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.

When you can only get to 1 Day of a 4 Day Festival………you should still go ;-)

 

With circumstances as they currently are this year there was no chance I’d be able to get to the whole Bloodstock Festival, which is a real shame as it’s a brilliant weekend and there were loads of bands that I was interested in each day, but such is life. However I did have the opportunity to take in one day, and the Friday was the one that worked out for me, and damn it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday night (thanks to the offer of a bed from a friend), headlined by Judas Priest and featuring Doro, Kamelot, Suicidal Tendencies, Wednesday 13, and Onslaught among many others. This one day trip to Catton Hall in Derby was going to be brilliant, an early start at 5:00am was going to mean looking after myself, but honestly the trip itself was always going to be really good for my own mental health

Wasn’t shooting or reviewing this year so I was determined to make the most of things and see as much as I possibly could, and to that end the final count was catching full or partial sets by 17 bands on the day, which is good going for an old man, I crashed a little towards the end as I’d forgotten to take a sit down at any stage.

 

Here are a bunch of compact snaps from the day, it was tiring but so much fun, but you should really check out the shots from the Official photographers and the other Pros that were there, some really amazing work, anyway here are my crude personal pics as a reminder of a wonderful day at one of the best Festivals anywhere \m/ \m/

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.

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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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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 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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…

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.