Friday, May 31, 2013

Beer kegs and Circus -Theatre Acrobats...

Still have not seen "it all," but I did add "Keg Drumming" to the list.

At the end of their first set, the Dirty Bourbon River Show, direct from New Orleans,  introduced the Pour House crowd to a new way to "tap a keg."

Charlie Skinner, MC, singer and trombone man, brought out the empty and leader Noah Adams attacked it with the sticks.

As you see in the video, they also have used a metal folding chair for percussion by "Bootsy" Schindler.

One tall fellow in the front row apparently wanted to make a feature-length video of the show.

Sort of took some of the attention away from Noah Adams when he stepped up onto a monitor for a trumpet solo.

Despite the videographer-with-an-iPhone, it's a good view of the entire band.

The tuba player on the left, Jimmy Williams, also played bass. The sound system made sure that both instruments made the room vibrate.

The day before, I had a burger with tater tots at Charleston Beer Works on upper King Street.

I don't recall what the burger was but, since I don't eat Tots often. I dug in.

This was my first trip downtown since Spoleto started and traffic and parking was not a problem.

Well, it was a Wednesday.

Next stop was at Memminger Auditorium for a performance by Le Grand C acrobatic team.

The 17-member troupe surged and merged around the stage with the audience on three sides.

Concentration is crucial for this risky and daring mixture of strength, balance, circus and theatre so no cameras were allowed.

A flash could have serious consequences.

As they bowed at the end - and we stood applauding - I reasoned that a picture NOW would not cause a problem.

Then I headed to the Pour House for my first of 3-in-a-row.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Trying a new rule...have one really nice beer and then sip from a glass of water with a slice of lemon.

The lemon is for show.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Having a beer at Mixson Market...

My younger brother called and asked if I wanted to go on a mini-Photo walk to test out his new camera.

I had already planned to stop by a beer-tasting event by Allagash Brewing Company from noon to four on Sunday.

We agreed to see what photo ops would present themselves at Mixson Market over in the Park Circle neighborhood.

Even if there was nothing to photograph, I would enjoy the Allagash Tap Takeover and sip some of their fine Black, a Belgian style stout.

There was PLENTY to take pictures of at this growing "urban community" that was about as far from a typical housing tract as could be!

The friendly pourer was Les Addis, in charge of Southeast Sales for Allagash.

I told Les I had had their white on tap around town but had not seen the black very often as a draft choice.

He took care of that need.

At his suggestion I tried a flight of 4 small 4 oz. samples of their Dubbel, Tripel, the black and Curieux.

My brother and I wandered around looking at some of the homes already built.

The map showed where we were standing in the proposed very large community along Durant Avenue.

The development hit a snag during the financial slowdown but has picked up steam again.

I am quick to explain these two buildings were shot with my Fish eye Lens Effect setting.

It causes distortion, curves and contortions NOT envisioned by the architects.

The pinkish building on the left reminded me vaguely of a  visit I had made to Amsterdam a few years ago..

No. Not a flashback to a "coffee shop" experience.

The "stacked" roof line had a definite Dutch look. Really.

If you've been there, you would see it too. Maybe.

Live music was provided by the Local Honeys, a smiling trio set up with construction going on behind them.

It appeared to be a series of structures of corrugated metal.

One looked like a large silo.

I thought the ladders added a constructive touch.

Found myself humming along to a song they were playing and realized it was "If I only had a brain" from The Wizard of Oz. Don't hear that everyday.

Meanwhile, inside the Market, I saw it was really a grocery store for the people living around it.

And a deli, bodega and cafe. It's a place to buy the kids an ice cream cone or to pick up some sun block.

Or buy milk and bread from the in-house bakery. Neat place for the residents.

As people came in and out, Les would fill their Allagash beer needs. Bratwurst sandwiches and other small snacks were available.

I noticed this locator sign when my brother and I arrived and parked.

The pink area seems to be what I was seeing where I stood, surrounded by very active construction.

I saw a marker for Summey Street.

When you look at images of the overall projected layout online, it does not state "You Are Here."

Because we were so close - and my brother Dennis had not been there - we drove on up to the Circle and around to Montague Street East. I wanted to take a look at DIG in the park.

Lots of improvements in the outside seating area. They've added an outdoor bar and colorful umbrellas on the large patio.

My brother had a chance here to experiment with a feature on his camera that clicks three times, while bracketing the exposures. The "normal" shot and one slightly over-exposed and another a little under, then combines the trio.

Shadow details show even on a bright sunny afternoon.  Very cool, Bro.

Before we left the Mixson Market area, I spotted a happy couple.

They "hammed it up" in a picture for me.

I knew not to "trifle" with her.

They seemed a perfect match.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

Oh, if you've ever been served a "flight" of beer, you noticed the paddle that's used to hold the 4 (or 5) glasses.

Met Brendan Sweeney who makes them. He had a small booth set up. His paddles were being used inside.

His company is called The slogan is "try everything."

Too bad I still had my camera set for taking a fisheye view.

When you meet him, he'll look differently.

I showed this picture to his wife and the newly-weds had a private laugh.

Use the fisheye lens effect responsibly.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day (Sales) Tradition...

As I drove out to eat on Memorial Day, I saw that at least one person had bought a mattress set today.

He or she probably saved about 60 or 70%.

Maybe even more.

Ads for beds, mattresses and springs seem to center around major holidays. Sealy, Beautirest, Simmons, etc. all run colorful advertisements in the paper and on television, offering huge discounts.

Fourth of July and Labor Day seem to be the other two "firm" or "soft" slumberland Sale-E-Brations.

When I need a new mattress I know they cost a whole lot more the other days of the year.

I don't cook out anymore but I did have dinner at a BBQ place.

It's a tradition.

(Click on the photo. Notice there no hands holding it to the roof.)

Safe to ride behind this vehicle.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

An 8-day week...

Managed to stop by the Pour House three times in a week.

Well, actually, it was 8 days.

The "Po Ho" is one of my favorite music venues and owner Alex presented a varied and interesting line up for my 8-day week menu.

Jimbo Mathus brought his Mississippi Southern Rock show to town Thursday night and had the appreciative fans on their feet till the wee hours.

His newest album, White Buffalo, was released in February by Fat Possum Records.

I've enjoyed the 46-year old performer from his Squirrel Nut Zipper days (1993 -2000) and into his extensive traveling performances that bring him through Charleston every year.

Between sets, Jimbo told me he remembered being here 3 years ago during the February Blues Bash. "Oh Yeah, that was the night it snowed on Charleston," he smiled.

Friday night was a return of Acoustic Syndicate, the North Carolina rock, folk, & bluegrass band who also swings through annually.

One fan in a large top hat caught my eye in the crowd and I angled around to get his silhouette in front of the stage.

There was a dazzling light show as well so when arms were waving in praise and enjoyment - and many beers were held aloft - the party atmosphere was bright and cheery.

The brothers Fitz, Jr. and Bryon McMurry teamed with their cousin Steve and formed a trio in 1992 playing for church groups then really spread out. 

The Acoustic Syndicate - brothers and cousin - are well known for their 3-part harmony.

Charles Walker & The Dynamites had started my 8-day week  with a rollicking James Brown sound and style.

His new album is titled "Love Is Only Everything" and he belts out his 1960s Old School soul sounds at every energetic live show.

That was the start of a lively round of music and I returned night after night for more, more, more.

Finally, last night,  had a chance to step next door for a meal at The Lot,  the sister restaurant that replaced El Bohio, and then carried my bratwurst back over to the club side.

Good food, cold beer and great entertainment. Life is good.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

"8 Days A Week" is a nice challenge and opportunity to see and hear some great acts.

And, now, Spoleto-Piccolo has begun.

I better take a nap.

Thanks for stopping by.

Enjoy live music.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weekend in the Garden.

Well, not THAT kind of gardening.

Not digging in the dirt. More like sampling different biers un der garten.

The 2nd annual Beer Garden was held in Brittlebank Park on a cloudy Saturday. It did not rain.

Was reminded - as I saw Craft Beer growlers all around me - that Charleston has come full circle with cars and beer. This event was sponsored by certain Sunoco gas (and growler) filling stations.

As a teenager growing up here, I recall you could get a beer with your cheeseburger and fries at drive-in restaurants. Where the cool high school kids hung out. (Burp, 'scuse me).

There were plenty of places here to have your souvenir (plastic) pint stein either filled or used to sample 3 ozs. of different beers. Several times.

Picnic tables, white folding chairs and shady spots galore. Also games involving beer themes.

While I was there I enjoyed the sounds of Lily Slay of The Royal Tinfoil.

Mackie Bole backed her on guitar.

It was just about the right size crowd - plenty of room to roam, quick service at the draft pulls and many of the white chairs ended up scattered around in front of the stage. Comfy.

People -watching was good here.

A yacht was anchored nearby and cigar smokers had a clear field day.

The Bridge radio station signs mirrored the "other" one with the Ashley River bridge in the background.

Body art was on full display. Many tattoos showed real artistic ability.

And some whimsy.

The beer itself offered quite a variety.

Local brewers were represented as well as regional and national brands. All pull together now!

Saw people walking around wearing "necklaces" they had made by stringing small pretzels on a cord.

I settled for a few of the small bags to munch with my Dogfish Stout.

There were games of skill and brawn sited around the park.

Don't know what the prizes were but I saw throw-the-hoop-around-the-growler at one table.

A crowd gathered to watch and cheer the Keg Toss competition.

The longest throw was marked with a small flag marker and the goal was to make yours land further ahead.

Apparently it was open to both men and women. That's only fair.

I was really impressed until I noted these were EMPTY kegs. Well, Duh.

Didn't see anyone spin around and around and release like throwing the discus.

But it was early yet and the beer had not kicked in sufficiently.

All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon for a walk in the park.

Heard some music, saw some creative and ornate tats, and dodged empty kegs flying through the air.

No surprise where my appetite led me to continue this German-ish celebration.

There I ordered my favorite : a plate of Wiener Schnitzel.

Und ein bier, bitte. Yah!

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

Enjoy beer moderately.

And breaded veal.


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Monday, May 20, 2013

Filtering The Image...

The camera can catch an image we don't really see.

When you use a slow shutter speed - maybe 10 seconds - waves crashing onto a rock jetty become misty and moody.

But a camera will overexpose if you do this on a bright and sunny day at the beach.

Ah.... the secret is to use a dark Neutral Density filter. Think of it as sunglasses for your camera.

This was taken at my camera's slowest ISO (what used to be called film speed) with the smallest aperture opening (f/8 is the best I can do) and a very dark ND 3.0 filter. For a long, long 10 seconds.

My Photography Group had an outing Sunday to Folly Beach to learn about these tools.

Our teacher was Rudy Lutge, a talented and very patient man who said "Let me run through this and please hold your questions until the end."

Rudy gave a succinct and step-by-step tutorial.

He showed us how to create images of  smokey water swirling around wooden groins and boulders at The Edge Of America

 My small Canon S90 is called a Point & Shoot (P/S) as opposed to the much larger DSLRs by Canon and Nikon.

The members brought an array of high-end equipment, tripods and a selection of filters and other accessories.

I don't even own a bag to carry such items. My camera usually hangs on my belt.

Today I had it attached to my tripod so I was able to "play with the big boys."

The longer the exposure, Rudy explained, the softer the moving water will appear.

Long enough and even the waves will appear as glassy smooth. My camera is limited to a maximum long exposure of 15 seconds.

Rudy checked on each of us to reiterate the steps to success.

I later found that half a dozen members had gone directly to the light house at the end of the island.

We had gathered near the Summer Place paid parking lot at the dead end cul-de-sac of Ashley Avenue.

A few dared to park on the street - a challenge to the many beach parking rules and regulations.

We had included the Big Three: 1. Park in the same direction as the flow of traffic; 2. All tires completely off the road and 3. 15 feet from a fire hydrant.

We are not sure if we violated a warning sign as we worked our way down the beach toward the Morris Island light house.

The "any time" was extremely intimidating. Guess we could plead ignorance.

I usually can claim that.

It was fun as photographers would show off what they had just snapped.

Those handy lighted screens on the back of digital cameras usually are clear and distinct but it's a bit different on a beach in bright daylight.

Still beats shooting film and not being sure of what will develop later.
Because we started around 4:30 in the afternoon, we kept an eye on the clouds to see if a spectacular sunset was in the offing.

Not too likely. But there was no rain either.

By adding a polarizing filter to the ND filter made the clouds register nicely as a backdrop to the sea oats on the dunes.

Later I realized I also showed the rooftop of a beach cottage.

Hey, it was bright and the screen was hard to see.

I do want to show another view that was softened because of Rudy's instructions.

It was a fun and educational outing.

Members are now uploading their shots to a ND album for the event.

We create one for all of our adventures and invite you to take a look.

Unless you check out using ND filters, this might be the only time you can view the misty waters off Folly Beach.


(Click on the photos for more details.)

On Folly, park with care and obey the rules.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Playing Awendaw Green TONIGHT...

Caught a nice trio from New Orleans Monday night at Royal American. Ragtime, Delta-folk, rock and roll and fantastic slide work.

His degree is in Jazz Guitar.

Luke Winslow-King announced they would play "The Royal" again on Tuesday.

Wednesday (tonight) catch them at Awendaw Green. It would be a shame to miss these talented musicians who said they really are enjoying their first visit here.

30-year old LWK played 3 different guitars Monday, notably using slide on his Dobro, with amazing energy as he sang along.

Esther Rose played washboard while seated. (Had not seen that before).

Cassidy Holder was slappin'  bass.

Esther, the seated washboardist, said toward the end of the set, that her "instrument" had snapped in half.

Replacing guitar strings often has to be done. But on a washboard?

She held up a broken screwdriver and asked for a roll of tape.

On the next song, I stepped closer and saw she had switched to clanging on a large horse shoe.

Percussion will adapt as needed.

I stifled the urge to suggest the bartender fix her a screwdriver*.

There is just something about Ragtime and Swing music to make a dancer leap to his or her feet.

Tonight was no exception.

The stage at American Royal is high so the musicians looked down and saw results from their efforts.

I believe the background on this venue was to open as an "upscale Dive bar."

Have not tried the potent rum, bourbon or vodka punch yet yet but saw many with the tall cups.

An odd coincidence for this New Orleans band, the menu offers a Muffaletta Sandwich.

Only a few places offer this tasty treat I had enjoyed a few years ago while sitting  and relaxing in Jackson Square.
I saw the price was $20 - YIKES -  but, reading the menu further, saw a half was $11 and a quarter size was available $6.

The olive spread gives it a distinguished and unique taste. Good way to sample something new.

Here's a link to Yelp to see more of an overall view of the venue, food and drink list and it's place for entertainment along the Warehouse Corridor.

There was an opener, and Luke began a little after 10:30 so not a late evening.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Pretty quiet around town after the College of Charleston graduations on Saturday.

It's nice to nibble at the edge of downtown.

Taste a Muffaletta.

*If the bartender uses milk of magnesia instead of orange juice., the drink is called a Phillip Screwdriver.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Water, water, every where.....

Working with a group of local creative photographers is great.

We get together each month (2nd Wednesday) to meet and the special moment each time is the Show & Tell.

We all are shooting our take on the stated theme.

For May it was "Moving Water."

My thirsty plants were pleased that I was using the fast shutter speed (1/2000th of a second) on my camera.

It was hit or miss so I poured glasses of water about 25 times. Finally I chose this one.

Catching a single "drip drop" of water was even more challenging.

Same fast shutter speed but there's a slight delay with digital cameras.

Many times I was "close" but missed the shot.

The lag is from when you push the button and when the shutter actually clicks.

Passing neighbors saw me up on my front porch with my small camera atop a sturdy tripod.

I was slowly dripping water from a spoon into a filled saucer. They've seen me doing stranger things.
One of the members - Sarang Remakrishman - showed how to use a Neutral Density filter in bright sunlight.

The filter (think of sunglasses for your camera ) let him use a slow shutter speed to render a rippling brook in a different way.

Several of us are planning a Photo Shoot out at Folly Beach by the pier to experiment with waves and tides and ND filters.

We'll probably attract attention if enough of us show up with large cameras on tripods.

Member Charles G. presented a fountain shot that he had enhanced.

Charles slowed his shutter speed a bit to change the look of the flowing water. Just the opposite of what I did with a super fast shutter speed to freeze action.

If it's a cloudy day, or the object is in a shaded area, sometimes you can merely close down the lens opening (f/stop) and shoot slower without adding a dark filter.

Good examples of creating something our eye would not register.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, without using camera "tricks" or special filters, I heard it start to rain.

Went outside with my umbrella and watched puddles form in my yard.

The expanding circles caught my eye.

There was no flooding but the water coming down did move leaves around, making nice frames for the over-lapping vibrant rings in the puddles.

In an attempt to "think outside the box" I submitted a shot I called "Under Water."

Literally the water was yet to fall but it was very tangible - and imminent - in this shot from a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Actually the storm front moved on and no rain fell on me. 

But, the members saw my point during Show & Tell.

I also added a close up of a leaf-clogged storm drain. That was where ALL moving water eventually disappears.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

The theme for our group for June is "FIRE."

That COULD be a chance to show off my revolver at a Summerville gun range.

Or just burn something on a non-windy day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Be careful out there with matches.

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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Nostalgic Journey....

Stood in a drizzling rain last night to see Bob Dylan in concert. It was nearly candle lit. I feel a bit of what this NY lady stated about her underwhelming  Dylan experience last year.

I DID see the restored 1955 Peacemaker Tour bus she mentioned.

Hmm, I thought, maybe it's Dylan's tour vehicle. Certainly was quirky enough.

The link above also connects you to a story of the "triple decker" restoration by a religious commune.
I found out later Dylan has been to Charleston 4 or 5 times but I had missed all of those shows. One might have been a daytime show. That would have helped!

Had a  general admission ticket ($50) so stood on the clay court of the Family Circle Tennis Center and looked up at the raised stage about 100-150 feet away. 

Frankly, I was closer than people who paid more to sit up in the seats.

A lady came on stage after DAWES, the opening act finished, and "suggested" we not take pictures.

But, nobody enforced the ban so an array of phone cameras, at least one LARGE SLR a few rows in front of me, and my personal little camera with its mighty 20x zoom lens clicked away. It had done a great job recently with Eric Clapton and with Bob Seger.)

Ah, but that was on a brightly-lighted stage, indoors, in a large arena with 18,000 of my Charlotte friends. 

I stress the lighting. Or lack thereof.

It was dimly-lit. 


Like playing in a small cabaret.

I suppose they were going for the atmosphere of a little club (this Center seats 10,200 - although half were taken up with the stage and blocked viewing sections). 

For the entire show, the stage was very dark, in deep shadows and severely back-lighted. Hard to see details. Artistic but daunting when you're trying to take a decent picture. 

Oh, but that's right, we had been told to NOT take pictures. 

A timid ineffective flash would go off every now and then and the aroma of banned substances wafted in the wind. 

No announcement had been made about that "second hand" smoke. Felt like I was at a legalization party in Colorado or Washington state. Not that THAT's a bad thing

A drizzle would start, then stop,  then pick up again. 

Not a REAL rain which was good because umbrellas had been taken away by security at the entrance.

"You can pick them up after the show," they were told.

I doubted an umbrella would be feasible down on the court level so I had brought a flimsy plastic poncho.

That I had left that in the car because the sky looked like it was clearing.

The owner is experimenting with evening hours during events so I had a nice turkey Reuben sandwich and fries at the Honeycomb Cafe with a $4 beer. Then I strolled across the street to the Center.

My trusty camera was set to its absolute limits but it gave me something to work with as a starting point.

Photoshop helped me overcome the challenge of darkness and the high contrast lighting. Had not seen gas heaters on a stage before. Was meant to add to the ambiance I guess.

A few days ago I set up a Bob Dylan Radio station on Pandora to get myself in the mood for an evening harkening back to the 1960s.

Man, Dylan made a LOT of records. 

Some songs were coming back to me - even the lyrics - after all these years. 

Pandora also slipped in other folk and folk rockers  from the era such as Van Morrison, Stephen Stills, Marshall Tucker Band. Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield. Yikes.

I was humming along at home with Mama Cass Elliot, early Elton John, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin,  Eddie Vedder and Billy Joel.

I was ready for the concert.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

Despite my "training" I recognized only a few of Dylan's songs.

His voice is gravely and much older ...but, then,  so am I.

Thanks for stopping by on a rainy afternoon.

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