Another year on my way home with the Blues from missing the Blues ;-)

This weekend it was the turn of the Blues, with me shooting and working on some Reviews of HRH Blues 4 at the O2 Academy in Sheffield, as it has been the last couple of years. The lineup this year was once again a mix of really well known and loved Blues/Blues Rock legends alongside some of the cream of the UK’s up and coming Artists, and as always with Festivals it was some of these that will now live long in the memory.

 

Headlining each night this year we had the legendary Bernie Marsden and the blinding King King, both were fantastic and among the top sets of the weekend, but where do we start when assessing a weekend like this, wonderful music, great friends and like minded music fans, what more can you ask for…….well a new pair of feet would come in handy right now, it was a hard working weekend at the end of it I’d photographed all of the Sets on both stages and have reviews to get written too, could do with a couple of days off, but that’s not very likely is it 😉

IMG_2449
Matt Long – Catfish – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

Of the acts I was seeing for the first time there is something a bit magical about the delivery of frontman Matt Long, you can see he puts everything into his playing, there was more than a few that mentioned being close to tears during the haunting “Make It Rain”. To watch any artist dig so deep into themselves to deliver their music is truly a pleasure to be present to see.

IMG_2583
Pontun Snibb;s Wreck Of Blues – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

There was a wide range of artists and styles, be it Blues/Americana, Rock, straight out Blues and some bands that probably don’t fit into the genre too well. Was great to see Pontus Snibb (Bonafide) with his alter ego and the Wreck Of Blues and although didn’t get he chance to see their full set they sounded great. It was a shame that with only a few acts on each day that the sets on the 2nd stage overlapped their mainstage counterpart so closely, made it very difficult for people to see both.  But it’s always difficult to co-ordinate these things.

IMG_1170
Danny Giles Band – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

On both days there were some bands that really did blow me away, absolutely loved Danny Giles Band, superb guitar player, Rocking band with a great groove, damn I enjoyed these guys, and how I’ve missed out on them up to now is beyond me.

Closing out the evening after Bernie Marsdens set was the amazing Pat McManus Band, not only did they play a blinding set but they also managed to keep a large, and tired crowd up dancing and awake for that little bit longer, great set and as usual Pat was on fire.

IMG_2016.jpg
Pat McManus Band – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

Pontus wasn’t the only one stepping over from their more familiar roles with Rock bands, we also had FM’s Jim Kirkpatrick with his Blues band Heavy Weather.

IMG_0993.jpg
Jim Kirkpatrick Heavy Weather – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

And we also had my friend Peter Scallan (Moritz) playing his first gigs with Brian Rawson Band, and they sounded great in both their Acoustic and Full Electric sets.

 

IMG_1214
Brian Rawson Band – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

There are tonnes of other highlights, photos and ramblings to come from me on the whole weekend. Will leave this post with a quick shot of another massive highlight for me, the excellent Stevie Nimmo playing guitar again and sounding amazing on the big stage Sunday.

_MG_4676
Stevie Nimmo – HRH Blues 4 -2018

Wonderful rewarding weekend, but also very tiring, very little sleep (and not from partying may I add) will have to catch up on some sleep for sure, but was never going to happen tonight. Back to work in the morning, and a quiet night tomorrow is the plan………….

 

So what do you so when you are running out of time and are laid up sick ?

Some days you just have to scream, there’s nothing left but it, today marks exactly two weeks since the start of the HRH AOR Festival in Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli, Wales, and I was determined to get the photos and review all done and dusted  and to that end I did set about a lot of work, there were thousands of photos to go through, lots of  writing to be done, scheduling to work though, and of course all of this with some really busy work going on with my full time job, and family work and life 😉   so unfortunately something had to give and I came down with something that smashed my head for pretty much 5 days and I’m just coming out of the transformation to Zombie today……. so I get to scream this evening……… just not so loud as it might hurt my head…

IMG_1868
Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – HRH AOR 6 – 09-03-2018

 

But as with any other setbacks we have to roll up the sleeves and just get stuck into it again. So this evening I’m determined to get the Day 2 review fully completed and submitted, the Photos have already been sent in, so just a few bands left to complete the writing for and away we go, then it’s onto Day 3, followed by a couple of album reviews and a Preview of HRH Blues 4 which will be taking place in a few weeks. Ah the fun never stops, when does our brain convince us that we are bloody mad to take on so much. Not this month I guess, or next, but maybe at the end of the year when I sit back and look back on the whole year of madness.

 

IMG_0673
CRUZH – HRH AOR 6 – 09-03-2018

 

So hopefully my head will get back into some semblance of normality and I can get it all sorted and out there before long, and avoid hitting the deck and ending up back in bed for another unwelcome break.

The first day review is here if anyone wants to have a look, working for my good friends at RockposerDotCom this time around.

HRH AOR 6 – 09-03-2018

IMG_0319
Joe Lynn Turner – HRH AOR 6 -08-03-2018

Of course if the weather holds up it would be nice to get out and about a bit and capture a little of the beauty of our surroundings. Couple of gigs to squeeze in the next few days too, nearly forgot that – March can be such a busy month, and April is often no quieter, bloody hell TOTO is only a couple of weeks away. So much to look forward to, so time to take a bit of a stock of the abysmal diet, need more energy, less weight on me, and better organisation, and to be honest, need a bit more help with some things, at the end of the day all will work out ok we have the technology 😉   stay safe out there, it’s really easy for any of us to slip into depression spirals, doesn’t take too many situations one after the other and boom……and if you need a bit of help, never be afraid to talk to someone be it a friend, a stranger or a professional, just do it.

 

HRH AOR 6 has definitely destroyed me ;-)

Well I’m home safe but definitely not sound 😉

Arrived back at around 8pm last night and to be honest was a complete Zombie for the whole day from the moment I got up, and then couldn’t sleep, that’s what being overtired does to a body.

As for the Weekend, brilliant, from Joe Lynn Turner to Night Ranger to Skid Row, each day brought some terrific performances, from bands I’d expected to be great like Eclipse, The Radio Sun, Midnite City,  Blood Red Saints and more…  and then of course there were the wonderful surprised like finally getting to catch Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics and being blown away by the performance, or having a band like The King Lot open up the Friday Main Stage and kicking everyone’s ass into gear from the first song, great stuff and all part of what turned out to be another brilliant HRH AOR weekend.

Lots to write up, just need the head to clear, and let it flow, and a hell of a lot of photos to get sorted through, but will get there, need to get some sleep the rest of the week and go at it again fresh, so far very pleased with how some shots are coming out and a bit disappointed with others…..but that’s the nature of things – will keep plugging away. Have to make sure I don’t get exhausted and bring on an episode, and damn have to hit Sepultura on Thursday and get some other reviews in, busy times.

Very very tired and not sleeping now, but trying to work through the photos, hopefully you will like them when I have the full galleries up, here’s a small taster.

 

 

 

 

After the snow….

Don’t know what it’s been like in your part of the world, but here in Ireland we’ve been hit by what is for us a very unusual weather event, we tend to get very small amounts of snowfall during the winter months, and even at that it grinds the country to a halt 😉   But from last Wednesday we got hit by a much bigger event, snow for a few days that was very heavy at times and blizzard like, the meeting of a storm and a blizzard decided to dump as much as it could on our little green island, and the havoc caused was crazy, from the near Black Friday frantic scenes as people scrambled to buy sliced pans of bread, literally stripping delivery cages bare before they even made it to the shelves, yes for bread and milk, it wasn’t like the conditions were due to last weeks, a day or two.

But with snow drifts up to 10 feet high it certainly was causing problems, no public transport of any kind, flights in and out of the country completely wiped out, and people told to stay in their homes and not venture out. Well this is Monday night and the reality is most of it is all gone, a thaw for a day and a half and that’s it panic over, the sliced pans are no longer on Ebay for €1,000 😉

The birds weren’t too bothered, they still came to the garden to get their treats from the feeders or try their luck with the frozen ground. It’s all back to normalish now, a couple of days stuck in the house and people were going stir crazy, the supermarkets are still bare shelved, their distribution centers trying frantically to restock. In fairness the snowfall was more than double the previous records, so for her, a place that doesn’t have a reason to invest heavily in infrastructure or equipment for such an event if it only happens every 30 or 50 years, it wouldn’t be that prudent, but maybe when they add up the total cost it might be worth doing more.

IMG_9429
Poor Blackbird scavenging around the garden in the snow.

 

But hey we are rolling into Spring now and it’s time to look forward to better weather, more trips, gigs and Festivals, it’s really lifting the spirits, which have honestly been a little low of late. We start this week with the HRH AOR Festival in Pwllheli, North Wales which I will be shooting at for the 4th year running, this year for my good friends at Rockposer.com and will look forward to photographing and seeing some terrific bands and of course catching up with some wonderful friends along the way. This years bill includes headliners Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen), Night Ranger and Skid Row. This is always a great weekend, and handy to be an indoor Festival at this time of year with lots of facilities on-site.

HRHAOR6-Poster

 

Busy month of gigs ahead, still have Sepultura, Steven Wilson, Cannibal Corpse, Gary Numan, Maverick and Danny Vaughn & Dan Reed to come this month, and HRH Blues in April.the year is pretty full with some great and very varied stuff, going to try and get to shoot more shows.

IMG_0906
Eclipse – HRH AOR 2015

Another plan this year is to try and get out and get some decent photographs of Butterflies, but natural homegrown ones and some more tropical ones at Butterfly Gardens around the country, will try my very best to get this done. And then onto our holiday in Donegal, more Wild Atlantic Way sights, a different part of Donegal, so we will get to see the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse  and area this time around.

IMG_0763
Black Swallowtal with blue wings.

So bring it all on, lets hope it’s a great few months for us all and brigher weather brings brighter moods, with a lot of friends struggling through various illnesses at the moment, thoughts and prayers are with them all for speedy and full recoveries, and we all need to live life to the fullest while we have it, have fun out there.

How much have you planned for 2018 ? Are you mad ????? ;-)

Ok, back so quickly, yes but it suddenly hit me just how much I already have in my thoughts or actually organised for 2018. Current count is a total of 32 Gigs, of them 4 Festivals that I think are already organised, 6 Trips to the UK, and we haven’t even gotten things started yet. So the question comes flying at me again in big capitals –

ARE YOU MAD ????????

The answer is clearly yes, but hey, I’ve a lot to make up for, and I really want to get as much done this year as possible, as I think it may be the last year I can do much at all for a while. So lets throw caution to the wind and see how it goes. Really looking forward to it, lets keep the energy as high as possible and see where it takes us.

Today another one got added, the wonderful Pat McManus Band playing in Dublin in Feb. Hell Yeah !!!

The Pat McManus Band - DRC - 26-09-2014
Pat McManus – DRC – 26-09-2014

 

Marking achievements gets harder every year ?

Really it does, as we grow older and our circumstances change, along with the demands on our time from not only our work but also family or other external influences, it becomes harder to see what you have gotten done in a year.

Personally, well I would say on the Photography/Music front, less than I got done last year, but at the same time considering all that has changed in my life this year perhaps a lot more than I could have expected.

Attended at least 2 Gigs/Festivals a month (yes a significant drop on anything in the last 8 years – but still some awesome shows)

In reality I have only been able to shoot a few shows this year, and luckily also a number of Festivals, which helped a lot. But those I have done have been terrific to be at and even better to shoot, some of my favourite Artists, some from the Bucketlist that have been crossed off, and some for fun that really were that.

Reviews wise – well even with a few days to go I’m still trying to get over the 36 mark for albums, and perhaps only 10 Gigs/Festivals, again a noticeable drop on three or four years ago when I started Writing, but at the same time 3 per month isn’t all that shabby. It’s still an honour to cover Albums and Gigs for a number of Sites.

At the end of the day these are just figures and don’t mean a hell of a lot, but it’s always an easy way of seeing how busy you have been with other things. Perhaps not a fair comparison but in 2014 the figures were 69 Gigs/Festivals and 61 Reviews, and pretty much the same in 2015. perhaps they were the exceptions 😉

But there are many other things that have happened that can be marked as success stories, and even winning small battles should never be ignored.

Still 2017 has been a difficult one, and here’s to 2018 being a much better, happier and healthier year for us all.

 

So how has 2017 panned out – good, bad or indifferent ?

Well personally, it’s been a bit of a mess of a year, so much stuff going on and less and less time to do stuff I’d like to get done. The year has flown by, and although I’ve missed so many more gigs than I’d ever like to, through illness (of everyone) and other commitments taking precedence, additional responsibilities and just less time in general. But having said that I’ve still managed to attend, and shoot some amazing events with some Artists I’ve always dreamed of seeing. And although there’s not much left of the year, there’s still a couple of gigs left to get in.

Really would have loved to have gotten back over to Bloodstock again, but sometimes family stuff just has to take priority and that was certainly the case in 2017, but there will always be other gigs, and boy oh boy does next year look unbelievable – so many Festivals with stellar lineups, gigs and Tours getting announced every couple of days, it’s going to be a complete blockbuster.

Highlights of this year so far have got to have been –  Click on an image to go to the Gallery.

Jo Harman/Elles Bailey – Jo’s stunning show at the Jazz Cafe in Feb, now available on CD – do go and check it out.

img_3464
Jo Harman – Jazz Cafe London, Feb 2017

 

img_3430
Elles Bailey – Jazz Cafe London, Feb 2017

 

Shooting HRH AOR again, with some brilliant performances as always and getting to see bands I have not seen in almost 30 years, the likes of Lita Ford, Michael Monroe, Slaughter and Autograph, or some newer bands like The Radio Sun.

IMG_6105
The Radio Sun – HRH AOR V

Shooting HRH Blues in Sheffield, some terrific artists and performances and a number of whom I hadn’t managed to see before.

IMG_8774
Sean Webster Band – HRH Blues 2017

Rockingham 2017 – another absolutely kick ass weekend with great bands and people, this Festival has definitely become a highlight of the Calendar, roll on 2018.

IMG_4814
Vince Neil – Rockingham 2017

Here’s to more next year and a number of Bucketlist bands to cross off the list, already have some excellent shows lined up for the New Year – and looking forward to shooting a couple of shows early in Januray  \m/ \m/