Me and Tennessee

Then that ol’ song comes on…  Together we’re singin’..

Any trip to the USA should include a visit to the music heartlands of Tennessee – Memphis and Nashville.

For taking photographs in the middle of summer however, it gets hot  – 100F hot – and has the harshest of harsh sunlight, so glare and shadow are going to be a problem.  I’d the trusty bog standard Olympus E450 with it’s 2 kit zooms which were fine as with the extreme brightness, wide open apertures weren’t going to be much use. And with a lot of colour being washed out with the bright light, black and white was the way to go.
So – a tale of two cities.

Music City

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Ernest Tubb’s record shop, South Broadway, Nashville

Nashville’s South Broadway is exactly as you would imagine it  – all guitars, boots and beer, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Everywhere you look there’s neon signs offering all you can eat and drink to the soundtrack of country music.  It’s a friendly city, accessible and has a laid back charm.  There’s a lot more downtown than SoBo – there’s loads of walks by the river, countless music venues, Tennesse State Museum and many country music museums.  However you’ll invariably end up back on Broadway with a beer in your hand and wearing a new hat.

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Tequila Cowboy, South Broadway
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Layla’s
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Honky Tonk Central, South Broadway
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Boots – one of many offers
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more than boots
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Joe
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Wasted away again in….

For the big music venues, there’s the Bridgestone Arena on South Broadway but for the ultimate in country experience, there’s the Opry – a few miles out of town, and for $35 you can get an unforgettable country music experience.

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The wonderful Grand Ole Opry
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Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

For sports, there’s the NFL (Tennessee Titans) , AAA Baseball (Nashville Sounds) or the Nashville Speedway – it’s about $10 for an evening’s racing.

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When you’ve had enough music, there’s cars

Memphis

About three hours away, Memphis is a very different experience.  Where Nashville has a folksy touristy charm, Memphis has a wee bit of an atmosphere – a bit more tense, a much harder rock, blues and soul soundtrack and its central attraction Beale Street has an edge that’s great to experience but with a completely different feel.  Still it’s well worth a visit – there’s Gibson Guitars, Rock n Soul and Stax Museums, loads of music venues and in like Nashville you’ll not go hungry or thirsty.

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Gibson Guitars – a great visit and you get to play some
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street bar, Beale Street
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Beale Street, Hard Rock Cafe
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Reassuring – no guns in this bar..
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Blues singer, Beale Street
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Sullivan’s Bar, Beale Street

Out of the cities, there’s a lot of Irish Heritage sites – this was the Rogan family homestead, 19th Century immigrants from Co Down.

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Finally, no matter where you go you’ll be in the presence of Elvis Presley.  Just don’t stand on the King.

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More Tennesse pics on the Flickr  https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1FiUpC

Gig Economy 1: Paper Dogs

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Sometimes shooting a gig, especially in a small venue with manky lighting and a lot of shouty drunk people half your age can get you questioning your photography.  Then occasionally there’s a band who just hit the spot, visually and musically you’d want to photograph them again and again.  Paper Dogs are a 4 piece from Belfast with a very accesible hard rock/funky/bluesy sound with bit of Hendrix, Jeff Healy, Thin Lizzy and many more.

The band are led from the front by lead guitarist and vocalist, Chris Rooney.  Looking like a young John Power from Cast (to these old eyes anyway), he’s a dynamic presence and a performer with a bit of class.

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Chris Rooney, Lead guitar and vocals

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The rest of the band, while not as dynamic visually, perform as an exceptionally tight unit.  And with a style that looks effortless, they’re easy to photograph – lighting not withstanding.  The following shot of drummer Kris Young broke the no-flash rule – it was that or nothing as he was out of range of all the stage lighting

 

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Kris Young, Drums

 

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Mark Mahood, bass
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Nick McCully, guitar

The band’s EP, “The Lost Art of Conversation” is on Spotify – definitely worth a listen and there are some more shots on The Flickr.

Kit:  Canon 5D, 50mm, 28mm and 85mm lenses
Lightroom, Color Efex and Silver Efex Pro.
(and a Speedlite 450 EXii….)