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Amherst Block Party! September 18, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, music, Politics and Society.
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The First Annual Amherst Block Party happened this past week, and I went down river to get a few shots of the action.

Now, I’m a Hilltown Boy, and don’t spend much time down in the civilized world, but I’ve lately been been tuned in to the activities which draw people to our Western Mass towns. Country fairs and communal events offer a window into life here in the hinterlands, and spreading the word means supporting local businesses, so I’m more than happy to put considerable time into it.

Amherst and Northampton are our local foci for college life, with Northampton being substantially tonier and more expensive (think: Smith College,) and Amherst voicing the Vox Populi of the state-run UMass at Amherst.

Being a product of a brown-collar upbringing and a UMass education, I have a soft spot for the latter.

At any rate, this First Annual Block Party was fun, despite the bumps and potholes intrinsic to any “firsts.”

I arrived in the evening as things were just ramping up, and toured the place. There were vendors:


…and people with puppies:

as well as street performers. Stilt-walkers:

There were wagon rides with big-ass horses:

..delightful statues:

…and spectacularly capable yo-yo experts:

I spent way  too much time watching this magician spin time and space into a fabulous fable. Thanks, Guy.

Somewhere along the way, the light left the land, and the electric artifice took over.

Now, since this was a First Annual Event, I’ll forgive them if they used billion-watt construction lighting. It was painfully harsh, as witness this soft fuzzy poodle rendered in an acid wash:

Every shot became problematic as the night went on, with a slight change of angle essential to tease out each shot in this low-probability situation.

Still, there I was, so I pressed on.

Jugglers played the sidewalk:

…and roped bystanders into risking their noses for a photo op:

This guy’s girlfriend giggled delightedly, though I wasn’t entirely sure who she was rooting for…

Bands occupied a tent on the common down by Triangle Street, including Rusty Belle, with a great singer:

…and guitarist, her husband if I’m understanding things:

They tour regularly in the Greater East, and I highly recommend you go if they come to your town.

Meanwhile, The Pub grilled sliders over a roadside fire:

…as kids defied gravity at the Bungee-Bounce:

…and Medusa painted wash-off tattoos on injudicious children:

The night (or at least my part of it) ended with Lux Deluxe performing down at the band tent:

The audience was totally rapt:

…and for good reason: this quintet totally got me off, with a high energy set of rockin’ originals, tight instrumentation and the class act vocals of Ned King, talented far beyond what his earthly tenure might suggest:

Watch for these folks, and keep Ned’s name in mind. You’ll doubtless be hearing more from him/them.

All in all, this was a great night out, and it’s bound to get even better as it repeats itself into the future.

Go Amherst!

Clubbing With The Diamondstones! February 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in music.
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My friend Nick Pop has a band, The Diamondstones, which have a reputation for being very good in live performance.  I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t heard them before this past weekend, though I’ve heard Nick play in other groups and was impressed.

So with camera in hand and a desire to shoot something totally different, I hit the road in search of rock and roll.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The venue was a club in Amherst, recently renamed “Snowzees,” and no, I didn’t ask why.  I was there for the music and to try to get some photos in this den of dim lighting.

I opened Ollie up to f3.5 and booted the ISO to something in the Crazy Range to get these shots, so they’ll never be prints.  But still, I had fun with the music and the process.

On lead guitar:

…Ashton L:

On rhythm and vocals, and writing most of the original material:

Ben Pop:

Laying down a tight bottom:

Jen G:

…and pulling it all together:

Nick Pop, drummer and driving force behind The Diamondstones:

They’re a great night out and getting better with every gig.  If you’re in these parts, go hear them.  If you’re not  in these parts, get out and find the scene in your town and support it.  Live music is a gift worth going out for.

And Club Lighting is a challenge worth gritting my teeth for.  It’s not my usual set of challenges, but I dug trying to figure it out.