The Eskimo Brothers playing that Honky Tonk in Nashville

An image of David Graham of the Eskimo Brothers that I posted to Facebook quickly became one of the most viewed images of mine. A testament to the rabid fans that surround this band, which in turn is a testament to how friggin’ good the band is.

Here’s a link to the photos of The Eskimo Brothers for those who don’t care what I’m about to ramble on about (spoiler: I’ll be rambling on about the band).

Rewind:

We met a lovely couple from western Louisiana (as a guy from NJ, I remain unsure as to where that is exactly) while sitting at Robert’s Western World during our last trip to Nashville. We started talking about music and hit it off immediately.  People who are passionate about music have a lot in common right out of the gate, I’ve found, throughout my life. This couple, who are big fans of traditional country music, made sure that I didn’t leave Robert’s until the next band, called the Don Kelley Band, hit the stage. And I am clearly happy that they gave me this advice. 

So when they texted me later in the night and said The Eskimo Brothers were playing across the street, and I had better come over, well, I just knew I had to check it out. And it turned out my new friends were right, again.

Near as I can tell, and I’m not expert, some of the better bands in Nashville who play on Lower Broadway have a lineup that changes, depending on the night. You might see an amazing bass player one night, and the next night with the same band, it’s a different equally amazing bass player. Indeed, the first night I saw the Eskimo Brothers there was one rhythm section, and the next time I saw them a few days later, it was the rhythm section from Don Kelley’s band. “Slick” Joe Fick on the big bass, and John Radford on drums.

“HEY, I KNOW THOSE GUYS!” I thought to myself, or perhaps really loud out loud while gesturing at the band (hard to say, as most nights/days in Nashville were a blur of music and laughs). Point is, I felt at home all over again, what with having seen The Eskimo Brothers two days prior, and the Don Kelley band several times, and as such, me thinking that after watching these guys play before that I’m actually friends with them or something.

But I have to think there’s something to that, other than me being a weirdo: these players give so much on stage, engage with the audience with so much passion, however small that audience may be, you feel like you know them. They’re connecting with you, if you’re willing to listen to this great music and appreciate it as much as they do. They are making that connection completely easy and leaving themselves open for it. They’re leaving it all on that stage. It’s all there, for you. They are giving everything, for you. And some money in the tip jug if you’re not a complete unappreciative savage.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have my camera with me that second night, which is a rare occurrence for sure. This was due wholly to me deciding to take a voucher from United Airlines at the airport, at the gate, on the way back home, giving up my seat at the last minute, and staying an extra night in Nashville (YAY!)…and then United pulling my wife’s luggage off of the plane instead of mine, leaving me in Nashville for another night, but without clothes, or a jacket, or a camera strap (BOOO!).

The Eskimo Brothers in Nashville
The Eskimo Brothers

Thankfully I had a camera and strap (have strap, will travel, and be able to drink beer and not worry about forgetting the camera) with me that first night, and I knew a good thing when I saw it and started snapping pictures of the band, in between drinking too much tequila and too many Miller High Lifes with my friends from western Louisiana, of course, as you do, in Nashville.

Related: here in fancy ol’ not-far-from-NYC, we’d sometimes drink Miller High Life in an ironic way. The “Champagne of beers” and all. I was never a fan of drinking anything in an ironic way. I drink things I like, and that’s that. Well I’m here to tell you that drinking Miller High Life in Nashville, at a honky tonk, listening to great musicians playing great songs, tastes way better than drinking Miller High Life ironically in New Jersey. Of this you are assured. No irony required to enjoy it.

Back to the band:

The Eskimo Brothers in Nashville
The Eskimo Brothers

The Eskimo Brothers put on a high-energy, frenetic, why-the-hell-aren’t-you-dancing, honky tonk show. Why isn’t this everyone’s wedding band? What is wrong with you people who are getting married and wondering what band should play at your wedding? David Graham is a fantastic player (one of the best I saw in Nashville) and without a doubt a captivating showman. Try to take your eyes off of this guy. You can’t. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. When I see people stumbling out of a bar in Nashville, walking past a band like this, to the front door, I shake my head in disbelief. Why the hell are you leaving? Do you really think there’s something better waiting for you at the next bar? What are you doing in Nashville if this isn’t fulfilling your desires and meeting your expectations and more?

*sigh* Well, there’s no accounting for the taste of people who are “partying” in Nashville these days. But that’s beside the point.

The rest of the band, on both nights, were as tight as a drum. The whole damned package is awesome. I was told The Eskimo Brothers often switch instruments during the shows. I didn’t see that deal happen, but videos on YouTube bear out that fact. And wouldn’t you know it? Graham is also an excellent drummer who puts me to shame (in fairness to me, I don’t try very hard, and always approached drumming as a way to be able to hang out with musicians and occasionally meet girls. I’m simply the worst kind of drummer on every level).

My new friends from Louisiana were dead-right: The Eskimo Brothers are not to be missed if you’re in Nashville looking for great, traditional honky tonk.

Please check out the slideshow of the photos of the Eskimo Brothers on my website. Don’t tell me you read all of those words and now don’t want to look at the pictures. Say it ain’t so.

And check out The Eskimo Brothers’ website for tour dates, because they get out of Nashville pretty often, and you should see them if they come near you, you lucky sons-of-guns you. 

 

 

8th Grade Basketball: West Milford @ Ridgewood, NJ

This past Saturday, my friend contacted me to let me know that her son’s basketball team (The West Milford Wildcats) was going to be in my neck of the woods, playing my hometown team (Ridgewood Hoop Club). Driving 4 minutes to hang out with friends and take some shots of the game sounded a lot better than cleaning out the basement, a plan that quickly disappeared into the ether.

Shooting sports is a blast, but not without its challenges. Especially indoors sports. The lighting in gyms is universally awful. First of all, it’s quite dark (if you don’t believe me, spend some time in a gym in the middle of the day, and then walk outside…you’ll be squinting because it’s so much brighter!).  The players are moving blazingly fast, so you’re stuck shooting at high ISOs so you can get a quick shutter speed to stop the motion blur. Second, the lights almost always have a yellowish or greenish tint, which wreaks havoc on anything that has skin. At this particular gym, I was blessed, I mean cursed, with sunlight streaming through windows and doors, mixed with the yellow/green indoor lights, leading to images that have a wide variety of color tones in the shot.

But with a little patience, and a decent amount of post-processing, you can get a images few that that capture the moment, although they will not be qualifying for any Sports Illustrated spreads.

Saturday’s game was a scrimmage, so there weren’t any winners or losers (and I didn’t have to feel bad that I wasn’t rooting for my home town). But these kids played like it was the Super Bowl, or whatever the basketball equivalent is. I was shocked at how many baskets were being made, the speed of the kids, and the heights to which they jumped. Lots of jumping. A very exciting game, and I’d highly recommend checking out your local teams at some point.

Here are a few images.

 

Mother Earth Festival at the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery 2016

The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery has a rich, long history, dating back to the 1700s, where it was the site of Revolutionary War skirmishes. It housed an ammo bunker during the War of 1812 (which remains on the site), and it holds the remains of thousands of soldiers from throughout history.

The Cemetery is not only a monument to history, but it’s a something of a cultural center in Jersey City, hosting several music events and parties every year. The goal of these events is to raise money for the ongoing support of the cemetery, which is being maintained and preserved by the hard work of volunteers.

Goats, it turns out, are a part of those volunteers. Every year the cemetery hosts goats during the warmer weather. The goats roam around and keep the lawn mowed and eat up invasive species, and the cemetery gets some very inexpensive labor.  The kickoff to the season of the goats was held on April 30 this year, with a celebration of Earth and Arbor Days which included the arrival of baby goats, and a roster of some of Jersey City’s and the area’s finest bands.

I was only able to stay for a few hours and so I caught only a couple of bands, but it was a fantastic day of music and good spirits.

Be sure to follow the cemetery on Facebook to find out about upcoming events!

Here are some pics from this one. Bands included Twiddlin’ Thumbs, The Gully Hubbards, The Sensational Country Blues Wonders, and Wildmoon.

 

 

 

 

Saylestock 2016

The weather was beautiful and the vibes were good at this year’s Saylestock, the yearly music and arts festival held in Van Neste Park in Ridgewood, NJ. The event raises money for the Matthew Sayles Foundation for Salivary Cancer.

This year’s music line-up included: Take Four, The Bitter Chills, The Medicine Men, Sky Daddy, Crooner & Duke, and Alan Turing & the Tapes.

For more info visit www.allaboutmatt.org.

Here are some pics of the event.