Grindhouse Theater blues
We leave 2010 with a recurring theme — local musicians. It’s been an unexpected pleasure this year to shoot the bands and musicians I’ve hooked up with such as these fellows. On the left,Weston Shick. On the right Arnold Jordan. (I have yet to be introduced to the guitarist in the middle.)
North Dakota is blessed with rich musical talent. I think it is because there are people in this culture who realize if there’s going to be entertainment here, they have to make it. So, they make entertainment for themselves and for us.
For my part, I try to capture not only the moment as it existed, but add to it in a bit of a creative burst of energy, my own interpretation of the moment with processing and framing. That’s the entertainment I make for myself.
There are few places for them to perform, but the East 40 Chophouse in Bismarck is one. The lounge with its cozy atmosphere and warm fireplace is a great place to enjoy a respite from winter with good friends such as these.
Black Cat Rumble
Four extremely talented local musicians get together for good rockin’ blues. Each play on their own, in their own bands or with others. Sarah McMahon, Adam Halverson, Arnold Jordan and Weston Shick get together to play as Black Cat Rumble.
Bismarck doesn’t seem to have the venue for such outstanding musicians to perform, so they get together when they can, where they can such as here at in the corner of the lounge at a local motel. I don’t know if there’s no market for such music or if there’s no venue. Either way ya gotta catch this talent when you can, where you can.
I was fortunate enough to catch them here, and in conversation with another member of the audience shared the same thoughts. Except he’s a promoter and invited me to shoot some upcoming acts he has coming to town. What good karma! I look forward to developing this line of photography.
I just can’t help myself. I think some of the best and brightest talents of North Dakota need more exposure. They all have day jobs which help pay for their love which in this case is music. Arnold Jordan is one of those young artists who needs to be known nationally. He’s had the good fortune to play with some big regional acts and I hope his exposure continues. In this case, I caught him in the lounge of the East 40 in Bismarck, a cozy chop house.
You’ve seen him here before on ND 365, and you probably will again. As much as I love shooting motorcycles and motorcycle events, I like shooting musicians as much and sometimes more. Arnold is one of my favorite musicians to photograph.
Richard Torrence and Sarah McMahon
Two of the most incredible muscicians in Bismarck, Richard Torrence and Sarah McMahon.
She’s played in numerous jazz, blues and jam bands in town. She’s a teacher. A mother and a down-to-earth person who is valuable to know.
Richard Torrence is a recorded guitarist who has opened for groups such as Fleetwood Mac. He is home in North Dakota, Bismarck to be exact and plays with only the best blues, jazz rock, jam musicians in town such as Sarah.
I like shooting bands in town, especially those I “groove” to such as the Sarah McMahon Band, the Black Cat Rumble and others. In this case, in the evening at Fiesta Villa the musicians play for an appreciative crowd on the patio between the old Northern Pacific Depot and the railroad tracks of the modern Burlington Northern Sante Fe line.
On this night, the same guitarist I caught the night before, Arnold Jordan is playing a gutsy and precise guitar for the blues band at Fiesta Villa.
It wasn’t much after this shot that I shut it down for the night. It gets too dark and too many shadows to shoot in a natural light, and I do not typically use a speed light. I use the “golden hour” even for musicians on the back porch of a 150 year old depot.
Old blues the way they were meant to be played
Bismarck is not an oasis of good music. Most of what you hear in town is cover bands and bar bands which are merely one step above garage bands.
Once in a while you can find some authentic music played by authentic musicians who know the feeling of the music they play, not just the notes. Arnold Jordan is one of those musicians. In the middle of the week,you’ll find him at the East 40 Chophouse playing acoustic blues he feels, he writes, he plays.
There is never a big crowd for his music. He is generally background music in the “lounge” but his music is not background in its intensity and it’s authenticity. He plays from the heart, not from his fingers.
There in the upscale bar of the East 40 you can hear a bit of what must be a direct descendent of the blues bars, the juke joints of old.
I have trouble shooting in the East 40 because the light changes so much from those stained glass windows and the lights overhead. I don’t use a flash and capture the natural light of the moment. Arnold’s natural music and these natural lit photos are a perfect combination.