Monthly Archives: June 2011

Artosphere 2011: Frank Vignola and the Virtuoso Band

One of the last events I shot for the Walton Arts Center in May was Frank Vignola and the Virtuoso Band at Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs and at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. A modernized string quartet — guitars, upright bass, violin — these guys put on a good show, performing both classical songs with a modern twist as well as modern songs with a classical twist. Here’s a bit about the band from the Walton Arts Center website:
About Frank Vignola and the Virtuoso Band As many witnessed during his appearance with Fayetteville Jazz Collective last August, Jazz guitarist Frank Vignola is considered one of the most extraordinary musicians in the world today. His jaw-dropping technique and style have made him the guitarist of choice for everyone from Ringo Starr to Madonna, and has earned him countless turns performing with world-renowned orchestras like the Boston and New York Pops. This celebrated guitarist brings together a virtuosic team of musicians that shatters the barriers between classical, popular and traditional music to create a powerful new string experience.

Sounds about right.

Artosphere 2011: Artosphere Festival Orchestra

During Artosphere, I got to shoot the Artosphere Festival Orchestra (AFO) while they performed twice, and once in the largest group shot I’ve ever done. This was an amazing group of about 80 musicians from all over the country, and it really took me back to my days in band in high school. Actually, being in band really helped me shoot these performances, as I found myself being able to anticipate what was going to happen — who was about to start playing, when the percussion beats were coming down, etc. It was a fun experience. You can see more images here on Flickr.

Artosphere 2011: Old City String Quartet

One of the more intimate events of Artosphere was seeing The Old City String Quartet perform at Chapel on the Creeks in Rogers in an event called “Nature of Strings.” Coming here all the way from Philly, these guys put on a great chamber music performance. Even though the chapel was quite difficult to shoot, with heavy light coming in through large windows on either side of the dimly lit quartet, it was still fun.

Artosphere 2011: Trail Mix and Peter Lane Portrait

A few weeks ago, I was hired by the Walton Arts Center to be the photographer for their Artosphere event. Artosphere is a 6 week festival which promotes sustainability through numerous musical and otherwise artistic events at very low (or free) prices. It’s pretty much the coolest thing they do all year (in my opinion). They have everything from orchestras to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC photographers who come to speak. Annie Griffiths and Joel Sartore came to speak, and both were incredible (and were nice enough to talk with me at length after their presentations!)

Wakarusa 2011: Day 4

Sunday at Wakarusa is always the slowest day. Many people (at least the ones who had to work on Monday) left early that morning, at noon, or at night, depending on where they had to drive to. I would have gone home, except I wanted to stay until 8pm and see the legendary Toots and the Maytals. Of course, it was still hot, but in the afternoon a little bit of rain popped up and wetted down some of the dust. It was much needed. Sun + rain = mmmm. In the morning, I went to the Satellite stage and photographed the drum circle. Later, I caught a few bands–Benjamin del Shreve (from Fayetteville), then the insanely costumed band Here Come the Mummies, then Mat McHugh from The Beautiful Girls. After that, I took a few more shots around the venue, packed up, then shot a little bit of Toots and the Maytals and headed home. Oh, and I bet you want to hear about the bear. Ha! In the afternoon on Sunday, when there weren’t any bands I wanted to see, I decided to take my hammock a little bit out into the woods (only about 200 feet from the campsite) and take a nice afternoon nap. It was hot, but needed. Suddenly, I wake up. I turn my head. There is a (I think) fully grown black bear standing about TWO FEET away from me, staring me down. Obviously, this is not something happy to wake up to. I remembered that for black bears you’re supposed to ‘get big’ and loud to scare them away, so I did. I’m glad no one else was there to see that part — I kind of felt like something from Where the Wild Things Are. The bear headed towards the media campsite, so I went through the woods and cut it off and scared it away again. I then ran to my car, got my camera, and ran back to where he was and grabbed a few shots. It was trying to get some food or something in a tent. Bad news bear! Overall, Wakarusa 2011 was great. Sure, it was hot. But there were so many good bands and good people (and good people watching) that it made it all right. And, hopefully, I got some great shots.   Can’t wait till next year.   (See more here on Flickr.)  

Wakarusa 2011: Day 3

Day 3 of Wakarusa brought some of my favorite acts, more hot sun, and some very cool night life. Rebelution was good, and Ozomatli, an LA-based latin-funky type, put on a great show. I’d seen them at Wakarusa in Lawrence a few years ago. Mumford and Sons drew a HUGE crowd. There were also about 30 photographers in the pit, making for some interesting maneuvering. They are a relatively new band from the UK but have a huge following already. Beatle Bob (click that link–this guy hasn’t missed a live show a day since 1995) introduced them, as well as the following act, Ben Harper (and his cohorts Relentless 7). Ben Harper has been one of my favorite musicians for a few years, so it was exciting to see him here. Hence the large amount of photos. After being at the main stage for 6+ hours, I decided I didn’t care about Thievery Corporation, so I went back and rested until I went to see Quixotic at midnight. A Kansas City-based dance performance group, they put on a great show. Sadly, I couldn’t find my way into the media pit for this show. Oh well! On the way back to the campsite, we ran into some fire dancers, some people doing sound therapy with gongs, and more. I even caught a little of STS9 in the Revival Tent. There’s never a shortage of things to do at Wakarusa. You can see more from day 3 here on Flickr.  

Wakarusa 2011: Day 2

Day two of Wakarusa brought more heat, more good music, an awesome parade, and more heat. Split Lip Rayfield and their gas tank upright bass put on a great show, Carrie Rodriguez played a mean fiddle at the Backwoods Stage, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings brought a little Motown to Arkansas, and the March Fourth Marching Band led the costume contest parade on stilts and in style. Sadly, I wasn’t feeling too good by the end of the night, so I didn’t catch STS9 or My Morning Jacket, two of the headliners. Oh well! As always, you can see more photos here on Flickr. (And stay tuned for the bear story…)

Wakarusa 2011: Day 1

Whew. What a weekend. I got home at about 10pm last night after being at Wakarusa since Wednesday afternoon. It was hot, hot, and more hot, but there was some great music to be heard. I even got woken up by a bear, but you’ll have to wait to hear that story. I took about 6,500 photos, and so far I’ve edited the first day. Check back every day this week for a new set of photos! Thursday brought out the rockin’ hair of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and one of my favorite bands, Michael Franti & Spearhead. See the gallery below, and see more from day 1 here on Flickr. Hooray for having a media pass and being able to get close!