Saturday, June 25, 2005

evening update...

Tri mama writes
We love our D70, but tridaddy Brian keeps looking at Nikor lenses. We use a 28X300 tamron from our film SLR and it works great-but Nikor's open another world. The only down side to the D70 is that you can't be inconspicuous taking shots-so by no means ditch the point and shoot. Have a great time at Cornerstone. Did you ever go to Sonshine?

Yeah, I've got a 28-80 and a 70-300 and while I REALLY love the 300, I think I'd find something a little wider than 28 more useful. I played around with the Nikor Fisheye this afternoon at a camera store and fell in love, but it's going to be a few months of saving before that joins the collection.

As to conspicuousness, yeah, I'm keeping the Olympus around, but being a staff photographer at the festival, I'm a little less concerned about conspicuousness. Everyone signs a photowaiver at the gate as part of their entrance so I'm in the clear to take shots of just about whatever I want. Starting Wednesday I'll be shooting and photo-editing over at the live coverage portion of the Cornerstone Website so make sure to stop by there (as well as here) to see what I'm up to.

As to Sonshine, yes, I've been there many times. Working with Pegtop, I spent more than a couple of years shilling merch behind their booth or helping my friend Terry with the impromptu stage he used to be in charge of. There was a time that I REALLY hated Sonshine... after going my first year and then heading to Cornerstone the next year, I couldn't see any comparison between the two. Cornerstone, in my eyes, was like the Coolest thing in the world and Sonshine, with it's smaller stages and copious amount of youth groups and youth group bands was really lame. I felt that way for quite a few years, but ventured back after awhile because A) I was working and B) It was free.

Sonshine is great for what it is... a regional festival. Though from what I've heard it's become an entirely different beast since Clearchannel has taken over booking duties.

I think my main beef with Sonshine, when I had a beef with Sonshine was this... at Sonshine, it wasn't unusual to see giant booths shilling obnoxious Christian t-shirts. Stuff like "Lords Gym" and "This Blood's For You!". I always thought Cornerstone was the antithesis of that. For example, one year I bought a t-shirt at the fest that said "Lord Jesus, Your sheep have sharp teeth."

A few years later, I can see that while the haphazard slapped togetherness of Cornerstone is something I still love... I can appreciate that Sonshine is centralized, it doesn't take a mile of walking to go from stage to stage, and if I want to go to town, it's only five minutes away. It's a handy festival. Handy to have outside the Twin Cities, handy to camp out at, and handy to experience. Cornerstone makes you work for your festival a little more. The mainstage is a mile walk from everything else (though sometimes I think that's to segregate the youth group factor that spends most of their evenings there), the coolest concerts don't even START until Midnight, thus ensuring that you're going to be up extremely late every night, the weather can be miserably hot in the Illinois corn fields or it can be miserably cold and rainy. It's a festival of extremes.

Would I go to Sonshine again? If I lived in the upper midwest I probably would. But Cornerstone will probably be the festival that continues to most feel like home.

I have to go help Ang clean the apartment. We're trying to get everything spic and span before we take off for a week. I might be back for some more poetic waxing a little later though.


birdie, originally uploaded by bthemn.


driveway, originally uploaded by bthemn.

This is the view from our driveway. It's such an ugly view... I mean, who would want to get up in the morning and see that on the way their car everyday? Me, for one. I don't know that I'll ever get sick of looking out at Pike's Peak. It DOES look a lot better with snow on it though.


flower1, originally uploaded by bthemn.


flower2, originally uploaded by bthemn.


tree, originally uploaded by bthemn.

a series of photos Ang and I took while we were out wandering around this afternoon. Gorgeous day for it... bright and sunny and in the mid eighties. Earlier today the clouds had rolled in and it was threatening to storm. But, as with most weather in Colorado, it blew away as quickly as it blew in.

Friday, June 24, 2005


kimballs, originally uploaded by bthemn.

I know this is kind of cheesy, but I wanted to see just how much I could push the picture before it started to fall apart. The answer? WAAAAY more than my Olympus. This was quick and dirty... if I had spent more time it would look quite a bit better.

This is the arthouse in Colorado Springs, they tend to mostly run indy flicks but every once in a while they champion something from the mainstream they think needs a bigger audience.


kickball_superstar, originally uploaded by bthemn.

First fruits. I'll post some more in a minute. In the meantime, now that I've had a chance to shoot with it, I think I need to get a wider lens. It seems pretty cool though.

I spent all morning clicking the fedex tracking website button to see if my package had made any progress beyond "On Truck For Delivery" and never saw anything change. Then, after getting busy on some other project I came back and saw that Angela had signed for the package 10 minutes earlier. Trying to reach her by phone to no avail I finished up what I was doing and took off.

In the meantime, while I was getting ready to leave, Ang was getting ready to leave and she headed off to the office to deliver the camera as I was on my way home to discover the camera. I got home to a dark, cameraless apartment. It was, I think you could imagine, quite sad. Alas, Angela showed up a few minutes later and I was able to unpack my spoils.

I love my little Olympus, but the difference between that and this camera are night and day. It did suit its purposes well though and it's going to make a swell camera for Angela over the next few years. It by no means has taken it's last shot.

geeked out

A little birdie (ok, the FedEx item tracker) told me that my camera package (all 13lbs of it) was loaded onto a truck at 7:35. I'm psyched and anxious to play with it... of course, before that, I have to get through a day of editing here at the office. Fun, fun. heh.

Tri-Mama, I promise the shots you asked for are coming, though due to me being about an hour south of Parker, it's probably not going to be quite the same view. They're still pretty though, I swear.

Tonight we're having a kickball event at church. When Scum first started in Denver they used to get together once a week and play kickball. The dirty little secret about kickball is that once you get to age 20-something... ANYONE can be a kickball superstar. Tonight, I anticipate showing off my kickball prowess in between taking pictures.

In the meantime, I have to go edit. Sorry I haven't posted much this week... we decided to go back on the air and thus a bunch of our television programs needed to be completely re-edited. I've been buried in Final Cut Pro timelines the last two weeks.

First fruits of the camera later tonight though, I promise!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cornerstone and the Pursuit of Gear

There's something about heading out to the fields of Illinois that make me accumulate stuff. Whether it's the newest little Coleman gadget for camping or some technical thing that I need RIGHT. THIS. INSTANT... inevitably the urge kicks in a couple of weeks before the fest. This year it was Angela jonesing for her own digital camera and wanting mine to get passed down. Happy to oblige, and not passing ALL of the blame off on her because Brian has been jonesing for a Digital SLR the past couple of years, Brian and Angela (well, mostly Brian) began the research phase.

The research ended today and Brian ordered a brand new bouncing baby.. err digital camera.

It comes on Friday and I'll be anxious to play around with it over the weekend before I head off into the wild cornfields. I'll still probably mostly use the Olympus when I'm riding around on my bike, but everything else will move over to the D70s. From everything I've read, it's quite the camera and I can't wait to use it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

for your listening pleasure...

I'm calling this a summer mix, but it's probably more of a stream of consciousness mix as I lazily fiddle through iTunes and flitter from song to song, moving things over into a playlist folder. I haven't had an Mp3 up for awhile so I thought I'd throw a whole mess of things up. I started in a summer mood, but sometimes a mix disc has a mind of it's own... as one song fades into another you're always one step ahead of it, anticipating the fade and trying to figure out what to throw in next to keep things flowing. I think one of the reasons I wanted to get into radio when I left high school was that I was such a music geek. I spent all of high school making little mix tapes for unrequited loves and bored car trips.

In hindsight, this could almost be considered a Cornerstone mix. Every one of the artists at one point in their careers has played the fest. In ways the festival has shaped and been shaped by them. In the 11 years I've been traveling to Bushnell, IL the fourth of July weekend, I'm sure that I've been shaped as well. In fact, I know I have.

I'll be blogging more about Cornerstone in the upcoming days. It's a very fringey Christian art and music festival put on by a group called Jesus People USA. JPUSA, when not putting on the festival, live communally in Uptown Chicago serving the community in some pretty cool ways. I don't know that I could ever live communally, but I've got some good friends who swear by it.

I work for the festival now. It's not a paid gig, but I'm a staff photographer on the web team. If you go to the site you can see quite a bit of my work in the live coverage page. I've been doing it the past few years because 1) It's a chance to be creative outside of work and 2) It's a chance to give back in some small way to the festival. This disc was probably molded in a lot of ways because the festival is on my mind now. I leave for Illinois a week from tomorrow. One of the reasons blogging has been so lacse is that I've been busy working ahead on some projects at the office so that I can be off that week leading up to the Fourth.

Track 1: Bill Mallonnee and the Vigilantes of Love - You Know That (Is Nothing New)

OK. We're in full on summer mix disc mode here. The album this came off of, Summershine, I think might be one of the most overlooked power-pop albums ever recorded. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but Mallonnee is one of those artists who is always just beyond the radar... sometimes by the fates conspiring against him, and sometimes by conspiring against himself. The Vigilantes of Love had an Adult Alternative hit in the mid 90s with a song called Real Downtown, that's another song that's really poppy and summery, but I think this is a better leadoff. And leadoffs are important, just ask Nick Hornby!

Nick Hornby famously wrote in High Fidelity
good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention ... and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and ... oh, there are loads of rules.

I don't know that I completely agree with him, but he has a good chunk of it right. You always have to lead out with something amazing. When I put the annual Christmas CD together it's GOT to start off hot... if it doesn't, you don't hook people and they're liable to hit that forward button. BUT... if you hook them, they're there. They're in the palm of your hand, ready to listen to each little morsel you dole out. Who knows if this mix is that, but I think it's a listenable trip.

Track 2: Rick Elias - Hole In My Heart

You probably haven't ever heard of Rick Elias. But given different circumstance, you probably would know a song that should have been his. I was told a story one time that in the early 80s he was approached about recording the headline song for a small movie called 'The Breakfast Club". I'm guessing you may have heard about it. I hear it's looked upon fairly well. I won't go into the reasons it didn't happen, but it didn't and Don't You Forget About Me got performed by another group.

Don't feel too sad for Rick though, he still got his moment on the silver screen... and it's a good thing he did, because if he hadn't, I wouldn't be able to get to Kevin Bacon in less than six steps. Rick wrote a good chunk of the music in That Thing You Do with Tom Hanks. He didn't write the title track, but he wrote some of the other music by The Wonders. At one point in the movie he appears at a state fair(?) playing in a band in the background.

Anyway, my friend Mark was in a band with Rick, Rick wrote music with Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks was in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon. Less than six steps. If you're a member of the Triathlete Alliance you could probably let the six steps work for you as well... there a couple of slots open after all. heh.

Track 3: Riki Michelle - Mystery In Me
I'm not sure how we hopped to Riki Michelle from Rick Elias aside from the fact that they both live in Nashville and fall close to each other in the iTunes playlist. The album this came off of was one of my great surprises from a couple of years ago. I had never been a big fan of Riki's other work. She put out a couple of albums in the nineties that were produced by a guy named Terry Taylor. Terry, as much as I dig his work (and there are a couple of songs coming up in a minute that are part of that canon) didn't do right by Riki. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't like the seventies style singer-songwriter stuff. Quite a while passed between her 2nd album and this. I guess somewhere in the middle of it she got into playing with loops and started writing these songs. We live in a better world because of it.

Track 4: Adam Again - Dance Around In Circles
Gene Eugene had more soul in his pinky than some blues musicians had in their entire body. When this was recorded Gene Eugene and Riki Michelle were still married and living in Los Angeles. They and The Choir, Undercover and others were on the leading edge of a group of Christian artists pushing the creative boundaries of both the secular and the religious worlds. They were some of the first trendsetters that said it was ok to be a Christian and do nervy, edgy work.

Track 5: Daniel Amos - Motorcycle
Back to Terry Taylor. Terry Taylor might be the godfather of the Christian alternative music scene. It was Daniel Amos (along with Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill) that really started to push the boundaries that made it possible for Adam Again and their era to push boundaries years later. When DA first started playing gigs in 76(?) they were a stuck in the 70s Christian country group. Insipid songs like Happily Married Man hooked the fundie Christian crowds who liked the "Solid Message" with the music. That all changed when they started branching off into being a rock band. There's a live CD they recorded before their album Horrendous disc came out and you can hear the tension in the audience as they start to play their new material. The crowd isn't NEARLY as into the stuff that was giving creative fulfillment to the band. In short, over the next couple of albums they lost most of their audience. The didn't stop pursuing their art though and this track is the title track off of a very Beatlesque concept album called Motorcycle.

Track 6: Daniel Amos - When Everyone Wore Hats
I have a list of movies that made me want to make movies. This song is in the very short list of songs that bring out that same artistic muse in me. I've always been a hat guy. I've got more than one fedora that I don't get to wear often enough. Oh to be back in the day when it was normal to run around in a suit and fedora. All of those photos from that era just look so classy.

Track 7: Waterdeep - Both of Us Will Feel the Blast When Ang and I got married, we really wanted to play Bruce Cockburn's Lovers in a Dangerous Time. Angela's mom kind of objected and we decided that if we couldn't have that that this should be the song instead. Don Chaffer, the leading man in the band might be one of the most interesting guys I've ever had the blessing to sit down and talk with. He was (and still is) a close friend of the band I worked with in Minneapolis. This recording comes from a bootleg taped at a show in Lookout Mountain, GA.

Track 8: Pegtop - Eighteen Bullet Holes
Speaking of bands I used to work with in Minneapolis... growing up, I tended to make friends by seeking people out to do work for. "Let me help you with that! Can I help you?" my good friend Terry and I first connected that way. At the time, I was putting out a little zine called 'The Update'. Pre blogs and good internet, zines were still the hot thing and I thought that I could start a zine that would be able to eventually grow up into a 'real magazine'. It was one of a long list of projects that never quite took off in the way that I hoped that they would. What can I say? I'm a dreamer. In any case, my friend Dan put out a zine with Terry called Raw Tuna. Dan lived in Aberdeen and Terry and I both lived in the Twin Cities. Dan asked me to work with Terry on the magazine. The magazine faded off, but when it did Terry and I were still friends and I was spending a lot of time at the coffee shop he had opened and heading off to his band Pegtop's shows. I ran their website and did whatever needed to get done... photography, flyers, t-shirts, friendship. A few years ago, everyone headed their own way and the band dissolved. Before they did, they recorded one last record and covered this waterdeep song. I think this might be the consummate version of the song.

Track 9: Over The Rhine - Nobody Number One
This is probably the one band in this list that you'd have had a chance to have heard of... and even that might be a stretch. Being signed to Virgin Backporch, they've spent the last few years touring with The Cowboy Junkies. I got thrown out of my first bar trying to see them perform. I was 15 at the time and we had a Russian foreign exchange student living with us that was into the band as well. We drove down to the concert and walked into the bar. They were carding and Olga started to explain to them that we were Russian immigrants and didn't have totally proper ID yet. The bounced was getting ready to pass us through when I whipped out my drivers permit. I'm still not entirely sure why I did it, but I remember as we were being escorted out seeing a poster announcing the Vigilantes of Love playing the same bar a couple of weeks later.

I DID manage to get into the Fine Line before my 21st birthday though. A few years later, Sixpence None The Richer was starting their big album push. Minneapolis, surprisingly (or not), is home to lots of music buyers... what with Best Buy, Target and Musicland all having their headquarters in town. Terry was what I would call the don mafioso of the Christian music scene in the Minneapolis area at the time. He ran a production company called Unity Productions that booked all of the local Christian bands around town. Sixpence, being a Christian band that was trying really hard to break into the mainstream needed Terry to help them pack out the Fine Line so these music buyers would see how good they'd be for them. Being 'with the band' I was able to avoid the bouncers and get into the show. I thought I was SUCH hot stuff, even though I spent the entire evening in fear and trepidation of being caught.

Track 10: Over the Rhine - Jack's Valentine live at Cornerstone 98

Time goes too fast. I remember being at this show. Cornerstone was buzzing that year because MC Hammer had been booked. Hammer was trying to mount a comeback as a gospel musician and figured that Cornerstone would be a good launching pad. Everyone at the fest that year wanted to see him perform just from the shear 'freakshow' factor. The day of the show, Hammer showed up more than 45 minutes late. He got on stage and proceeded to bore the audience to tears... there would be no "Pray" or "Can't Touch This" or "2 Legit to Quit", no cheese for the audience... oh no. MC Hammer was a gospel ARTIST. Within 10 minutes of the start of the show, 20000 people had wandered off in boredom.

At midnight that night, Over the Rhine started their festival closing set on the Gallery stage. At Cornerstone, the coolest shows always start at midnight... and there's a good chance that the coolest of the coolest are going to be at the Gallery. That night was no exception. The original version of this song was rather placid, but played live, an electricity ripped across the stage and Over the Rhine ventured over the edge of jam band territory. Watch out MC Hammer, I'm coming home.

Track 11: Charlie Peacock - I Would Go Crazy

Charlie Peacock... oh how I love and loathe thee at the same time. I love some of your songwriting... I loathe some of your production. Sometimes though, something comes together into a gem. When Charlie put out the album that this track is on Love Life he got into quite a bit of trouble with some more fundamentalist Christians for putting a love song to his wife called "Kiss Me Like a Woman". Apparently, according to these people, it wasn't ok to sing about physical love if you were a Christian. Never mind that they knew God created the whole thing in the first place... it 'just wasn't right'. Now I can't imagine that it would even make a ripple, but at the time, it was scandalous. The scandal though didn't keep him from writing Amy Grant's Every Heartbeat. This might be my favorite song on the album.

Track 12: The Choir - Wide Eyed Wonder
A simple little love song from a father to his daughter... from one of my favorite bands. The Choir, along with Adam Again, were one of those Los Angeleno bands pushing Christians to create good art throughout the eighties. A decade and a half later, Steve Hindalong the drummer and main songwriter would write a song called God of Wonders. I'm guessing that you probably know that song a lot better than you know this one.

Track 13: Jerry Chapman - About Love

Ang and I danced to this at our wedding. I had bought the CD at one point, imported it into iTunes and promptly forgot about it. One day, while playing songs randomly, iTunes spit this up. The original version of the song had been one of my favorite love songs in high school, but it wasn't 'first danceable'... this version however, was.

Track 14: The Choir - About Love (live)

The original version... live and much more rocking.

Track 15: Common Children - Stains of Time

Marc Byrd, the lead singer is now a member of The Choir. The choir are better for it. He's also the other writer of the aforementioned God of Wonders. I think I'll let the song speak for itself.

Track 16: The Prayer Chain - Mercury

The Prayer Chain's album Mercury is one of those albums that affected me so strongly that it's hard to begin to put it into words. To this day I still think it's current. Even though it's more than a decade old it sounds completely fresh. I imagine in 20 years it probably still will.

Track 17: The Prayer Chain - Dig Dug

You HAVE to end an album on an up note... even if it's a down song. Enjoy. Let me know what you think. For now, it's 1am and my bedtime should have been long ago. Goodnight!

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by bthemn.

Hot sauce at lunch the other day... I promise to be back to blogging soon.