Ryan Bingham show was as sweet as Honeyhoney

Ryan BinghamRyan Bingham at the Taft Theater

Back in action and feeling rejuvenated.

I must say it was nice taking a short break, but I was also extremely excited to capture the Ryan Bingham and Honeyhoney show at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati.

If I am being completely honest, I was more excited to photograph opening band Honeyhoney and to try to capture the sheer beauty of Suzanne Santo.

Upon seeing her in person, the pictures did not lie. She is gorgeous – and more importantly amazingly talented.

HoneyHoneySuzanne Santo of Honeyhoney

The band — violinist, banjo player and vocalist Santo, and guitarist and drummer Ben Jaffe — played a selection of songs off their album Billy Jack and left the crowd wanting more. Their rockin-country-folk-Americana sound weaved slow melodic ballads in with hard-driving bluegrass-rock. They did not disappoint.

I also loved the fact that the band went out to the merch booth after their set to meet their fans. They were very down-to-earth and both seemed sincerely interested in their supporters. It definitely made me like them more. AND all of this was the opening act.

The headliner was Ryan Bingham who has taken his act on the road without his long-time backing band the Dead Horses.

Bingham always raises eyebrows from people who have never seen him live as he is very thin and sinewy, with a scruffy beard and a cowboy hat. Then he sings.

His voice is sandpaper rough and very strong. It definitely does not look like the voice that should come out of this person.

Bingham started quickly with Guess Who’s Knockin’? and did not let up for the entire set. The crowd was filled with obvious fans, and most were on their feet the entire time (despite the extremely intimate feel).

To be honest, I was surprised the show was not sold out, but I hope that doesn’t dissuade Bingham and Honeyhoney from coming back around to the area.

I know that I am definitely looking forward to seeing Bingham again soon at the Hangout Music Festival.


In the last days of rock ‘n’ roll, a savior emerges: Leroy Powell & the Messengers

LeroyPowellIf there’s one argument for heading to Columbus this weekend, it’s to see the last days of rock and roll. I’m not talking hair rock. I’m not talking metal. I’m not talking straight country, either. I’m talking real rock and roll, the kind you feel in your stomach, the kind that needs no introduction. It’s to see Leroy Powell and the Messengers on stage at Woodlands Tavern on March 29.

But I’m going to introduce you to Leroy Powell anyway. First, a disclaimer: I met Leroy back in the day. When I say “back in the day” I actually mean back in my day, which is about 7 years ago, when he was playing with Shooter Jennings and the .357s. In addition to the way he plays guitar (pure nasty, in case you were wondering), he sang backup vocals and could write one hell of a song (“Busted in Baylor County” is one of the top-recognized songs from the Shooter Jennings era, and was mostly written by Powell himself). And there was one time in the .357s’ later days that he learned pedal steel in under a week to play on an upcoming track the band was working on — nothing to brag on, he tells me, because he wasn’t “that good back then.”

But this argument – the one where I tell you to go see Mr. Powell and his firebrand of rock and roll in days that might sadly be last of them – is not rooted in the past. It’s rooted in the present. It’s the now. His new record, “Life and Death,” makes a hell of a compelling case for saving a genre.

The album is compulsively listenable, thanks to a calculated progression of tempo made for enjoying from start to finish, on repeat. “I’ve Got You Where I Want You” walks a line between sweet love and sexual possession (there’s no leaving / i’ve got you where i want you / i’m never going to set you free), and it works. His voice is pure enough to coddle traditionalists — just listen to the pained-yet-lovely “Send Me Out the Door,” which positively thrums with unadulterated vocal emotion. But he’s got an edge, too, a wildness that creeps in nearly halfway through the record, starting with “You’re Driving Me (Out of My Ever Loving Mind).” Speaking of which, “Driving Me” is probably one of the best road-tripping songs you’ll hear this year — an easy, upbeat listen with subtle harmonies that remind me of a more modern version of the Oak Ridge Boys, so take note and put it on your summer playlist. “Blood in the Sky” is a sultry stomper, an auditory equivalent to Friday night after a long, long week at work and the kind of song you’ll want to crank up and blast on repeat (and you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/fRLxmrH6wXI).

But don’t take my word for it. You can stream the entire album for free at leroypowell.com (after which you should be a good person and show your excellent taste in music by purchasing the album for a mere $10), and then go see him live. A perfect musical handshake of events, if I say so myself.

I caught up with Leroy and pestered him with some questions. We talked about superheroes, capes and what he’s listening to these days.

Rhythm of the Region: What’s on your playlist right now? Give me a top five.
Leroy Powell:
I’m listening to Wagner “Liebestod” and Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. Also Hall & Oates. Also listening to Jimi Hendrix.

You’ve done a lot, musically, in the several years that you’ve been working solo. How would you describe your musical evolution?
Musical evolution is just that. Evolution.

What’s the best thing about pursuing your own personal projects? What’s been the most fulfilling?
I’ve always pursued my own projects. When I play with other people I make it my own. I put myself in the epicenter of whatever I have a passion for.

On the flip side: what’s been the most challenging thing about working solo?
Powell: I’m never working solo. Music is a form of communication. The very nature of it implies other people. Making a connection is the goal. Making a strong connection is the challenge.

You can be a superhero, any superhero. Name the first that comes to mind.
Powell: You know I wear a cape, right?

Powell: Because you’re supposed to.

Your new album “Life and Death” was released last month. How would you describe it from a musical lineage (or musical departure) standpoint?
Powell: “Life and Death” is my most ambitious record. I wanted to show how you can come from a place where JJ Cale and Metallica hang out together. I play the country and I do the hard rock stuff. Life and Death is really where it’s at. And maybe the weather. What else do people talk about?

Want to go?
Leroy Powell and the Messengers
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, March 29
WHERE: Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W. Third Ave., Columbus
COST: $10/ticket (all ages show)
INFO: leroypowell.com

— Ashley Bethard

My own private Zac Brown Band show

So last week I made the conscious decision to take a week or two off from shooting shows and to attempt to re-charge before the big music festival push coming soon.

This decision also coincided with a business trip for a conference I was scheduled to attend in Orlando, Fla.,  this past week. This trip obviously made it much easier for me to not just say “what the hell?” and get out to a show.

The conference was a meeting of company executives sharing best practices, new ideas and a chance to meet some of our peers in other markets.

On the first night of the conference, we went to dinner and were told that after dinner we would have entertainment provided. So after enjoying a meal together we wandered down to the ballroom and I could tell that there was going to be a band or musician because there was a stage and lighting rig set up in the ballroom. I absolutely did not expect what came next.

My company, which owns TV, radio and newspapers around the country had brought in the Zac Brown Band to play a private show for us. Zac. Brown. Band. Very cool!

I immediately took my place in the front row center stage to see the show from the perspective I have been accustomed to with my photo credentials. I also began regretting not bringing my camera for this event. What was I thinking?

Anyway, I began doing the superfan thing or using my iPhone to try to capture the show as well as I could (I am terrible with that thing). Here are some images I did catch with my phone.

Also since I was so close to the band I could see the setlist, and I noticed that they were going to do Ants Marching by Dave Matthews Band. I decided to try to video that song with my phone. The above video is what I caught.

I had not seen the Zac Brown Band before but I truly loved the intimacy of the show and I apparently was the only one who did not know every word to every song. Everyone had a great time and I cannot wait to see these guys again – with my gear.

The dancing, dubstep violinist! What?

Lindsey Stirling

Lindsey Stirling has been called many things. Dancing violinist? The dubstep violinist? The hip-hop violinist? The Zelda violinist? Whatever you want to call her is fine. I call her immensely talented.

I interviewed the 26-year-old America’s Got Talent fallout girl last week (read the interview here), and got a little insight into what makes her tick. But even after a wonderful 30-minute conversation, I did not understand how amazing the YouTube star’s show would be.

I have to admit, I was excited to check out her show after watching many of her videos online (and because she is very beautiful). But my excitement was understated compared to the performance.

She was all over the place, with beautiful dancing (which she learned how to do by watching YouTube videos), beautiful beats and virtuoso violin playing.

The show was filled with dance-inducing joy from the Michael Jackson tribute to the Zelda Medley. At one point, I could feel the floor moving because of the amount of dancing along that was going on in the sold-out 20th Century Theater crowd.

This show was one of my favorite shows of the year (the opening band The Vibrant Sound was great, too).

I cannot say enough that if you get a chance to check out her show, please do it. You will not be disappointed.

More Girls … The Indigo Girls!

I am jonesin’ some live music. One week without a live show has me going stir- crazy. That, plus the announcement of another killer lineup (this time the Forecastle event in Louisville, Ky.), has me in a “MUST FIND MUSIC” mode.

BTW, did you see the Forecastle lineup? String Cheese Incident, The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips, Alabama Shakes, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Old Crow, Animal Collective, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Avett Brothers, Wild Belle, Dr. Dog and many, many more. Tickets go on sale Wednesday for the event. I am guessing you will need to act fast.

Sooooo… all that said, I am heading down to the Madison Theater Tuesday to catch the uber-talented Indigo Girls and their American folk-rock stylings, and The Shadowboxers.

Tickets are $30 for the 8 p.m. show and are available here …www.ticketmaster.com/venue/180386

If you are hitting up the show, stop me and say hello. Hopefully the show will help me get “Closer to Fine.”

Girls, Girls, Girl

DAAP GirlsDAAP Girls at The Drinkery in Cincinnati, Ohio

This week’s installment is very late in terms of reviews and very slow in terms of new music adventures.

BUT, just because I am a bit late in my show review does not mean I am not excited to report on the DAAP Girls Album Release Party.

Last week was a big week for the DAAP Girls as they were announced on the Bunbury Music Festival lineup and released their album on Friday. I joined the party at The Drinkery (amazingly my first time there) in Over the Rhine in Cincinnati for Cincinnati’s hottest new band. The fun began with a unique slap bracelet download given to everyone as they came into the venue.

The pre-promotion and the buzz about the band’s Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best New Artist seemed to work as the house was packed and made it difficult to navigate from the front to the back of the bar.

Archer’s Paradox kicked off the festivities with a nice set that kept drawing more and more people in for the show. I enjoyed there rockin’ style and was definitely a nice intro to the main event.

On a side note, I enjoyed seeing the full house and seeing a lot of familiar faces (from other fans and bands) coming out to show support for the DAAP Girls.

Once the DAAP Girls (Stuart MacKenzie, Jay and Alex Duckworth, Richard Sherman and Daniel Peterson) took the stage, you were basically locked into the place you were standing because of the crowd. The band launched into a lot of their new songs including the catchy “Kate” (already a crowd favorite thanks to Facebook promotion).

I personally really like the band’s Indie rock sound and downloaded the album the next day. I would recommend it to anyone who is into the Indie sound and everyone hitting up Bunbury should check out their set.

To see more images from the show, click here.

My week did not include seeing any more live shows, but I did get a chance to interview “The Dub-Step Violinist” Lindsey Stirling for Active Dayton. Stirling will be playing the 20th Century Theater in Cincinnati on March 13, and anyone familiar with her work would say this show should not be missed. Check out the review in Active Dayton next week.

Check out her videos on her YouTube channel Lindseystomp, or watch this one here.

I will be hitting that show and hope others will come out and say hello.

Music and photography – two of my favorite things

Good English

This week’s musical journey started early in the week with a President’s Day show with Good English at the South Park Tavern in Dayton.

I have photographed this band in several different elements over the past six months, and each of them have brought me joy.

My most recent experience was a Monday night show where for the first time, I believe the Rasmussen sisters are starting to find their sound… and it was definitely good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Good English put a fair number of their recently recorded songs on display much to the crowds approval. These rocking songs showed off Leslie solid time-keeping drumming, Celia’s stoic and steady bass-lines and Liz’s raspy rock-gurrrl vocals.

I enjoyed every minute. (Even when Celia’s bass amp died midway through the last song.)

This band is on its way and has even booked a festival in Austin in April.

The rest of the week was slow musically for me, but will be picking up tonight as I have a couple of events planned.

This evening I will be attending a meet-up of Ohio music photographers at Arnold’s, where hopefully, we will swap stories, ideas and build on already loose friendships through our love for photography and music.

After the photography forum, I am planning on hitting The Drinkery in Over the Rhine to catch the CD release party for the DAAP Girls – a hot new Cincinnati band.

Should be a fun night.

And now for something completely different (Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett) …

Miranda LambertSo I pride myself on being well-rounded as a music fan, and I always tell anyone who asks I will photograph anyone. This weekend shows I am a man of my word.

I would say that as far as music goes, pop country is definitely lower on my list of musical tastes. So when the opportunity to photograph the Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley (and Thomas Rhett) show came up, I jumped at the opportunity (even though I honestly knew none of their music).

The first thing I found interesting came from Facebook. When I announced to the world that I would be shooting this concert, I had people that I do not even know commenting about how jealous they were. I secretly wonder if they look at my other work ever.

Anyway, my first real disappointment came when even after asking if this would be a soundboard shoot (and finding out through email that it would be a front of house shoot), we found out that it would indeed be from 150-200 yards away from the stage. Luckily, I had at least brought my 70-200mm lens. This situation was only made worse by the fact that there was no riser for us to stand above the crowd. So in all honesty, I was extremely frustrated before the first opening act even began – and debated leaving.

But I decided to stick it out, and I have to say I was quite impressed with what I saw. Although not a big country fan (as stated above), I enjoyed the bluesy, rock influences that were ever present in both Thomas Rhett and Dierks Bentley’s sets. These guys can really rock. And as I noticed my head bobbing along to some of Bentley’s signature songs like 5150 and Home, I saw why it is “pop” country.

Dierks Bentley

The main headliner, Miranda Lambert, is less my cup of tea, but still an honest ear can hear why her music has a big following. The beautiful songstress is very engaging, and you can tell she cares about her fans. Also, I believe this devotion to fans was one of the reasons we had to shoot from so far back. She wants fans up close. I get it.

One major benefit to photographing from a distance is the fact that you can eye the whole crowd and the lighting production. The lighting was phenomenal and at times filled the arena and lit up the capacity crowd. I hope I captured some of that in the images.

The highlight of the night for most was the surprise appearance of Lambert’s husband country star and coach on The Voice Blake Shelton. Shelton joined Lambert on stage much to the delight of the sold out Nutter Center crowd.

So overall, despite difficult shooting conditions, I enjoyed the experience (will definitely shoot country again) and was pleasantly surprised by the lighting production and even will likely listen to more pop country in the future.

Dierks BentleyNutter Center – Feb. 15, 2013 – Fairborn, Ohio
SET: Am I the Only One, Free and Easy, 5150, Every Mile’s a Memory, Lot a Leavin Left to do, She Was, Tip it on Back, Up on the Ridge, Slowdown, Come a Little Closer Baby, I Hold All, What Was I Thinkin’, Sideways, Home

Grateful for a weekend filled with musical diversity!!!

Dark Star OrchestraDark Star Orchestra – Madison Theater – Feb. 8, 2013 – Covington, Ky.

Wow! Another crazy music and photography filled weekend.

My musical journey began Friday night with a masterful trip through time to experience the music of the Grateful Dead presented by tribute band Dark Star Orchestra. Tribute band does not do DSO justice. This band brings out the joyful feeling of sunshine, along with the Dead fans and their patchouli-scented hippie-ness that reminds me of summer concerts.

The crowds definitely came out in droves for the sold-out show in northern Kentucky. This made for a fun show, but terrible photography conditions as I constantly felt bad about bumping into others to try to get the shot.

Regardless, I had a great time and my highlight was definitely the opening combination of Help>Slipknot>Franklin’s Tower.

As my show buddy Jim said during the beginning of Franklin’s, “How can anyone listen to this song and not smile?” I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday took me in a totally different direction as I had a planned publicity photo shoot with the up-and-coming Dayton band Good English.

We had a good time creating sets and styles in the fourth floor of Hauer Music. I cannot wait to finish working these images and really hope the band enjoys what we have done. I definitely cannot thank the beautiful Rasmussen sisters and their mother enough for the fun shoot.

On Sunday, I saw a wide range of music from bluegrass to instrumentally enhanced, electronic dance music. Strange bedfellows, I admit, but still made for a great night.

It started with dinner and a set of bluegrass at The Comet where I checked out the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. They were missing their fiddle player Ed, which does change their sound, but still was a nice set. The “Ed-less Horsemen” as they dubbed themselves are a fun band who plays every Sunday night in Northside. Well worth a trip there if you enjoy bluegrass.

Big GiganticBig Gigantic – Brick Street – Feb. 10, 2013 – Oxford, Ohio

I then took a leisurely drive to Oxford to visit the old stomping grounds at Miami University. Electro-dance band Big Gigantic were making what I would call a shocking stop on their tour in Oxford. The band took the stage at 10:55 p.m. at Brick Street (formerly First Run) on High Street.

The Boulder, Colo.-based duo killed it again (the fourth time in six months I have seen them). The show was fun, but reminded me of the things I both loved and hated about Miami.

Loves: Miami women
Hates: Miami frat boys especially after they have consumed large amounts of alcohol. Oddly, I don’t get as upset with the Miami women consuming large amounts of alcohol.

The highlights of this show were many for me. The simple fact that Oxford was hosting music was really a boon. The light show that Big Gigantic puts together always makes for fun photography, the way the crowd bounces to the catchy Big G tunes that seriously stick with you for days, and Big G’s take on Aloe Blacc’s hit “I Need a Dollar.”

Overall, this was another amazing chapter to my quest for all things music.

For images from the Dark Star Orchestra show, click here.
For images of the Big Gigantic show, click here.

Dark Star Orchestra
02-08-13 – Madison Theater – Covington, Ky.
I: China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider ; Beat It On Down The Line ; When Push Comes To Shove ; Never Trust A Woman ; Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again ; *Who Was John? ; Hell In A Bucket ; Cats Under The Stars ; Box Of Rain
II: Help On The Way > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower ; Man Smart (Woman Smarter) ; Unbroken Chain > drums > space > So Many Roads > I Need A Miracle > Hey Jude > Casey Jones
E: Mister Charlie ; Brokedown Palace
Notes: *First time played

Jamband fans and Deadheads take note

Dark Star OrchestraDark Star Orchestra – All Good Music Festival 2012 – Thornville, Ohio

This week’s festivities begin Friday as Dark Star Orchestra brings their special tribute to the Grateful Dead to the Madison Theater in Covington, Ky.

I will definitely be there, and am really looking forward to the show and seeing some good friends. My show buddy (who I have seen more than 300 shows with) will be there after too long of a hiatus.

This DSO show comes on the heel of this week’s announcement of the Dark Star Jubilee lineup.

The second annual festival returns to Legend Valley (formerly Buckeye Lake)  in Thornville, Ohio, on Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26, and celebrates the music and spirit of The Grateful Dead, with 3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, plus two Grateful Dead member and their bands.

Hosted and curated by world-renowned Grateful Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra, the Jubilee also features members of The Dead in their own bands, the Mickey Hart Band and Donna Jean Band. Other artists confirmed include Yonder Mountain String Band (All Good Music Festival alum), Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (Downtown Dayton Revival alum), The Wailers, The New Orleans Suspects featuring Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett of Little Feat, local favorites The Werks (Downtown Dayton Revival alum), Greensky Bluegrass, John Brown’s Body, Marco Benevento, Elephant Revival, The Pimps of Joytime (All Good Music Festival alum) , Rumpke Mountain Boys (Cincinnati’s own), BigEaR, The Folkadelics, The Ark Band, Matt Reynolds with additional artists still to be announced.

With three nights of Dark Star Orchestra and over two dozen artists for more than 36 hours of music with no overlapping sets, the Jubilee takes place at the historic Legend Valley, home to some of the largest outdoor Grateful Dead concerts. Legend Valley is also the home to the All Good Music Festival, where the 17th annual event is going on July 18-22. Promoters are offering the only chance to obtain All Good Festival ticket at this time by offering an Early Bird package deal including GA camping, parking and entertainment to both the Dark Star Jubilee and All Good Festivals, for $250, saving buyers over $125 off the gate price.

For over 15 years and 2150 shows, Dark Star Orchestra has toured the world embodying the Grateful Dead’s live concert experience for veteran Deadheads and those too young to have ever seen a Grateful Dead show.  Countless guest musicians have sat in with Dark Star Orchestra, including six members of The Grateful Dead, most recently when GD founding member and bassist, Phil Lesh, joined the band onstage in San Francisco last year.

Dark Star Jubilee tickets are on sale now with discounted ‘Morning Dew Early Bird’ tickets for 3-day GA admission at $99 ($45 off gate price) and for ‘Good Lovin’ VIP’ festival admission at $199 ($80 off gate price). ‘Little Star Kids’ is a $25 ticket for children ages 4-12, who must be accompanied by a festival ticket-holding adult. Festival attendees ages three and under are free while youth above age 13 must have a full price festival pass. Gates open at noon Friday, May 24. Complete ticket options with pricing are available at www.darkstarjubilee.com.

For more sound clips, photos, interview request and any further information on the Dark Star Jubilee or Dark Star Orchestra, please visit www.darkstarjubilee.com and www.darkstarorchestra.net.