Best of 2011-Odds N Ends

December 24, 2011

This has been one amazing year for me. First off, music photography is my hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I take it very seriously but it’s in no way my ‘real’ job. That notion was blurred as I look back at the number of times I went out to shoot a band this year. To be in the remarkable position that I could request to ‘get in the pit’ at almost any concert I wanted made it way too tempting to turn down. Many times I went out for the simple fact that I could. In some cases I wasn’t really interested in who was on stage at all. For me, when someone grants you a pass to photograph their band, it’s practically impossible for me to say no, regardless of who is playing. I am very, very grateful to be in the position I am in. A friend says I am ‘living the dream’. He is so right. I am first and foremost a fan of music. I am an extremely lucky guy.

An amazing aspect of doing this is becoming incredibly close to many musicians in town. Their art and willingness to ‘collaborate’ with me is humbling to say the least. Their friendship is priceless. I have to emphasize I am most happy about that.

As I look ahead, I cannot imagine seeing another 230 bands in a year. That just seems utterly insane to me right now. What was I thinking? I will go out to shoot of course but will I slow down? Hopefully not, we’ll see.

A few notes on 2011:

  • You’ve seen my Top 5 Albums of the year. Rounding out the Top 10 were Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, Apex Manor, Woods, David Lowery and The Paperhead. Look for some First/Last love from them in the new year.
  • Next week I am counting down my Top 5 shows of the year. Rounding out the Top 10 were Springsteen/Grushecky, Ray Davies, U2, Donora and The Paperhead.
  • I was at 56 different venues this year. Yes, 56! Mostly at WYEP (13), Mr. Small’s Funhouse (10), Stage AE (10), Brillobox (8), The Andy Warhol Museum (6), The Park House (6), Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead (5) and The Thunderbird Cafe (5). Want a list of all them? Email me…I’ll tell you the best place to park.
  • I never went to a house show in my life. I went to three this year, Misra Living Room Tour, Good Night, States, and Good Night, States again. Thanks to Raymond, Jon, and Erica and Melissa for making me feel so welcome in their homes. Their sincere hospitality are what made the nights so memorable.
  • I was lucky enough to shoot eight bands off stage either rehearsing, recording or in a promo capacity. They were New ShoutsThe Slow ReelDonora, Emily Rodgers Band, Big Hurry, Good Night, States, Horse or Cycle and Triggers.This has become my absolute favorite aspect of what I do. It’s like a private concert just for me. Not really, although I do leave the room feeling that way every time. I consider it a remarkable privilege.
  • I was at three video shoots this year. My past in film and television production is coming back to haunt me. The videos turned out great. They were for Totally Fatalist, The World is Ours, and Mancini’s Dance Hall. So much fun!
  • If you read my blog you know I post book reviews. Most of them are wonderful, high quality photo books. I get them from the publisher for free, just for writing a blog and posting about the book. I am donating them to my local Carnegie Library. What comes around…
  • I can’t believe the quality of this year’s local releases. 1,2,3, Donora, Big Hurry, The Red Western, Neighbors, New Shouts, Delicious Pastries, JD Eicher & The Goodnights, Dazzletine, Brooke Annibale, The Chad Sipes Stereo, Boca Chica, Satin Gum, Host Skull, The Slow Reel and Nik & The Central Plains to name a few. Just amazing.
  • I can’t make every show. Not because I wouldn’t want to. Some bands actually had the stones to deny HughShows for whatever reason? Iron & Wine, Warren Haynes, John Hiatt. The Jayhawks, Foster The People, DEVO, City & Colour, Smith Westerns, Arctic Monkeys, The Civil Wars, Weezer, Guster, Ke$ha, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Elton John, Bob Seger, Jay-Z/Kanye West and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It’s all good, I still love ya.
  • Shows I should have hit but was busy or too damned tired: The War on Drugs, J Roddy Walston & The Business, My Morning Jacket/Neko Case, Lia Ices, Yo La Tengo, Jason Isbell, Tally Hall, Jeff The Brotherhood, The Felice Brothers/The Dodos among others.
  • PGH Music Report, Draw Us Lines, BNAC, Old Mon Music, Sour Notes, Grassrootsy. My brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh music blogging. You rock.
  • Kathi Radock, Joshua Bakaitus, Brian Drusky, Andy Mulkerin, Scott Mervis, Amy Cooper, Dave Romano, Gabriela DiDonna, Amy Wagner, John Altdorfer…thank you.
  • A heartfelt thank you to Josh, Chad, JD, Adam, Greg, Joshua, Dave, Steve, and Rob.
  • For any of you who have ever ‘clicked’ on my stuff…you are why I do this. Period.

Grazie Emanuela, Ti Amo.