While I’m on a roll here, blogging about my mediocre photography abilities, I thought I’d share a few photos from an East side photoshoot I had with members of Your Friendly Ghost. I figure inevitably, at some point in your life, you wind up making friends with someone in a band. I have done just that with the guitarist of Your Friendly Ghost—a Black Keys-esque quartet trying to make a name for themselves in the Austin music scene. Tristan (more affectionately known as Wolfman) asked if I would mind taking a few photos of the band, and the potential for making four handsome lads pose like members of a boy band was just too much for 14-year-old Kelsey to pass up, so I obliged and we headed to East 6th Street to get our photoshoot on. I’m not sure I have a future in band photography, but I’m pretty confident in my abilities to recreate NSYNC poses. So there’s always that.
Somehow I managed to get through journalism school without taking a photography class. Stupid. Why did I let myself think that was a good idea?
Despite not having any formal training, I managed to find a hobby in photography. Heath gave me my first camera in 2008 and it is interesting to see how my photos have changed since then. I started a clumsy, clueless “photographer” afraid to wander from the camera’s auto settings. Today I am still clueless, but at least I’m experimenting a little more. I’m discovering there is a lot more to capturing a good photo than just pointing and shooting. There’s aperture and shutter speed and lighting and ISO and exposure and dozens of other factors to consider when getting behind the lens. And once I get the settings right, I still have to determine how best to capture the image I’m shooting to create a photo that’s interesting and real and beautiful to look at. I’m no where near professional level yet, and realistically I don’t expect to ever get to that status.
Nevertheless, I love that my friends give me the opportunity to practice my photography skills on them, whether it’s taking engagement photos or capturing the intricate details of museum openings. Most recently I got to play photog at an Austin Writes Music showcase downtown that benefitted Austin Pets Alive. It was my first go at photographing a musical performance, but I enjoyed the mess out of it. Check out the aftermath…
I know I’ll never get to be as good as the likes of other photographers I admire…like my brother-in-law of StormulaOne Photography, or my documentary film making friend Ranjana Thomas, or my wedding photographer pal Tara Welch. But that’s OK. For now, photography is mostly a fun way for me to be creative and expressive, while simultaneously documenting some of the more interesting events of my life. And that’s not a bad place to be.
Mom to me: So in between all of this traveling back and forth to Denton for wedding responsibilities and working on house projects, when are you finding time to have fun and do your own thing?
Good point, Mom. It is high time I started being way more selfish and irresponsible.(What? That’s not what you meant? Well, that’s how I’m taking it.) I mean, when your own mother points out the fact that you are kind of being a lame 20-something-year-old, you really owe it to yourself to pick up the partying pace. Don’t mind if I do take a weekend off from painting and pruning to indulge in some merriment.
The first non-home-improvement related activity of the weekend: backyard party and musical extravaganza.
Our friends Tristan (musician) and Monte (intellectual) hosted a backyard shindig to celebrate the former’s birthday. Among other things, their late-night get-together featured a keg-loving kitty and live performances by Your Friendly Ghost. We’ve experienced a healthy variety of interesting party panoramas (including a cheap beer taste test and drinking among living manikins at The Gap to name only two), and this one lacked the grandeur of some of our other weekend romps in terms of food or fanfare, but was nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable evening (completely free of drying Spackle or matching paint colors). After all, it’s not every day you’re granted front-row seats to an exclusive musical performance from one of Austin’s most talented up-and-coming bands. Point, Robinsons.
For day 2 of our vacation from renovation we went to the Live Oak Brewing Company on the East side for the local microbrewery’s 15th anniversary celebration. I attended an eerily similar event last year which I blogged about here. The biggest difference between that event and this one is mostly (and by mostly, I mean totally) in the numbers (14 years vs.15 years). The party was pretty much identical to the previous celebration…from the music talent, to the weird school bus themed bounce house, to the tortilla wrapped bratwurst. But it was free beer (the best in Austin), free food and perfect weather…so not at all something at which to turn up your nose.
From there we wandered to campus to hear Minus the Bear play at 40 Acres Fest. The annual concert is free for all, and in the past has hosted much bigger players like Little Richard and The Roots. This year’s show was much more scaled down than others I had experienced, and probably drew about 1/4 of the crowd, though even then, I’d venture to guess there were 400 or so MTB fans in attendance… mostly (as to be expected) students. Heath and I felt like old codgers in our folding lawn chairs off to the side of most of the concert action, but still had to hand it to ourselves for making it out after several hours of day drinking.
Lucky for us, sound was still pitch perfect from our side seating…AND we got to see the most ridiculously huge Texas flag hanging from the main building and acting as a backdrop to the emo/rock music. So, no curtain hanging this weekend, but definite flag hanging for sure…in fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve met my Texas flag quota for the year.
On Sunday we finally broke. We had to stop at Home Depot to get a few knick knacks for some side projects we have planned for later in the week. After all, we’re only human and can’t be expected to stay away from our calling for long. So I guess the weekend wasn’t COMPLETELY without thought of home improvement projects.
To make amends for our infidelity, we opted to spend the later morning/early afternoon taking in Sunday brunch and cocktails at Nomad. The neighborhood bar has time and time again won awards from The Austin Chronicle for having the best bar staff and being one of the best neighborhood bars, and it’s my prediction it won’t be too long before it gets a nod for its brunch. The brunch, by Mark Rivas Catering, is $13 for all you can eat brunchy goodness that includes a waffle bar, omelet bar, fruit bar and 23480234234 other options that get me in a tizzy. Admittedly, I probably love it so much because it’s walking distance from the house and has an option for bottomless mimosas, but since moving to the new casa, it’s been tough to abstain from brunch binges at Nomad.
And just like that, our weekend was done. We tended to the chickens and watched the latest episode of Mad Men, but other than that the house was unchanged. On Monday morning, the old house looked just as she did on Friday afternoon.
I know when my mother said we should take time for ourselves, she didn’t so much mean “take time to party, and sleep in, and be lazy.” She meant take time to travel and explore and experience new things, which is still on the docket for a weekend in the very near future; but heavens, I did enjoy my weekend of reckless disregard for my status as “homeowner” and drinking adult beverages with child carelessness. Still, I might be a little excited about returning to my rightful role of diligent caretaker to the doodle manor in the coming days.
Well, duh. Doesn’t everyone? It’s kind of an obvious statement, “I enjoy pretty things.”
But I also like for art to be personal and unique. (Again, duh. Who wants their decor to be blasé and random and artificial? Just call me Captain Obvious.) Maybe that is because growing up, my mother made a point to stock the house solely with original artwork (a task that’s pretty easy when you’re an art student and so are all of your friends). I was fortunate to wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night staring at custom artwork on my bedroom wall that few others had the opportunity to know as I did. It was, as Miley Cirus might say, pretty cool. Mom has sense recanted on her “originals only” mentality, but the idea still resonates with me. But it’s not easy to obtain something with sentimental value, that’s easy on the eye AND is an original piece. Unique and original artwork, even by local artists, are pricier than what I can afford when I’ve got vacations and renovations to save for. But buying mass produced prints for $10 at Hobby Lobby sort of cheapens the whole idea of adorning your home with personal pieces that speak to you. “Keep Calm and Carry On” is a great motto, but I swear if I see one more of those posters, I’m likely to bang my head into a wall. Can’t I just have my cake and eat it too?
Enter concert posters, especially concert posters created by one of your closest friends.
Eric, the design guru behind the world’s coolest wedding invitations that I blogged about here, recently started creating concert posters for local showcases hosted by CoolinAustin…a website dedicated to spreading the word on all happenings that are free or under $5 in Austin. (It’s a great site in it’s own merit; check it out if you’re a local.) The shows have been drawing respectable crowds for featuring some of Austin’s favorite bands in some of the city’s more popular venues, and the popularity of the CoolinAustin gigs has been largely spurred on by the quirky and colorful animal-themed posters created by our dear friend Eric. Could it be possible that I have finally found a collection of art that is:
1.) Personal (created by a buddy and often relating to events I have attended)
2.) Unique (think along the lines of a squid holding a pipe or a spooky llama)
3.) Original (not mass-produced, in fact only a handful of copies were printed)
I may have found a way for those of us at the doodle house to enjoy art that is fun to look at AND fun to think about. I’ve already hung the first piece in the guest bedroom, and with gems like the images featured below, I don’t think it will be long before the entire wall is covered. Check and mate!
I finally FINALLY crossed “See an ACL taping” off my Austin bucket list.
Okay, okay. It wasn’t exactly a taping, but it was a sold out show at the ACL Moody Theater where they do film concerts by acclaimed artists like Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and, in this case, Wilco (who had taped the same set list at the venue the night before). And it wasn’t exactly at the same location where legendary artists like Johnny Cash, The Allman Brothers Band and David Byrne (I’m excluding hundreds of others here) recorded ACL shows in the past*, but it was nevertheless a pretty remarkable experience.
For starters, Wilco is a band I’ve loved since Brian Jackson first burned one of their songs for me on a CD in the 10th grade. I’ve continued to love and appreciate them as I’ve gotten older, so getting the chance** to see them up close and personal at an intimate venue in my very own city was a pretty incredible experience. They deliver a show that’s as tranquil as it is toe tapping and as psychedelic as it is down-to-earth. They love their fans, love their music and love to play together–which makes for a pretty incredible concert, if you ask me (and you do, because you are reading my blog at this moment).
As hinted earlier, the venue does its part to add to the “oh my gosh, I can’t believe what I’m seeing” experience. The layout, lighting, and acoustics are mind-blowing. The location is in the middle of the hippest Austin action. And even though the new venue is less than a year old, you can’t help but feel like you might be witnessing history.
Check out photos of other live tapings at The Moody Theater below by Mark Collins.
*For the unfamiliar, the studio where public broadcasting station KLRU films the wildly popular Austin City Limits performances, after which the festival is named, relocated from the UT campus to a new theater at the W hotel downtown.
**By “chance” I mean an incredibly generous friend offered me her extra ticket, what a gal. Thanks a ton!
My mom says I gravitate toward any party where free eats and drinks are abundant, and I can’t necessarily disagree with her. But who really wants to turn down unlimited food, spicy margaritas and free petting zoos anyway? Case in point, the CultureMap launch party last Thursday.
The Eastside fiesta at Pine Street Station (home of favorite SXSW destination Fader Fort and in SXSW off season, Hope Farmer’s Market) celebrated the launch (albiet a little tardy) of the Austin portion of CultureMap, a news/lifestyle website that greets visitors with a clean and trendy interface chock-full of Austin-themed stories on topics spanning music, film, fitness, design, sports and innovation. The party, like the website, was diverse in its attractions.
Like FDPs of the past, this one included live music, a photobooth and refreshments out the wazoo, but unlike others I’ve frequented, it also featured a petting zoo by Tiny Tails to You (complete with hedgehogs, bunnies and baby ducks), and performance by Sky Candy Aerial Arts. If animals and acrobatics become the next trend in party throwing, I should just give up right now.
Check out pics from the event here.
And while you’re at it, maybe give the entire CultureMap website a glance too.
It’s difficult to write about an event that is so widely reported on it’s almost cliche. Austin City Limits Music Festival. Yes it’s a good time. Yes there is a wonderfully diverse selection of bands that will tickle your ear drums (think everything from Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman and Coldplay). Yes there are massive crowds, expensive beer and weather woes. Despite those shared sentiments, at the end of those three days, the 75,000 festival attendees leave the park feeling as though they’ve each just had a completely unique experience. Such is the beauty of 46 acres, 130 bands and 8 stages.
So, rather than giving a vague, surface level review of the festival as a whole (after all, I’m not a music snob and can’t single out a skilled guitar riff or a sick bass line), I shall opt for an honest recollection of my fourth ACL experience.
In year one I made it my goal to hit the front row of every show. Year two I hung back in the shade. Year three was my first go at festival attending at legal drinking age and year four allowed me to mix my favorite elements of the other three fests together to create one awesome festival cocktail. For the bands I loved I wiggled my way through the crowd to get as close to the front as decency would allow (there is strict crowd etiquette when it comes to getting front and center) and for the more mellow, less familiar bands I hung back with a beer and an umbrella (which, this go ’round, offered protection from sun and rain).
The final menu looked something like this:
Friday–Fool’s Gold, Foster the People, Kanye West
Saturday–Fitz and the Tantrums, Cut Copy, Chromeo, Stevie Wonder, My Morning Jacket
Sunday–Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses, Fleet Foxes, Empire of the Sun
Foster the People, of Pumped up Kicks fame, put on an invigorating show that had 12,000 bystanders singing, dancing, clapping and writhing along with lead singer Mark Foster who was having as good or better a time than the crowd he was performing for. * Having seen Coldplay perform twice before, we opted to rap along side Kanye West for the Friday finale. The rapper put on a show typical of Kanye fashion…that is, it was flashy and self-indulgent. The 1 1/2 hour performance was presented in three acts. Acts one and two were packed with the hit maker’s most famous tunes like Good Life, Gold Digger and Through the Wire. The crowd ate it up, and had the opportunity to behold a fantastic troupe of professional ballerinas in the process. (As a former ballerina myself, I applaud Kanye for exposing his fans to one of the more under appreciated arts, but I couldn’t help but wonder if his desire to hire dozens of professional dancers was rooted less in some deep appreciation for the art of ballet and more in fear of sharing the stage with musical contemporaries who could potentially steal his thunder.) The last act was tired and momentum killing. Instead of turning out his most bass thumping hits, the rapper went off into a slow parade of one auto-tuned memoir after another. Fans who left before the last 20 minutes did themselves a favor. * The Saturday Chromeo performance had people dancing against their will AND included Robert Palmer-esque back up dancers who helped keep the crowd in a constant sway. * Stevie Wonder would have been fantastic if the show was only audible. A failed speaker made it nearly impossible for fans hundreds of yards out to hear hits like How Sweet It Is and Signed, Sealed Delivered. * So we headed to My Morning Jacket across the park to hear a show that at times was peaceable and serene and at others headbangingly wonderful. * Sunday’s performance by Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses was so alluring it got Heath to abandon his post at the TV tent where the Dallas Cowboys game was being broadcasted. I wouldn’t have thought Bingham’s voice could outshine his good looks, but I was pleasantly pleased to see that, even live, it did. * Fleet Foxes sounded eerily, but delightfully, similar to Simon and Garfunkle and provided the perfect wind-down/wrap-up to the festival.
So there you have it folks, the extremely novice and naive opinion of two unprofessional festival goers.
Cheers to next year’s fest. I am already saving up for tickets.
Day 2 of the festival turned out to be one of the better festival days I’ve experienced. Sure there was rain, but that just meant cooler temperatures. And in addition to the much needed precipitation, there were dance parties, an FDP, two celebrity sightings and, of course, epic musical performances.
Again, more details will come at festival’s end, but in the meantime enjoy photos from Day 2.
The day began with a Free Drink Party at the American Legion across the street from the park.
Free drinks and free video games…for people who were less into music and more into Gears of War.
For 21 years now Austin’s most rad radio station, 93.3 KGSR, has been putting on a great little diddy called Blues on the Green. It’s a super cool, super free, super Austin concert taking place every Wednesday night during the summer months. It sounds too good to be true and embarrassingly, I had never made it out to the free, fun-filled music fest till yesterday.
I picked the right time to go. A rare summertime rain visited Austin the day before the concert and painted Zilker Park with vibrant shades of green–without which it would have been “Blues on the Brown.” But what’s even better is that the rain cooled the park down to a chilly 80 degrees. The weather was great and people across the city showed up by the hundreds to lounge on the lawn and jam along with The Bright Light Social Hour.
Other things to know about Blues on the Green if, like me, you are a festival novice:
*Bring your own beer. A newbie to B on the G, I didn’t know how strict the rule-making people would be when it came to things like bringing in your own coolers of adult beverages. Officially you’re allowed to bring a cooler to the park, but in compliance with city codes, alcoholic beverages are banned. No one seemed to be following the latter part of that rule and enjoyed their koozie clad beers with no fear being “busted.” Do the right thing, though, and leave the glass bottles at home. Lots of tots run around the park barefoot during the performances and cutting up their innocent feet with the glass of poisonous alcoholic beverages is a bit grinch-like.
*Bring your own kids. Despite aforementioned bullet point, this is definitely a kid-friendly event and will be one of those things that childhood memories are made of. So pack the stroller and the diaper bag and take the kiddos some place where they can run around wild outside and you can take a much needed break on the lawn.
*Bring your dog. The dog watching at Zilker is top notch. Officially the rules are “on leash only” but quite a few folk will unhitch their well-behaved canines during the show.
Don’t be like me, make Blues on the Green part of your summertime routine.*
*Rhyme not intended, but still awesome.