Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale with Max Gomez at The Birchmere

22 02 2013

Thanks to my friend Nancy Dunham, a freelance writer, I got to photograph this concert at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Tuesday night. I also got to meet Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale and Max Gomez after the show.

I must confess that I hadn’t heard of any of them before, so I wasn’t familiar with their music. The Birchmere was the first stop on the “Buddy and Jim Tour 2013,” which showcases Americana/country duets by these two singer/songwriter/music directors. Their band member include Fats Kaplin on pedal steel guitar and fiddle, Jay Weaver on bass (Weaver is also part of the contemporary Christian band, Big Daddy Weave), and Marco Giovino on drums. It was a really great show!

Buddy Miller is a producer for singers including Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin and Robert Plant. He is currently working with T Bone Burnett to produce the music in NBC’s Nashville. Jim Lauderdale is a Grammy-award-winning songwriter who has written hits for George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless and Shelby Lynne. He is the longtime host of the Americana Music Awards. Buddy and Jim are hosts of the Buddy & Jim Radio Show on Sirius XM Outlaw Channel 60.

The opening act was singer/songwriter Max Gomez, whose music was part folk/part rock and highly enjoyable. (I couldn’t get over how much he resembles Jimmy Fallon!) I told Nancy that I thought his voice was reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor and Harry Chapin all rolled into one, with bluesy raspy tones woven in to make it his entirely his own.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap

16 08 2012

Last night I went to Wolf Trap to see Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group perform. Nancy Dunham, my neighbor/friend/freelance writer, interviewed him last week for a music publication and he invited her to the concert and she in turn invited me. We picked up our guest passes and my photo pass, which allowed me to photograph from a designated spot on the sidelines for the first three songs.

Obviously, flash was out due to the distance from the stage. This didn’t stop some people in the audience using their iPhones with flash from 100 feet or more away! I definitely knew I had to bring my longest zoom—my Nikon 80-400 VR lens f/4.5-5.6. Next time I’m able to do something like this, I’ll be bringing a monopod, too (another photographer was there and used a monopod, but he didn’t have a powerful zoom, so I imagine his shots weren’t nearly as close as mine were). I braced myself against a wall and held my breath for all of these shots. I was also shooting at my highest ISO—3200—and wide open at 4.5. Some images were shot with exposure compensation, too. All in all, not too bad for handheld—in low light and variable light and with distance restrictions.

After the concert we went backstage to meet him, and Nancy introduced me as “a fellow Texan,” so that definitely helped to break the ice. Mr. Lovett (may I call you Lyle?) is as gracious, humble and down-to-earth as he is talented! The last shot in series of photos below is Lyle with Nancy. I highly recommend that if you have a chance to see him in concert, do so. While his upbeat songs had me bobbing my head and tapping my feet, I loved the ballads—heartfelt and passionately delivered.

I’ve told Nancy that I’m available “anytime, anywhere” to accompany her as a guest to a music venue; she’ll have her own personal photographer! Nancy, thank you, thank you, thank you for this opportunity. I’m a new Lyle Lovett fan and had a blast photographing and meeting him.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Another night at the Opry

29 06 2009

During our behind-the-scenes tour at the Grand Ole Opry, our guide Jamie introduced us to the security guard at the entrance where the artists enter the building. She mentioned that no one gets past him without identification. There was a blonde-haired woman standing at the guard’s desk who looked remarkably like Rhonda Vincent to me, except she had blonde hair (Rhonda Vincent’s hair is naturally a very dark brown). In response to Jamie stating that “no one gets past the guard,” she looked over at us and said something like, “tell me about it. I had to show him I’m in the program guide to convince him who I was.” We all laughed. Barbara’s husband, Bill, who is a big Rhonda Vincent fan, linked arms with her and said something like, “Darlin, come with us,” or something to that effect. Funny thing is, he didn’t recognize her even then until we were at the end of the tour and we told him who she was! Hal Ketchum and his daughter, Sarah Rosie, walked right past Debbie and me backstage and since his hair wasn’t its usual gray, we thought he was a band member!

SIDEBAR: Jamie took us to the historic Studio A, where Hee Haw was filmed. I grew up watching Hee Haw and just had to go stand in the exact spot where the background haystacks would have been. I could just picture Buck Owens and Roy Clark doing their “I’m a pickin’…and I’m a grinnin'” spiel. It always impressed me that Roy Clark could play the banjo, guitar and the mandolin. Such talent! Mike Snider (who was on the roster this night) stars in Pickin’ & Grinnin’ with Mike Snider: A Grand Ole Comedy Revue, which debuted just a few days ago in Studio A (the television portion of the Grand Ole Opry).

FYI: In the photo with Alison Krauss holding a hymn book (9th photo down), that’s her (handsome!) brother, Viktor, accompanying her on acoustic bass.

I shot these photos from the second to the last row of the Opry. Yes, in the waaaay back. (In fact, I just read that there are 4,400 seats in the building. I’m pretty sure I was in seat # 4,399.) I shot with my Nikon D300 set on 1600 and higher, depending on the light fluctuations, and used my Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR lens, handheld (except when shooting vertically—then I used my sister’s handy shoulder as a prop—thanks, Deboo). The images aren’t too shabby from that far back (at least you know who the artist is in each one), although it would have been such a treat to be up front for optimum photography! I used this same lens when I shot the images from our first visit to the Opry in 2008 here. The Opry show was back in the Ryman Auditorium at the time and we had better seats to that show—I was shooting at no more than 800 ISO during that performance, so the images are a bit better.

I included the last photo of John Conlee’s dialogue during real-time captioning, a first for the Grand Ole Opry! It was great to be there during its debut and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) hopes they will implement it as a regular service. At the time I shot this photo, Conlee was introducing Sammy Johns, who wrote and recorded the 70s classic, Chevy Van.

Click on the individual names for their biography / websites / music video:

Jimmy Dickens
Jimmy C. Newman
Rhonda Vincent (Heartbreaker’s Alibi with Dolly Parton)
Mike Snider
Hal Ketchum
Point of Grace (I Wish)
John Conlee
Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys
Jim Ed Brown
Sammy Johns
Opry Square Dancers
Vince Gill
Alison Krauss with The Whites

View Alison Krauss videos on AOL Music here. One of my favorite duets is this song, How’s the World Treating You, with Alison and my long-road-trip buddy, James Taylor.

THIS JUST IN: Thanks to Wes for the correct name of Hal Ketchum’s daughter, as well as some background info on Hal:

Hal Ketchum is one of the best, pure and natural singers of any genre of music. Had the pleasure to see him in concert about 50 times and have gotten to know him as well. Very down to earth guy. By the way Hal has one grown son and daughter by his first wife and three younger daughters Fanna Rose (Rosie), Ruby Joy and Sophia Grace by his current wife Gina. Ruby is the one that has been with him recently on stage at the Opry as well as other concerts. The daughter in your picture of Hal is Rosie. Just wanted to clear that up. By the way, great shots.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Captioning: a first for the Grand Ole Opry

26 06 2009

One of the events at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention 2009 was a night at the Grand Ole Opry, a radio show that began in 1925. Before the show, several of us were treated to a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry, including the back entrance where the artists enter, the mailroom, the green room and historic Studio A—where the music variety show Hee Haw was filmed. At the end of the tour, we got to stand in the background on stage during the first performance by Little Jimmy Dickens and the Opry Square Dancers.

Although we weren’t allowed to shoot photographs during the tour, I saw a photo opportunity tailor-made for HLAA when the Grand Ole Opry’s vice president and general manager, Pete Fisher, was introduced to us by our tour guide, Jamie Hulet. For the first time in its 83-year history, the Grand Ole Opry would be real-time captioned. I saw an opportunity to get a shot with some of the people who got that ball rolling. We were granted permission to shoot, and Fisher called Jimmy Dickens over to join us. The Opry was treating that night’s show as “somewhat of an experiment” and may continue the use of captioning in the future.

Thanks to Karyn Menck of Tennessee Captioning and her team of CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) writers, the HLAA staff, and to the Grand Ole Opry management, we enjoyed the show with real-time captions. Associated Press picked up the story about the captioning and the news spread across the country. Read more about the use of captioning at the Grand Ole Opry and HLAA’s involvement in this article on www.tennessean.com.

On the entertainment roster that night were: Jimmy Dickens, Jimmy C. Newman, Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, bluegrass vocalist Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Allison Krauss with The Whites, Point of Grace, Jim Ed Brown, bluegrass legends Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys, John Conlee, singer/songwriter Sammy Johns (who wrote Chevy Van, a hit in 1975), comedian and banjo champ Mike Snider (of Hee Haw fame), and the Opry Square Dancers.

My sister Debbie and I couldn’t get John Conlee’s 1980 hit song, Friday Night Blues, out of our heads after that night! We realized just how old we were when we remembered the words to that song and his 1983 hit, Common Man, which was also written by Sammy Johns.

Here’s a fact I didn’t know—if you’re inducted into the Opry Hall of Fame, you’re paid just $600 for your performance. If you’re not a member, you earn just $300. Clearly these artists do it for the love of the Opry and its history and their love of performing!

Kudos to Nancy Macklin, director of events for HLAA, for putting on a fantastic convention. I could hardly believe it when I learned this was her first time planning a convention—she was organized, professional and less stressed than any convention planner I’ve ever encountered—wonder what her secret is?

I’ll have more stories and photos to share from our evening at the Grand Ole Opry. See photos from our first visit to the Opry in 2008 on my blog posting here.

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Photo, from left: Brenda Battat, executive director of HLAA; Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry; longtime performer and oldest living Grand Ole Opry member Jimmy Dickens (then and now); and Barbara Kelley, deputy executive director of HLAA and editor of the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine (which I design and produce for the organization). Barbara wrote in a recent press release, “It was fun to be a part of history, satisfying to have communication access, and rewarding to know that the work of our organization and others is paying off. Thanks to the Grand Ole Opry for looking forward. We hope it continues.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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A night at the Grand Ole Opry

10 11 2008

I was archiving and quadruple backing up my digital photos this past weekend and came across images I shot in Nashville last fall. Michael and I were there in October 2007 to photograph a client’s convention (International Municipal Lawyers Association).

We had an evening free and Michael bought tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, which was actually held at its original home, The Ryman Auditorium. We lucked out because that night’s great roster included Opry staples—Jim Ed Brown, Little Jimmy Dickens, ‘Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, Del McCoury Band, and Jack Greene; and contemporary talent—Luke Bryan, Kellie Pickler, and Restless Heart.

We had a great time and it was neat to see some of the older talent that I grew up listening to (Mom and Dad are long-time country music fans). I particularly enjoyed Bill Anderson’s performance because I remember hearing his songs while I was growing up. He has definitely aged well. And they don’t call Little Jimmy Dickens little for nothing! He was a tiny bundle, singing and tossing out jokes, clad in a purple rhinestone suit and huge white cowboy hat.

The Grand Ole Opry show is sponsored by Cracker Barrel and Martha White and airs on the radio as well. (I think we must have heard the words, “Cracker Barrel Old Country Store,” about 200 times that evening. That, and, “mmmm….mmmm (followed by a description of something edible, which just made us hungry. Here’s an idea: serve those “buttery good buttermilk biscuits” during the performance…just a thought).

I used a long lens and set the ISO of my “film” to about 800 and got some pretty decent images, even from our almost-in-the-nosebleed section seats! After the show, Michael and I walked down Music Row and ran into Jack Greene, whom we recognized from the show (how could we miss him in his rhinestone jacket?). He graciously signed an autograph for Michael.

AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF NASHVILLE…
The Hearing Loss Association‘s Conference 2009 is being held in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, and I most likely will photograph the conference for them. The speaker for the Opening Session is Vint Cerf, Ph.D., widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet.” The hotel is amazing (we popped in to see it while we were down there). It has nine acres of indoor gardens, waterfalls, and an indoor river with a Delta flatboat!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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