From February 1974 to August of the same year, Ernest “Boom” Carter sat behind the drums for the E Street Band. Though only a short stint many “musicologists’ credit him with being instrumental in adding the jazz and funk flavor to the band’s early sound. Later he, and E Street Band pianist David Sancious formed “Tone”, a jazz fusion combo that would eventually feature Patti Scialfa. Here’s “Boom” at the Harvard Square Theatre show with the E Street Band.
THE VIEW FROM THE PIT - STATE RADIO
The first time I shot digital at a rock show ( I’d been out of the loop for a while), I sought out advice. One recommendation was for certain size and speed of storage cards so I could save upwards of 500 shots per card. 500 SHOTS? Were you crazy? Who would need that number? In my day (days of film), I would shoot about three rolls per act, per night, and hope in the 100 or so shots per act I might have three of four that were good. That’s what it was about. You, as the photographer, needed to drive your selection of shots. There were limits and those factors were forced you to make decisions, artistic decisions, that made you to take better shots. That was part of the craft.
In the pit at shows today i see these young guns, with better cameras than mine. They shoot, and shoot and shoot. i step back and watch. I do the math. Three songs, one angle, 500 shots, they’re bound to get something. But i can’t help but notice that, the one over there, doesn’t she recognize that her angle is always going to get the microphone in the face of the singer? And that guy over there, is he ever going to try another point of view? Hmm..maybe if you cast a wide, wide net..you will catch something. Is this the new world of concert photography? Tell me it isn’t. Because I couldn’t do it. I don’t the have the top end camera, I just have my eye. So, I decide to look for something interesting.
The band’s manager writes me back after I posted my work for him. “Thank You”, he says. He then continues, and confides, that he is amazed that when photographers send him work from shows it’s typically 90 frames of the same shot. He thanked me for taking another point of view and informed me he’d like to use my work.
It wasn’t really that I offered another point of view, I offered what I though was a good photograph. That’s why you have the camera with you…right?
Happy Birthday Patti Smith!
I’m not sure when it was that I first began to fall in love with Patti Smith. Maybe it was when I heard that her live shows were such driving hard rock and roll and she would spit on the stage whenever it felt right. Not out of spite, just out of “spit”. Or that her music came out of poetry, which came out of living in the East Village., which came out of being an artist. She was totally cool in my mind. A bohemian artist who found rock and roll as her medium of the time.
I finally got to see her live in 1975 when she played The Boarding House in San Francisco. She was only a year into performing on the road to support her first release. It wasn’t until I learned later that this was one of earlier shows in her career.
Today Patti continues to record, continues to perform, write, recite, film, photo document her life, everything. She began as an artist looking for her medium and today still experiments with new ways to express herself. She. to me., is what living your life as an artist is about. I cannot recommend enough her book. “Just Kids”, which is by far the best book I have read that describes the process of becoming an artist. I recommend it not just because it’s a good read, but because it’s about living a life that is driven by a passion inside of you. A passion to celebrate, to create, to explore, to live out loud what drives you and bring it to the rest of us. The life of an artist, lived as an artist, as we all wish, we could live our own. And we can.
Her life is a gift to us and today I say thank you Patti Smith
“Bruce Springsteen and I”
My submission to director Ridley Scott’s user generated documentary due for release in 2013.
Bonnie Raitt, Harvard Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA 1974
“In the Zone. Winthrop, MA 1972”
When I was a student of photography at Emerson College we were taught the zone system. Made popular by photographers Ansel Adams and Minor White, the idea was through optimizing exposure and negative development you could capture to it’s fullest, all the tonalities availabilities of the black and white negative. Though it was a system based on science and chemistry what it really provided was a methodology between visualization of the photographic subject and producing the optimum final result. To capture all that was in what you could see, was the ultimate goal of the zone system.
Many photographers struggled with it. It wasn’t easy. A slight variation in exposure of your negative or the temperature in the developing bath and you missed it. I think I might of got it right once, with this photo of the woman on the commuter train. But, when you did achieve it, when all the right pieces came into place, you took your photographic skill to a new level. You were…in the zone.
We’ve all used this term before. And I believe we have all lay witness to the experience of someone, or ourselves. being “in the zone”. It’s that singular moment when everything that’s there, that could be there, is there. We see it in sports when the team’s power forward is draining three pointer after three pointer. We see it in music when the members of the band on stage seem to be so locked into each other that the music takes off to a place one can only imagine is reserved for the heavens. But what is most important, I believe, is that we recognize it as human beings. We all know, that down deep inside all of us is a place where it can all come together. Whatever it is, in the end we become locked in with what we believe is how good it can be. How we get there is different for everyone. It takes practice, hard work and great faith. But the beauty of it is, is that you know down deep inside it does exist and you know this to be fact. The zone is always there, it’s up to us to find it.
New music from State Radio directed by Collie Woods. Proud to have been involved as set photographer. Here’s some stills