The Campbell Brothers – A Love Supreme – Summerstage 2014

I was fortunate to be at the world premiere of The Campbell Brothers‘ A Sacred Steel Love Supreme, celebrating the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. A skilled blues and gospel band!

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Summerstage, 2014: the world premiere of The Campbell Brothers‘ A Sacred Steel Love Supreme celebrating the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme Photos by Thomas W. Campbell

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Rosanne Cash – Summerstage 2015

Here are some photos I took during the inspired performance by Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal and the incredible band.

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Rosanne Cash and her band played at NYC Summerstage in the Summer of 2014.

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John Leventhal and Rosanne Cash at Summerstage, NYC in the summer of 2014

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John Leventhal and Rosanne Cash made sweet music at Summerstage, NYC in the summer of 2014.

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Photos by Thomas W. Campbell – Special thanks to Summerstage, NYC and the artists for allowing photos to be taken. Always give credit where credit is due.

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Photos by Thomas W. Campbell – Special thanks to Summerstage, NYC and the artists for allowing photos to be taken. Always give credit where credit is due.

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Photos by Thomas W. Campbell – Special thanks to Summerstage, NYC and the artists for allowing photos to be taken. Always give credit where credit is due.

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Photos by Thomas W. Campbell – Special thanks to Summerstage, NYC and the artists for allowing photos to be taken. Always give credit where credit is due.

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Reed, Anderson & Friends at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

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This is all true!

On Wednesday evening I arrived home from work and went for a walk in my Upper West Side neighborhood. Strolling along, listening to music, past the Cathedral, through Columbia University, taking in all of the sights and people on Broadway, I thought this is great place to be – write, work on my projects in the apartment, go for long walks, find the music and art and good meals that are all within walking distance (even long walking distance) from my humble little home.

When I got back to the apartment I plugged in an old radio tube amp and a more modern Fender, split a signal through a cheap tube distortion pedal, and started to see what sounds I could get from the beautiful 1966 Kapa (American) guitar I was so fortunate to come across recently. Got through this recording:

Then a text came in from a friend in the know: Lou Reed’s guitars and amps are droning in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine until 11:00 this evening!! What? Two Blocks away? Another chance to hear these instruments at work? The neighborhood surely does call…

I’ve heard and recorded music over the years at the Cathedral – it is a remarkable building run by great people who understand the value of art and humanity. I loaded up my portable recorder with the freshest batteries I could find and went next door.

There were four (or maybe five) sound stations in the Cathedral, with Lou’s gear in the pew area at the back, an open space, a keyboard, a guitar, and finally Laurie’s performance as one moved toward the front of the structure.

The recording below, of Lou Reed’s guitars and Amps in feedback mode, was recorded on the iPhone and is in mono.

Here is another mono recording, a front angle:

And here is a stereo audio only recording of Lou’s gear from the Pew, with mics facing the amps sitting to the right, about 15 feet away:

The sound design was inspiring and seemed to work like this – each section of performance  had access to a live feed of the of Lou’s guitar and amp feedback and Lou’s section also had a bit of live access to the other performers. It was subtle and allowed each of the performers to play with and react to what was coming from Lou’s gear.
Below is a stereo audio only recording of Laurie performing with an electric violin (of sort):

My recording technique is to go to a space or place, hold the recorder in front of me, and just stand there, occasionally glancing at the device to be sure nothing is distorting etc. Remarkably, people generally just ignore me. Finding a nice spot between Lou’s feedback and the rest of the Cathedral, I set the recorder down at one point and stepped back a few feet. Oddly, or not, people thought the recorder was somehow part of the event – a few people, including a woman and her entire family, came up to study it,

Below, I believe, is one of the recordings made from this spot.

One of the musicians played some subtle and tasty licks, while the cathedral filled with sound around him:

I spent some time in the space near where Laurie was playing, which also included the guitarist (on her side of the space) and a keyboard performer on the other side. Everyone was playing in minimal style, riding the wave of Lou’s feedback and drone. Below is a stereo spatial recording that concludes with movement through the space and an exit through the front door to Amsterdam Avenue.

And here is an older post about a day of celebrating Lou’s life at Lincoln Cener a few years back:

https://twcampbell.net/2016/08/07/lou-reed-day-at-lincoln-center/

 

The Lost City of Z Q&A

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On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, The National Board of Review screened James Gray’s new film The Lost City of Z and afterwards I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion with the director and Sienna Miller, who plays Nina Fawcett, the wife of explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnum). It’s a fascinating film, adapted from the best seller written by David Grann and shot by the outstanding cinematographer Darius Khondji, who shot Gray’s The Immigrant, and, just prior to that, Michale Haneke’s Amour. Both Gray and Miller were lively and engaging during our conversation and we covered as much ground as we could in the relatively brief time we were together. The film is in the theaters and also on Netflix, who were co-producers.

Here is a link to an excerpt from the Q&A.

Easter Sunday 2017 in NYC

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I went to the Easter Sunday parade in Manhattan with a friend on April 16 and we took lots of pictures. What a great day filled with cheerful and friendly people. The weather was lively, fluctuating between sunny and overcast, making for an ever changing tapestry of shadow and light. We shot on the RAW format, which photographers have used for years but, as a filmmaker, I began working with about three years ago. It’s true, as a few cinematographers I have spoken with have said, that it is more like working with film than video as there is a great deal of latitude and information that can be digitally controlled and tweaked. As a documentary film maker I always work in RAW because I’m often shooting and directing at the same time and am unable to get the lighting “perfect”.  And so much of what you are shooting in documentaries simply isn’t meant to be controlled – you are a guest in the doc world as a filmmaker, not the other way around.

Here are a few shots from the Easter Gathering.

Europe 1995 – Taiji and East Berlin

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In the summer of 1995 I had the good fortune to travel to Europe to study taiji for a week and then to spend a week in East Berlin.  What more might a young man want than to do than to explore the world in good health and happiness!

In Strasbourg, I practiced taiji with my fellow New Yorkers in an international festival celebrating Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan, taught by fourth generation master Wang Yen-nien. Then I traveled to the heart of old East Berlin. Will post pictures when I find them 🙂

East Berlin notes, Summer 1995

Visit the Berlin Zoo

Cash on hand and 80 dollars in traveler’s checks

Buy – Eurail Pass

         – Film roll

Shop – Cheese

           – water

            -Bread

            -Wine/Bee

Places of Importance to visit:

Am Friedricschain

S. Hackeschen Market (train H,2,3,4)

Griefswalder Strafze

3 Frieden Strausse

Stu Zoologischer Garten

Pergamon Museum

Driwitc

Potsdam

Alexanderplatz

Unter den Linden

Sans Souci (without sorrow)

Peace Park

Tier Garten

Brandenburg Ter.

J. F. Dulles Allee

Mitte

Oranienburge Strafze (Connects Cine?)

–  Seems to lead to … Cafe and Plost Alley

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East Berlin on a Thursday Night (1995)

I drank some wine, made a late lunch in the apartment, and went to S. Hackeschen Market. Should I have had a coffee? Am now in a bar on Oranienburge Strafze. What beautiful waitresses the German girls are – One is very butch. But that’s OK, what counts is attitude.

The bar seems to be called Kino Blowup. Could it be that they also show films here?  Butch just cranked up the music – not going to be easy to communicate here.  I have been told to watch out for the women of the night, who are neither subtle nor without experience. I will keep my attention elsewhere.

Whew – just made eye contact with the blond woman at the bar who is really cute. Careful – night’s early.

I could fall in love very easily in Berlin. People seem to be open, and intent on life. There is not a lot of excess attitude. The girls are very sexy in a natural way. Not that I am really out to be super social. But the women do not put up stiff barriers to talking, either. Former East Berliners (Essies) are regular folk.  They have experienced a lifetime under communism and are still tentative about themselves and their new lifestyles. They are sweet, and almost naive.

I like them. I like being in Berlin.

Krombacher is a good (light) beer. Later I must try Budweiser, the noted Czech beer. Butch girl is the DJ. She is spinning some big beat sounds. Bose speakers pump it out.

The girl behind the bar, with short blond hair, very short, and a small nose ring has grabbed my attention. She bops around well to the music. I think she has a body like (redacted) – small – sweet. I’m going to ask her about Budweiser.

In response he says “It’s Czechoslovakian”, not German. But very good. When I ask her for a glass she nods, professionally and nicely.

Bartenders pour beer in Berlin so that the head comes out really large, then they slowly add more beer to the glass only as the foam settles. I was told this was a European thing – and here it is. There is no rush to get the beer over to the presumed drinker. It’s not like “Serve ‘em up and get ‘em drunk. ASAP”. There is style and care in the process. A very hand-crafted experience. A special touch. I appreciate this.

The dark skin girl (also with a nose ring) says to the bar girl “How late are you open to?” “Until 4:00” She second girl is sweetn too – has on an olive green T shirt with a balloon police car vehicle. It is funny…  Bright Blue, white and red, cartoonish.

Maybe they are lovers. They are friendly and the place is fun. “Kino Blowup”.  With cast metal sculptures and thin tall-back metal chairs.

Also, centered on the wall to the left of the bar, is a large conspicuously vagina-like sculpture. On the other side of the bar a thin long-necked statue of a man that seems to fly off the floor.

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It is odd that people come into the bar carrying baskets of things to sell, hawking their wares.  A respectable looking man (Peter Framptonish) arrives with a basket of good looking breads and pastries and croissants, walking around and selling them. It is perfectly accepted, more than that it is appreciated. His breads and snacks are good, his way is friendly and his prices, from the reaction, are reasonable. It’s an old world thing. In “the states” he would be infringing on the bar’s territory and be tossed to the street.

People drink beer with red (berry) syrup here. Have seen at least three people order it.  I ask the bartender about it and she says, kidding. “It’s for children. Sweet syrup” she says, softly. Am I understanding her? I smile and nod. I must learn some German or French, so that I can connect better.

And the DJ keeps the place rocking.

Under the City screening on the Bayou

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My short animation Under the City the Blue Bag Dropped was part of the 13th annual Cinema on the Bayou in late January, 2017. I did the first drawings for the video in December of 2008 and just kept coming back to it over the years. Finally, this spring, wanting a followup to my short Rooftop Serenade, that played in festivals last summer, I stayed on it every evening when I got home from work until it was where it needed to be. Everything is hand shot or hand drawn, put together in Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects. The original soundtrack, a song called Jaguar Muse that I composed in 2015, was edited and mixed in Pro Tools.

The festival ran from January 24 to February 1 and took place in Lafayette, Louisiana. The film has previously screened in the Coney Island Film Festival, the East Village Chain Film Festival and was awarded Honorable Mention at The Marblehead Festival of the Arts. The film has also been accepted into the Three Minute Film Festival in Santa Barabra, California and will screen on July, 6 2017.