Where Do We Go From Here?

 

Every once in awhile you find yourself propelled into a musical universe that didn’t exist for you just moments before. But just a few notes in you get it. You get the vibe. You sense where the music is going, feel familiar with the songs even though it is actually new to your ears. Right away you get a feeling as a listener you are witnessing something you want to nurture and support, however small the contribution might be. These are exactly the feelings I had last month when I came across a new band to my ears-Jules & The Jinks.

I was at a favorite local spot in my neighborhood, a big open space barbecue smokehouse joint that has music on the weekends. It was the last night of my week long 50th birthday celebrations and I wanted to close it out with some good barbecue food and some more live music. Now I have seen bands at this place before, and I have heard some decent stuff, but (no slight intended) most of the music there has been pretty standard Saturday night bar music. Fun at the time, but not necessarily memorable afterwords.  And as I saw the band setting the gear up, I had a similar feeling. But then the music started off tight and funky. And then…the voice, oh that voice of lead singer Julissa Lopez came booming out. And it was then that I knew that this was a new happy addition to my musical universe.

Within just a few notes I was held spellbound by both the music and Julissa’s vocals and stage presence, not to mention a lot of hair! They wound up playing three sets, and I stayed for all of them. I could tell that they were also playing all original material, though a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On was totally bad ass. More impressive was the fact that the songs ran the range from soulful ballads, to hard driving rockers, propelled by a band well versed in the music. A friend who joined me part of the way through made a comment that you could hear the band down the block, probably no surprise.

A few days later I bought the band’s self-titled EP on Itunes and started checking out some videos on YouTube. One song they had played that night stood out in particular to me-Where Do We Go From Here.  Not only because Julissa really belted it out with great accompaniment by the band, but it also resonated with me for more personal reasons. In the few weeks I have been listening to it, these words-‘Where Do We Go From Here’ really gave me pause. Yes it is a common phrase, but I really thought about it in different contexts. When you really think it is a very powerful question.

First I really love what the group did here with this video. Visually it looks terrific, but it also drives home a serious point. That is one way of thinking about where do we go from here as a society. How we discard, destroy, and demolish with little thought to the future. Is ‘progress’ really worth it if we bulldoze every thing both literally and metaphorically that lies in its path? As I watched the video a few times I drew a parallel of sorts to what I have always wanted to do on this blog. To ask the questions without truly having the answers, letting the visual of the photo speak for the song, or maybe letting the song become clearer with the visual.  I don’t know where we go from here in that regard but I do know we need to keep asking ourselves the questions.

Second the song made me question my own life the way the special songs do. Some of you know what has been happening to me personally the last few months. I don’t want to recount that here, suffice it to say it has me spending a lot of time thinking. And it is not simplistic on my part to say that the driving question throughout this process has been-what next? When I heard Jules & The Jinks the question quickly changed to where do I go from here? What do I want to do? What makes me happy? Where do I want to live that makes me happy? And on and on like that. Right now I do not have the answers…but I have the question. And questions are good things…

Please spend some time listening to the music of Jules & The Jinks wherever you get your music. Big news for them is that just a few days ago, they were crowned winners of the coveted Battle Of The Bands slot for the AfroPunk Festival. They are a band on the rise, and just like with Jackie Venson another artist I wrote about not long ago, I want you to remember where you heard it first!

Where Do We Go From Here-Written By Julissa Lopez and Erik Rosenberg

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50 Things @50-#30 Write A Poem

#30-Write a poem

After a week recovering from celebrating 50, I thought it was time to dive in and begin crossing some items off the list. Its probably obvious but I should just mention that there was no plan to do these in order. I think its fun just to randomly cross things off as the year goes on. So we’ll start with this one, which I am rather terrified of. Writing a blog the past (almost) 5 years is one thing. Those are sometimes hastily thrown ideas together, adding a photo and a song and I can call myself a ‘writer’. But the few little bits of fiction and this poem you are about to read represent ‘real’ writing. And that is rather terrifying to me. Even more so because it is a poem. I enjoy reading them and I actually have found myself returning to that recently. But writing them…oh lord!

I took as inspiration a few photos I took of a tree on the property of my family in Ireland. Long time readers here know I have a thing for trees, and indeed might recall these photos from older posts. I have always been drawn to the idea of how strong trees are. Even when the tree is gone, the roots stay deep in the ground long after. They are powerful things and speak to me of the strength we find in our family and friends but more importantly the resilience deep inside of us. So don’t judge me too harshly for these randomly constructed words!

To view the full 50 Things @50 list, click Here

 

Veins

Veins churning below the earth

strike out into the darkened void

seeking, searching not for light

but deeper fortitude



Veins climbing the sky ladder

grasping for the shimmering sky

Further, higher by the day

capturing the universe itself with a clutch 



Veins of multiple colored hue

balance the natural architecture in view

A swishing, shifting sound on the breeze

of nature's choir



These veins sit for generations

A sentinel to history. A guardian, a protector

Bending, not breaking to time's will

These veins do not fade



Veins in the earth

Veins in our hands

Rooted and pulsing

Crisscrossing between our worlds
Tree On Family Farm, Kilcar Co. Donegal

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50 Things @ 50

Well today is a special day for me. Yes today-July 11, 2018 is my 50th Birthday! It scarcely seems possible. Moments that seemed like yesterday are getting more distant its true, but when you realize that the distance is 20, 30 or maybe even 40 years ago you know you’re getting old! Those of you close to me know that there have been some changes in my life recently and it has been a little chaotic. But as this day drew nearer I started thinking about how I wanted to celebrate it. The celebratory with friends and family part starts tonight and will continue for the next three nights, but I wanted to do something more to mark the occasion. I remembered a friend had done a 50 things to do bucket list to mark the occasion and I decided to do the same thing.

The goal is to do as many of these with my friends as possible in the next year. The deadline will be before my 51st birthday in 2019. Some are things I have always wanted to do. Some are more recent. Some are places I have long wanted to go to which includes places in my own home town. A few are things I have done on some level before but want to do them bigger and better than I originally did them. Altogether the list was actually harder to put together than I thought it would be. I could just list travel destinations but it seems unlikely to get too many of those done in one year. So for any of you out there reading this who want to be a part of it, let me know in the comments below after the list! Activities are more fun with friends. Some of them I will really need to rely on you, my friends to help me do it.

To really do this list up right though, I thought it would be extra fun to write about my experiences doing everything off this list. So…welcome to a new corner of my blog not related to music or photography! The plan is to write a short piece about each one, let you all know what the next one will be, and continue going until I’m finished. I’m really excited for this. So without delay, here is the full list!

  1. Take a train or plane somewhere completely on a whim with no plans
  2. Ride a jet ski
  3. Paint or draw art
  4. Run a 5K race
  5. Learn a whole song on the guitar
  6. Be a guest bartender
  7. Have a photo featured on a major site
  8. Get a shout out from a singer on stage
  9. Swim naked in the ocean
  10. Get a tattoo
  11. Get ear pierced
  12. Camp at the beach
  13. Keep score at a baseball game
  14. Begin learning a language
  15. Finish writing my book
  16. Be a guest speaker
  17. Go whitewater rafting
  18. Do a big zipline
  19. Eat new and exotic foods
  20. Exhibit photos at a group show
  21. Go to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
  22. Go to the Neue Gallery in Manhattan
  23. Go to the Tenement Museum in Manhattan
  24. Go to the Statue Of Liberty
  25. Go Bird Watching
  26. Go Sky watching/Astronomy with someone knowledgeable
  27. Take a cooking class
  28. Bake Bread
  29. Bake a Cake
  30. Write a Poem
  31. Through-Hike somewhere
  32. Climb a mountain
  33. Take sailing lessons
  34. See the wild horses on Assateague Island
  35. Win money on a horse race
  36. Take a photography class
  37. Drive 100mph on a back road
  38. Visit New Orleans
  39. Read at least 50 books
  40. Ride a moped or scooter
  41. Learn to make a really complex cocktail
  42. Ride a steam train
  43. Go parasailing
  44. Learn Tai Chi
  45. Have an article published in a magazine or website
  46. Go on a random road trip
  47. Build something
  48. Learn a magic trick
  49. Be a guest DJ
  50. Make a new list when this list is completely finished!

 

So, sit back and enjoy what I know will be some fun and challenging exploits. And you are welcome to join me or at the very least, encourage me as I go forward.

 

The Music In My Head

Well I have been back from Paris together with a few days in the London area for almost two weeks now. It was a good trip, marred only by a train strike which prevented a planned trip to Versailles, and a few Paris thunderstorms. Otherwise it was great to be there. It was also great to have a few days just outside London with my cousins. Its a long story, but I never knew them growing up, but with the aid of social media, and more trips across the Atlantic we are making up for a lot of lost time. I love them all dearly, so any time spent with them is a real treat.

In a way this post is a summary of several previous posts, because the entire trip seemed to intertwine in a unique musical sense, culminating with meeting some really special people. I’ll leave that for the end of the post though. I thought it might be fun to share with all of you how such different styles of music makes its way into my head (and on to these posts). I would not quite call it a ‘best of’ Soundtrack Of A Photograph, but maybe a cross section of the way my brain is wired to music instead, and how I bounce around so much. That is actually a question I get often! What often starts off innocently enough with playing one song, leads to a 5 day marathon of soul music, classical, vintage country or folk. Maybe some blues, maybe some jazz, maybe some world music. What follows is an example of how that sometimes comes to be. I encourage you to click on the links in red and at the very least, play the music to hear for yourselves. Continue reading “The Music In My Head”

Storms

 

Storms-New York City

One thing I have noticed about my photography, or photography in general is that it sometimes grabs you in different ways at different times. Even as the taker of the photograph that happens to me. Case in point is this photograph shown above. I took it a few weeks ago on a rather warm Saturday evening. I decided I was a little restless and decided to head out for a long walk and a few drinks and dinner at the end of it. When I left our apartment, it was bright and sunny out. The Kwanzan Cherry trees were just starting to bloom and as they are my favorite of the flowering cherries, I found a cluster of them and took some photos along the way.

Not long after however, I noticed that the sky was looking a little ominous. Not quite ready to pour down, but you could tell it was coming at some point. Which is ironic since instead of high-tailing it to the nearest drinking and eating establishment, I instead went down to Long Island City here in Queens, out to a particular pier that has some stunning Manhattan views. I wanted to go because it is slightly north of the usual perspective I take this view from. Photography is all about subtle changes after all. I walked down a long empty street to the end. Continue reading “Storms”

Signs

Utica, NY Sign

The older I get the more I find my mind goes backwards and forwards through time. Why wouldn’t it when you realize that things that were once staples of my youth became abandoned, ridiculed and made redundant. Regarded both as old fashioned and old ways of thinking. Yet now many are celebrated as being cool and relevant again. In music this has happened with the re-emergence of vinyl records and recording in analog instead of digital. Believe it or not, I was at a record show a few weeks ago and in some places the long forgotten cassette tape is making a resurgence! If 8-tracks make a similar return then the cycle will truly be complete.

Other recent trends that have slowly been coming back are things like typewriters, film photography, real corks in wine bottles, Atari video games, even quality non- disposable pens. What makes these comebacks satisfying for me is that it is not purely nostalgia driven. After years away from these things, I think people realized that they do prefer the tactile feel of a real pen in their hands for example. Some companies are realizing that the value of documents typed on a single sheet and stored in a physical filing cabinet is safer than being stored on a server digitally. Others are realizing that there is a benefit in this fast paced world of slowing down just a little bit…say the length of time it takes for a Polaroid photo to develop, another product making a comeback.   Some of these trends are more of a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario-new pressings of vinyl records that come with a digital download link or classic video games you can play on your smartphone. The key to all of these elements is the feeling that maybe there was a rush to push these things to redundancy a bit too quickly for things newer and flashier. The throes of technology can be alluring, but in honesty, they are not always the only way. Continue reading “Signs”

Spring-The Return

Spring-The Return

Hello again good people! After 6 weeks or so of not thinking about writing, 6 weeks of not thinking about blogs, or worrying that for the past year maybe I was thinking about both too much I feel I am ready to start back up again. Before I get into that I wanted to mention that I really appreciated the support I received after my last post announcing the break. It meant a lot to have people tell me in comments or in private that they appreciated my words and photography. I realize I may have scared a few people into thinking I was going silent for good. Writing these words now is the proof that I have not. Thank you to all of you who reached out. I’m still working things out on the personal level, but it feels right to be doing this again now.

I did spend some time thinking if I wanted to do a rethink of this space along the lines of changing the theme and color scheme again. I ended the last post with the realization that I needed to find out what has been missing for me in putting these words to the computer. To find the ways to feed creativity again. This is a tentative step back today, and I am unsure what and where it will lead me. But I realized something important during this break. In lamenting the state of blogging today, I forgot the crucial part. Being myself. At its peak I was heeding the advice of others-writing often to build an audience. Writing shorter posts so as not to lose an audience. Tagging, doing weekly features, trying to copy what more successful bloggers did. Continue reading “Spring-The Return”