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Winkle Picker! February 19, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in music.
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Well, a new “tradition” got its start this weekend in Ashfield, MA: Winkle Picker!  It’s ostensibly  a Mardi Gras-themed celebration with music and food and related festivities, though the name was chosen to allow plenty of latitude for future explorations along different lines (I mean, it doesn’t really pigeon-hole the thing, does it?)

This year’s line-up included Cajun food served at the excellent Elmer’s, a restaurant/store in the center of town; Cajun cooking classes, a museum display of Cajun/Creole/General Mardi Gras costumes, and two musical events – an afternoon show headlined by Chris Smither and an evening event capped off by Buckwheat Zydeco!

I had the good fortune to go to the afternoon show, with the ticket being a Valentine’s Day present from my sweetie-pie, Susan B.   Thanks, Sweetie!  🙂

And as I’m trying to learn new tricks, I brought my camera.  I’m not versed in photographing people, and want to take every opportunity to practice.

The show was opened by Andy Friedman, a singer/songwriter from New York City:

He did a commendable job, and we’ll doubtless be hearing more from him.

The Main Event, though, is in a rare class of musicians who spin words into gold, alternately tickling you to tears and ripping your heart out with them:  Chris Smither is a master at telling quintessential truths in ways you never heard before and will never be able to forget.

Here’s Chris and his part-time sideman, whose name I’ve shamefully misplaced (he deserves better) and can’t find anywhere:

He joined Chris for half a dozen songs mid-way through a loooong set, and really added a nice sound, hauntingly hollow and as tasty as it gets:

But mostly it was Chris’ house, held in the palm of his hand, singing his ass off and stomping up a whole rhythm section in his trademark one-man-band style:

It was a more intimate setting than when last I saw him play (at the Green River Music and Balloon Festival,) and I dug in at the left edge of the stage with my 24-105mm L-Series lens, which worked well at this distance of perhaps sixteen feet:

The room was daylight-bright with visual distractions behind the performers, so I shot everything two full stops under-exposed, then played with the levels in post-processing to get these results.

Thanks to Mr. Smither for a brilliant and moving performance, and for allowing me to get in this close.

And people, if he comes your way, don’t even think about it, just go.   You won’t be disappointed.


1. Barbara - February 20, 2012

Drove up from Plymouth, MA. and it was worth every minute it took to get there!! Did almost everything that was offered….Music, food, music, people, town, music, a wonderful time was had by all!! Stayed at a new B&B run by Gloria, & James, who were outstanding host and hostess, and great fun to be with.
Bought Elmer shirts and got all the free stuff that went with them.
Wonderful first event, and looking forward to many more!!
Thank you all!!!

2. Gina - February 20, 2012

Those are very good concert pics! I heard the ad on WRSI for this show. Sounds like you and Susan had a good time.

I’m looking forward to seeing the photos of Nick Pop’s band.I understand you were at their show down “the voo”. I hope you post those to fb, which makes them easy to share with other people.

Take care, amigo

3. susan - February 24, 2012

It appears you have a gift for taking pictures of people too. It probably helps a lot that they’re focused on something rather than looking right back at you.

4. littlebangtheory - February 24, 2012

Barbara, welcome, and thanks for commenting. I’m just an observer to this whole thing, but am similarly impressed by the care infused into the putting on of this new (but soon to be traditional) event. What a neat way to show folks this jewel of a New England town!

Gina, thanks. I embarrassed myself by being a stage-front fixture, but I’m as serious about getting this stuff right as I could possibly be.

Susan, I have dozens of shots which aren’t posted here, and probably never will be, with Chris looking directly at me. He’s enough of a professional to carry on despite my presence, and I’m more taken by the shots wherein he’s absorbed in his art.

And thanks for the “gift” comment, though I’ll hold off on embracing that until I have a longer track record. 😉

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