Monday, May 31, 2010

Spoleto Time Again .....

FRANKENMATT sounds a little like the name of that famous monster made of spare human parts.

Or a great sandwich with hot dogs, cheese and noodles.

Actually, it's an improv team I saw last year and two guys I looked forward to seeing again during the 10th annual Spoleto Fringe.

Their 10:30 pm show did not disappoint.

Sheer energy for a solid hour of ad lib, based on a 3-word phrase "taste and smell" thrown out by the audience at Theatre 99.

I retired 5 years ago but this year I get to post reviews on The Digitel. The last two years I was a "SpoJo" for the Post and Courier during the 17-day festival of the arts.

The paper invited a large group of onliners to come down from Syracuse, NY to blog, tweet and FaceBook as Spoleto Journalists.

I have been to Theatre 99 many, many times but apparently, never on a Sunday evening. The ticket-taker was telling someone they couldn't sell beer on Sunday but there was a filling station a block away that did. I had time to go there for BYOB.

The 9pm show was by Chicago's The Reckoning.

Improv begins with an idea or theme suggested by the audience and is carried out by the creative people onstage.

The one word thrown out and accepted was "Sushi."

The bare stage was transformed immediately - in our minds - to a small Japanese restaurant.

Very small. Tiny. Cramped.

Tables crammed close together. Funny setting.

As the group performed and entertained for an hour, I noticed persons sitting nearby were glancing at my cold bottle of beer.

Plan ahead people.

[Click on the pictures to see a larger image. Thanks.]

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Drawing A Crowd..

What in the world is going on in that alley??

Actually it was during a downtown photo walkabout on Sunday.

Joyce Aungst, owner of Charleston History & Photo Tours, was leading 20 fellow photographers on one of her exciting and informative daily tours.

I had just stepped off East Bay Street into Stoll's Alley to look for a photo opp.

Looks like the others found me as a focal point for their cameras.

The 21st Century Photography Group was delighted to accept Joyce's gracious offer of a tour - on her day off - and we began our 2.5 hour trip at Washington Square Park.

If you're new to Charleston, that's the manicured green area next to City Hall at Broad and Meeting Streets.

The Mayor's place is on one of the famed Four Corners Of Law.

We would pass many downtown landmarks and Joyce was quick to point out an interesting spot for a picture.

She was a walking, talking Kodak Moment.

At one point she said "Look back over your shoulder and you have a good shot of St. Michael's."

As we started aiming our cameras, she laughed and said " No, no, for a much better photo, walk about 5 more feet and stand under this tree's branches."

Joyce was right of course.

It was the same view of the white steeple against the blue sky but now the top was framed nicely.

That added depth to the picture and made it more of a "keeper."

She pointed out another place where vertical cedar trees stood neatly in a row next to the steeple and created a striking composition.

She's good! Any tourist - or long time resident - would benefit from her suggestions to create memorable photographs.
I know we listened...and learned. Thanks Joyce!

[Be sure to click (twice) on the photos to enlarge for more detail. Shot with my Canon S90...a Point & Shoot camera with an attitude.]

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, May 17, 2010

A fun DAY in the SUN ...

Sunday it was shiny and bright on Wadmalaw Island.

It was the 4th annual First Flush FesTEAval at the Charleston Tea Farm.

Possible T-storms were forecast (about 30%) but there was no rain.

Sun block was precious in front of the Main Stage.

Some came for the freshest tea of the year. Well yes, but I also came for the music.

Crowfield was the opening act and I can see why they are very popular.

Did I mention I carry ear plugs to concerts - even outdoor ones.

Good investment.

Sitting in the center of the first row of folding chairs, you realize how LOUD it has to be to reach the very back rows.

I am sure they heard every throbbing note.

Part of the fun Sunday was watching people run forward and fall short when trying to leap over a rather wide muddy ditch that separated the crowd and the performers.

The second act on the Main Stage was Cory Chisel, whose first album was on the Black Seal Sony label.

Cory left his shirt open and we saw his tat.

Behind us, back in the cooler shade of many trees, there was a smaller stage.

It alternated with local musical groups.

The Bridge 105.5 had worked hard to coordinate, promote and present the music on both stages.

Their effort was very evident.

Naturally the ditch-jumpers wanted to be closer to the main stage but the Bridge staff ran a great defense and sent everyone back - away from the "official" restricted zone.

I don't think the drainage ditch had actually been filled with pluff mud but the black gooey, sticky substance sure sucked down feet and legs. And flip-flops.

Actually, when the headliner Robert Randolph and the Family Band took the stage, ladies WERE invited to come up on the platform to join him and dance about for one song.

Ah.. but you had to use the little white wood span to cross over the devil ditch.

All of the band fans were treated the same. Go back.. no exceptions.

Even though I was not "official" and had no credentials to get up to the edge of the stage, I did get a shot I really, really like.

Pure luck actually.

This was not my first time watching and enjoying pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph.

I knew he was liable to leap up from his chair at any time and urge the crowd to "start shouting and dancin'.

This Sunday I was ready and waiting.

My pleasant surprise was catching the microphone cord as it whipped in an arc through the air. Wow.

Wonder if any of the photographers who were allowed up close snapped THAT picture?

Here's an image of a man who's having a "good day at work."

Being a family of entertainers, Cousin Danyel Morgan joined Robert, moving to the front of the stage, to close the very entertaining show.

Nice sounds.

Nice Day.

Nice iced tea.

My dermatologist will be pleased to know the sun block worked well.

And, as usual, I was wearing my protective Tilley hat.

[Be sure to click twice on the photos to see amazing details.]

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oldies and goldies....or just moldies?

In the ongoing task of "cleaning out" my Dad's old work shop at the house, I came across some of his records.

Not business paper files and receipts but actual music records. That you play on a machine. A record player. That you wound up.

Thick black 78rpms. A veritable "stax of wax."

But these were before vinyl or plastic.

And after "wax" cylinders.

These - according to the internet - are probably made of lateral-cut shellac material. Or perhaps Condensite (early Bakelite).

One label is the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company and I know that name from billiard tables and bowling balls. Yeah, these records feel like old bowling balls. A few are recorded on just one side.

My sound system turntable doesn't get much action these days and when I just checked, I see it will play 331/3 and 45 but there was no setting for 78rpm.

Actually, I'm really curious about that 6" Record Blank that's dated December 21,1930. It was a home recording.

Yikes ..I can't envision the size of THAT portable party machine!

Probably larger than a keraoke machine.

(The Victor image was found on the internet. I took the other photo.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, May 07, 2010

NOW you see it ....

One of the "tools" I am struggling to master is called PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS.

It is an abbreviated version of the full-blown Photoshop which costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

My PSE cost $49.95.

This smaller-but-still-pretty-awesome software can do amazing things to alter a photograph. Sometimes I use it to create a visual effect.

Or to remove something that I feel should not be there.

The CLONE copies something - such as a brick wall - and you replace a door with wall.


Or make a silly sign go away.

Don't forget to remove its shadow.

[Click on the photos for details. Oh, if I take a picture of your car, I'll blur out your license number. Another good part of PSE.]

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 03, 2010

Wow. A Lot Going On .....

My new camera has many, many manual settings. Until now, my compact digital cameras were mainly "point-and-shoot."

One setting shows a symbol for FIREWORKS.

Well, you really need some "rockets red glare" to check that out so I figured I'd have to wait until the 4th of July.

Or.... after a music concert up in Myrtle Beach last Saturday. Yeah! It works fine.

Myrtle Beach decided not to continue with Bikers and Motorcycles (they even passed an ordinance that requires helmets) so the city is setting up family-friendly alternatives to bring in visitors.

Like a free concert that starred Blues Grammy-winner Buddy Guy and Atlanta's Tinsley Ellis.

Did I mention FREE?

The site of a former large mall is now a vacant field - with paved parking - so the City set up a huge stage, generators turned on the lights and sound and vendors brought their foods and beverages to test this new venture.

We opened our folding chairs and relaxed to listen to the Big Boys play.

Buddy Guy starred at the first Charleston Chazzfest in 2006 at Family Circle Tennis Stadium where he did his trademark "walk through the crowd while playing."

He walked that walk in Myrtle Beach too and it seems that everyone was holding a camera - more likely a cell phone - over their head to catch a photo of the "legend" walking by.

First time I saw Guy do that was on a cold January evening at his LEGENDS club on Wabash Avenue in Chicago.

Tinsley Ellis comes to Charleston often - playing at the Pour House in West Ashley, the Windjammer in Mt. P and the Sand Dollar on Folly Beach. His hard-rocking blues-soaked music had the crowd up and dancing.

Back in town, Home Team BBQ held its 2nd Annual Crawfish Boil all day Sunday.

The Louisiana finger-food staple was being heaped on plates and bands played inside and out back.

Many of us who attended last year were pleased to see Stewart & Winfield return to top the musical bill. It was especially great to hear them start a second song!

If you were there in 2009, you know what I mean.

[Click on the photos - twice - to make 'em bigger and better. Great camera.]

Labels: , , , , , , ,