November already…….

It’s been a pretty crazy year all in all, yes maybe not crazy from a Lifestyle point of view, but having said that it is hectic if not crazy. As time goes on we continue to learn about situations, seeing what happens when work gets really busy, there are hospital or other appointments for the little guy, your spouse works 4 nights a week and you are also at least partially looking after an elderly parent – well where do you have time for other pursuits or just for yourself. For me it often means staying up later at night, which really isn’t helping, have to manage the levels of tiredness or the Epilepsy will make an unwanted interruption to things 😉

I know I’ve said it before, but where does the balance come, and when different things in life kick in, how can you reorganise things to get it all working better for you and your family, perhaps having smaller more focused bursts of concentration for your hobbies/pursuits might work, but that’s not easy when you are doing music photography, or scale back on everything, definitely a possibility, but I’ve already massively scaled back on the number of things I go to, and somehow other things have taken over that time. One thing is for sure were I driving it would save time visiting my mam, would have more options, could go down after getting home from work some days or at weekends make easier trips. But scheduling is out of our control, need to be down for dinner time, and back home for looking after the little guy. Hope this doesn’t sound moany, it’s not meant to, honestly I have it pretty easy, I know there are many people in much more difficult circumstances – I just wish I can figure out better ways of doing things that could maybe benefit all of us. One thing is for sure, all of the stresses and strains are not good for your Mental Health, and usually just when you think you have a handle on something a spanner is thrown in the works, so always be vigilant, and try where you can not to let it all get on top of you, when you are out of action it’s bad for everyone.

But hey I’m still blessed to be able to get away to a few Festivals every year, just posting up the Galleries from last months AOR/Melodic Rock feast Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, UK – brilliant 3 days, great performances and wonderful friends, and I’m pretty happy with the Photographs in general, Getting to mark a couple more bands off the Bucketlist, and again having the pleasure to meet up with some brilliant musicians I’ve gotten to know over the last few years, good times. This event is one that certainly helps calm the frayed edges of sanity, long may it continue.

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Glass Tiger – Rockingham 2018

We recently went to the Wild Lights in Dublin Zoo which was pardon the pun, very illuminating, the last thing we could take our son too for free before he turned 3 last week 😉   and although we weren’t sure just how much he enjoyed it, there was a lot to see, and we enjoyed it. Can see how it would be very expensive bringing a family with a number of children, so perhaps they could look at Family tickets next year, certainly some of the setups he was more interested in than others, but there was a good atmosphere there and some of the animals were still wandering around in the dim night around there areas.

So yes, bloody hell it’s mid-November, soon be time to work on Top Tens of Albums, Gigs, Photos of the year, and I’m already well into the trip planning for next year, that starts as soon as stuff gets announced, so there are items for the calendar right up to next October, it may sound like madness, but if you don’t plan for it there’s no way you can make it happen 😉 And finding the right times to book flights on deals with different airlines, train companies etc, it’s becoming more difficult all the time as rules change, offers come and go…..would love to travel further afield than the UK at least once in 2019 but we will have to see, I’m already committed to 4-5 Festivals, so that will cover most things, a couple of day trips on top of that and we will be done 😉  So hopefully we will be getting to HRH AOR, Blues, Sleaze, Amplified, Rockingham and at least some of Bloodstock.  Touch wood.

Also coming in quickly is Christmas, our little guy has already had a wheelbarrow full of toys and presents for his birthday so we’ll be keeping the Christmas stuff a little lower key, and introducing him to Santa, but I don’t think that will hit him until next year, but now he’s walking you never know 😉

Rockingham here we come

This week is all about tying up some loose ends and making sure I’m 100% ready for the last of my Festival Shoots for 2018, and it’s going to be amazing. In total we will have 18 bands spanning the AOR/MelodicRock/HardRock genres and just some excellent bands, headliners this year are Vixen, Nelson and Warrant a nice heavy hitting start to things.

Travelling is changing all the time, used to be something I didn’t have to think too much about, check early for cheaper flights, book when it makes sense and done, simple. Sadly things have changed, certainly for people that are involved in Photography. First off we had the changes Ryanair made to Cabin baggage where you had to purchase Priority boarding in order to carry 2 cabin bags, certainly on overnights that was ok, small camera bag and larger backpack camera back and squeeze in a change of clothes or whatever is needed, but that won’t work for a Festival, so then you add the expense of Priority boarding and a checked in bag/case, now you are doubling the price of a ticket. More new rules coming in at the start of November and probably more to come, the other Airlines are making changes too, everyone is charging more for items you would expect to be free, but at this stage the monetary savings with Ryanair are no more, so for someone that me that travels to the UK regularly it’s just about the same price to fly with Aer Lingus or another airline, so flying one way is an option with one airline, and the return with another airline can prove the most cost effective. Next weekend is easy enough, into East Midlands, bus to Nottingham, and then on the way back, train to Birmingham and flight straight back, certainly could be worse.

Something that will be needed this week is some sleep, last couple of months have been a struggle, a very difficult time, have lost a couple of friends and at the same time learnt of some bad difficulties others are currently dealing with, and then there is whatever you are dealing with yourself thrown on top of that. A few days away from everything might be a tonic, hopefully will be, but I definitely need not to come home more tired than I was going 😉

On top of that I also need to make sure I get some rest because I am already overtired, have felt is the last 2 weeks, and being very overtired triggers my Epilepsy, which I have managed really well to control the last few years, even with a pile of stress, sleeping and eating badly, and everything else, a fit would be a most unwelcome visitor, and when you feel you are in a hole that would definitely dig a deeper one, so I’ll slap myself on the head and sort things out, so off to bed in 10 minutes.

 

Once again I have the privilege to shoot this great Festival this year and will be shooting/reviewing for the great guys over at MidlandsRocks

Here is a Preview I put together for this years Festival –

Rockingham Festival 2018 Preview

Lots of stuff to come from next Friday night onwards, but for now here are some of my photos from the last couple of Rockingham Festivals, I’m still looking to improve this year and look forward to the challenge.

 

 

Time is a drifting again……

Well hear we are again 😉

Have been going well with the Photos from HRH Sleaze, and that’s pretty cool, as I have also been quite happy with the way some of them have turned out, and even more pleasing is the fact that some of the bands have liked them too, and well that means a lot to me.

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On the downside, as everything in life has gotten more busy and stressful again the creative side has taken a back seat, and I’m behind again, can’t be helped life does definitely get in the way, sick son and now sick daddy doesn’t help at all, but back to work tomorrow and hopefully this awful week will be nearly done, on top of everything else the world lost a really lovely person this week too, she will never be forgotten by the many people that her heart touched, may she rest in peace.

Moments like this always cause reflection, and a bit of stock taking, but every time I see a photo of the little guy having fun at Preschool everything falls back into place, it just puts a smile on your face.

So the writing and the Photos will come, maybe in a big batch, but that’s how it has to be, and the sickness will pass and then it’s onto the next one, last Festival of the year next month and the one I just can’t wait to see, brilliant lineup and brilliant people, it will be a hugfest for sure…..but until then I will plough on 😉

Shiraz Lane - HRH Sleaze II
Shiraz Lane – HRH Sleaze II

 

It’s quite funny when you are laid low with a bug you end up watching stuff on TV you wouldn’t normally see, and there’s more and more programs on about people changing their diet because they read something on the Internet – bloody hell, that’s scary, go and check it out with a qualified person before following an internet fad, not everything on the Net is true you know 😉

 

HRH Sleaze Photos on their way ;-)

Just tidying up the review and then I will start adding the Galleries for each of the bands, and I’ve got to be 100% honest, for some of these Band Gallery’s I’m really excited to get them out there, actually very happy with what has come out of the Festival as a whole, and hopefully some of you, the bands and associated parties will enjoy them also.

Over the weekend we had the pleasure of seeing and shooting some legendary bands from the scene such as LA Guns, Jetboy, Tigertailz and Backyard Babies, alongside many different styles of music, Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, even Metal, but the variety made things that bit better. Judging by the faces of those playing on the stages it was a blast all around.

Midnite City - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Midnite City – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
Tigertailz - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Tigertailz – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

This time around I had the pleasure of shooting for RockposerDotCom, and as always there are plenty of people to thank that make it a brilliant experience, Claire from CentralPress, the HRH Team, all of the Security and Staff at the O2 Academy and naturally all of the bands and fans that go into making  the atmosphere so good, relaxed and fun. For this particular weekend massive thanks go to my good friend Rich for his great company and more than a few laughs along the way, and of course the many other friends and fellow photographers that it’s an privilege and a pleasure to see and work alongside and of course to continue to learn from, the shots that I’ve seen so far from this group of guys and girls have been nothing short of spectacular.

Jetboy - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Jetboy – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
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Last Great Dreamers – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

There needs to be some massive props going out to some of the bands on Stage 2 this year that made a big impact, The Idol Dead, The Black Bullets and Speed Stroke head the list, but any of them could easily have made an impression on the large stage this year (or indeed next year). Either way all bands I’ll be keeping a much closer eye on in the future and with good reason, cracking sets and crowd reactions to all.

 

Wildheart - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Wildheart – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
LA Guns - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
LA Guns – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

The highlights this year were many, from the joy of just watching Tracii Guns play, watching Midnite City continue to grow and know that you got to see them playing in a pub once, because from now on you can only see them on Main Stages, the joy of discovering new bands to you, that quickly become firm favourites, and of course finally managing to see some bucketlist bands like Backyard Babies, or ones you never thought you would ever see – Jetboy, and they nailed it while they loved every second of it.. Until next year where there are some awesome bands on the lineup, should be a cracker.

The Black Bullets - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
The Black Bullets – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
Toxic Rose - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Toxic Rose – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

Travel options to Sheffield from Dublin aren’t always the easiest, with there being no direct flights and the only realistic and viable option is to fly to Birmingham and get a Train up to Sheffield, which is fine, but gets a little more complicated when you are going to a Festival, and even more so when you are shooting one – so setting out from the house (I live beside the Airport in Dublin) 5:00am get in to Birmingham, couple of hours on the Train up to Sheffield, get checked into the Hotel (if you are lucky to get an early room) and then off the the Festival, it’s all go, especially when you consider you won’t be back to the Hotel until maybe 12:30am/1am the following morning, it takes it’s toll on an old man 😉

That was my excuse for forgetting to swap memory cards and camera batteries from my small bag to my main back before leaving the Hotel, so that caused me to miss a little bit of the acoustic sets, but not much thankfully, a quick run up and down the road, makes you focus a little better after you do something stupid like that though. The other problem for me is that controlling your condition (Epilepsy in my case) is a lot more difficult when you are trying to work hard , forgetting to eat and trying to remember to take your tablets at something close to the correct times. This time around we managed to grab a burger before heading into the Festival, so that kept me going, but it’s all too easy to put food to one side when you don’t want to miss any of the action, so this weekend I did manage to shoot every single set, so proud of that, and was able to pop in and out of the 2nd Stage in a way that meant I wasn’t skipping anything I needed to do. One of these days I’d like to take in an extra day or two at one of these City’s and spend some time exploring, seriously I’ve been to Nottingham tonnes of times but never actually set foot in Sherwood Forrest, despite having stayed a couple of hundred yards from the Entrance a few times 😉    Maybe next year. With Sheffield, well I’ve been to many venues around it, but not seen too much, City Center’s can be pretty grim at times.

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Backyard Babies – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
Falling Red - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Falling Red – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

Having said it a few times in previous posts, this year has been a big struggle at times, and despite how much I loved the whole weekend, loved working on the Photos and getting time to hang out with friends, I would be lying if there weren’t some really difficult times over the weekend, there were, but sometimes struggles all go to make the effort even more worthwhile, never give up, keep pushing through the bad times, and sit down and talk with your friends.

It’s really becoming an interesting year….

Ok, there have definitely been a lot of downs and far too many things to get organised this year that have had a large impact in what I do for fun/hobbies and just to unwind – but that is life as we know it in the 21st Century. When you add in multiple family obligations, a busy working environment and just general travel around it often leaves very little time to do things. Certainly one thing that has suffered this year is writing, I just can’t get through blocks in my head, more so for album reviews than anything else, but will continue to try and push ahead with what I have left to work on.

On the plus side, I’ve tried to organise myself better to fit around everything else in life and have managed to shoot a decent amount of shows thus far in 2018, and with some more on the horizon it’s great. That’s a positive, HRH Sleaze last weekend in Sheffield and confirmation for Rockinghamm which takes place in Nottingham next month are the two larger things on the Calendar, but hopefully a few smaller shows too. August has been a busy month  for shows and Sept will be the same. Recently got to shoot both the Bash For Philo and the wonderful Mike Brookfield (who was playing in Whelans on the same night)

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Mike Brookfield – Whelans – 18-08-2018
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Graham Bonnet Band – Bash For Philo – 18-08-2018

Was brilliant to get out the weekend before last and shoot the Unleashed Festival in Dublin, two night of heavy music, featuring some of Ireland’s best Thrash and heavier over two nights. So still need to get photos posted for that while working on the HRH Sleaze shots, add in a Review of Sleaze and a couple of Album reviews and that’s the next month done 😉

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Claire Percival – Dead Label – Unleashed Festival 2018

More positives in the fact that I have shot more shows this year than the last couple, and some of the stuff from HRH Sleaze is looking pretty good I think. Lots of interesting bands on show on both stages and some terrific performances, definitely a Festival to have a look at for 2019.

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Tom Wouda – Toxic Rose – HRH Sleaze II
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Tracii Guns of the wonderful LA Guns at HRH Sleaze II

Right lots more editing to get done later – looking forward to publishing the end results and hope some of you like them. The last few weeks have been a massive struggle and stress levels have been through the roof, so happy to get some other stuff done on the photography. Onwards and upwards as they say.

I Get Knocked Down……. and not as easy to get up…

Lately I have been starting to wonder is your mind much like being a boxer, when you are younger you get knocked down and even if it’s something that floors you for a while, you step right back up again and even if your head has been scrambled you just don’t let it phase you much. But perhaps every time you take a mental blow it cuts down your strength and resolve a little, and just maybe as you get older and keep taking mental blows you windup like a boxer that has carried on their career that bit too long, and every time you get hit you are slower to get back up and much slower to bounce back.

 

Right now that’s exactly how I feel, and it’s affecting other parts of life, sleeping, concentration, mood, pretty much everything. It’s easy enough these days to attribute everything to stress, being busy in all aspects of life, and that leading to depression, and sadly it’s pretty much right every time, but depression tends to come in bouts when it passes you can usually fight your way back out of the hole you are stuck in, perhaps if one bout runs into another and you are not sleeping and overtired that ability disappears. But at the end of the day you still need to keep fighting it, keep trying to climb back out of that hole.

 

This time around it definitely feels like a truck ran right over me, stopped and then reversed over me again. Even with this Blog entry I started writing it a few weeks ago and then the words ground to a halt, so back to square one again. That has certainly had a massive impact on trying to get any review work completed, on top of many other things that have slowed down. But at least this week attempting to write has lifted me a little, and getting out to a couple of shows, which were both amazing by the way, had brought some normality back to life. The image at the top of the page is just a personal memory from the show, wasn’t shooting it for anyone, but if you get an opportunity get out and see Sons Of Apollo, having so many super talented musicians on stage at one time is very rare, but they all put in 100% effort and energy into their show, true professionals.

 

Attempting to ease some of the external pressures has proven a little more difficult than expected, but any piece of progress helps and besides these things always seem to take time to get sorted out now. So we push forwards as much as we can.

At least I managed to submit a Review this week, the excellent Myles Kennedy, you can read it now over on the Overdrive website. Great photos by my good friend Steve at Down The Barrel Photography.

Myles Kennedy Review – Dublin 05-07-2018

 

What’s next ?

keeep fighting, try and get the head back in some semblance of working order. On the music/photography side, I’m working on a couple of Album Reviews and have the new Roack/Blues/Metal Festival to come in a couple of weeks, Rally Of The Lough in Co. Meath Ireland, with acts like Pat McManus Band, Phil Campbell And The Bastards, DARE, Coroner, Samarkind and many more, really looking forward to shooting this one.

ROLLFestival-Poster-July2018

 

Keeping busy, but not too busy, and organising shows and stuff for the rest of the year, changes in circumstances mean only a couple of nights a weeks are at all possible now, but that’s a lot better than nothing. Roll with the punches, and hopefully get back up a little quicker next time \m/ \m/

Off to the tropical Sheffield and Nottingham for sure, and maybe squeeze in one more, and some stuff next year already beginning to fill in.

When deep in the hole I managed to have a couple of chats with good friends, not deep conversations or anything, but sometimes a chat will be enough to help you crawl out, so if you are down, just don’t ever forget to talk to friends, they will be there for you, so say hello and chew the fat.

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Home from the Holidays :-(

 

It’s just one of those things in life, a bitter sweet day for most, your holiday (vacation) is over on you return home, you are leaving what has hopefully been a really great experience with family or friends and returning to the reality of life, while at the same time you quite often look forward to getting back to your own home, your own bed and more familiar surroundings for the little one. It’s a little bit of a struggle both ways…..we started the week with a pretty nice view and it was just a taste of what was to come, in a beautiful Apartment with lovely hosts, would definitely stay again.

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Bunlin Studio Apartment – Golan, Millford, Co. Donegal

 

For us, it’s been a really terrific week away, we have no covered two thirds of the Wild Atlantic Way around the Donegal area and just have one section to work out way though, and we’ve already started planning that, will then look at where else we can hit on the other sections around the coastline, there are so many places to check out it’s great. This time around we took some time up around the Fanad Peninsula across to Dunfnaghy and Falcarragh, which turned out to be a great base to travel around from, small town but lovely and quiet, only 16km to the stunning Glenveagh National Park and the same in a different direction to the very interesting Ards Forrest Park which contains parkland and beach in one location.

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Ards Forrest Park – Co. Donegal
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Bloody Foreland – Co. Donegal

There are just so many stunning viewing points around the hills and mountains in the areas, you are always a short drive away from one, so just take a look around and pick a route, some of the viewing points are a little more difficult to get to than others, the road up to and down from Horn Head for example can be a little hairy, but the view’s are hard to beat, it can get a little windy up there, so just don’t take any unnecessary risks taking photos or looking around. Or indeed Fanad Head Lighthouse which is another of the Great Irish Lighthouses around our rugged coastline.

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Fanad Head Lighthouse – Co. Donegal

 

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Horn Head – Co. Donegal

There are also a number of places to see animals of all shapes and sizes, parks, farms, a mini-zoo, lots of options. On this trip we discovered Oakfield Park in Raphoe a short distance outside of Letterkenny, have to say there’s still pieces of it being developed and added to, but it’s a really beautiful spot, with a lovely Train Ride that goes all the way around the lower part of the property.

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The Longsleeper at Oakfield Park

We always take in a trip to Tropical World in Letterkenny when in the area, the little guy takes in more as we go around each time we go, so that’s pretty cool and I always love a walk around the Butterfly Garden which is much busy with Butterflies this year. Staying so near to Glenveagh it would have been a crime not to get up there and sample the beauty of the area, the shot at the top of the page is from there, and it was another well spent day, the little guy even high fived the shuttle bus driver when we got back to the Visitor Center, not something he would have done had he not been in good form after a day of great views, lots of birdies (and a scone in the cafe of course).

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Common Chaffinch – Glenveagh National Park

 

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Great Mormon at Tropical World’s Butterfly Garden.

 

:Honestly these have been just a few of the many memories we created this week in the North West of Ireland, weather wise, bit of a mixed bag, but only really had to change our plans one day when we couldn’t bring the wee man out in howling wind and rain, but we were very lucky to have a few days of sun early in the season, lots more to come when I get a bit of time to go through the photos. On the downward side didn’t manage to get very much done this week, hoped to get some writing finished off, all that despite waking each morning between 5:30 and 6:15 – hard to force yourself when you are getting overtired, maybe that’s what this wise old owl would say 😉

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Snowy Owl at Tropical World in Letterkenny