Tag Archives: concert

Myriad Botanic Gardens

wpid11462-AU0E7459-Edit.jpgIn the heart of downtown Oklahoma City is an oasis from the normal bustle of a city in the form of a botanic garden. This is not something on the scale of some of the other botanic gardens I have visited over the years. It is more of a park that has been nicely landscaped. However, it is known as the Myriad Botanic Gardens and it has a glasshouse at its center. This is a cylindrical structure that spans a pond.

wpid11464-AU0E7478.jpgI got to the gardens at the end of the day and with limited time before it closed, I didn’t bother to shell out the entrance fee (which did seem a bit steep). Instead, I was more intent on getting some shots as the sun started to set. I wasn’t alone in this idea. There were a few photographers like me wandering around looking for shots and a considerable number that were there professionally shooting individuals and family groups against the various backgrounds the garden had to offer.

wpid11460-AU0E7452-Edit.jpgAside from the cylindrical glass structure, there were water features, sculptures, a stage in the round and an open space with a stage at the end for free concerts, one of which was setting up while I was there. A reggae band were getting ready and, as I strolled around, they started their performance so I had a nice bit of background music while I enjoyed the evening which had cooled nicely to the high 90s from the earlier temperatures in the 100s!

wpid11472-AU0E7597-Edit.jpgWhile the downtown area of Oklahoma City has not struck me as one that has a lot of people living in it, there was a good sized crowd at the concert as well as those walking around the gardens. It seems to be a popular spot and, being within a couple of blocks of my hotel, it was a pleasant change from the usual hotel environment.

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A Night with Chaka Khan

wpid7262-IMG_1660.jpgDuring my teenage years, I was introduced to an artist who I had not heard of before.  Chaka Khan brought something I had never heard before.  I can credit a friend of the family for first playing me some of her music.  Along with many others, I became a fan.  Not a devoted fan but someone who really enjoyed her music.  However, I never saw her perform.  That changed this week.

wpid7265-AU0E7359.jpgForty years in show business were celebrated for Chaka this year and, as a Chicago native, the city had a free concert for her in Millennium Park at the Pritzker Pavilion.  We headed along and we weren’t alone.  A very diverse group of people came to see the free concert.  It was a great evening out.  Things took a long time to actually start but when they did, she certainly still had it.  An outdoor location is a great place to sit and listen to someone belting out the hits.  The years have not diminished her vocal power.  Great stuff.


Another Night with Dolby and Some Strange Camera Rules

A couple of nights ago I went to a Thomas Dolby concert at Park West here in Chicago.  I had been to see a smaller event with him last year that I also blogged about but that was more focused on some dumb stuff more related to me than to him.  Since the disappointment I had then was entirely down to my own stupidity, when he set a date for a full concert back here, I bought my ticket swiftly.

This is not going to be a concert review.  I know I wander about on stuff on this blog but it is supposed to be more focused on the photography side of things and I promise that the heart of what I am talking about is actually photography related.  However, I shall start off by pointing out that it was a great evening.  The support act were a fun pair although possibly not your usual support act in that they were a duo playing predominantly bluegrass music.  They were good and funny although possibly not what a bunch of electronic music fans might be heading out to see.  Then again, the demographic of a Thomas Dolby concert is not what it once was – although you could argue it is exactly what it once was, just they are all a lot older now!

The main event was a lot of fun for an old fan who has continued to follow his newer music and the advantage of seeing an act that is no longer quite as big as once they were is that they play smaller venues and you feel a lot closer to the performer – because you are!

So, for those patient photography types out there who have stuck with it so long, where is the photography reference?  Here it comes.  I had popped up to the venue in the afternoon.  Thomas has a steam-punk trailer called the Time Machine that he has been towing around behind the tour bus.  I was interested in grabbing a few shots of it so went up ahead of time assuming it would be there.  It was and I got a few images although the afternoon light was a bit harsh and the polished metal finish didn’t help in those conditions.

I figured that a camera would be a problem in the evening so the afternoon recce was the alternative I went with.  When I came back up for the show itself, there were some big signs on the doors saying that video and audio recording were not allowed but feel free to take as many stills as you like.  CRAP!  I hadn’t brought a camera.  I did have my phone but nothing else.  I was feeling pretty annoyed about this but I was there for the music and the photos would have been a side benefit so not the end of the world.

I ended up sitting just behind a guy that had a camera with him.  It was not long before one of the venue staff payed him a visit.  They were checking his camera and that of everyone else around.  Apparently, they had a rule (not on the signs) about professional cameras.  What is a professional camera you ask?  Apparently, an SLR of any sort counted.  If the lens could come off, it was verboten.  No explanation of why but that was it.

When I was a more regular concert goer, cameras were always a problem so I had assumed nothing was allowed.  When I saw something was allowed, I was then confused by their arbitrary rule.  Some of the cameras people had were pretty capable.  A Canon G12 would have been fine for example?  How does that work?  Who knows.  Anyway, since I had not brought my stuff, I didn’t have a problem.

One amusing footnote to all of this, the support guys made a big deal of pointing out that they didn’t care if you videoed the whole of their performance.  They just wanted to make sure that you got their names right!  Great stuff.  The shots I did take I grabbed occasionally with my phone.  I think they came out quite well actually.  However, I was there for the music and didn’t allow the shots to distract me more than a little.  Fun night!

A retro Night Out

It seems to have been a musical time for me recently.  The other week I saw Thomas Dolby do a short performance which was great (although if you read the blog post you will have noted my disappointment at the session afterwards – all of which was my fault).  This time it was another throwback to my youth.

Howard Jones has recently reworked his first two albums and was undertaking a mini-tour to promote them.  He came to Chicago and performed at the Bottom Lounge so we went along to see him.  The show was in two halves with one album for each half.  First things first.  It was excellent.  You often wonder how a performer will be after a few years (quite a few) out of the spotlight.

He really did a great job for us.  The venue was a nice size to feel involved and he certainly got the crowd involved with it all.  Being someone who based his music on synths, getting a big stage effect is not going to happen.  However, he did still make a good job of it – even if I did chuckle a little at his two support musicians.  His drummer was too cool for school and the guy running the sequencer amongst other things at the back looked like he was more comfortable in a studio than on stage.

Still, a crowd that was predisposed to be welcoming certainly got what they wanted and I have to say we were very pleased to go.  (I suspect a few members of the audience had been brought by their friends but why they couldn’t head to the back of the room if they want to ignore the stage and talk is a mystery to me.  Rudeness is alive and well in the US!)

Thanks, Howard, for making an old git feel a bit younger for a while!

Meeting a Hero?

I am an idiot! This is a strange piece to write but it is a bit of a mea culpa when it comes to being unrealistic. Even why I am writing it is a bit of a mystery but I guess this blog has become a surrogate diary – odd given that I have never kept a diary bar one futile effort when I was about 10 years old. Anyway, here is the tale.

Last week I popped along to a club called Martyrs. The reason for my being there was that Thomas Dolby was playing. He was undertaking a short tour across the US playing a number of small venues. This wasn’t a full show. Instead he was talking about his new album, how it had been written and how it tied in with an online game he had created. A lot of the people present had been participants in the game. He played some of the new songs and also threw in a few faves from older albums to please the old guard.

It was a good event, interesting and enjoyable and I continue to enjoy what he creates, even if I was not interested enough to get involved in the game. He also said he would be back for a full show with a band in the spring.

The source of my downfall was what followed. If you bought a certain amount of merchandise, you were given a wristband that let you in to a meet and greet afterwards. I was buying the CD anyway, so a t-shirt was enough to put me over the threshold. I went along.

At this point, I want to make something very clear. I am not in the least bit angry at Thomas for anything. I am just disappointed in myself. This was my first experience of a celebrity signing event. I have never been to a book signing at Borders (RIP) and I have never been to any of the big events like Comicon or a Star Trek convention so I haven’t seen how these things go. As it was, people lined up to get their stuff signed, get a photo taken and have their moment with Thomas.

I waited until near the end. First, I wasn’t in any great hurry. Second, propping up the bar was more comfy than standing in line. Third, I wanted to see how the whole thing worked. This is where I learned my lesson. It is obvious really. This is part of the job for the person involved. They aren’t your buddy, they don’t want to chat, they want to do what is required and then get out again. So would I looking around that room!

Thomas seemed to be polite to everyone and did what was expected. However, he never looked like he was having fun. I watched many people have their picture taken with him and, while he looked at the camera dutifully in each, I bet not one of those shots had a smile. When my turn came, he signed what I had with exactly what I asked him to write, exchanged a few pleasantries and we were done. Someone was nearby at that point trying to get things wrapped up so we weren’t in doubt that we would be gone quickly but that is fair enough.

So what is so odd about this that I have written all of this? I have blown an image up. I have been a fan of his work for many years. I have heard interviews and read some of his writing and I have always found him an interesting type of person. Of course, you never know whether that is actually the real person or not but you never can know. However, in your mind you come to think that this person could actually be someone you got on with. When you finally get to meet them, you imagine that there will be some sort of friendly spark. Of course, they have never heard of you or any of the other few dozen people lined up to meet them and you get your minute and then you are done.

Any common sense analysis of this suggests it would work exactly the way it did. Why was I disappointed? Because your mind sometimes likes to ditch reality and replace it with something more interesting. After leaving the venue, I was quite dispirited. Maybe if I went to lots of these things, I would get used to it but this isn’t really my thing so I doubt that will happen. Instead, I just learned a brief lesson in not being a fanciful idiot. If I had left after the show, I would have been a happy camper. Oh well, maybe at my advancing age it is time to grow up a bit.