Easter Sunday 2017 in NYC

Featured

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.

Under the City screening on the Bayou

Featured

under-the-city-blog-shot-1

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.

Lou Reed Day at Lincoln Center!

Featured

Saturday, July 30, 2016 was a day long celebration of the Music and Songs of Lou Reed. Everyone came out to play.
Here is a link to the original web page for lots of info:
http://www.lcoutofdoors.org/events/the-bells-a-daylong-celebration-of-lou-reed

The evening show took place in the rain so it was not conducive to bringing an DSLR camera to the show. But it lingers on in memory – David Johanson was particularly excellent.

One of the daytime highlights was a working display of 6 guitars and 6 amps, all from Lou’s collection, set to a four hour feedback loop in the lobby of Alice Tully hall. Ear protection was handed out. Below is a photo and a link to a 7 minute stereo excerpt I recorded:

Reed guitars IMGP3003

Reed Live Drone Guitars (7 Minute Excerpt)

Here are some photos I took – and a few notes:

@11:30 AM the “House band” played Rockers. Jon Spencer joined the band for “Venus in Furs”. Being a Lou Reed show someone had to unbutton their trousers. The belt came off and he gave his guitar a good thrashing, worthy of De Sade himself, while Sal Maida laid down the bass:

IMGP3073 Jon Spencer whips GTR

Felice Rosser IMGP3026

Felice Rosser, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley found their grooves.

StarliteIMGP3038

Tammy Faye Starlite did some Nico / Marianne Faithful things and looked good doing it.

IMGP3060 JG Thirlwell

JG Thirlwell and Lee Ranaldo.

Ranaldo and guitars IMGP3090

Lee Ranaldo, Sal Maida, Matt Sweeney and (I believe) Jesse Malin get down to business.

Bush Tetras IMGP3123

Bush Tetras know what to do.

Disco Mystic IMGP3161

Kembra Pfahles and the Disco Mystiques.

Schnabel and Laurie Anderson

Julian Schnabel and Laurie Anderson during the afternoon readings. Sadly, Schnabel’s outdoor screening of his concert film Berlin was rained out later that evening.

Patti Smith Band At Lincoln Center

Featured

Patti Smith and her band, including long-time Smith band members and collaborators Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan, opened the 2016 Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival on Wednesday eve, July 20, 2016. It was a rocking show – tight, soulful, Smith’s voice having lost nothing over the years.

The all-female, Latin Grammy–nominated group Mariachi Flor de Toloache  – a quartet bringing New York style to traditional Mexican music – opened the show with energy and style.

Mariachi Flor de Toloache trim IMGP2584

Mariachi Flor de Toloache trim 2IMGP2597

Patti with Book IMGP2606

Story Time.

IMGP2640 full band trim

Patti Tony 1 trim IMGP2692

Grtr and Bass trim IMGP2745

T Kaye trim IMGP2827

Lenny Kaye lays it down.

four band trim IMGP2753

Patti Feedback trim IMGP2938

Feedback Time.

Patti and Tony K trim IMGP2965

Patti wave trim IMGP2918

Looking back at Lyle Lovett and Summerstage 2015

Featured

Summertime and outdoor music – a real treat.
Here’s a link to more pictures, as they are added:  More photos by Thomas W. Campbell

Lyle and bass man for web

Lyle Lovett performs with his Big Band at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015. Photograph by Thomas W. Campbell

lovett and singer 1 from raw for web

Lyle Lovett performs with his Big Band at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015. Photograph by Thomas W. Campbell
Lovett Sax for web

A member of Lyle Lovett’s Big Band plays at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015. Photograph by Thomas. W. Campbell

Lyle sings red for web

Lyle Lovett and his Big Band at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015 Photograph by Thomas W. Campbell

Lyle and singer 2 for web

Lyle Lovett and his Big Band at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015 Photograph by Thomas W. Campbell

Lovett full band for web

Lyle Lovett and his Big Band at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015 Photograph by Thomas W. Campbell

Lyle at camera for web

Lyle Lovett and his Big Band at Lincoln Center Summerstage, 2015 Photograph by Thomas W. Campbell

 

Birth of the Sun – Grady Alexis and the East Village

Featured

GradyCoffee

Grady Alexis drinks coffee in the kitchen of El Taller Latino Americano during the late 1980’s. Image by Demian Palombo.

Birth of the Sun is a short documentary video about Grady Alexis and the East Village of the 1980’s/90’s. Using interviews, art, and archival footage, the film explores the life and times of the Haitian artist who moved to New York City when he was a young teenager, lived on the street while he sold his art in Tompkins Square park, found community and shelter with other artists and outsiders, and finally died in a traffic scuffle with an off-duty policeman at the age of 26.

Grady lived on the edge, bonding with the artists and activists he met through the downtown community, developing a style based on his own experiences in New York City that also became firmly rooted in the tradition and culture of his native Haiti. Grady never had a legal address, living in squats, on the street, at El Taller as “Resident Artist”, and with friends and lovers. He was a collaborator, which brought him into touch with many people, movements, and cultures. Birth of the Sun examines these distinct sides of Grady’s life. It looks at the family that he found when he became “artist in residence” at El Taller Latino Americano, when he was involved with the artist known as “the Maroons” and his time with the artists who convened at the Mars Bar.

Grady Alexis Freeze side

Grady Alexis at an art opening at El Taller in late 1980’s. Freeze frame from video shot by Bernardo Palombo.

Grady’s life was also on the street during a time when violent crime was at a peak and police-community relations were strained and tenuous. That is where his life ultimately ended. On the evening of May 6, 1991, Grady Alexis and two others were confronted by two men, one an off-duty policeman, at 8th street and Fifth Avenue. Grady died hours later from the eruption of violence that ensued. His untimely death on the evening of May 6, 1991, was swift and had a lasting impact on those who knew him. When he died El Taller seemed to collapse beneath the tragic weight of the event. The Maroons had already broken up, although Thom Corn and Grady had continued to collaborate. The film is about the many people who still remember their friendship with Grady.

The filmmakers use many narrative and stylistic techniques to examine the life and death of Grady Alexis and his lasting impact. Working from a photograph of his long-lost mural “the Birth of the Sun”, people who knew Grady, and artists from El Taller have gathered to recreate the mural. The completion of the mural, which is documented in the film, culminates in the celebration of Grady’s life – a gathering of people from past and present at the first retrospective of Grady’s painting and sculpture. The filmmakers sorted through hundreds of hours of archival material that spans the entire duration of El Taller’s rich history to find the small bit of video documentation that exists of his life. Birth of the Sun is in many ways an investigation. The filmmakers are interviewing numerous people who knew Grady and were active in the arts and political culture of the time, attempting to put his life – and death – into a broader social context. The film uses subtle and artistic re-enactments to explore the relationships that defined Grady’s life and death. The filmmakers also documenting much of Grady’s surviving artwork – paintings, sculptures, masks, murals, and installations. The film has a rich and completely original soundtrack that reflects the many musicians who knew Grady.

Birth of the Sun uses an artist's rendition to represent the events of May 6, 1991. Richard Pliego was the artist.

Birth of the Sun uses an artist’s rendition to represent the events of May 6, 1991. Richard Pliego was the artist.

Although Grady’s life ended almost 25 years ago, his death was part of a turning point in the city’s cultural and social landscape. Birth of the Sun, which was produced in 2008, is about that time and will shed light on the life of Grady Alexis and this unique moment in the life of New York City.

Film Stills for Rooftop Serenade

Featured

Rooftop Serenade Still 1small
I was looking through a box of old photographs and came across some production stills from the 2002 Rooftop Serenade shoot that were taken on film. It was a really hot and bright day that was full of visual contrast. The photographs were taken by Holly Leavy.

Gretchen  ColorGeorge ColorGretchen and G shadow300Tom and LightTom and Light CU Hand