A Year In Review

Wow can you believe 2014 is just about over?  What an incredible year and I am simply blessed with all the wonderful things I have seen behind the lens of my camera.  From wildlife to rockstars my camera has been there to document the best of the best.  Thank you so much for your continued support of my blog, it’s been incredibly successful.   Please enjoy the slide show I have prepared and HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

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Loss of a Legend

This past week we lost a Blues legend; Johnny Winter he was 70 years old. I had the opportunity to see him twice in a years time and both times he was amazing. His body unfortunately was beginning to give out and his eyesight had completely failed, but his guitar playing was something to behold.
Born John Dawson Winter III on February 23, 1944 in Beaumont Texas and born with Albinism along with his brother Edgar Winter the duo began their music careers early. By the age of 10 Johnny appeared on a local children’s show and played and sang with his brother Edgar. His first record was recorded at age 15. Winter also played with the great Muddy Waters, BB King and Bobby Bland. (Resource: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Winter)
I saw him first up in Clearwater where I had all access and was able to board his bus and garner an autograph, he seemed so frail after witnessing his greatness on stage. The second opportunity came in November 2013 as I was asked to photograph the South West Florida Blues Society, Blues Festival for radio station 94.5 The Arrow. It was incredible to see his fingers fly across the strings of his guitar up close and personal, snow white hair long and flowing as was his custom. I feel he left us too soon and I’m sure there was more music waiting to embark from those fingers. I feel blessed that I was able to witness such greatness in the blues world.

Rest in Peace John Dawson Winter III

Johnny Winter Feb. 23, 1944 - July 16, 2014
Johnny Winter Feb. 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014

Gregg Allman

Last night I was given the privilege to attend a Gregg Allman concert.  This was my first time hearing him live and what a treat to the ears it was.

First let me tell you about Sailor Circus Sarasota the venue in which the event was held.  It was a smaller venue, with stadium seating and floor seating.  Quaint and cozy; the seats were extremely close together and not a lot of leg room.  Not sure this could’ve been avoided, but it was still a great venue simply because I don’t feel there was a bad seat in the house.  We were fortunate enough to be in the stadium seating fifth row up and pretty close to the stage.  No complaints about that.

Unfortunately I was not granted a photo pass for this event, (I will apologize ahead of time for the bad cell phone photos) I know it’s a gamble on getting passes for out of town events, however we were close enough my iPhone was able to at least capture the feel of the stage.  Not great photos, but at least something to post with.

Now, let’s cut to the chase and get into the meat of the program.  There were two opening acts, and I felt it strange at first that Gregg’s son Devon Allman Band was the first act to open, in my mind I thought he was going to be prior to his dad.  He took the stage and it was like seeing his father (with shorter hair) up there, his sound was very much influenced by his dad, of that you can be certain. His tour is called the Turquois Tour and is based on his newest first ever solo album of the same name with a bluesy rock feel to it.  His songs were fresh and had hitting.  The song When I Left Home, was a biographical song of his life as the son of a rock star and his start in the music business.  His song Turn Off the World also was a ballad of needing to get away from life and the stresses of the road.  Overall Devon put on a great show and this listener will be purchasing his newest CD Turquois.

Devon Allman
Devon Allman

Next up was a local band (out of the Pinellas County area) called The Greg Billings Band at first I couldn’t figure out why a local band was the opening act to Gregg Allman, but one minute into this bands set and you knew exactly why!  High energy, fun to watch, and a dream to the ears.  Their first song Built for Love was hard hitting and full of great guitar.  The vocalist was on the money and never stood still (good thing I didn’t have to photograph him).  They too had released a new album and last night was the first time it had been offered, I may have to look them up on iTunes as well for the downloadable version.  They covered a song by Sister Roseta Tharpe Ain’t No Grave and received a standing ovation for this one.  Phenomenal sound, phenomenal energy and a great opening act for Gregg.

Greg Billings Band
Greg Billings Band from Pinellas County

Now let’s get to our headliner the one and only Gregg Allman and I must say (this is for the ladies) he is still as good looking as ever!  He took the stage behind  that Hammond Organ and the sound was incredible.  His line-up of musicians were as follows Scott Sharrard-guitar, Ben Stivers- Keyboard, Steve Potts-drums, Jay Collins-horns, and Ron Johnson-bass.  Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of his percussionist and he brought his son back on stage with guitar on a couple of numbers.

Behind the Hammond
Behind the Hammond
Gregg Allman
On guitar
Gregg & Devon
With Son Devon Allman

Gregg performed a few numbers from several of his albums like his latest release like Floating Bridge from Low Country Blues, Whipping Post from Searching for Simplicity.  And of course he performed the Allman Brother’s classic Sweet Melissa.   His rocking style has not faded, however he has delved more into a Jazzy Blues feels with allowing his band mates to perform a jazz number during his intermission.  Overall the show was excellent and I have Sailor Circus Sarasota to thank and Matt Mangas at 94.5  “The Arrow” for the awesome tickets;  a couple of my friends who were able to attend because of his generosity.

Another Night of Great Blues

2013 12 21_Joey Gilmore Band_0384_edited-1

2013 12 21_Joey Gilmore Band_0388_edited-1

Last night I  had the privilege of not only listening to, but photographing a blues legend; Mr. Joey Gilmore. Music was provided by the Joey Gilmore Band and was hosted by Cadillac Jacks which is quickly becoming the premier spot for incredible blues music.  A special thanks to Willie Miller of Mill-Jenn Entertainment for providing this incredible experience. 

I was fortunate enough prior to the show to meet a couple of the band members including getting to shake the hand of the legend that handles a guitar as if it were a fine glass of wine.  Such a wonderful thrill to meet Joey Gilmore.  Joey’s band consists of R Hi-Hatt Carter who provides a silky bass undertone, the man Willie Miller on drums who also hits some incredible vocals and Sonny Boy Williams tickling the keys with a flair of a true bluesman.  This four-piece ensemble was such a treat to listen to, each instrument was highlighted as well as each member lending their leads on vocals as well as back up.  So much talent in one room should almost be illegal! 

Joey Gilmore Band captivated the audience and provided a great evening of entertainment.

Cadillac Jacks is quickly becoming South West Florida’s premier spot for blues. If you live in South West Florida and not been out on Saturday to have dinner and catch a show you are missing a wonderful experience. Last night included members from the South West Florida Blues Society who truly enjoyed the experience.
If you find you want to enjoy a great evening out, head on over to Cadillac Jacks Blues night every Saturday put on my Mill-Jenn Entertainment. And on a side note, the onion rings are to die for!

Blues in South West Florida

2013 12 14_Sarasota Slim_0167_edited-1

Last night I was commissioned to photograph a blues band from the Tampa Bay area, which was performing in a new venue here in South West Florida, Cadillac Jacks.  The band lead was Gene Hardage AKA Sarasota Slim.  What a treat to the ears this band was.  Because of some personnel changes the band played a bit of everything from blues, older rock and a little funk, mixed in with a couple of holiday tunes.  The young guitarist who took the lead on vocals from time to time was absolutely impeccable.  At one point Slim and the guitarist had this dueling guitar riff going on that spectacularly stunned the audience and delighted our audible senses.  We were also graced with an audience member who played a mean harp and added a nice element to a couple of blues numbers.  What a treat it was to enjoy an evening of great music and to meet a legend in the realm of blues music. Special thanks to Willie Miller of Mill Jenn Entertainment for this wonderful opportunity. I know this writer/photographer is looking forward to future shows.