Another great show

Last week I wrote about two really good bands made up of 20 something musicians. This week I am going to write about two performers who are 63 and  78 years old.

When I was a teenager, my mother made me listen to only folk music. The first time she took me to a concert, it was to see Judy Collins and Tom Paxton. While listening to a radio show called the Midnight Special in 1966, I heard a singer singing about something that didn’t exist much in America- an interracial relationship. Her name was Janis Ian, who was 15 at the time the record came out.

Tom and Janis__0004I met her a few years ago, and read her autobiography. It turned out that the station I was listening to her on was one of only three that played her record. She went out on tour and got booed off the stage whenever she played the song, called “Society’s Child.”

So, about a month ago, Janis emailed me and asked me to photograph a show she was doing in Chicago with Tom Paxton. Last Sunday I met them at sound check, did a quick session with the two of them, and shot one of the greatest shows I have heard in a long time. There was no show biz- just a vase of flowers on a table at the back of the stage (with a spotlight on it), and two legendary performers singing most their hits, along with some new songs. Society’s Child was especially poignant.

Tom and Janis__0153Tom and Janis__0157Just goes to show that you don’t need lots of lights and staging to captivate an audience- just great songs and amazing performers.

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Two Shows

My friends at Shure introduced me to two new bands this month. Both of them give me some hope for the future of music. They are booth young, with energetic front people, very good musicians with some very catchy songs.

Mister Wives, a young band from Brooklyn, are fronted by a young woman named Mandy Lee, put on an extremely high energy show, with a lot of movement and audience interaction. The show was sold out, and the audience knew the words to most of their songs, They have a massive social media presence, and it shows with fans lining up all afternoon to get a spot at the front of the stage.

MisterWives at Lincoln Hall on March 3, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

Magic Man is a five piece band from Boston. Lead singer Alex Caplow is a monster performer, who gladly slaps hands with audience members , some of whom have waited outside since early afternoon. The band is very proud of the c=fact that the “Fourth wall” has been broken down when they go outside during the day to  hang with people in line. Once again, the audience knew the words to every song, and sang along on every one. Keyboardist Justine Bowe and guitarist Sam Lee are great players, and the songs are definitely hit material.

Magic Man__0101Before the show I was talking to a couple that had traveled 100 miles to see the band. I felt guilty only driving 2 miles!!

All in all, some great new music


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Update on the Sun Times

It’s official. No reason to buy the paper any more!

They came up with their redesign this week, which they are very proud of- articles written about how cool they are.

So, after letting ¼ of their editorial staff go last week, they have replaced the content  that those people created with content that they license directly from USA Today. They even include the USA Today logos on the pages!

So the worst paper in Chicago is now being created by the worst paper in the United States! So finally, I don’t have to save my quarters any more and don’t have to walk to the corner to buy a paper any more!! Hooray!!!

By the way, Michael Sneed, the worst newspaper writer in the history of the printed word is still writing her insipid drivel most days in the paper. Thank god she still has a job!!!

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This week Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun Times gave us the greatest definition of a newspaper I have ever read:

“The Chicago Sun Times is a newspaper,” I continued, improvising. “It’s like a website, but folded and thrown at people’s houses.”

The Sun Times is going down the toilet quickly! They just let go ¼ of their editorial staff last week, including the photographers that they hired back after the debacle of firing their whole photo staff last year. It does make it easier to read the paper these days, though. There are only about 20 pages of semi-useful stuff, after you take away the want ads and the obits, so it can be read in about 5 minutes. It has kind of turned into a large format comic book, except on lousy paper. Every morning, I walk to the corner and put $1.00 in the box and bring the paper home, for reasons I can’t explain. Maybe just a bad habit, I suppose?

Meanwhile, Newsweek, which gave up printed copies about 2 years ago, but returned to the printed page about 6 months ago, seems to be publishing an issue every four days or so! Seems that one appears in my mailbox almost every other day!! The photography is great, and the writing is getting better, but it is still not up to the level of where it was even 5 years ago. Oh well, guess we can hope!!

At least Time still rules the market, with a great issue every week

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Scott Cameron

When I started in the music business, I had to gain the trust of the “Gatekeepers,” the people behind the artists. I had to prove to them that I would take good pictures of their clients, and submit them to legitimate magazines. The first person that trusted me was a guy by the name of Scott Cameron. He was a little guy from the south suburbs, who managed giants. When I first met him, he was managing Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, people that I never thought I would be able to get access to. But, lo and behold, he took a liking to me, and started calling me whenever his guys were playing in the area. He always treated me with total respect, and gave me all the access I needed. Through the years, as his clients passed away, he became the executor of Muddy’s estate, and retained many of my photos on his website. When someone called about using one of them, he would direct them to me, telling the potential client that only I had the right to make that decision. He was truly the most honest man I have ever met in the music business.

His business transitioned to selling soda pop!! “Get your kicks with Route 66 Beer

He also had this philosophy, which many people did not know:

“From day one it has always been my philosophy that if a record company or music publisher has one-dollar due to a writer, artist or their family, it belongs to that writer, artist or family, not in the company’s accounts.” – Scott Cameron

So he spent a lot of his time researching and collecting back royalties and publishing funds for the heirs of artists that sometimes didn’t know they were owed that money. From his website:

According to Scott A. Cameron, President & CEO, “We became aware of the rights of the artist when we discovered that Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon were not receiving royalties anywhere near the amounts they should have been due to the hundreds of songs they had written and recordings they had made.  Our research at the Library of Congress Copyright Offices discovered both been induced to sign agreements that divested them of their rights and the rights of their families for the life of their copyrights and any renewals.”

“In 1976, on behalf of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon we engaged attorneys, provided them with information and assistance in bringing legal actions against a certain music publisher.  While the cases eventually settled, the rights to their individual songwriting catalogs were returned to them in full.  The catalogs are now benefitting their families for many years to come.  A few years later we guided attorneys successfully through similar legal actions on behalf of the family of Jimmy Reed.”

“We are constantly researching ‘lost’ royalties and the family members who may be due these funds as heirs to the writer or artist.  Many potential heirs may be distantly related, however, that does not diminish their right to claim royalties and rights that would be due the writer or artist if he or she were still alive today.” noted Matthew S. Cameron, V.P. Client Relations. “While every recovery may not be a major one, our philosophy is that if there is one dollar due to our clients, they should have it and not the music publisher or recording company.”

To lear more about this amazing guy, click here.

Scott passed away last week, and he will be greatly missed by the music community, and anyone who believes in the rights of artists ANYWHERE!!

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John Belushi

In  June of 1980, a friend of mine asked me to come hang around for a day in a suite at a fancy hotel in downtown Chicago with a couple of comedians who had started doing a musical skit called the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night Live the year before.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi promoting the movie "Blues Brothers" on June16, 1980 in Chicago,Il. It got real popular, and a movie was filmed in Chicago expanding on the skit. And MAN it was funny!! So I spent a day with John Belushi and Dan Ayckroyd, laughing and taking a bunch of pictures. Shortly after that they played at Chicagofest and I got my infamous picture of the guys with Mayor Jane Byrne.

Mayor Jane Byrne with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as the Blues Brothers at Chicagofest on August 3, 1979 in Chicago,Il.  A few days later, they were honored by the Mayor in her office, and I became the guy with the camera who was always there.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi meet Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne to recieve the key to the city after releasing the movie "Blues Brothers" on June 17, !980 in Chicago,Il.Later that year they went on tour and I shot a couple of dates, funny shows with great musicians backing them (Most of the SNL band).

About a year later, John was hired to star in a movie called Continental Divide, a film that took place in rugged mountain country. He knew he would have to train to make it through that film, so he called my friend Fred Degerberg, who owned (and still does) a gym in Chicago. Fred agreed to open his place for John, who arrived in town with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.

John Belushi working out with Bill "Superfoot" Wallace to get in shape for the movie "Continental Divide" on June 25, 1980 in Chicago,Il. Bill was the Professional Karate Association world full-contact karate champion at the time. He was also the Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion kickboxer. The training started and John asked me to stop by and photograph. I will never forget the comic genius trying to kick his leg over his head like Bill. He failed, but never stopped trying!

John Belushi working out to get in shapr for the movie "Continental Divide" on November 23, 1980 in Chicago,Il.I never ran into John again. On March 5, 1982, Bill Wallace found John Belushi dead of a cocaine and heroin overdose, in his room in Bungalow 3, at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles. I just watched him on the SNL 40th Anniversary Show last weekend. What a shame his life was cut short.

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I heard a great song on the radio this week and it reminded me of a cool shoot. Back in the beginning of my career, I started contributing photos to CREEM Magazine. It was a very cool time in the business, and CREEM would accept photos of any musical artist, as long as they could make a good caption to go with it. So every month I would have 2 or 3 images in the magazine, and I was starting to gain the trust of the art director. I kept on hoping for an assignment, and finally one day it came! Charlie, the art director, asked me to do a shoot with an English band called Rockpile for the cover. They were a great band, with two legendary musicians- Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds.

So, I headed down to their hotel with all the equipment I could carry, knowing that this was a career making shoot. When I got to the designated room, I unrolled a piece of red background paper and taped it to the wall. The band walked in, and they couldn’t have been nicer (this was their first American magazine cover) and proceeded to do whatever I asked them to do. This wasn’t much, as putting four guys in a rectangle with room for copy isn’t easy, but I walked out of there with some great photos and a month later I had my first magazine cover!

Creem- RockpileThere were many more covers since that day, but, as they say, you always remember the first time, and every time I hear a Rockpile song on the radio, I remember my first major assignment!

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Chris Robinson

I got a call on Friday from my friend Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes,  inviting me down to his band’s show on Friday night. Of course I said yes, as hilarity will almost always ensue! Had a great conversation with Chris and Keith Van Horne (from the 1985 Bears) backstage before the show. (Hilarity did ensue).

It is sad that the Black Crowes have broken up. Thery were a great band for 24 years that seem to have hit a new creative Plateau a few years ago, when they last toured. The last few shows that I saw were fabulous, with the band transitioning from rock band to jam band over the course of a few nights.

But maybe the fallout of them breaking up means that there are now three great bands touring the country. Chris’s band, the Brotherhood played two sets of great music Friday night with the crowd singing along with every song. They even have their own brand of beer, sold at each venue they play in (coming soon to a store near you).


Steve Gorman’s band, Trigger Hippy is a great soul, rock band fronted by Joan Osbourne, one of the greatest singers I have ever heard. And Rich’s band, who I haven’t seen yet, is, from what I have heard a great rocking band.


So maybe the fallout is that, rather than getting one call a year inviting me out for some great music, I now get three calls a year!

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Marshawn Lynch

Has anyone ever heard of a job where, after working your ass off all day, you punch out and then have to sit down and answer stupid questions about your performance that day? I can’t.

Every major sports league has a  rule that states that after every game, win or lose, a player must make himself available to the press. Guess they think the press is too stupid to come up with their own story, even after watching a game for 3 hours.

So this week, Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks sat down for his MANDATORY 5 minute press conference. He answered about 20 questions with exactly the same answer- “ I am just here so I don’t get fined.”

A year ago he answered the question of why he hated talking to the media:

“I’ve never seen anybody win the game in the media. But at the same time, I understand what it could do for you, if you wanted to be someone who talks a lot. But that’s not me.

“And I’m not as comfortable, especially at the position I play, making it about me. As a running back, it takes five offensive linemen, a tight end, a fullback and possibly two wide receivers, in order to make my job successful. But when I do interviews, most of the time it’ll come back to me. There are only so many times I can say, ‘I owe it to my offensive linemen,’ or, ‘The credit should go to my teammates,’ before it becomes run down.

“This goes back even to Pop Warner. You’d have a good game and they’d want you to give a couple of quotes for the newspaper, and I would let my other teammates be the ones to talk. That’s how it was in high school, too. At Cal, I’d have my cousin, Robert Jordan, and Justin Forsett do it.

“Football’s just always been hella fun to me, not expressing myself in the media. I don’t do it to get attention; I just do it ’cause I love that (expletive).”

Shouldn’t it be enough that he plays like a wild man? I don’t feel that he is off base in not wanting to talk to the media. I give him a lot of credit!!

Here are a couple of quotes I have collected from press conferences over the years:

Half this game is ninety percent mental   -Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark

The word “genius” isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein -Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst

Maybe those guys should have refused to talk!!!

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Sports Illustrated

First it was the Chicago Sun Times, now it is Sports Illustrated. This week SI fired their whole photography staff. The only thing I can equate this to is if the mid 90’s Bulls fired Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin! The Sports Illustrated photographers were the gold standard of sports photographers. Now they are going to be dependent on freelance guys (not bad for the freelance guys) and they will save a bunch of money from not having to pay benefits any more.

Brad Smith, director of photography for Sports Illustrated, spoke about the move Friday:

“There was a decision made through the company to restructure various departments, including at Sports Illustrated,” Smith said. “Unfortunately economic circumstances are such that it has cut the six staff photographers.” 

Photography has long been the lifeblood for Sports Illustrated, which boasts a number of iconic covers in its archives.

The magazine will maintain a photography department with editors and personnel like Smith still in place. Novak declined to comment about the magazine’s freelance budget. 

Oh well, another era ends. Jim Kirk, publisher of the Sun Times, says that photographs are not important to the newspaper. Maybe the Illustrated part of Sports Illustrated doesn’t mean anything anymore either.

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