Monday, January 28, 2013

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 1/28/13

Additions and/or corrections are most appreciated!

Tuesday, January 29

Matthew Logan at El Bait Shop 8:00
Dan Jones and friends at the Greenwood 8:00

Wednesday, January 30

Reeferseed Express at the Hull Avenue Tap 6:00
Chris and Brenden  Acoustic Duo at Fire Creek, WDM 6:30
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Thankful Dirt at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
David Zollo at El Bait Shop 8:00
Mason Jar at the Greenwood 9:00
The Snacks at the Underground 9:00

Thursday, January 31

Fit for a King with The Overseer (All ages) Vaudeville Mews 5:00 Singer/Songwriter Night: Andy Fleming, Aaron Winters, Luke Dickens, Jason Sallee at House of Bricks 8:00
Open Jam featuring Scott Long Band at the Gas Lamp 9:00
Soul Searchers at the Greenwood 9:00

Featured: JJ Express at the First Avenue Speakeasy
Friday night in Newton. 8-11

Friday, February 1

Work Release Party with Bob Pace Band at the Gas Lamp 4:30
James Biehn at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
Korby Lenker at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Jake McVey at the Vaudeville Mews 7:30 
G.B. Leighton at the House of Bricks 8:00
MINT Birthday Party/Album Release Show at Wooly's 8:00
JJ Express (Johnny "Juke" Mattingly and Jimmy "Sticks" Robinson) with special guest Scott Cochran on bass. First Avenue Speakeasy, Newton 8:00
Des Munks at the Gas Lamp 9:00
Fancy Pants at the Underground 9:00

Saturday February 2

Twenty2 Salute, Kick, and The Impact of Reason at House of Bricks 5:00 Lojo Russon at the Ritual Cafe 7:00
Jacob County and the Damaged Goods, Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps at DG's Tap House, Ames 9:00
Bob Marley Tribute: Dulce Band with Leradee at the Gas Lamp 9:00
Brian Holtz Band at the Raccoon River Brewery 9:00
Glovebox Whiskey at the Greenwood 9:00
Electric Shag at the Star Bar 9:00
The Nadas with Luke Fox at Wooly's 9:00

Sunday February 3

Botanical Blues at the Botanical Center 1:00
Josh Davis at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
It's Complicated at El Bait Shop 8:00
Gallo at the Gas Lamp 8:00

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Bigfoot Diaries Welcomes Poet Don Larkin

Don Larkin in 2008. His beard has continued to grow.
Don Larkin has become the newest addition to our staff, becoming our Poet in Residence. His writing style brings a unique insight to The Bigfoot Diaries, and  it's an absolute privilege to have him on board. 

Don resides in Newton, Iowa. Besides writing poetry, he works a real job and is also a guest bartender from time to time at Newton's First Avenue Speakeasy. His beard is the stuff of Iowa legend as Don is the 3 time and defending Iowa State Fair champion of the most unique design category. He welcomes all challengers as he doesn't plan to relinquish his title any time soon. 

You can find Don at most Grateful Dead related events here in central Iowa, and the occasional open mic night. You will also be able to find him on our monthly live webcast from time to time. 

Welcome to the team, Don!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Don Larkin: American Numerals


50 United States

1,000 points of light, 47% don’t matter, 99% occupy the park, 27 dead in the schoolhouse, zero answers

20 kids, 16 six year-olds, 12 little girls, 8 little boys, 4 seven year-olds, so many dreams, zero answers

40 parents, 80 grandparents, dozens of Aunts & Uncles, 1 twin sister, zero answers

6 educators, 3 husbands, 8 children, 3 step children, 4 grandchildren, zero answers

435 Representatives, 100 Senators, 3 from D.C., 270 votes to win, zero answers

38 special, 357 magnum, 22 caliber rifle, 410 shotgun, colt 45, zero answers

30 round clips, 2 hand guns, 1 long gun, zero answers

1 old hippie, 420 friendly, 20 inches of beard, zero answers

Too many times, too many tears, too many guns

1 nation under God



Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Maw Featured in Latest "Beyond the Stage"

The latest production of Greg Waldrop's Beyond The Stage series features Des Moines' progressive juggernauts, The Maw. 

Greg captured the band in their natural element, from the dry humor they engage in while telling their story, to the more serious tone they take when talking about their music. Of course Greg captured the band onstage as well, as they perform two songs from their 1937 EP, "Chora" and "To Close Third Eyes."

In the sit down segment of the video, the band discusses how and when The Maw was formed, and the ritualistic processes they take when writing songs. It's not as simple as putting pen to paper and putting music around it. The process they take is almost an intricate science; a metaphysical vision quest that taps into that gray area above the brain's normal conscience. It's what separates them from most other bands playing in the Des Moines circuit. 

"We're four pieces in this alchemist cauldron," Says guitarist Forrest Lonefight in the video. "So it's pretty uplifting when we capture that stuff."

Greg does an excellent job of capturing The Maw's spirit, and from the audio to the different camera angles shot on video, this production is extremely well done. The Beyond The Stage series is an excellent way to expose the amazing talent that Des Moines offers and a great way to showcase it to the rest of the world. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 1/21/13

Sorry we missed ya on Monday. From Bryan: "Coming to you from Shipwreck Shoals on the Sea of Flu. I may/may not be reading emails for corrections/additions any time soon. This is my first effort to do something normal/constructive for a while. This is a very tenacious kick-ass virus. Wash your hands before they go to your face. You do NOT want this. Be paranoid."

Tuesday January 22

Thankful Dirt at El Bait Shop 8:00
Stu Ramsey at the Greenwood 8:00

Wednesday January 23

Reeferseed Express at Hull Avenue Tavern 6:00 
Steve Kowbel at Fire Creek, WDM 6:30
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Ben Wantland at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
Evergreen Grass Band at El Bait Shop 8:00
The Snacks at Underground 9:00
The High Crest at the Greenwood 9:00

Thursday January 24th

Rob Lumbard at Coda Lounge 6:00
Dirty Bucket Band at Star Bar 9:00
Soul Searchers at the Greenwood 9:00
Open Jam with Scott Long at the Gas Lamp 9:00

Weekly Feature: Winter Blues Fest

Friday January 25th

Work Release Party with Bob Pace at Gas Lamp 4:30
David Zollo at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
Mitch Gettman at the Ritual Cafe 7:00
What the Folk is Folkstep? Featuring David Samano, Subliminal Chaos at Wooly's 8:00
James Biehn Trio at the Underground 9:00
Item 9 and the Mad Hatters at the Hull Avenue Tap 9:00
The End at the Gas Lamp 9:00
Scot Sutherland, Rob Ankum, and Paul Thompson at the Greenwood 9:00

Saturday January 26th

The High Crest w' Grant Baetz and Rob Short at the Keg Stand 6:00
Winter Blues Fest (10 acts/6 stages) at Downtown Marriott 7:00
James Biehn at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Saturn Ascends w' Cirrus Minor and Fatal Addiction at Wooly's 8:30
The Travel Guide with Holy White Hounds and Josh Davis and Will Locker at Gas Lamp 9:00
Burnin' Sensations at the Star Bar 9:00
Spit in the Devil's Eye at Lot 33 9:00

Sunday January 27th 

Botanical Blues: Jody Bodley and Dewey Cantrell at the Bonanical Center 1:00
Stage Fright: a Tribute to The Band at Wooly's 3:00
Jeremy Ober and Blake Erickson at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
Free Energy at the Gas Lamp 8:00
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Hoyt Sherman 8:00

If you have additions or corrections please leave a comment. Thanks! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

INFEST - The Echo, Los Angeles, CA- 1/13/13

Yep. I made it in. First off, the whole talk of INFEST reuniting has been in people mouths ever since lead singer, Joe Denunzio was released from prison. At first it was rumored he'd be the new singer of  Low Threat Profile with other Infest members Matt Domino, Chris Dodge (of Spazz, Despise You, and a bunch of other bands), and Bob from Lack Of Interest. I guess that didn't work out so they made everyone's dreams come true by being INFEST. 

I'm not sure how many show they're planning to play but the only shows they've got so far are a show in San Diego (which sold out in an hour), a show in Florida (with an amazing line up), Oakland (with Capitalist Casualties), and two big festivals; Chaos In Tejas and Maryland Deathfest. I really don't know if there would would be another LA show or even how long this reunion will last so I did did not want to miss this. This show was hinted from Chris Dodge for while now, and he finally let people know this week they were going to play at The Echo.

There was no pre-sale and tickets went on sale at noon the day of the show. I heard people camped outside and I'm not sure what time other people lined up. I showed up at 9am and the line already was at the end of the street. It was pretty freakin' cold (California cold). 

People made the hours pass by fast by just talking to friends, booing at people trying to cut in line (which a lot did), and by getting free coupons by the restaurant across the street. Finally a dude who worked at the venue showed up and told us how it'd work. The place can only hold 400 people but I think they let 500 in. People got all bunched up to get a wristband. and when I finally got mine I didn't have to worry anymore. Three hours in line for it... Worth it. Right after, I went to a Burger King to eat and not be so cold. So I didn't get to see when people got turned away. At BK a bunch of people did come up to me and asked me if I had an extra ticket. They also went up to the opening bands eating there as well. No luck.
Around 2:30 I got in a much shorter line to actually get in the show this time with more friends. They finally let us in and I went straight to the merch booth like the little fan boy I am. I got an Infest tee and waited for the first band.

The first band that played was Sordo. I've seen 'em before and I was stoked to see 'em again.They have a bunch of splits out and have been playing since 08. They came all the way from Oxnard in Ventura County to play this show. They played a pretty short but sweet set with a bunch of great songs. The crowd was pretty was dead for them (lame!). But most of my buddies agreed with me that they were the best opener that day. Plus the dudes are nice as fuck. Badass Paisa Powerviolence.

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Sordo (From Oxnard)

Next band was OC's Fissure. Straight out fast Powerviolence with a ton of energy. This is when people started actually slamming hard and some stage dives were done. They play a lot of shows over in OC so I think this was their first in LA. They played a short set as well but they seem to have quite a loyal fanbase.

Here's their demos:

Fissure from the OC

La Mirada's Barking Backwards played next. They're more on the Hardcore side with another loyal fanbase. More stage diving and sing alongs. And I think some dude got seriously hurt during their set. Ouch! 

They just released an EP too. The song "Trouble" is really catchy. 

Barking Backwards (La Mirada)
Of course we couldn't have a Powerviolence show without ACxDC playing again. I've reviewed 'em a lot but I know this show meant the world to them. A little before they got on I talked to Sergio and he was pretty nervous to be opening for Infest. But as always they put on a great show. They played for a pretty long time compared to other times I've seen 'em (more material obviously). No boogie boards this time, but lots of silly string and jumping stage to scream along. They even let their original guitarist Pablo play a song for this special occasion. Lot of motivational talk, stage dives,and once again the Sword Of The Lord cover (no Chris Dodge this time). ACxDC gave it their all for this show, and as always, one great fucking set.

Finally it was time. I made my way in the crowd as we all waited (not so) patiently. Like, I've seen bands set up on stage for 10 minutes before, but never has it ever seemed like an eternity 'til this day. The crowd kept yelling things to Joe on stage like, "I wanna hear Sicko-O!" and "Are you still Straightedge?". 

Joe finally said "This one's called Break The Chain" and all hell fucking broke loose. Like we all went fucking nuts screaming along. It was a complete madhouse. For about 4 songs I was under a bunch of people stage diving. This wasn't one of those bullshit reunions where they talk about "the old days" or talk for 5 minutes about their history or whatever. Joe just kept fucking going song after song. His voice hasn't changed a bit. Each song just got people more rowdy. All the classics were played including "Pickled," "Cold Inside," and "Voice Your Opinion." When "Mindless" was played  a shitload of people rushed the stage to jump on Joe and screamed their asses off. I really wanna tell you more and more of the show but it's something you just had to experience. 

The audience had everyone: Punks, Crusties, HxC dudes, Powerviolence kids, and the old timers who saw Infest back of the day. One of my friends said "It was like they never broke up" and its true. 15 years and they still sound the same. Another friend who actually saw Infest twice back in the day told me "They sound way better than they did before" in his raspy I-lost-my-voice voice. 

Everyone there left with a smile on their face. Some even bloody and bruised, but still a smile. If you haven't heard Infest you gotta listen to The Slave, No Man's Slave, and the self-titled Mankind EP. This is one show I'll never, ever, forget. I saw the first reunion of Powerviolence pioneers Infest and this undoubtedly one of the best show I've have ever been to in my life. Here's the set list:

And yes,they did come back to play "Where's The Unity" and half the place got on stage to shout along. I will probably never get over this show and neither will the people who where lucky enough  to get in. I never got see The Ramones or Black Flag but I did get to see Infest. And it's something I will cherish forever. Have fun for those of you getting a show near you. You're gonna love it. Thanks for reading.


Monday, January 14, 2013

The High Crest Releases First CD, Self-Titled

The High Crest hosted an album release concert Sunday night at the Grapevine, in Clive. It was a celebration on several fronts - the culmination of almost a decade of living together, writing music, playing live performances, and learning each other's nuances and musical quirks. It was the celebration of years and years of collective work which has finally reached that pinnacle moment when all the right cogs have fallen into place that allowed this couple to produce a live recording.

Photo inside the High Crest's self titled CD , taken by Roger Feldhans
(Click to enlarge)

The High Crest have been doing their thing since 2006. I guess that amazes me, as I just caught wind of their live act in early 2011. I was working at the now defunct Timothy's Steakhouse at the time. While this restaurant's tenure was short-lived, it had one of the most amazing lounge areas in town. Encompassed in walls of solid walnut, exquisite glass chandeliers, and a fireplace for added ambiance, this bar had more of a back woods feel to it than it did an urban steakhouse. But it featured live acoustic music on a weekly basis, and some of Des Moines' finest musicians made their way into that lounge. After getting off of work one night, I wandered out into the bar and caught the beautiful sounds of two acoustic guitars feeding off of each other with an incredible tightness. A woman's voice soared above the hushed crowd in distinct harmony with the guitars, and for a moment I was mesmerized. I actually paused before walking into the room as if not to break the spell.

The voice I heard was that of Kat Darling. With her husband Aaron Short, they are the High Crest, one of Des Moines' most talented duos, the creators of a genre they coined, "Folk and Roll." 

The High Crest's self titled CD is a treasure. The songs, beautifully written are stories put to music, much the way Marty Robbins wrote his songs, only in a more modern, less western setting. The songs speak of heartache and success, late payments on mortgages, hangovers and all those other aspects of life that affect each and every one of us. From the High Crest's point of view these songs seem to come easy... While you and I might struggle putting our trials and personal situations on paper, it seems a natural unfolding for Kat and Aaron.  Wrapped in their separate vocal experiences as well as life’s experiences together, their songs contain left-handed lyrics with fable-style endings. The songs encompass the many faces of yearning and lessons learned, usually the hard way, most of the time without a previous glimpse of reliance or hope. The songs are lyrical hints at our feeble mortality, and an optimistic reminder that the tide often turns in one's favor, such as in Kat's "Self Loathing Sin." This song, like many of Kat's, hearkens a sound that resembles a far away place -- perfectly suited for a Nashville music hall.

The High Crest at the Grapevine in Clive at their CD release party

That being noted, the CD also has grit. Each track is laced with Aaron's intricate guitar picking that seems to weave itself in and out of the lyrics with perfect precision. He picks the acoustic strings almost to their breaking point as he hits his notes, and Kat, whether she is playing guitar alongside him, or snapping on the hand drum, has the natural balance to make the song complete. 

Aaron is an accomplished harmonica player in the Dylan/Young tradition (playing guitar and harmonica simultaneously), with an intensity not usually heard within the folk tradition. The song "Belong" is an excellent example of this. He blows into his harp with exact precision, and with the fervor of a southern rocker. This song is one of the most hard hitting on the album and it's noteworthy because it drives home a hard lesson: When we get so caught up in our every day lives that we forget the small things, do we really belong?

Another hard hitting song during the performance (and on the CD) is Kat's  "Light and Time," a song she wrote after her mother passed away. The High Crest opened the second set with this incredible tribute, and the audience was ill-prepared for it. It was so beautifully played, and sung so masterfully that there was hardly a dry eye in the audience. As she sang this song, I marveled at how she was able to keep her composure. As Kat notes in this song, "There are forces bigger than you and me." Again, lesson learned.

Kat and Aaron  play at the Grapevine (Click to enlarge)

Thankfully the next song they played brought us back around. "120" is a tribute to her father, but in a different sense. It's a story about her father, and a race he was involved in with his Mustang against a Dodge Charger. It's a play by play analysis of that event, and like the event itself, the song is a fun and fast ride. This is a catchy tune, and if you are not careful, it will be playing over and over in your head for days. It's definitely a highlight of the CD, but then again, almost every song meets that criteria. Every track on this record has it's own personality, and whether it's being listened to on an audio recording or at a live event, each song is as good or better than the one before it.

Together, The High Crest's songs are packed with the kind of bare-knuckle emotion that makes it hard to separate the crying from the laughter. Their presence in the local music scene was been established, and it's only a matter of time before this musical couple starts making waves elsewhere. It would be a great pleasure to turn on Austin City Limits one night and find them in the national spotlight. 

And it wouldn't be surprising at all.


Written by Troy Church with help from Sarah Cartwright. (Thank you Sarah!)

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 1/14/13

Monday, January 14

Roadhouse Saints (Scot Sutherland, Jamie Grimm, Dirk Newton, Jason Kadiwhompus) at the Greenwood 7:00

Tuesday, January 15

Sound Rover - Talbot Brothers at Mars Cafe 7:30
Andy Fleming with Dewey Ford at El Bait Shop 8:00
Acouti-beast (Kevin Best) at the Greenwood 8:00

Wednesday, January 16 

Color Code (Perez and Darren Mathews) at Fire Creek, WDM 6:30
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Jason Walsmith at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
North of Grand at El Bait Shop 8:00
Ben Wantland at the Greenwood 8:00
The Snacks at the Underground 9:00

Thursday, January 17

Rainbow Penley at Coda Lounge 6:00
Pert Near Sandstone with the Freight Hoppers at DG's Taphouse, Ames 8:00
Soul Searchers at the Greenwood 9:00
Open Jam featuring Scott Long Band at the Gas Lamp 9:00

Friday, January 18

Work Release Party with Bob Pace Band at gas Lamp 4:30
Lucrezio at the Ritual Cafe 7:00
Matt Logan at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
Thankful Dirt at the Greenwood 9:00
The Candymakers at the Gas Lamp 9:00
The Pines with The Colt Wakers, Ryne Doughty at DG's Taphouse, Ames 9:00
Dead Horse Trauma, Mars on Fire, Absolute Power at the Hull Avenue Tap 9:00  (Hull's grand reopening. Free show!)

Saturday, January 19

Chad Elliott with Briar Rabbit (Phillip-Michael Scales) at the Grapevine, Clive 6:00 
David Zollo at Anchor Coffee House 7:00
Har-Di-Har at the Ritual Cafe 7:00
CW Smith with Bryan Baker at Mars Cafe 7:30
High Crest and the Creek Dwellers at Royal Order of the Moose (2515 Wedgewood Road) 7:30
No Standards at Peace Tree Brewing Company, Knoxville 8:00
Summer Camp: On the Road Tour at Wooly's 8:30
Tim Stop at Gramercy Tap 9:00
Rock Island Rollers at Star Bar 9:00
The Melismatics with Bright Giant, Radkey at Gas Lamp 9:00
Alan Smith Trio at the Greenwood 9:00
Nest of Snakes, As for You, Murder Earth at the House of Bricks 9:30

Sunday, January 20

Botanical Blues: Big Mike Edwards and Jonathon Rowat at Botanical Center 1:00
Big Louie and the Wrecking Crew at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
Lucky Peterson at the House of Bricks 7:00
Fruition at the El Bait Shop 8:00
Crunk Witch with Moodie Black and TBA at the Gas Lamp 8:00

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Lawsuits Are No Laughing Matter" Comedy Show


Sunday, January 13th from 7:00-9:00 pm at House of Bricks, 525 E Grand comedian/activist Lee Camp's debut performance in Iowa will benefit Ed Fallon's legal defense fund in the lawsuit filed against Fallon by former-Congressman Leonard Boswell. Tickets are $10 at the door or in advance through

Lee Camp is a nationally-known comedian whose gutsy belly-of-the-beast critique of Fox News' "parade of propaganda" helped launch his career in 2008. The show also will feature Brother Trucker's Andy Fleming and local comedians Dan Umthun, Colin Ryan and Scott Vermulm.

Boswell's lawsuit alleges that Fallon committed slander and libel by revealing that aides to Boswell offered Fallon an $80,000 a-year job if he would not run against Boswell in 2008. Fallon and his attorney, Joseph Glazebrook, filed a counterclaim alleging "abuse of process," and that is where the matter now stands.

"I am truly grateful for all the support that has come forward thus far," said Fallon. "It's unfortunate that Boswell continues to pursue this lawsuit, and it looks like I have to raise additional funds. So, we might as well have a good time while doing it. With his combination of humor and astute political commentary, I can't think of a better person than Lee Camp to headline such an event."

"In addition to helping Ed out in a noble cause, this show is about laughing while speaking truth to a world gone mad," said Dan Umthun, a local comedian helping to organize the show. "Between Lee Camp, Colin Ryan and Scot Vermulm, we've pulled together some great local and national talent. If you're hungry for comedy that goes beyond turd jokes and cut-off flannel, this is your chance."

"Throughout my two decades of work in politics," continued Fallon, "I consistently demonstrated a commitment to fighting for good government, speaking truthfully and candidly about the importance of elected officials maintaining the public trust, and standing up for constituency groups treated unfairly or unjustly by those with power. I am absolutely innocent of the accusations made against me by former-Congressman Boswell, and am frankly surprised that he filed the suit and that he continues to pursue it."

Fallon served as a state lawmaker for 14 years representing central Des Moines in the Iowa House, and he ran against  Boswell in the Democratic primary for Congress in 2008. Joseph Glazebrook is an attorney with the law firm of Glazebrook and Moe, LLP, and he successfully defended Fallon in the latter's Occupy trial last year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Thousand Words: Featuring Roger Feldhans

Central Iowa is rich with musical talent, but it is also home to some of the most unique and talented photographers anywhere. If you have ever had the joy of walking through the aisles of photographs at the Iowa State Fair's annual photography competition, you know exactly what I mean. It's as if Life Magazine settled in and took residence in Des Moines.

Roger Feldhans' self portrait in a shop window
Photo taken on a photowalk in Fort Dodge, Ia. 
One of these great photographers is Roger Feldhans of Pomeroy, Iowa. His photographs have been featured in the state fair competitions, but also in national contests. He shoots almost daily, and is one of the most "genuine" photographers I have ever known. By "genuine," I mean that he has an incredible perspective on the mundane, and the ability to turn a normal setting into something beautiful. He sees things in nature that most of us cannot, and then he turns it into a wonderful masterpiece.

I've wanted to feature Roger and his art for some time now, and last night I had an epiphany of sorts: What if I did a regular feature on this site where I ask a photographer to showcase some of his work, and then, in the photographer's own words, tell a story about the shots he/she has chosen to feature? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes based off a picture alone, one can't get the entire story. The idea of this segment is to elaborate on that premise, and let the photographer showcase their artwork in their own words. I approached Roger with my idea last night around midnight, and by the time I woke up this morning, my inbox was full of photos and stories - exactly what I had in mind.

Please enjoy the photos Roger and I hand-picked for this article. At the bottom of the page is a link to his personal Facebook page, at which you can view hundreds more. Roger is an incredible talent, and it's an absolute honor to have him on board as the original artist in this new segment.

Without further ado, meet Roger Feldhans:

Roger Feldhans makes life more beautiful.
Photo courtesy of Hans Madsen/The Messenger

I have been photographing off and on since about 1976, started in film. My first photography show was called "Single Eye Visions". This was a play on the SLR (single lens reflex) style camera type. You see, I only have one "good eye", I am blind in my left eye after a hockey accident in Jr. high. I shot film quite a bit into the early 80's, won a few contests and had some work published.

I quit for a while and went off to do other art such as tie dye, sculpture, painting, basically anything I could get my hands on. Then digital cameras came around and I started looking at photography again. I must admit that I went into it "kicking and screaming", did not like it at first. Too pixelated with no creativity. But then everything changed.

Today, I shoot nearly every day. Just started doing a blipfoto 365 project in which I am going to shoot and post at least one photo a day this year. Most of my work is of musicians. I shoot almost all shows at Byron's. This has lead to some great gigs for me. I have done CD covers for Denny Simon, Thankful Dirt, HipKnosis and most recently High Crest. My music photos are used by the musicians for advertising and on their websites. Mark Gerking has used some of my photos in the creation of his music posters for "live" music.

I post photos on Facebook nearly every day, love the feedback I receive. Have met some amazing people as the result of it. Facebook has done wonders for my photography.

I am currently the president, or as we prefer "the supreme leader" of the Fort Dodge Area Camera Club. We have a ton of fun. We do photo safaris, workshops, have guest speakers and generally have a lot of fun at our meetings.

I work as a custodian at Iowa Central Community College. The art department has embraced me and my art. I get to talk to the art classes, and help students with projects. I go on field trips when I can. Love talking to the photography classes because that is my current passion. I am also given the opportunity to "jury" students work at the college art shows, love doing that, it is an amazing thing to talk to students about things they create.

I have done several photography shows and hope to do more in the future. The most popular one was the show at the Ritual Cafe in Des Moines. I got to combine my love of photography, food and music all in one place. It is a feeling  you cannot put into words when some of your favorite people get up on stage and perform and have your artwork as a backdrop. It is quite humbling to say the least. It was a month of many miles in the car but worth every moment, would do it again in a heartbeat.

I truly appreciate this, I am having more fun than a janitor has a right to.

"Fallen Leaves"
(Click to enlarge)

The photo is called "Fallen Leaves". It was taken while on a photo safari with a photography class from Iowa Central Community College. One of the benefits of working at the college, I am a custodian, is that from time to time I am invited to speak to art classes about my art. The bonus is that I get to join them on class trips.

We were at Snell Crawford Park in Fort Dodge doing a model shoot. It was quite chilly that day so the model shoot was not working quite as well as it does in nicer weather. It became more of a "photo safari". Thinking outside the box type shooting. I was showing some students how I "see" things when I go on a shoot. I saw a bunch of leaves that had fallen in the water. This added a bit of vibrancy to the color. Some of the leaves were under water and others floating on top giving it a bit of texture.

I really like the 3D feel of this photo, also it gives the sense of cold you get on a wet fall day. This is also a good example of being prepared when I go shooting that things may not go as planned, but if you remain flexible you will find some amazing things.

"Early Mansion"
(Click to enlarge)
"Early Mansion", this is a house located in Sac City, Iowa. This is easily one of my all time favorite subjects. I have been photographing this house for years. It was unoccupied for quite some time and in a state of disrepair. I took one of the photos to an art show at Finders Creepers in Des Moines. The owner knew the people who had recently purchase the house and put me in contact with them. At approximately the same time a friend of mine had started working for them on the restoration process and he talked with them about me also. When we met the owner knew a lot more about me then I did about him, that was very cool. He gave me a tour of the home and has allowed me to photograph the home anytime.

This photo is actually an infrared photograph that I then added a sepia tone. This is where it goes beyond photography. I then transfer the photo into a drawing program and draw over the top and blend the two together to get the almost drawing type effect. That is the simple explanation, it is much more complicated but very tough to explain. I have a lot of hours tie up in the "drawing" portion of this photo. Certain details became very important to me as the photo progressed. Things like the woodwork around the windows and porch. I became very attached to this photo.

This photo was also chosen to be displayed at the 2012 Iowa State Fair.

"The capitol"
(Click to enlarge)

"The Capitol" is a natural shot to follow "Early Mansion". This is a photo of the capitol building in Des Moines that was taken when Bob Wood, a fellow photographer and friend of mine, took our photos for submission to Photography Contest for the Iowa State Fair. Bob Wood and I "photo safari" from time to time. A "photo safari" is when we get in his van in search of things to photograph. We have a blast. We had just dropped off our photos and set out in Des Moines for things to shoot. We went to the Capitol building to do the required "reflection" photo of the capitol most photographers take at one time or another. I did mine in infrared just to be different. We made our way around to the south side of the Capitol to the Courthouse and were doing some shots from this vantage point.

The photo is done in infrared. This would be a standard 720nm infrared shot. That means that the sky is blue and leaves and grass become white. I love the "look" of this photo, makes it look like it could have been taken somewhere far away from Iowa. Makes it appear much older than it is, I smile when I see it because I remember how much fun that safari was.

"Faded Days"
(Click to enlarge)
Speaking of photo safaris, "Faded Days" is a shot from a photo safari. One day while out looking for subjects we found ourselves outside of Dayton, Iowa cruising down a gravel road. Most safaris take place on gravel roads. We, Bob Wood and I, came across some old tractors in a field. Weeds growing up around them. A photographers dream. One of the things we do not do is trespass to get the shot. All my shots are taken from the road.

This shot was also done in infrared, as are most my photos. This was actually shot with a 590nm filter and then processed in Photoshop to bring it closer to the look of a 720nm shot. I also wanted it to have a more faded or pastel look to it, I think it helps with the passing of time aspect I tried to achieve. I also think this is a great "Iowa" type photo, tractors and barns are a couple of my favorite subjects and I try to show them in a different light. We drive past them almost every day and never notice them. I want people to see them differently so the next time they drive by one they just might think "Hey, I wonder how Roger would see that"!

I guess I should note that my cameras are internally converted to infrared. What this means is, instead of a filter in front of the lens to photograph the infrared light, the filter in front of the sensor inside the camera is replaced with an infrared filter. This allows shots to be taken hand-held instead of on a tripod, as the use of a filter requires shutter speeds measured in seconds that cannot possibly be hand-held. 

"Flemings" Andy and BeJae Fleming
(Not related) Click to Enlarge

"Flemings", now this is what I probably do the most. I shoot music. This photo is of Andy Fleming (Brother Trucker) and BeJae Fleming while playing a Singer/Songwriter show at Byron's in Pomeroy, Iowa. Most my shots are taken at Byron's. The music is fantastic and the bands are very open to having me photograph them. I do not use a flash and try not to disrupt things while photographing the music.

I have a great time doing this. As (musician) Chad Elliot once told me, I don't photograph musicians, I photograph music. I like to think of it that way. I photograph all performers who come to Byron's simply because I love it. No one has ever asked me to, and no one has ever told me I could not. If someone asked me not to, I would not take their photo out of respect. Simple as that.

It would be tough to choose one photo to represent the music side of what I do. It is as varied as the artists who perform. I really like this shot because it shows two friends having fun, two artists playing together who are not in a band together and do not perform regularly with one another. It makes me smile, make me tap my toes and feel and hear the music all over again.

"Rural Beauty"  (Click to enlarge)
"Rural Beauty" is one of my favorite shots for several reasons. It is an infrared shot done with the first camera I converted to infrared. Not an easy task. It is a little point and shoot, but does some amazing things. I did a lot of "drawing" on this one also. Wanted to give it a true "Iowa" feel. I really like the composition of this photo. The barn separates a living and dead tree, with the horse on the living side of the barn. I also like the bin on the right hand side with the auction number still on it. I've had several people say I should Photoshop it out or crop it out, but I think it is an important part of the scene.

This photo was also a finalist in the Canon's "Long Live Imagination" contest, was not a winner, but I was very happy to have it be a finalist in the contest. Think about this: I used a camera someone was throwing away to take this photo. It was in the same contest with people using cameras that cost thousands of dollars, just goes to show...not the camera, it is in the eye. You can find more info about the contest here.  Basically it is a photo contest headed by Ron Howard in which films are made based upon the photos submitted. This year they are doing 10 films with each director using 10 photos from the contest. Very cool stuff.

"Dolliver in Fall"
(Click to enlarge)

"Dolliver in Fall" is a misleading title, since the photo was shot in the spring. This is an infrared shot done at 590nm, which gives leaves and grass a golden tone. This is often referred to as a "Goldie", I love the effect. This shot was taken in Dolliver State Park while waiting for the Fort Dodge Area Camera Club to show up for a meeting.

I am the current president of the Fort Dodge Area Camera Club, and we have a lot of fun. We meet the third Wednesday each month at Permanent Collections Gallery Art in Fort Dodge at 7pm. We go on photo safaris and teach people how to better use their camera and mostly we have fun.

This tree is one of my favorite trees to shoot. I used it, from the opposite angle, for the cover of the HipKnosis CD "Darkest Dreams" which was also shot in infrared. The park has a lot of great areas and this is also the park where I shot the cover photos for the High Crest's new CD.


Pertinent Links:

Bryan's List of Local Musical Happenings 1/7/12

Monday January 7

Sutherland, Ankum and Woods at the Greenwood 7:00

Tuesday January 8 

The Wookies at Vaudeville Mews 6:00
Rob Lumbard at El Bait Shop 8:00
High Roller Express at the Greenwood 9:00

Our first featured show this week is
Izzy Starchild and the Psychedelic Rose
at the Vaudeville Mews on Wednesday 5:00 

Wednesday January 9

Izzy Starchild and the Psychedelic Rose at Vaudeville Mews 5:00
Ryne Doughty at Fire Creek, WDM at 6:30 
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Bill Matykowski at the Greenwood 7:30
Glove Box Whiskey at El Bait Shop 8:00
Arcanium, Agrinex, and Junkie Noon at Vaudeville Mews 9:30
The Snacks at the Underground 9:00

Thursday January 10

Open Jam featuring Scott Long Band at Gas Lamp 9:00
Soul Searchers at the Greenwood 9:00

Friday January 11

Work release party w/ Bob Pace Band at the Gas Lamp 4:30
Petapalooza featuring Pie in the Sky, 2AM, Blue Haven, Aaron Sinwell and 4010, The Big Tuxedos, Matt Biegger, Jason Sturgus and more at the House of Bricks 6:00
David Olney and Sergio Webb, with Chad Elliott at the Grapevine, Clive 6:00
No Standards at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
Sam Knutson with Milk and Eggs at Peace Tree Brewery, Knoxville 8:00
Rick Burke at the Greenwood 9:00
Samantha Fish at the Gas Lamp 9:00
Mr. Baber's Neighbors with St. Anyway at DG's Tap House, Ames 9:00
Ben Wantland at Kelly's Little Nipper 9:00 
Ben Lehl Band with Electric Shag at Vaudeville Mews 9:30

Saturday January 12

A Brighter Balance, Taih Washington, and Display Case at the House of Bricks 5:00 (All Ages)
The True Falsettos at the Grapevine, Clive 6:00
Iowa Opera House Project: Dave Moore, Thankful Dirt, Jon Waite, Sam Knutson at the Pella Opera House, Pella 7:00
GoodcaT with Nels Dovre at the Ritual Cafe 7:00
An Evening with the Grawlix at Vaudeville Mews 8:30
Sons of Walter with Resurrection Mary at Jeanies Bottle 9:00
Greatest Story Ever Told (Grateful Dead Tribute) at Gas Lamp 9:00
Sutherland, Ankum and Woods at Greenwood 9:00
Backstage Boogie Band at Raccoon River Brewery 9:00
Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps at DG's Tap House, Ames 9:00
Ben Wantland at None of Your Business 9:00
Brother Trucker at the Rocking Horse, Perry 9:15
Chad Elliott with Bonita Crowe at El Bait Shop 9:30

The High Crest will be having a CD release
party on Sunday night at the Grapevine.
(Click to enlarge)

Sunday January 13

David Olney and Sergio Webb at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
The High Crest CD Release Party at the Grapevine, Clive 6:00
"Lawsuits Are No Laughing Matter" a Comedy Benefit to Keep Ed Fallon out of the Big House featuring Lee Camp along with Colin Ryan, Scott VerMulm, Dan Umthun, and Andy Fleming of Brother Trucker at the House of Bricks 7:00

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Five Questions With... David Knopfler

David Knopfler really needs no introduction. As a founding member of Dire Straits and the brother of Mark Knopfler, he has carved out a niche' in rock and roll's rich history. He made three records with Dire Straits before calling it quits, although he was never given credit for the work he did on Making MoviesDavid left the band as the recording sessions were wrapping up in August of 1980 due to tensions that had formed while in the studio. His work was bumped off before the final release and his contribution was re-recorded.

Since then he has become the master of his own domain and continues to write music. He also writes poetry, and he even wrote a book called Bluff your way in the Rock Music Business. Knopfler now says that the book has become obsolete because of the dramatic changes that have occurred in the music industry.

In November he finished up an acoustic tour through Germany with guitar aficionado Harry Bogdanovs and is now preparing to go on the road again in 2013 in Germany, the UK and even the United States.

It's been awhile since we've done the Five Questions segment here at the Bigfoot Diaries, and I wanted to bring it back in 2013. It's an absolute honor to be able to feature a rock and roll icon, and I sincerely appreciate Mr. Knopfler taking the time to correspond with me. 

David Knopfler in 2011
You are highly regarded as a song writer, a musician, a poet and an author... What specifically are you up to these days? 

I just finished a successful tour in Europe... mostly sold out.  2013 will see more touring including the UK, US, Germany and so on. I'm overdue for a studio album too, which I'm debating doing... the hesitation being primarily raising sufficient funds to do the job justice... It's a great deal cheaper to release live work instead. 

Please tell me about your childhood. What it was like growing up in such a musical household?

I can recall being strapped by my Headmaster at my Primary School for playing the drum part to "Wipeout" on my school desk, getting detentions at the Grammar school for illegally playing the school piano and at the school folk club lying about my authorship of my own work because I'd assumed if I admitted to having written something I'd be banned from the club or worse... The assumption was that "no" would be the answer to any request of artistic support within the school. In the sixties you made progress in the rock-music business by indirection. It certainly didn't quality as "art" in any recognisable way. There was no officially sanctioned route and only kids with an authority problem tended to find themselves drawn to it then. Although my parents didn't "get it" at all, they never-the-less were liberal enough to allow us to find our own bliss and pursue our chosen fields... not that they wouldn't have preferred to see us with a more settled, and safe, career choice. My father made quite a financial sacrifice in buying my brother his first electric guitar.

What is the real story as to how Dire Straits got it's name? 

Pick Withers, our drummer came up with it. More than that I don't recall. There were several bands with similar names around at the time and it caused quite a lot of confusion initially.

Dire Straits circa 1977
L-R: John Illsley, Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, and Pick Withers 
What events led to you leaving the band in 1980? 

I'm kind of astonished that in 2012 there are still people prepared to ask me about this. No musical regrets no... though I'd not have said "no" to the royalty cheques that would have ensued had I stayed a little longer. I founded the band to be a vehicle for my song-writing and as events progressed, it became apparent that the band was becoming a conduit, almost exclusively, for Mark's song-writing. There simply wasn't enough oxygen left to do anything more than perform set parts ad-nauseum in sports stadiums converted for the night to music venues... and the possibility of enjoying a show in those conditions is very limited. It wasn't the life I wanted and strained relations with my brother provided me with the tipping point to call it a day and leave. It was three years of intense work that revolutionalised my life though arguably, spiritually speaking, not much of it for the better. It did however provide me with a second education after my formal degree which I think did ultimately provide me with the tools to pick up, where I'd left off, and get on with making my own work.

"I kind of like this," says David of this photo. "Dirk' s little
work corner by the stage with my four guitars." Dirk Ballarin is
Knopfler's tour manager.  Photo taken in Germany, by Ballarin.  

Tell me about the tour you just completed throughout Germany. Are there plans for another one? 

The offers of work seem to keep arriving... in fact they seem to increase each year, oddly. You'd think, hitting sixty last week, it would be slowing down. Also I have a very loyal and gifted team of people around me, with a lot of organic real friendships based in and around it too, so touring is very rewarding both personally and professionally which has to help. I suppose I should start thinking about slowing down a bit soon though... it does start to take its toll physically if you're not careful. 

What advice would you offer to a young person who wants to pursue a career in music? 

In the beginning, the work you make, or help to create, has to emotionally satisfy and reward you... and for most of us I think this takes precedence over the-size-of said audience for said work... how else could anyone explain jazz.... or folk music, and so it really has to start with asking yourself, what is it you really love to do? The prospect of lightning striking and your work reaching millions, rather than thousands, is as likely as winning the lottery and about as arbitrary and out of your control too - so the best place to start is with honesty and making honest work that has something unique to say that will resonate with you first and foremost. The further down the creative rabbit hole you get though (and this is something of a paradox) the more you'll start to recognise that ultimately the making of your art is not for therapy or selfish reasons, but a kind of altruism, where something you expressed has it's own momentum, and reaches and effects your audience in ways you might not even have been able to imagine as the Artist and you find you start to value the giving aspect of the process.

On a more practical level, several decades ago, I authored the book "Bluff your way in the Rock Music Business," but the industry is no longer even remotely recognisable to the one I was writing about then, so the advice now would be very different: The record labels and publishers have far less power, if any at all; the media is far more complex and fragmented and finding ways to actually earn enough to avoid day-jobs has become a lot more perilous.  It's very hard to serve two masters: The Muse and Mammon... usually one will predominate, so as I said, it's a good idea to know why you are driven to make music, and what price you are willing to pay to pursue your dreams. If you get good at working the angles and being sharp at the business, don't expert this to be the best way to have wondrous streams of consciousness and be generously compared to the great romantic poets.  A head full of money won't deliver art and sooner of later you'll have to decide if you want to serve commerce or serve art... and be ready to pay a price, either way, for that decision. It is of course possible to be very creative at business but ultimately what is going to give you the biggest buzz? Closing a deal or making a record? If it's the deal, fine, but own it and don't then regret that all you have to show for your life are the trappings of wealth and the envy of others and don't then self-flagellate for a life of penury but greater artistic reward... and the same in reverse... almost nobody gets both... there's usually a fork in the road so try to recognise it. For most young musicians these days, they had better also take the time and trouble to be extremely good at what they do and build a live audience from the ground up because there aren't usually too many chances to circumvent the talent route. There are still gimmicky ways to make a name for yourself, with the occasional viral flash-of-lightning video etc, but as rule hard work and dedication will matter most, so be ready to forgo making money in favour of building a profile in the first phase of any youthful career.

David and his band waving to the audience after his first show
in Spain, 2011.  (Photo by Dirk Ballarin.) 

If you could travel backward in time and make music, what era would you choose, and why? 

That's an interesting question. I think I'd probably have liked to be a singer-songwriter in LA in the late sixties when the likes of Dave Crosby and Joni Mitchell were first recording solo-records there, or maybe jump forward a few years, into the mid-seventies and have tried to be a singer-songwriter on Geffin's Asylum label... a la Jackson Brown mode. Historically I suspect the greatest 24 track recordings were made from around the mid-seventies when budgets were less pressured, and the non-digital technology was at its apex. Steely Dan's first three records take some beating for technological magnificence and vibe... but, every era delivers a few gems, and all in all, the period I've worked professionally, from the late seventies on, has been pretty engaging too at least until general bankruptcy set in with the near-death of the CD. I rather miss the former luxury of being given a sufficiently large budget to go to an A-list studio and do nothing but make the record of your dreams with musicians whose greatest gift is to be able to enhance what it is you're trying to do. We lost much of that with the internet, copyright theft and all that happened in the late nineties and on that hollowed out the business and ultimately imploded it. But that said, from every collapse comes green shoots. We were just lamenting the death of the record business in the late nineties, and the collapse of the CD,  then along came an album like Norah Jones "Come Away With Me" in 2002, selling something like 25 million copies... and a decade later we have mainstream commercial artists like Taylor Swift, selling over a million copies in her first week, with Red... so you never really know.  Just as with the real economy the middle has been squeezed, so you get more extremes of a few uber-wealthies and a lot of poorer folk so too with the music business.. it's far harder to noodle around in the margins making a living and pleasing yourself as I have, but it's not totally impossible if it's what you really want. What you want and knowing what that is, makes everything else a whole lot clearer.