David Darling

Bill Lauf and Gordon Titcomb Play Milton Hall, 2008

Bill Lauf and Gordon Titcomb

Bill Lauf and Gordon Titcomb

Milton Hall, Milton, Connecticut. Bill and Gordon warming up before the show. Bill is a part time song writer and folk musician and a neighbor of ours here in Warren. Gordon is a professional studio musician who plays sessions and on tour with the big boys who’s been a friend of Bill’s for years. He’s also local (when he’s not touring).

Anne and I have been going to hear Bill at Milton Hall for twenty years (Anne for another ten) and this was the second time Gordon joined him.

Milton Hall holds about 75 people comfortably and this show had close to 100 packed in. The audience energy was fantastic and many of us were long time attendees. It was quite an evening and the guys played their hearts out, mostly their own music as well as some covers: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, Paul McCartney and more.

Both Bill and Gordon are solid musicians with depth and breadth and humor and energy and many in the audience thought it was one of the best concerts ever. That’s saying something.

The photography was tougher for me this time: more people, tough lighting, two musicians, more microphones, and I got pinned in a corner up front once the music started. I decided to take fewer shots and enjoy the music more. I’m glad I did.

Bill Lauf on four string tenor guitar

Bill Lauf

Bill Lauf, in his groove playing his own music. I consider Bill a good friend and I have to say, it’s wonderful to see someone you know perform well.

He told a story about this small four sting tenor guitar but I can’t remember it. I think the instrument came down to him from his father. It has a great, warm sound.

Gordon Titcomb on banjo

Gordon Titcomb

Gordon picking out Auld Lang Syne. You haven’t heard this song until you’ve heard it on a bluegrass banjo. Fantastic. He retuned the banjo multiple times on the fly. Incredible picking.

Gordon Titcomb on pedal steel guitar

Gordon Titcomb

Gordon really knows how to make the pedal steel guitar sing.

Chris Brown, sound engineer

Chris Brown

No good concert can happen without good engineering and Chris Brown, a jazz musician (trumpet) and sound engineer filled the space with great sound, not too hot, perfectly balanced, and just enough so we heard all the string and fret sounds. Note the Mac Mini and small board he takes to gigs with him.

I’ve known Chris for twenty years as well, as an engineer for Paul Winter and David Darling and a fellow Mac user.

We’re hoping that he got enough tracks between both evenings Bill and Gordon played to make a live CD. Maybe they’ll use one of my images on the cover.

Emily Darling

Emily Darling

Kansas City, Missouri. A year ago I did a photo shoot for my friend (almost a niece*) Emily Darling who owns, runs and teaches at Darling Yoga.

Emily is the real deal: a spectacular yoga teacher and practitioner with an open, warm heart and gentle touch. She really is a special person.

What’s interesting about Emily is that it’s almost impossible to tease apart how beautiful she is from how beautiful she is. That’s how beautiful she is.

I took hundreds of images of the various teachers and classes at Darling Yoga and I’m still working on processing them. I posted about the shoot here.

*Emily is my wife’s first husband David Darling’s niece and I knew her mother Pam professionally before I met my own wife. Small world.

David’s bells

David's bells

My wife Anne’s ex husband is David Darling who is a world-renowned cellist and improvisationalist. He’s also a great guy and over the years Anne and I have been together, David and I have become friends.

When their younger daughter Bonnie (Erin’s mom) was in high school and David, Anne and I went to see her in a play, invariably David and I would sit and talk computers and maybe even walk out together at intermission. The small town we all lived in then wasn’t sure just what to think about all of this (ex husbands are enemies, to be banished to Siberia, and they are not allowed to be friends with the new husband, etc.).

Anyway, over the years it has become tradition in our extended family for all of us to be together during holidays and lately we’ve been having Thanksgiving at David’s house.

David has a collection of beautiful, small bells and the tradition is to place a bell in front of each person at dinner. After we hold hands and give thanks we commence ringing bells and play around with the different tones these bells make. It’s a lot of fun and of course Erin, who is four has now experienced it four times and looks forward to it.

I’m thankful that my wife decided that the best thing for her two daughters, for David, and for me was to move forward with her new family (me) in a way that kept the best parts of her old family alive.

Bells are just objects; it’s the people who hold them who are important.

Emily doing yoga

Emily doing yoga

I was helping my friend Emily Darling do a preliminary shoot for an album cover for a yoga CD she’s producing with her uncle David. We shot over a hundred images of her in various yoga positions as well as close-ups of parts of her that were interesting illustrations of aspects of yoga.

She’s a beautiful woman so I figured I’d take a few shots of her face while shooting the yoga-related stuff. I’m glad I did.

Battery Park, July 19, 2001

David at Battery Park

I was a “roady” for David Darling at an open air, free concert he did at Battery Park just prior to 9-11. The concert went quite well and in taking these pictures I wasn’t even trying to get the World Trade Center in them, just the musicians.

Paul at Battery Park

My friend Paul Briggs played keyboards as well as sitar in this concert.

Battery Park at Night

Our friend T. Fliesher (in white shirt) played lead electric guitar in the concert. T. is also a landscape architect involved with the grounds around Battery Park and he and his family live in Battery Park. They experienced 9-11 at ground 0: they were at the foot of the South Tower when the second plane hit. They got out safely and even went home to rescue their dog later that day after both buildings collapsed.

Erin Ringing Bell

Erin Ringing Bell

We were having dinner at David Darling’s house the other evening and lately David has been putting a small bell from his collection at each place setting. These are no ordinary bells, they each have a distinct and wonderful shape, look, and sound and together, like voices or different drums make a wonderful and playful harmony.

Well, David’s granddaughter Erin (my step granddaughter) ran around the table sampling each person’s bell, not wanting to be left with the least interesting. In fact, she had been given (randomly) one of the most interesting and when she finally settled back down to it and rang it on its own she was awed by its sound.

When you pay attention to this stuff (a kid discovering the clarity of a sound) it’s simply amazing to behold.

Ashes and Snow opening

David Darling

Last Thursday we went down to New York for the opening of the Gregory Colbert photography installation, Ashes and Snow. We went primarily to support my wife’s ex-husband and my friend, David Darling who composed much of the ambient music used in the installation. Even at a mobbed and noisy opening in a cavernous and cold space, the music shone through. Coupled with a movie that was showing at the far end of the space, David’s music was a perfect compliment for the large scale photographs.

Ashes and Snow Photograph

Unfortunately, as soon as I entered the space I was told to put my camera away so I took few pictures and you’re better off going to see this amazing show than looking at even high quality pictures online: the space, photographs, lighting, and sound are breathtaking. The 10 foot by 4 foot (almost cinemascope scale) photos are printed on handmade Japanese paper, are sepia tone, and are coated with wax. The effect is much like a sepia version of Irving Penn platinum prints: a soft, rich, deep, and contemplative look that is in total contrast to the sharp, photos I’ve been trying to make for years.

This is not documentary photography so if you think you’re going to a National Geographic-like show, you will be disappointed; this is a successful exercise in photographing animals and people in water, in temples, and in other settings and presenting it in a such a way to build a mood, a sense of harmony, a feeling. And it works incredibly well.

Ashes and Snow Structure

The Nomadic Museum structure that houses this show was designed by architect Shigeru Ban and will travel with this show to various countries on its world tour. The building is built with large shipping containers, stacked and a “tent” with structural elements made of paper tubes. The lighting is spectacular and the ambient sound is everywhere. Unfortunately, the evening the show opened the outside temperature was 6 (fahrenheit) and because the space is only marginally heated, we froze and had to move through it fast. But, as March marches on, the space will warm up and the show will be more accessible weather-wise. The entire show breaks down into pieces that are loaded into the shipping containers which are then put on a ship and taken to the next venue.

This show is without a doubt one of the important photo exhibitions of our lifetimes and it is being underwritten by numerous big names including George Soros. I saw the show The Family of Man as a child in New York and this show is on a par with it although very different in execution. I’m going to return to New York later in the month to see it again, hopefully with fewer people in the building so I can enjoy the photography. I did splurge and buy the show catalog which is a beautifully made book of the entire show, printed on beautiful paper with similar color and depth of the actual photos.

Ashes and Snow

colbert06Ashes and Snow is an exhibition of the large scale photography of Gregory Colbert. I’ve only heard about Colbert’s art from my good friend David Darling, a world-renouned cellist (and my wife’s ex-husband) who has done and continues to do music for numerous Colbert photo installations in the US and abroad.

Ashes and Snow opens this month in New York at the Nomadic Museum in =Hudson River Park and will run from March 5th to June 6th at that location. There is a private opening this Thursday which David has invited Anne and me to. Man, I am psyched as this work looks like something that will not only blow my mind but alter the way I look at photography. I have no idea what the photo rules of a photo opening like this will be but I plan to carry camera with. Stay tuned.


hangThe “hang” (pronounced “hung”) is a (relatively) new musical instrument that sounds like a hybrid steel drum and gamelan (a Thai xylophone). It is played with the hands or mallets (or whatever) on the lap or a stand and is tuned to make a variety of sounds depending on where it is hit. Hang means “hand” in the Bernese language.

It is made by a swiss company Panart but their web site is now down and they are only making a limited number of instruments duing part of the year. This is an exciting instrument so there should be a used market for it.