September 10

 

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.

 

August 29

What a chance to shoot a set of promo pix!

Raced back from Grand Forks where I’d just enjoyed Blues on the Red, to get the opportunity to hang with some of my favorite people in North Dakota: the musicians of the Sarah McMahon band.  Even if these were not some of  my favorite entertainers in the region, I’d still want to hang with these people. They’re not only talented but they are real, warm, down-to-earth intelligent folks who do not fit the stereotype of a typical North Dakota.

While the typical North Dakotan is personable, wise, steady and solid, they are also very pragmatic and not at all varied.  They are homogeneous.  People such as the musicians of the Sarah McMahon Band maintain the qualities of a typical North Dakotan, but add their own artistic variety to the cultural landscape.

Sarah, the lovable pixie who emotes vocally like Aretha or Norah is from Idaho. The others, home-grown North Dakotans. They’re awesome.

Shooting this promo shoot in the Blarney Stone in Bismarck was a delightful experience.  First of all, they’re not afraid of the camera as many North Dakotans tend to be — humble, shy and reserved.  So, with willing models we got to try several different approaches to the shoot, always working to keep Sarah front and center in her band.

I tried different lighting as well as different poses.  I wasn’t sure about the three overhead lights. I thought they might be distracting to the final image, but actually they add  interest to the photos

We worked up several poses and angles, but seemed to settle on this angle for the photo, mostly because of the direction of the pool table, with the corner pocket at the front.  It acts as a visual funnel directing your attention up in to the photo.

I like using props like that to direct the flow of the viewer’s eye in to and around the image.

In this case, it helped to have such a stunning centerpiece to the group — Sarah. She gets a lot of attention for not only her talent, but for here physical attractiveness, but she still keeps it real.  I look forward to doing more with these musicians in the Sarah McMahon band and in Black Cat Rumble (the two personnas of the same group).  If you scan through this blog you will see I’ve already posted several images of them.  They’re good people.

 

July 16

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.


Arnold Jordan

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.

June 19

Sarah McMahon band

Another great reason to extol the musical talent of Central North Dakota is the combined and individual talent of the Sarah McMahon band.  A little bit of rock, a little bit of blues, a little bit of jazz and a lot of soul is the mix  of these talented musicians.

Richard, Brad, Sarah and Laura bring different talents from their history of making music in the Bismarck-Mandan area and beyond.  They’ve come together this year to find their own sound, their own niche as a group.  I know of no one more talented than these musicians. They’re no bar band or garage band.

Their only liability is they are in Bismarck where musical venues to match their talents are rare.  They have to work extra hard to promote themselves, while keeping their day jobs because there just isn’t enough opportunity for them to earn what they deserve in Bismarck.

In this case I caught them at the Ribfest in Bismarck, center stage.  Usually they are confined to smaller venues such as the patio at Fiesta Villa or some other claustrophobic venue.

I wonder what it would take for Bismarck-Mandan to create a venue to support the massive amount of musical talent that lives and plays here in Central North Dakota. Got any ideas?