Saturday, March 23, 2019

Even In The Quietest Moments

"Don't you let the sun fade away..."  -  From the Supertramp song

The photo is from two weeks ago, here's what I wrote at the time:
It was a grey and dreary day today. No rain, no fog, just mid 40's and grey, grey, grey. I decided to take a chance that we might get something interesting at sunset, and was glad I did. This spot is about 30 minutes from home, and as we get closer, the cloud cover started breaking up.

I'm glad we took the chance!

Friday, March 22, 2019


We finally got shades installed at our new office.  They do a great job keeping the morning glare at a reasonable level...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Album Reviews - Index

OK, After a little bit of a lull, time to get the album reviews rolling again.     I'm hoping folk enjoy them; comments (and even requests) welcome.  My intention has been to focus mostly on stuff I own on vinyl, and stuff that is somewhat obscure.  But, as you can  see, that's not exclusively true.

You can see them all with the tag albumreviews.

Anyway:  here's what I've done so far, in alphabetical order:

Artist    -    Album    -  Released -   Posted (datecode)

And, as a bonus, here's a link to Matthew L.'s reviews at WPTS.  He's my go-to source for new music.
So what's next?  I'm always open t suggestions.  Some thoughts:  Monkees-Instant Replay (1969), Secret Treaties (1974), J.J. Cale - Troubadour (1977), Allen Collins Band - Here There and Back (1983), Dumptruck - D Is For Dumptruck (1983)

Thanks for reading!

Album Review - J.J. Cale - Really

Another entry in the ongoing series of album reviews.  See here for index.

Artist:  J.J. Cale
Album:  Really
Relaesed: 1972

I discovered J.J. Cale sometime around mid-1976, when his original version of "Cocaine" got some radio play in Pittsburgh.  I knew the name, because Lynyrd Skynyrd had previously covered his songs "Call Me The Breeze" and "Same Old Blues" [aside:  Skynyrd only did 2 covers on their first 4 albums, and both were J.J. Cale songs].  I bough the album, but remember being a little disappointed that most of it did NOT sound like the hard rocking "Cocaine".   Then, in early 1977, he appeared on the cover of "Guitar Player" magazine, with a fawning article, I dug into Troubadour some more and was soon hooked.  It wasn't long before I had his previous 3 albums.

I continued to be a J.J. Cale fan, and still am.  I have almost all of his albums.  He's my favorite "obscure" artist, although he's really not that obscure to music geeks...

Anyway, I decided it was time to do a J.J. Cale review, which lead to to the question of which one?  My first thought was Troubadour, since that was the one I discovered first.  But I decided on Really.  Maybe because I made a silk-screened t-shirt of this album cover back in late high school.  Heck, that's as good a reason as any.

Really has a wonderful, laid back feeling, which really shouldn't be a surprise to anybody who knows J.J. Cale.  A steady shuffle over solid grooves, deceptively good playing, and vocals back in the mix....   But Really also has a distinct Mose Allison vibe.  The album features a dozen songs, 10 by Cale and 2 by others.  All are typically concise, running between 1:45 and 3:16.  An interesting observation, The album was recorded in 7 sessions.  The first 5 were between in the first week of April 1972, followed by one in late June and one in early July.  But it was also recorded in 5 different studios, and 2 different states!  With a different engineer and musicians for each studio.  You would think this would result in a fragmented album, but it really doesn't.

  • Bradley's Barn, Mt. Julliet, TN (4 songs, 2 dates)
  • Quadrophonic Studio, Nashville, TN (3 songs, 2 dates)
  • Quinvy Studio, Muscle Shoals, AL (3 songs, 2 dates)
  • Moss Rose Studio, Nashville, TN (2 songs, 1 date)
  • Muscle Shoals Studio, Muscle Shoals, AL (1 song, 1 date)
Wow, Tuesday and Thursday in Nashville area, Friday and Saturday in Muscle Shoals, back in Nashville on Monday.  Yikes.  I'm sure there was some logical reason.

My favorite songs?  5 Star rated:  LiesSoulin'.  4 Star Rated:  Everything Will Be Alright,  Changes, Right Down Here, Louisiana Women.  Everything else is 3 Star.

Back cover:

The Trees Knees

We finally made the office move this month, from Arnold, MO to Collinsville, IL.  After 5 months, I've traded the 40+ minute commute for under 10 minutes.  Very nice to cut my work day down by an hour.

On the other hand, I need to start over on looking for good places to walk at lunch.  First try was Woodland Park.  Very close to work, but pretty small.  The weather we right for an explore the other day, so I checked it out.  There's a small lake with lots of cypress trees.  And Lots of cypress knees....

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

End Of An Era?

Way back in September 2012, I was invited to join The World In Black And White (TWIBW), a blog focusing on Black And White photography (duh!).  I thought it was a pretty cool idea, just photos, no text (beyond title and/or comments).  I was recommended by a friend, and I think I submitted examples of my work to be accepted...  The concept was the site would be limited to 25 photographers, and if someone didn't post at least one photo per month, your spot would be given to somebody else.

Overall, it's been a good site, and my posts tended to get orders of magnitude higher for views/image compared to my personal black and white site (Happenstance Photography).  However, it has kind of lost it's way, and I'm pretty sure that it hasn't even had a moderator in a couple of years.  No new photographers have been added in ages, and only 6 people have posted in 2019.  The person who recommended me hasn't posted to the site since early 2016.

Looking at the last 3 months (Dec/Jan/Feb), this year compared to 3 years ago:  Overall views per post is down 71%, views per day is down 58%.  And number of posts is down 32%. 

Or looking at just my photos, and activity per year:

Any way you slice it, it is still ugly.

So, after 6.5 years, I think it is time to let it go. Even though I still get 4-5x the views there, it it trending the wrong way.  I won't rage-quit or delete all my photos or anything, rather just fade away...  like the site seems to be doing.

You can see all the images I posted to TWIBW here.

Aside:  Happenstance Photography blog has been around since  September 2006, but I evolved it into a spot to focus on my Black and White images in August, 2012 ( month before I joined The World In Black and White - probably NOT a coincidence).  Before that it was mostly a venue to talk about microstock photography, which I did for a while.  I continue operate Happenstance on a similar basis as TWIBW, but usually include camera info and location data.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Monkees - 03/16/2019

So, last Saturday night, my son, my wife and I saw The Monkees at the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO.  Technically, it was "The Monkees Present:  The Mike and Micky Show".  Which makes sense, since Davy and Peter have both passed away.  Notably (to me), this was only 4 weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of the first time I saw the band!  I actually was a little uncertain about going to this one, as they're getting pretty old (Micky is 74, Mike is 76).  And Peter would not be touring with them.  But at some later point, my son announced that one of his great regrets in his (still short) life was that I didn't take him to the 50th anniversary tour (in 2016)...  Well, I couldn't just let that hang out there.  When I realized the St. Louis date for the show matched up with his spring break from college, we had to go for it.

How was it?
Well, as I noted before, these guys are getting up there in age.  And it is kind of noticeable.  But, they had a great band with them (including Mike's son on guitar), and they put on a solid, and fun, show.  This was the last show of their US Tour, and everybody seemed relaxed and having fun. I will note that Mike seemed to act his age a bit, and maybe lost his place once or twice.  But it's cool, we're all friends here. 

They played a great setlist, with a lot of deep cuts (especially Nesmith songs).  And quite few pleasant surprises.  The accoustic versions of Pap Gene's Blues and Randy Scouse Git were quite cool...   They also played 2 songs from the recent "Good Times" release, which worked very well.  I'll be making an iTunes playlist of the show (of course).

This won't go down in history as one of the greatest shows I've seen, but it was good clean fun, and I'm really glad we went.

I don't like to take photos during a show, but I did do a quick snap to prove I was there...  Sorry about the poor quality:

And a nice review in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Aside:  The Monkees are one of the few artists from my youth that have been overlooked for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  They released four #1 albums in 13 months, released a truly mind binding movie and inspired countless kids who were just a shade too young to have seen the Beatles on Sullivan (like me).  (also on my list, The Doobie Brothers and Weird Al Yankovick).

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Parallel Lines

A little abstraction for a Saturday:

I was trying for an abstract feel, contrasting the texture of wooden boards with crisp shadows.  

Not quite SOOC (straight out of camera) but not too far off. A very slight straightening of the lines, a little boost in contrast...  Then I made a B and W layer, but dropped the opacity pretty significantly.

I rather like how it turned out.  Posted to 365project.

If you care, below is a wide shot showing where this was taken.  On the bridge between the Glen Carbon Library and Miner Park.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Even in the Quietest Moments

Even in the Quietest Moments

"Don't you let the sun fade away..."
From the Supertramp song

It was a grey and dreary day today. No rain, no fog, just mid 40's and grey, grey, grey. I decided to take a chance that we might get something interesting at sunset, and was glad I did. This spot is about 30 minutes from home, and as we get closer, the cloud cover started breaking up.

I'm glad we took the chance!

Monday, March 04, 2019

Album Review - The Inmates - First Offence

Another entry in the ongoing series of album reviews.  See here for index.

In late 1979, there was a song on the radio:  “Dirty Water”.  a fun remake of the Standells hit from 1966.  It entered the charts (at #89) 12/08/1979, and peaked at #51 (on 01/19/1980).  This was Christmas break of my freshman year in College, and I remember hearing the song with Pittsburgh-centric lyrics at the time (“down by the banks of the rivers three” and “Pittsburgh you’re my home”.  I picked up the record, and the lyrics are “the banks of the river Thames”, and “London you’re my home”.  Well, I was chaffed, but it’s still a good song.  I can’t find much evidence on the internet, but I did find one forum that mentions they did “a bunch of different versions for markets around the US”. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the album is pretty solid.  Very retro (retro from 1979, that is!), I guess it would sort of reminds me of early 60's Stones, or possibly Kinks...  .  Wikipedia called them both a pub rock band” and garage rock revivalists.  Nothing too dramatic, but good.  The album has a solid horn presence, which works quite well.  Allmusic has a nice summary:  “First Offense is about as derivative as it gets. But it's also rockin' and highly infectious” ( First Offense is about as derivative as it gets. But it's also rockin' and highly infectious).

The back cover lists 4 band members:
  • Peter Gunn - Lead Guitar / Vocals
  • Bill Hurley - Vocals
  • Bem Donnelly - Bass Guitar
  • Tony Oliver - Rhtyhm Guitar

Yep, no drummer.  The additional credits say John Bull played drums on Dirty Water, and "Eddie" on all other tracks.

Also, the horns are by The Rumour brass section.

Best song (IMHO) is Dirty Water, along with Love Got Me.  But the slow blues number If Time Could Turn Backwards is especially excellent.  Everything else is solid, there are real bad songs.

Back cover:

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

RIP P340

My trusty Nikon P340 compact digital died today.  Three years, nine months (45 months) and thousands of photos.  Some of them pretty good.  I've always had a soft spot for a camera I can put in a shirt pocket, toss in a briefcase, stick in a glove box.  And the P340 coupled that small size with an awful lot of power / control.  I'll miss it.

So here it is, the last photo:

Not exactly an awesome shot, huh?

Here's a selection of better images from the P340 from around the country:

Sanford, FL
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Bismark, ND
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Charlotte, NC
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St. Paul, MN
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Pittsburgh, PA
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Chicago, IL
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North of Roanoke, VA
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Durham, NC
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Charleston, SC
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Boston, MA
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Golden, CO
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Litchfield, IL
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Benton, KY
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Rend Lake, IL
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Lost In The Fog

Ugly day last Saturday.  Fog, which varied from moderate to heavy.  Rain which varied from mist to heavy.  The two seemed to mix randomly.  Not a good day for any significant photo excursion. 

But I did do some exploring north and east of Glen Carbon / Edwardsville.  And manager a few photos I'm happy with:

This one has been most popular of the series at 365project.  It made the Popular and Trending pages, and currently sits #1 on the list of my "Top Rated Photos".
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Also well received, but not nearly like the one above.  "Just" on the Popular page.
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From the iPhone.  There was a challenge going on at 365project for "Leading Lines"....  This fit.  It probably would've been Popular, but that would've been 3 at the same time, which would be a lot.
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The ugly duckling of the set, I suppose.  Less than 1/2 the views of the others (less than 1/3 the views of the top one).
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The lesson here is that ugly days can still provide nice photo opportunities.  And not everything needs to be shot early morning or late afternoon (these were all shot between noon and 1pm).  Always be aware of the world around you, and take the opportunities that arise!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Album Review - Peter Tork - Stranger Things Have Happened

Wow, suddenly it has been almost 12 weeks since I've done an album review.  Nothing to say but "sorry", because we all know what they say about excuses.

Anyway, After hearing that Peter Tork passed away yesterday (2/21/2019), I spent my morning commute with his "Stranger Things Have Happened" album.  And decided to do a review. So here you go:

Artist:  Peter Tork
Album:  Stranger Things Have Happened
Released:  1994

- - - - -

Everybody ought to know that Peter Tork was part of the 60's TV show /pop band The Monkees.   The "pre-fab 4".  Hopefully, most of you know that The Monkees was a groundbreaking TV show, and one of the most successful music acts of the time.  IMHO, they belong in the R&RHOF.  I'm a huge Monkees fan and a huge Peter Tork fan.

But, let's talk specifically about Peter Tork.  Tork was one of the two musicians Hired for the Monkees (along with Michael Nesmith), and had been active in the Greenwich Village folk scene.  There's a story that when they were called in to do the first Monkees record, he brought his guitar, expecting to be recording songs, not just adding vocals to the otherwise completed songs.  He is credited with guitar on Papa Gene's blues from that album.  Later on, when the band took a more active role in the music, he played bass, guitars, banjo and keyboards.  HE wrote several songs during the Monkees years.  He was also the first to quit the band in late 1968.

Moving on to "Stranger Things Have Happened".  This was Peter Tork's first solo album.  It didn't receive much fanfare, I'm not even sure how I discovered it.  But I did, and bought it (on CD).  And it is a solid, if not outstanding effort.  The review at Allmusc states:  "No one's going to believe it, but this is a good album".  On Amazon it has a 4.2/5.0 star rating.

My take?  I'll agree, this IS a good record.  It has some really good moments, but no "instant classics.  But no real duds, either.  Most of the songs have a bright, but relaxed feel pushed along with upbeat drums and generally sparse instrumentation.  Torks far from a great singer, but his voice fits the music.  There's 11 songs here, just over 36 minutes.  Six songs are written by Tork,   3 by others and 2 are covers (including a Monkees cover).

My favorites:

Take A Giant Step - this is a cover of a Monkees song, but a really fun reworking.It starts out with just guitar and voice, with bass and percussion coming in with backup vocals on the chorus. Including Mackinzie Phillips singing back-up.  Just plain and simple fun.

Stranger Things Things Have Happened - The title track and opening song, this is one of the more "produced" songs on the record, with keyboards, echo on the voice, a range of sonds...  But is all works.

Miracle - This is a pretty solid rocker, chunky rhythm, a guitar solo....  I mean, we're not talking AC/DC or Van Halen here.....

Higher and Higher - a remake of the old Jackie Wilson song.  Another really fun reworking, and my favorite song from the album.  It starts out with just banjo and voice.  Voices join in at the chorus, then (acoustic) bass and drums after the 1st chorus and throughout the rest of the song.  This is a joyous song, and (IMHO) reminds me of something I'd expect from Pete Seeger...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We All Fall Down

Just a quick iPhone photo, from yesterday's lunch time.   just 100 yards or so from where Lemay Ferry crosses the Meremec River, in Arnold, MO.  Processed using Topaz Impressions plug in, with sepia tone added in PhotoShop elements.

I was going for a feel that could be 100 years ago.

Monday, January 28, 2019

You're No Good

So...  I was poking around on youtube last night.  I ended up browsing Sara Niemietz's stuff, because...  well, because I like her stuff. (Check out her "Travel Light" CD).  Anyway, I saw that she's done a version of Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good"*. 

Well, I had to give it a listen.  And now I'll recommend it to you:

You’re No Good (Linda Ronstadt) - Sara Niemietz, W.G. Snuffy Walden, Loren Gold

Really solid version, I dig it.  That said, I'm not sure the Linda Ronstadt version can be topped.  So after listening to Sara N, I had to check out Linda R.  And I found (actually re-found) an outstanding version from the old TV show Midnight Special.  With a crazed Skunk Baxter adding percussion, even.  Just ignore the horrible Jose Feliciano intro...

Linda Ronstadt - You're No Good

They're both great....

* You're No Good was written by Clint Ballard, Jr. and first hit the charts in 1963.  Linda Ronstadt's version (1975) went to #1 on the US Charts.