Sir Elton!!!

Elton John

I know this is being posted very late … but I have been slammed at work.

Regardless, I definitely wanted to say a few words about photographing the legendary Elton John.

The thing I loved about shooting this show was the low-hum of the energy and the buzz of excitement that could be felt throughout the building before the sold-out show at the Nutter Center.

Then I was struck by how energetic and still vibrant Captain Fantastic was from the get-go.

He was adorned in a spectacular and dazzling coat covered in sequins.

The biggest radio-played artist of the ‘70s began his set with a crowd-rockin’ rendition of The Bitch is Back.” The photography situation was tenuous at best as there were seven of us trying to stand in a 6-foot by 6-foot space stage right.

After the crowd was warmed up, Sir Elton busted into crowd favoriteBenny and the Jets.” The photo crew was moved back about 30 feet into an aisle on the left side of the stage. For someone who isn’t that tall like me and one of the female togs, it made for a difficult shoot. But there have always been worse situations. The mega-star’s spectacular lights show helped ease some of the pain of the location.

The worst part of this particular show was that after the two songs were over, I did not get to stay for the show (as I do at most shows).

So that was it. Two songs at a bucket-list show. And then it was snuffed out like a Candle in the Wind.

For more images from the show, click here.

Elton John

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:

But don’t take my word for it. You can stream the entire album for free at (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)

— 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.

REVIEW: Tegan and Sara show opened my eyes (and ears) to new music

Tegan and SaraTegan and Sara at the LC Pavilion in Columbus

This review is a week late … but hopefully worth the wait.

First off, I had heard of Tegan and Sara, but had never heard their music. When I arrived at the Lifestyles Community Pavilion, it seemed like I was the only person in Columbus who had never heard of this dynamic duo from Canada. The line outside the venue stretched at least four blocks around the building.

When the doors did finally open around 8 p.m., people stormed in and ran to the front of the venue in order to get a chance at the rail positions.

DIANADIANA at the LC Pavilion in Columbus

The early-bird crowd got a glimpse at another Canadian band DIANA, whose Indie sounds were reminiscent of the headlining act. Lead singer Carmen Elle commanded the stage and at one quiet moment was asked by the mostly female crowd to take off her pants (which she off-handedly rebuked).

I really enjoyed their sound and the crowd was definitely into their sound.

There was a short break between bands, but the crowd began to get restless and began cheering to get the headliners out.

Tegan and Sara took the stage by storm. The lights, although difficult for photography, created a dynamic stage effect for the identical twin sisters – Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin.

The pair’s set effortlessly intermingled old tunes with some of their newer songs. You could hear the subtle changes as the band’s sound has kind of evolved more from Indie rock to more of a pop sound. The highlight was, of course, near the end of the show when the band played their radio hit Closer.

Overall, this is not really my natural scene, but I found myself hearing a couple of their tunes in my head over the next few days. And I would absolutely recommend checking them out if you haven’t already.

The Canadian band will be coming back around to open for fun. at the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati this summer.

Tegan and SaraTegan and Sara


REVIEW: Bad girl love song is oh so good (Tegan and Sara)

Today, Rhythm of the Region welcomes a new contributor to the music blog. Ashley Bethard will be adding some depth, showing some musical love and generally bringing a new voice to the many voices of the music scene. Here first post if below. Please show her some love. — Brian Glass

Oh, Tegan. Oh, Sara. These girls? They kick ass in their new single, and I’m not just saying that because I’m partial to a bad girl love song (okay, maybe I’m a little biased). You may have heard their new album Heartthrob described as “poppy,” marking a departure from solid indie territory. That might be true, but they can do pop better than most.

I’ll be honest: the only former Tegan and Sara song that interested me before this was 2009’s ubiquitous “Hell,” and I think “Closer” surpasses it – not just in catchiness, but in overall complexity. Don’t believe me? Give it a listen:

I love a song with depth that moves through moods and signals the changes with instruments, vocals and synths. “Closer” does all of that. And it’s sexily aggressive in a unique way, not at all like a typical pop tartlet. You’re going to wanna dance to this one, but you’ll also get that funny feeling that these girls are the type who’d chew you up, spit you out and stomp on you with their moto boots before zipping their leather jackets and skulking away.

The best part about all of this? They’re playing at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus today. Doors are at 7 p.m. and tickets are $40.35 (includes processing fee). Find more ticket info here. Opener: Diana.

— Ashley Bethard