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.


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