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Shout outs to friends

It occurs to me that another and slightly less self indulgent use for this blog may be to give some shout outs to various friends, mentors, colleagues, heroes, etc. who have made an impact on me. These will appear in no specific order, just as I feel like writing a little bit about them. One thing I will say though is that if I write about them, you should definitely go check out their work.

So today’s shout out goes to my friends Joe Taylor and Sean O’Bryan Smith. I met them when I was the house photographer for Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse. It was one of those nights that I was reminded just how happy I am to be a photographer. As was often the case, I arrived at the roadhouse knowing nothing about the band that was playing. Though I could have easily looked up their work on the internet, I usually waited until after a show to find out more about whomever I just saw. So on this night it was the Joe Taylor Group. I’m not a music writer, so I won’t attempt a show review here, but within the first few minutes I was very impressed. The southern tinged fusion jazz blusey rock, was delivered with impeccable style and soul (gosh that does sound very much like a music review).

What I love about shooting live shows is that in the process of looking through the viewfinder searching for the perfect composition and decisive moment, I am able to tune out the other distractions (the cute waitress, the drunk couple who just won’t shut up, etc.) and really hear the music. Sometimes the music grabs me so much that I’ll set the camera down and be a fan for a song or two, but usually I experience the music through my Nikon’s lens. What stands out in my memory from that night was the clean tasty guitar playing through multiple genres that Joe provided, and the otherworldly bass sound that was emanating from Sean (affectionately known as Baldilox). The original tunes were brilliant and memorable after a single listening, and the covers of the jazz standard Caravan, and The Beatles I Want You (She’s So Heavy), were jawdroppingly good.

During the break and after the show we had time for a little conversation and sharing of musical stories, and mutual friends and acquaintances. In addition to being phenomenal musicians Joe and Sean are two of the nicest, most down to earth artists that should be household names that I have ever met. In the couple of years since that night, I have had the great pleasure of photographing the JTG as they opened for slide guitar legend Sonny Landreth at The Hamilton in Washington DC, one of Sean’s multitudes of side projects with Stan Lassiter in Nashville, and two years running of the JTG’s Christmas benefit in Columbia SC for Sistercare. The great thing about these benefits, besides being for a great cause, is that I have been introduced to many of the members of Joe and Sean's extended musical family, like Pine Top Lightning, Shelly Waters, Hobart Trotter, and the brilliant Randall Bramlett. Every time I see them I am blown away by their musicianship, and grateful for their friendship.

So do yourself a favor and drop down a Youtube rabbit hole, and check out my buddies Joe and Sean, or better yet, go purchase their new cd “Sugar Dust in the Devil Wind” I promise you it does not suck.

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