Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Graceland

On our Great Southern Roadtrip, we trekked over to Graceland, home to Elvis Presley and his family from 1957 until sometime after Elvis’ death in 1977, after we visited Sun Studio. Personally, I was underwhelmed and a little weirded out by the experience. To my mind, it was a sad comment on the deadening excess that too often accompanies the success of music that is born out of raw passion.

Jennifer has a different take on it, so in honor of Elvis week, we give you Graceland…


The first time I went to Graceland I was 17. It was during a particularly packed (and fraught) college visiting trip with my mother, an hour or two taken out to do something that probably wouldn’t result in mutual seething. At the time it seemed enormous and glittery and truly awe-inspiring, and I loved it. I got a small metal pink cadillac key-chain as a souvenir, which I have referred to as the “pink cadillac of freedom” ever since. It represented everything I thought college would be: my chance to get out of the house, to be glamorous, to … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Newport Folk Festival, Part II

And here’s part two of Jennifer’s Newport odyssey.

Day 2

I had kind of had my fill of the festival crowd the day before, so on Sunday I was a terrible musical correspondent and spent the morning wandering around Newport looking at historic homes. The Mansions, as they are called, are the former vacation “cottages” of various 19th century robber barons. This is the back yard of the one called The Elms, and Louis XIV would feel right at home, not least because they have some of his wifes’ pillows in a case in their upstairs hallway:


In the afternoon I hopped a water taxi (can I tell you how much I LOVE water taxis? A lot!!) and went back out to the Festival for the Felice Brothers:


James Felice, Ian Felice, and Christmas

They played an oddly dirge-heavy set, though they did do funky music-hall versions of both Greatest Show on Earth and Frankie’s Gun. When they were finished it was time for me to leave and … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Newport Folk Festival, Part I

Jennifer took a trip out to the legendary Newport Folk Festival and brought us back this two-part report.

Day 1

The first night of the festival, one of the topics of dinner conversation was Why are you here? Not in a mean way, but rather: what inspired you to make this journey? The best answer I could come up with was: Well, I got a wild hair . . . which was met with bemused humming and ended in a tangent on regional usage of the phrase. It’s essentially true, however: I went to Rhode Island for about 24 hours largely because back in February I squinted at the calendar and decided I could and it was there and why not?, and oh yes, there are some bands playing that I kind of like! And possibly also because the Internet has permanently changed my idea of what qualifies as a “local show.” Rhode Island! I can get there on the train! (And the bus . . . ) That totally qualifies as “nearby”!

My voyage to the Newport Folk Festival began before dawn on Saturday and included a brief (and accidental) detour to New London, CT. … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: The Lemonheads, and a vast amount of feelings

Jennifer has promised a forthcoming post on the Newport Folk Festival, but first she has some feelings about the dreaded “nostalgia act” vibe to work out.

Internet, in the last two weeks I have, among other things, seen the Gin Blossoms, Soul Asylum and The Lemonheads, and I have a lot of feelings on the subject that I’d like to discuss, but first I’d like you to meet two fantastic newer bands: The Shining Twins and The Candles.

These are The Shining Twins:


Alex Weiss (bass), Marisa Kreiss (drums), Xanax Aird (guitar, lurking in the background)
They were the first band at the Lemonheads show. I knew a little bit about them before I got there, enough that I had them in my mental “you should maybe check them out” file, and so I was excited to see them on the bill. I wasn’t too sure how I was going to feel about the music, because the two songs I had heard – I Hate You and Stix + Stonez – were towards the whinier end of the punk spectrum. I am … Continue reading

Roadtrippin’: An annotated travel playlist with visual accompaniment

This week, Jennifer treats us to some highlights from her roadtrip playlist along with various photos from our trip to Oxford, Mississippi. Bob Dylan seemed to be an underlying theme of our trip, beginning with some giddy, punchy conversation over dinner on the first night of our drive wherein Jennifer and I told Cam how Dylan had recently been picked up in a neighborhood in New Jersey where the apprehending officers did not recognize him.

I would also like to note that I was not party to the Lady Gaga song.

Selections from the roadtrip playlist, with annotations, and some photographs from the road:

1. Battle Stations, Brine and Bastards – I bought two roadtrip necessities in a truckstop somewhere in Ohio: a satin Peterbilt pillow, for napping in the back seat, and a radio converter for my iPod. This is the first song I cued up once we had everything set up. Brine and Bastards specialize in punk songs on topics of interest to pirates; this particular tune is one I use to get myself moving in the mornings.

2. What Are You Waiting For, Phantom Planet – This one … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Sun Studio

Today, Jennifer takes us on another leg of our Southern roadtrip: our visit to the legendary Sun Studio. I’ll post my own observation tomorrow, but we had to share Jennifer’s wonderful photos with you all.

On Tuesday of last week, we put the road back in road trip and voyaged up to Memphis to see Sun Studio and Graceland.

It is no exaggeration to say that rock and roll as we know it began here in a ragged room on a run down corner in Memphis. Today it is both an active recording studio and a museum.

This is a reconstruction of the office of Marion Keisker, the lady who recorded Elvis Presley singing for the very first time, and, more importantly, kept a copy of the recording to share with Sam Phillips. We got to hear it during our tour, a little bit scratchy and rough but undeniably The King. I felt a little bit like I did when I watched Streetcar Named Desire for the first time, having … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Courtney Love/Hole

Jennifer has feelings about Courtney Love that she’d like to share with you.



I have not always had a lot of feelings about Courtney Love. Let’s just be blunt and honest: I first learned about her because I was a Nirvana fan and she was Kurt Cobain’s wife. I was dimly aware of Hole – bear in mind at this time (1992) the only music magazine I read was Circus, and I got the rest of my music news from MTV, and then mostly from Headbanger’s Ball — but I didn’t have any particular opinions about her or their music. Following the release of Celebrity Skin in 1998, I would develop an appreciation for their sound, though even then I only really listened to the title track, and that on the radio. I always meant to buy the record, but never quite got there.


Getting back to Nirvana for just a minute: I can tell you where I was, when I … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Empires

This week, Jennifer hangs out with familiar friends: loud guitars.

Looking back over my previous entries, I’ve been talking about a lot of pop music. This week I’m changing it up a little bit, and swinging the pendulum back towards my old familiar friend, rock and roll. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Empires:

Tom Conrad

They are from Chicago, but last week their tour stopped in New York, at the Studio at Webster Hall. The light was really, really bad; I actually got most of my best pictures while they were setting up.

Sean Van Vleet

They have two records out — Howl and Bang — and they are both excellent. While I was watching them play I was thinking about how, exactly, I was
going to explain their sound to the Internet. The phrase that came back to me over and over again was “punch drunk love-affair” which, all right, that might be kind of insufferable (again – sorry!) but it’s the best I can do. To me they sound like afternoons spent wandering amid dark shelves covered in … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Gold Motel, Travie McCoy, The Young Veins

This week, Jennifer takes a break from shutterbuggin’ to give a run-down of some of the music she’s digging on currently.

Gold Motel, Summer House

Summer House, the first LP from Gold Motel, incorporates songs from their self-titled EP, which was released earlier this year. Perfect in My Mind and Don’t Send the Searchlights have been in heavy rotation on my iPod since then, and having now heard the new songs, I expect We’re On the Run will be joining them in the future. Led by Greta Morgan (formerly known as Greta Salpeter, when she was with The Hush Sound) Gold Motel specializes in bouncy pop fun, though if you listen closely some of the lyrics have a bit of a melancholy edge. Still, this record is like summer camp for your ears, including both daring sun-drenched adventures and doomed summer romances.

Tour Status: Their tour with Skybox is currently winding down, but they will be playing two festivals in Chicago in July: The Great Illinois Performers Festival (July 10) and the Local Music Revolution Festival (July 11).


Travie McCoy, Lazarus

Travie McCoy is the front man for Gym Class Heroes, … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: The Like

If Jennifer’s profile below of the Like intrigues you, you can listen to their new album at Spinner.

Reasons why I love The Like:

1. Snappy songwriting. I was initially hooked by Release Me, a subtle twist on a familiar trope, in which it is the girl begging the boy to let her go before she breaks his heart. I was further intrigued by Wishing He Was Dead, a song for women wronged everywhere, and, the other side of the same coin, He’s Not A Boy, simultaneously an appreciation of bad boys and a reminder that you can never, ever change them. (All of those songs are on their new record, also called Release Me, which came out yesterday.)

Z Berg, at Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ

2. They do interesting things with percussion, from the drum intro to Fair Game — a dramatic, fast beat that expands (but doesn’t slow down) to meet the guitars and the organ – to the combination drums/handclaps that kick off Release Me. The drums are also strong in their early work; one of my favorite songs from … Continue reading