This podcast blew my 16-year-old mind

You may know that I’m an avid Podcast listener, going on for ten years and am currently subscribed to 105 different shows. With as much as I listen, few episodes stick with me, but this one from The Slate’s Hit Parade went back in time and blew my formative teenage mind, leaving me to question whether the formation of my pop music appreciation is a complete sham.

I read somewhere that the music you’re exposed to from the time you’re a teen into early twenties has the biggest impact towards your appreciation. In your mind, that is the most iconic period of music and since then has likely gotten worse.  As I’m 36 now, my middle school and high school years occurred during this period that was covered in the podcast. I was lucky enough to have parents that gave me a pretty wide berth in what I could listen to and buy, and I ended spending a sizable amount of money on albums throughout the 90’s.

Listening to this Podcast made some really deep cuts against my music psyche. If you went to high school the same time I did, I’d really suggest you listen to this, but the gist of the podcast is that the record industry severely ratcheted down the selling of single cassettes and CD’s of band hits to force consumers to buy the entire album if they wanted to own the song.  As the podcast went through example after example of these albums, I realized that I ended up owning many albums by these one-hit wonders.

To a teenager, $15 was a sizable amount of money, often representing a couple hours of work.  When I shelled out money for those albums, I had a strong incentive to not feel like I flushed my cash down the drain – and as a result not only did I listen to those entire albums, but I convinced myself that it was a good album, conditioning myself to appreciate all of the album’s tracks.  The problem is that repressed, deep in the recesses of my mind, I secretly knew the album wasn’t good, and come to find out that in many cases the record companies felt the same way – but they just wanted to take my money.

That’s not to say that there weren’t iconic albums in the 90’s – Pearl Jam’s Ten and Vs., Alanis’ Jagged Little PIll, Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness come to mind for me, but for every one of those, I also had the misfortune of owning Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping, Primitive Radio Gods Rocket, and Shawn Mullins’ Soul’s Core. Nothing against those artists, and being in a band myself I know that your music can’t appeal to everyone – but the point is that during the 90’s consumers who wanted to own your one hit song was forced to buy the entire album, with the record industry laughing their way to the bank.

I was on the ground level when Mp3’s starting propagating the landscape and giving way to Napster and iTunes, making the single once again accessible to everyone.  This podcast goes to show that downloading wasn’t simply about stealing music, but was as much about disrupting a very corrupt business model.  It’s crazy to think just how different things are today, with most songs available on a whim to be streamed on our phones.  In today’s age, the value of the album has been questioned by many musicians, including myself. Artists are coming to grip with the fact that recordings have been reduced to a commodity, from once being the product to now being a tool to help market your product (your live shows and relationships with fans).  People still put a lot of care into the constructing of albums, but many artists are now more concerned with churning out new music at a regular pace.

I don’t often wear my tinfoil hat, but it is mind-blowing just how much of our formative appreciation of art is decided by rich white guys in boardrooms. Give the podcast a listen and let me know which of those songs and albums resonate with you.

Photographing Qbala’s Farewell Show

Last night I had the opportunity to photograph Qbala, one of Fort Collins’ best rappers, and someone I’ve known since middle school. On Thursday she played her “farewell” show, as she’s gearing up for a move to Portland. In my involvement in the Northern Colorado music scene, few people work as hard towards their craft as Qbala does. It was definitely an honor to shoot such a great show that was packed to the gills.

This was also my first time shooting at Hodi’s Half Note, where the lighting proved to be a challenge.  I went home last night afraid that most of my shots didn’t turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised that I had an abundance to choose from.  The other challenge with this show was navigating the packed audience.  While I was able to move around quite a bit during the opening acts, I found myself firmly entrenched on the front of stage left. The left side of the stage enabled me to get close-up shots (as Qbala’s face wasn’t blocked by her mic) but prevented me from getting the full body shots due to all of the DJ equipment blocking my angle. Halfway through her set, I moved further back to get some crowd shots and finally managed to get to stage right. There I finally got my full-body perspective shots.

My only regret was not being able to capture close-up shots in the middle of the stage to capture some of the emotional interactions – but with as crowded as everything was, it just wasn’t an option.  I’ve posted a few of my favorites below, but you can see the whole gallery on Flickr.

Congrats on an awesome show, Qbala! Wishing you all the best in your next adventure.

My Band’s New Single!

It’s been a crazy-busy January. I’ve been cooking a few different blog topics in my head, but time has gotten the better of me this month. However, I’m really excited to announce that my band, Amy and the Peace Pipes, has released a new single, “Burning Bridges”. Go check it out!

I know many of us are now using streaming services (and why not), but if you’d like to download your own copy, we’re giving it away for free to our Peace Pipers mailing list subscribers, just join up and you’ll get the download link!  Even if you don’t download music, you should join up anyway.  In the age of prevalent social media, it’s become increasingly difficult for bands to reach their audience across all of the noise (especially when Facebook wants to force people into buying ads to reach all of the people who liked their page).  The mailing list is really the one true place where everyone who is interested in us has an opportunity to receive our updates – whether they open the emails or get too many emails to open them is another story, but at least I know that our updates were at least delivered.

Thanks so much to everyone for supporting me and my band. When I stop and think about it, it’s really incredible to think that we can put stuff onto iTunes and Spotify and make it available for the world to hear.

Photographing South To Cedars Release Party

Catching up from a busy month, I had the privilege of photographing South To Cedars on the release of their new album: Sunny State at High Hops Brewery in Windsor. High Hops has an awesome winter stage in the back of the brewery, draped with lights and a really cool ambiance.

I ended up capturing one of my favorite concert images so far, trying to encapsulate the joy of performing music.

Congrats again to South To Cedars on an awesome album release!

Photographing South to Cedars

Last night Amy and the Peace Pipes played at the Stuff A Truck benefit for Homeless Gear at Pateros Creek. We had the honor of sharing the stage with Aires Attic and South to Cedars.  I managed to snap a few shots during South to Cedars set.

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In all honestly, the lighting was pretty challenging.  Pateros Creek has a great room, but the stage area shares about the same lighting as the rest of the room, with the exception of some flood lights that are covered by transparent colored film.  Pateros also had the (very good) problem of being completely packed for the evening, which limited the angles that I was able to capture images.  South to Cedars put on an amazing show and feature some awesome harmonies by all of their members (they don’t normally had a drummer, they had a guest sit in for the last few songs, so a lot of great singing moments.  In addition, the fiddle was a lot of fun to capture.  It’s not too often that you get to capture tight shots of musicians and their instruments.

As always, all of my band photos can be found on Flickr.  I’d love to hear what you think!

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