Last week the City of Chicago put on their last summer festival, the Chicago Country Music Festival. A pretty good lineup of headliners a few years past their prime!
First day: Gretchen Wilson followed by Clint Black
Second day: Someone I never heard of followed by Jewel
I have photographed all of these people before and they have always been pretty nice about being photographed. So I headed downtown, walked up to the press table, and was given the bad news-
Gretchen Wilson- We were allowed to shoot the first 30 seconds of each of the first 2 songs!
Clint Black- First three songs from a pretty long distance from the stage.
My first thought was to find a seat in the first couple of rows (it was a free show on public property) and shoot the whole show (or get thrown out) but I had forgotten my book and the artists weren’t worth it. When I was told that Jewel had the same policy as Gretchen, I knew I had my weekend free for some quality sports watching!
Another note- while talking to the publicity, a cameraman from ABC7 walked up. He was told he could shoot 30 seconds of Gretchen Wilson, and could not shoot Clint Black! Clint must have a great publicist, to not allow television coverage in a major city in America on a Friday night (a slow news day). So that night at 10PM, I turned on the ABC7 news and saw a nice piece about the Country Music Festival, headlined by Gretchen Wilson- and no mention whatsoever of Clint Black!
This weekend, I was scanning some Neil Diamond photos for a CD project, and it reminded me about the first time I photographed him. His publicist called and offered to hire me to shoot a show, because they were desperate to get some new photos for press. But there was a catch- Neil didn’t like to be photographed. So I was snuck into the venue, and placed in a fifth row seat a little off center and told to stay low so that the artist that was ultimately paying me would not know I was there! Got some pretty decent photos, even with those restrictions! The next morning, I went out to the suburbs to have breakfast with the publicist that had hired me. We were sitting in the lobby of a fancy hotel, surrounded by very agitated middle aged women of all shapes and sizes. He asked me if I had ever had as weird a circumstance as what we went through the night before. I laughed and told him about my experience two night earlier, when I had been at a different venue photographing Julio Iglesias. Ten minutes before the show, his road manager led me down to the front of the stage, a roll of white tape in his hand. He stopped on the stage right side of the stage, kneeled down and with four pieces of tape, drew a box about two feet square on the floor in front of the front row, stood up and said “There you go- you can shoot as many pictures as you want, as long as you are standing in this box. That way, you will only photograph the side of his face that Julio wants photographed.” Shortly after I finished this story, the aforementioned middle aged women started to scream. We looked up, and saw a sight it will be hard to ever forget. The worlds collided when two facing elevators opened up and Neil Diamond and Julio Iglesias each walked out of one of them and stood face to face. All we could do was laugh.