Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Blues Has Come Home Team BBQ

Home Team BBQ - West Ashley and out at Sullivan's Island - is filling the musical gap for The Blues.

Thank you Fiery Ron.

The lighting is terrible in both places (for a photographer) but the sound is fantastic.

And you're there to listen.

Or, it appears, some just are there to take "selfies," but that's not the type of photography I mean.

I'm there to catch a good, representative picture of the performers.

Some nights are better than others. I've just had a nice run. Take Mac Arnold and his Plate Full Of Blues.

I can't really fault the stage lighting this time - he kept his distinctive  trademark black cowboy hat on all night.

But if you're patient - and don't get jostled too much by energetic dancers - you get at least a glimpse of this legendary Blues man's face.

I didn't remember, or probably never knew,  Mac is a local South Carolinian.

Or, as he pronounces it Cackalacky. 

He invited us all up to his hometown of Greenville April 23-25 for his 9th annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Blues Festival at his restaurant.

I'm sure the menu touts his BLUE(S) Plate Special.

Saw lots of familiar fans of the Blues last night. A few even ventured out onto the dance floor.

I tend to sit back - camera in hand - to observe and try to catch that special shot. 


Nope, I try not to ever pop that distracting bright light. 

I work with whatever the club's sound & lighting guy has provided.

Another Blues-Man-In-A-Hat recently here was Brandon Santini who hadn't played Charleston in about 5 years.

Ever since Shrimp City Slim cancelled his two-week February annual Blues Bash after a long, long 21 year run last year, a few others have tried to bring in Blues legends.

It's very much alive in the Holy City and Fiery Ron's Home Team two clubs have been very very good for the Blues.

Understand there will be a third Home Team soon and that will benefit players who can work "the local circuit" for several nights. 

Back when I still worked for the Post and Courier, promoting InfoLine, I was in contact with more than 100 LOCAL musical groups. 

Many were singles, but there also were duos and trios. 

Santini appeared with similar lighting at Home Team a few weeks ago and last week, the Sullivan's Island stage featured Sean Chambers.

So, once in a while, the player's face will catch some  stage lighting and I can capture something moody.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

I also shoot color under adverse lighting conditions but The Blues really lends itself to black & white.

Sit back, have a beer and enjoy.

Be blue.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

...for the kneady people

Always something goin' on at Andolini's.

They once had a tip jar that said "Tips Make For Good Karma."

Who would dare NOT to be generous?

On the last Super Bowl Sunday, there were TWO tip marked Seahawks and the other Patriots.

Staff had it covered, either way the big game went.

On a recent, cold, rainy night, battling heavy traffic on Rivers Avenue,  I was getting close to Andolini's,

"Think I'll just pull in here, grab a pizza and head home for a quiet evening."
S0, I did.

As usual, they were well prepared for take-away clients so I settled down at the bar as my dinner was being prepared.

That's when I saw the latest tip jar.

There's a local Blues promoter and piano player who always reminds the crowd they should take care of the bartender and their server,

Then he adds "Tipping is not a city in China."

Have not seen that message at Andolini's yet.

I watched as this young lady rapidly folded the cardboard pizza boxes and reached up as high as she could, to place the one on top.

Glad they didn't need just one more, the stack may have toppled over.

In the past I often have eaten my pie right there in a booth.

Well, not the whole thing!

They have  smaller boxes for those who want to take some slices home.

Made for a nice breakfast this morning.

Hot coffee and cold pizza.

Oh, and another slice for a late lunch.

Because I am on a diet, I skipped dinner. Burp.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

To give proper credit, the Blues guy who gives advice on thanking the wait staff, has Shrimp City in his name.

My pizza had pepperoni.

And, I left a nice tip.

Good Karma.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Now you see you don't.

My brothers and I grew up in downtown Charleston and enjoyed walking over to Colonial Lake on our way to making mischief and getting into trouble in the harbor. 

Jerry, my older brother,  once actually took off his shoes and tried to walk around in the Lake's shallow water.

That made sense.
"Ugh! Icky mud. Eewee," was his report as I recall.

He led by example. 
Dennis and I never tried to wade there.

The Sgt. Jasper apartments were not built then so I don't recall any high-rise background. But, I was a kid so most things looked tall.

Joan Perry, a friend of mine - and fellow Blogger (Charleston Daily Photos) - took this picture around the holidays, before the whole area was cordoned off for a year-long restoration project.

Lately, the demise of the now-empty 14-story apartment building has been in the news and neighbors are protesting proposed building planned for the desirable, downtown location.

I got curious as how much I could do to simulate the soon-to-be empty parcel of land.

Thanks to the Clone brush on my Photoshop Elements 10, I made the whole thing disappear. "Poof!"

The trick was to fill in the now-empty space with trees and sky. I also had to deal with the reflection of the Sgt. Jasper on the lake's surface.

It turned out not too bad.

I will wait until I hear what the builders finally get approval to start construction before I dabble with the Charleston skyline again.

The neighbors probably would like it to stay this way.

(Click on the before and after shots.)

I could add a grocery store.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

When "Old" is "New" again....

Years ago, when I was young, married and living in San Diego, I drove a sporty car.

Not really designed for harsh weather, but a delight in usually sunny Southern California.

To romp in the snow, you had  to make an effort.

A Sunday drive up to the nearby mountains to see snow. And ice and all that other horrible part of Winter.

But, back then, it was a fun jaunt into something different.

Now, it's many years and many cars later.

I drive a proper sedan with roll-up windows and a good heater.

I'm back where I was born and remembering the cozy small photo darkroom I had set up at our house downtown in Ansonborough.

Being a high school photographer at Bishop England taught me many technical skills that still serve me well as an aging, retired camera-toter.

Oh, the cameras are much smaller now and it's digital instead of film...but hey,  not always.

In fact, a person can pick up some great bargains in cameras and lenses like I grew up with.

Film cameras and equipment is languishing online as digital Nikon and Canon, Sony and Kodak SLRs (Single lens reflex) command top dollar.

Craigslist, eBay, and other online  sites offer equipment that cost an arm and a leg in the past - when I was buying - and now are VERY affordable.

You don't even have to build your own photo lab.

"Learn Black and White in the Charleston Darkroom," is the headline on a flyer I just saw from CunningFox Photography Education.

Yep, a complete film processing and print making darkroom facility staffed by professionals and open to the public for reasonable rates.

I doubt that many remember when hubbub on the street would bring a mother and her children out to see a pony plodding along on the sidewalk.

Waiting to pose for a picture of the little one astride the noble steed!

Well, my brothers and I had our "riding picture" taken on the corner of Society and Meeting Streets.

I believe the itinerant pony wrangler provided the fancy chaps and kerchief and cocked my hat at a jaunty angle before he froze the fast-paced  action with his camera.

Which brings up another point in these modern times.

Will our children have snapshots like these, available in albums,  to pass around?

Will there be writing on the back to identify the who, what, when and where of the event pictured?

I am still finding albums overflowing with snapshots that my folks had (sometimes) tagged with identifications and pasted on the black pages of a photo binder.

But now, a picture is taken with a digital  camera - or with a phone - and you see the image immediately on a small screen on the back of the camera or cell phone.

It may be posted on Facebook or on a variety of other online social media sites, but  there is no print to stick in an album or stuff in a shoe box.

I miss not having a negative to protect and save in a glasine envelope. for future reprints.

Oh, we have digital back-ups and cloud storage but is any of this as permanent as a photo in an album?

Already we have seen "storage" of images on floppy disks and on video tapes.

But can they be retrieved and showed again. Uh, no, the equipment is no longer available.

In music recordings, we passed from 78 records to vinyl playback machines to 8-track, to cassettes and CDs and now you pay 99 cents for the one song you like instead of $15- $20 for an CD or LP album with 12 songs.

I think this Charleston Darkroom concept is a good one. Making a tangible product you can have in your hand.

Something to keep and pass along to others.

I found a tintype photo of my father's mother when she was a baby. It was tucked into the back of an album I was looking through. It was taken in 1895.

I can hold it out to show it to others.

And I do.

(Click on the photos if you like black & white.)

This is the way it used to be done.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Huge! And this is just the outside...

I had to meet some people downtown last week, near where I grew up.

Had not walked around Ansonborough in a while so thought I'd go check out the construction going on nearby.

Walked up Anson Street, and looked across from what had been my K-6 school house at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Over there was a 3-story tenement when I was a kid. Later, those were torn down and Gaillard Municipal Auditorium rose on that site bounded by Anson, Calhoun and George Streets.

Now, for several years, that facility had been "under renovation."

Duh, seems to me, it had been removed completely and a new music hall and events center was going up in its place.

Appears it is surrounded by offices to which, I understand, the City plans to relocate a lot of employees.

They're scattered all over town so that seems like a wise use of newly-built space.

Hear the staff move-ins will happen before the final acoustic touches are made to the new cultural music center.

As you walk your way around the full-block structure, the future offices are easy to spot.

Almost makes me want to go back to work and have a nice space there.

But, no, being retired is the good life that I anticipated greatly and have enjoyed for almost 11 years!

But standing at this corner on George Street, I get my first glimpse of "the rest of the building!"


Rising tall on several high levels, I realize I had just been looking at the smaller aspects of this gigantic undertaking.

Fortunately, I was standing now by the adjacent parking garage and worked my way up to the 5th level, the rooftop.

Now the overall scope was more obvious.

What a spectacular view of this newest addition to the many assets of my hometown city.

I had gone away as a teenager to join the Marines. 

After many, many years, living in California, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and Florida, I had found my way back to the Holy City about 20 years ago.

Looking down at the Calhoun Street entrance, with its still-wrapped columns, the grandeur and lofty aspirations became more clear to me.

I feel for the neighbors who have had to bear the noise and vibrations as the mighty edifice slowly rose.

I hope they are repaid that tedious period manyfold as they enter,marvel and enjoy this new jewel in the crown of Charleston culture.

I was greatly impressed as a soft breeze blew over me on the almost deserted rooftop of a welcome parking structure downtown.

When events start to happen her, the high-rise lot will be filled and people will lift their heads in pride as they enter this new palace to the arts.

Now, spectacular as this is, this was just and exterior view. Safety and construction limits access for the public to venture inside.

But, I had covered that several years ago by posing in front of a large, colorful sketch of what was to come.

It was hanging on the wall of the TD Arena and I thought ahead as to what I wanted to portray.

I was looking back at the camera as if I were seated in one of the proposed balconies.

This was before anything on site had popped up above ground.

I truly was "looking ahead" as I peered behind me.

The "seat" I had chosen afforded a good view of the stage and the overall panorama of a world-class music center.

Naturally I will be dressed up later this year when the finishing touches are done and we the public come inside to see what had been created.

On the site of tenements back in the 1950s, where I had delivered copies of the News & Courier newspaper half a century before.

Yes, I am glad that, after my travels here and overseas, I had returned to my Charleston roots.

You don't forget your home...complete with the scent of pluff mud.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

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