Monday, May 20, 2013

Road Thoughts

Lockeford Water Tower, CA, Andrew D. Barron©5/18/2013 [Fuji Instax 210: Instax Wide]
Things with that country band ended abruptly at the first of the year. It wasn’t the best parting of ways, but it wasn’t the worst either. They knew that I had regular responsibilities here in Reno. Anyway, I got a call a few weeks ago and reluctantly agreed to play a series of local shows with Leroy. The last one for the time being was Saturday in Lockeford, California, where I photographed the water tower with the Fuji Instax 210 as we arrived in town.

I have recently read a couple of memoirs from former Bluegrass Boys (Robins, Lowinger) and find a lot of similarities to my experiences. For those guys, the food and travel conditions were pretty lousy. But they played in Bill Monroe’s band!

I often found that the best time for photography was just as we were trying to check into the venue for the evening. I knew I wouldn’t be in any of those towns again, and couldn’t seem to shake my irritated feeling. A case can always be made that I wasn’t there to take photographs, but to play music. There is a preciousness to having time be your own. I wonder how Patrick Sansone of Wilco managed his photography endeavors while he was out there. See Patrick’s book 100 Polaroids. Also, one of Gene Lowinger’s reasons for creating his Monroe memoir was to share the photographs he had made as he worked through a new career in photojournalism in the early nineties. There are many interesting photos in the book, most shot with a Leica M6 in 1992 and 1993. It’s cool to me that only a few months after my first trip through New Jersey, I meet a mandolin player recently transplanted from there, who, incidentally, played in bluegrass bands with Gene Lowinger. (Here’s a shot with Mike with Vassar Clements and John Carlini)

Here is Lowinger in 2008. He played fiddle for Bill Monroe for 6 months from June 1965 to February 1966. Later he became a photographer and traveled with Monroe taking photographs in 1992-93.
Gene Lowinger, 2008 by Jerry Shereshewsky
Photograph by Jerry Shereshewsky.

Time and again, I am left with the awareness that even at the highest level of music performance, there is no money, rest, or decent food out there. Bar patrons think that all musicians need is well whiskey. But in the end, we do it for the music. The music must find a way to get out of those of us who have it.

With that meandering intro, this is a good place to include some of the photographs from my trip to NYC last October. I didn’t have enough Instax Wide film; it was the star for me, being much less hassle than pack film while traveling. So I was down to a 24 exposure roll of TriX in my only 35mm slr, a Nikomat FT2. It was getting pretty dark in the City.
Flatiron Building, New York City, Andrew D. Barron©10/11/2013 [Nikomat FT2; 50mm ƒ1.4, TriX]
Flatiron Building, New York City, Andrew D. Barron©10/11/2013 [Nikomat FT2; 50mm ƒ1.4, TriX]
New York City buildings, Andrew D. Barron©10/11/2013 [Nikomat FT2; 50mm ƒ1.4, TriX]
New York City buildings, Andrew D. Barron©10/11/2013 [Nikomat FT2; 50mm ƒ1.4, TriX]
A number of days later and I was on an airport shuttle trying to make it to Brooklyn. We had played a show in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The good folks of the Shore Road Tavern in Philly had driven us from the show in Manhattan, gave us place to stay in Philly, and let us borrow a vehicle. It was a great stay there. Leroy donated his guitar to the apartments used by bands above the bar. It’s still there. Overall, the whole tour was great with really fun and nice folks from Vermont to DC.

I had hoped to be left off in Brooklyn, but traffic delays left us late, and I had to go all the way to the JFK airport. There I got on the subway going the wrong way. I think this happened every time I took the subway in New York. Anyway, these are from the front seat that day.
A bridge en route to NYC, Andrew D. Barron©10/15/2013 [Nikomat FT2; 50mm ƒ1.4, TriX]
This bridge looks great at night. I am surprised I got an exposure at all. A while later in 2013, I realized this bridge was filmed in Saturday Night Fever for a few dramatic scenes, the Verrazano Narrows bridge.
Verrazano Narrows, Andrew D. Barron©10/15/2013 [Nikomat FT2; 50mm ƒ1.4, TriX]
The tour was over for me though, and it was an unpleasant commute to get to Brooklyn from JFK. It made for a short night’s sleep, so I forked over for a cab to make my flight out from LaGuardia.
(This would be a great place to insert my cool Instax photo from inside LAX on my last layover)

After landing back in Reno, I rested for a few days and then we drove east again, making our way all the way to Circleville, OH before returning.

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