Favorite Photos of 2011: Part One

For one reason or another, it’s been a pretty quiet year on the writing front around here. It happens, what can I say? Maybe 2012 will be better.

Anyhow, I may not have written a whole lot, but I’ve been keeping busy in 2011 by taking lots of photographs. Here are a few of my favorites. There will be more, later this week.

Broken Records

Broken Records; Reckless Records, February 26, 2011

I had only barely heard of Broken Records when I went to this in-store. Thanks to strong recommendations from Tart (Love Shack, Baby) and Steve (Baby, You Got a Stew Goin’), I knew I was going to hear some good music.  The Scottish indie-rock-ish band certainly delivered, both at the tiny in-store and at a full headlining gig at Schubas later that night.

Broken Records: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

Over the Rhine

 Over the Rhine; Lincoln Hall, April 8, 2011

I was more than pleased to see one of my favorite bands at one of my favorite Chicago venues.  Lately, Over the Rhine have been making an annual stop at the Old Town School of Folk Music in December, and it’s lovely to see them in such a classy venue, but I loved getting to be right up close at Lincoln Hall.Pictured above is Jason Goforth, who, in addition to having an awesome last name, has been playing with Over the Rhine live for the past couple of years or so.

Over the Rhine songs are always my go-to songs when I’m looking to give myself something to do vocally.  I walked around the house singing along to their new album, The Long Surrender, the other day; my cat looked at me as if I’d lost my mind, but sometimes you’ve just got to belt out along with Karin:  ”All my favorite people are broken, believe me, my heart should know.”

Concert review, posted April 22, 2011

Over the Rhine: Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Store

Jessica Lea Mayfield

 Jessica Lea Mayfield; Schubas, May 14, 2011

This shot has some issues with lighting, but I love the expression on her face.  It’s a pretty perfect, dazed, far away look, and it’s one that fits Mayfield pretty well.

Performing with a full band, Mayfield and company filled the room, even on quieter numbers.  The crowd was a bit rowdy, but they loved her music, with many people singing along to every word.  Mayfield’s music is dark and deeply personal: she writes what she knows, and what she knows could absolutely break your heart.

Concert review, posted October 13, 2011

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Official Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | Store

Luke Doucet

Luke Doucet; Schubas, June 2, 2011

Luke Doucet and his wife Melissa McClelland opened up for Teddy Thompson at Schubas and put on a fantastic show.  Both Doucet and McClelland have released several solo albums of their own, but released an album together under the name of Whitehorse later in 2011.  They performed many of their own songs but also previewed many of the Whitehorse songs, as well.

Luke Doucet: Official Website | MySpace | Facebook

Legendary Shackshakers

Legendary Shack Shakers; Ribfest, June 10, 2011

I didn’t love this show as much as I’d hoped – the punk-rockabilly band tended much more towards punk than I remembered – but frontman J.D. Wilkes was a blast to photograph, and the crowd absolutely loved their antics.

Legendary Shack  Shakers: Official Website | Facebook | Myspace | Twitter | Store

Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan; Lincoln Hall, July 3, 2011

I loved everything about this show. I almost didn’t go, because I was feeling lazy and hadn’t actually heard Callahan’s newest album, and I didn’t want to be that person who went to a show on a tour for a new album and griped about the fact that they didn’t play any songs I knew. But I sucked it up and went, like a real responsible grown-up, and was glad for it.  Callahan’s performance was mesmerizing, regardless of the number of songs I actually knew.  This show was somewhat difficult to shoot, because of frequently low lighting, and because of my position right under the mic stand, but I still came out with some of my favorite photos ever.

Bill Callahan: Official Website | MySpace

Violet

Violet; Notting Hill Arts Club, September 4, 2011

I went to London in September and was lucky enough to be there when Communion Music was putting on a show.  Although I’d never heard of any of the bands on the bill, I trusted Communion to have a stellar line-up, and they didn’t disappoint.  Unfortunately, most of the acts are kind of un-Google-able, like Violet, pictured here.  Hey, bands! I’d love to buy your music if only I could find you on the internet.  (I would have stuck around after the show but I think I only had £10 in my pocket and wasn’t sure how long the buses ran in that area.)  This was a pretty challenging show to shoot, and I only got photos of the last three acts.  Apart from the fact that the only light was red (I understand now why photographers always complain about red stage lighting), I felt like the concert-going culture was much different than what I’m used to here in Chicago.  People hardly even glanced at their cell phones, let alone spent their time snapping away on iPhones and point-and-shoots, so I felt pretty awkward lurking about with my DSLR, though I managed a few interesting shots.