ Man for the first time, on the negative side the budget didn’t stretch to a new camera body, but will keep saving the pennies for that one, but we will get there, hardware doesn’t come cheap (and neither do boilers by the way).

GingerWildheart - 14
GingerWildheart – 14

With the upcoming work for Bloodstock approaching rapidly the only choice was to cut down on other review work for the rest of August, things being busy enough as they were and a tonne of hard work to still get through. Anyway I’m starting to go off topic here, back to the main thing behind this post, doing Photography & Reviewing solo at a Festival, well one of the main problems is fitting in everything you want to see while remembering to eat and take on board liquids (especially when it’s 29º C and the sun is baking us all). With 10 to 11 hours of moving, shooting, storing memories, repeat for two days in a row, keeping energy levels high enough is a struggle, but the music itself generates an energy all of it’s own which helps to carry you part of the way, for me there’s always a problem in dropping a band to get food or take a seat for a half hour, at least when the weather is this good you can grab some food and sit on the grass watching a band, or on the off chance that there’s nothing on that interests you there’s the opportunity to scan through the photos you’ve already taken and clear out some of the errors. This weekend I’m working for the great guys at Overdrive, so there’s the added option of taking a break or two in the Media Area when coming out of the photo pit. Reality this saved me over the weekend I think. In an interesting conversation with a friend also covering the Festival it was revealed that they had seven personnel working the weekend, more involved of course as they were doing interviews on top of Photo/Review, but still, what a luxury, and it’s at that point you go to yourself “I’m mad, aren’t I”, but having seen it a lot with gigs over the last couple of years it is very true that getting reviewers that can commit is getting more difficult as time passes by, so it’s going to be more of a reality for photographers to double job. Thankfully for Bloodstock I was just going to be reviewing, but reviewing 30 bands is still a large body of work, had there been thousands of Photos to work on as well then the Ramblin’ Man work would still be ongoing and the end of the month would come and go without much progress.

Thin Lizzy - 11
Thin Lizzy – 11

So doing both tasks for a Festival rather than a gig is pretty crazy when you think about it, but in reality on occasion you have to step up and help out the team, modern life doesn’t always allow us the extra time or flexibility we need, so I have one more double job Festival in the pipeline this year, but it’s an easier format and should require a lot less running around. For now it’s back to the Bloodstock Reviews and in between times add galleries here for Day 2 of Ramblin’ Man, we will get there one way or another. Hard work for your passion is often a difficult thing to add onto the hectic daily toil, and maybe it will have to be scaled back in the years to come to avoid falling apart, but it’s a pleasure to try and bring a flavour of these events to others, and I’m always hopeful that others like these Photo’s/Reviews.

The Kentucky Headhunters - 2
The Kentucky Headhunters – 2


Finally time to look forward to the Summer gig season.

It’s been a very difficult year so far, have missed more gigs than I’ve been to, which is never a good thing. As we get older stuff we used to brush off takes longer to clear or has a more severe effect on the head, personally I’m finding becoming overtired and dealing with bad headaches is just taking a lot longer to come through than it used to. Sensibility at least means that I no longer ignore this stuff and sit back and take care of myself when I know my body can’t handle things.

But I digress, as we approach the end of June it’s rolling into Summer Season, and although there tends not to be so many individual gigs on around the place there’s Festivals and off Fest one off shows which adds to the list of shows. This year for me I’m heading off to see two of the best lineups out there, both in the UK, Ramblin’ Man Fair at the end of July in Kent and the mighty Bloodstock Festival in Derby in August. Will be great to catch up with friends at both, but will be hard work as always. As ever will get to see some bands from the Bucketlist this Summer and some bands that haven’t been seen in quite a long time.

Praying that the weather Gods are kind to everyone making trips or going on holidays, it’s all a bit odd at the minute. Wish me luck \m/ \m/

Time for a hardware refresh.

Well I think the time has come to upgrade some stuff, going to start with the Camera, to date I’ve just been using an entry level DSLR (Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i) and it’s served me well, have learnt a lot while using it, but now it’s time to move up a level, without breaking the bank completely, so a second hand model for the moment 😉

So while probably sticking with Canon, for the moment it’s looking like a 7D or 7D Mark II depending on a few things, but still researching, and as I’m covering some festivals this year I’ll be looking to pick up a a decent zoom lens to go with it.

Then I need to set things up properly at home, have far too much equipment, need to do a clearout of the old, setup my workstation in the Office and start doing my edits there, it might force me to be more critical and not try to fix shots there’s no hope for. Up to now, although there has been improvement, there’s still been too much time wasted trying to fix things, and save things. No more .

Lot’s of shows being added to the calendar, yey 😉