Where have the first 3 months of the year gone, wow they really have flown in. On a personal level, I’ve made it to a decent number of gigs, managed to shoot roughly 50% of those and a lot more in the pipeline, on the downside, have missed a couple of shows due to ill health, which is never any fun, and have been extremely over tired of late, which definitely doesn’t lead to a good place.
Since returning from this years excellent HRH AOR VII festival which took place in Prestatyn it’s just been crazy, not much time to get anything done. Have got the photos pretty much finished, and just have to plough through some of the review and finish up a review of The Ocean Collective show in Dublin last week, and as soon as that’s done there are more albums, but so so many gigs getting announced at the moment it’s unreal. It doesn’t matter who you are, as you age it becomes more and more difficult to get to as much as you want to, and even then it’s difficult to organise work/home/gigs, that balance is becoming impossible, so this year I’m getting to absolutely as much as I can and next year may be very quiet.
So with new shows just added to my own list for Machine Head, and a number of bands later in the year I’ve found I’m also adding stuff in the near future I didn’t think I could get to, so looking now like Jizzy Pearl and Mike Tramp in Ahoghill next month, and also with a work trip to London next month I’ve managed to schedule an Avantaisa gig, so happy days. Tonight it’s my first chance to get to see Cellar Darling, should be an interesting set. with support from another new band to me, Appearance of Nothing.
Next wee it’s a triple header, Dead Label in Dublin on Friday night (with some great supports), Jizzy Pearly in Ballymena on Sat and hopefully The Black Dahlia Murder on Sunday back in Dublin…….then it’s just a week to HRH Blues in Sheffield and the previously mentioned Avantasia in London…..all of fun and lots of hard work ahead……..
Ana Popovic with Ben Poole supporting kicks into May with another London trip, along with Cormac Neeson’s solo show in Dublin and Whiskey Myers. June is mental, July starting to fill up now, August sees Bloodstock, the Bash and HRH Sleaze III straddles August into September. Rocktober is building up and as always November/December will busy.
Yes I’m flying, 2 added this week, the latest one once again for Rockposer.com of the superb new Elles Bailey album Road I Call Home which you should most definitely have a listen to.
Link now added to the Reviews Page – click here or the album cover below
Elles begins here UK/Irl Tour this coming weekend and is in Whelan’s in Dublin next Thursday night 7th Mar 2019, well worth going to see if you can make any of the dates.
Busy times ahead, going to try and shoot some local bands this weekend, Elles on Thursday, off to see Tyketto in Nottingham next Sat night and then HRH AOR VII, wow that has come around quickly, preview of that event will be up today or tomorrow I hope. Will once again be doing what I said I wouldn’t do again and shooting + reviewing HRH AOR/Blues/Sleaze this year…….and Amplified in July if I can.
March busy, April sees HRH Blues and then we kick in towards a hectic summer, a couple of early nights are needed to keep the head clear and the mind functioning 😉 It’s very easy to start working on too much and let the mind get overloaded, then you just can’t get anywhere or anything done – have already had far too many nights at home just sitting there and not able to do anything created or not, will definitely get more done this year, and have to keep an eye on the sleep too, reality is I think I’m getting 4-5 hours a night at the moment, and while that’s ok for a while, long term it will end with me hitting the floor/ground somewhere, and that would not be fun. Everything in moderation 😉
Well we all have so many devices these days, PC, Laptop, Tablet, Phone, TV, so when (or if) we look at a Gallery of Photographs, whatever they happen to be of – how do you prefer to look at them. Up until now I generally display my Galleries on a single page, and if you click on a photo on that page then you get to see a larger version of that image and it opens a Slideshow. It gives a little bit of variety and a couple of different options, but over the last year I’ve noticed that more and more people just check on the page view and don’t click through the Slideshow, and that’s fine, whatever way suits you as an individual, but it makes me wonder what way people check things like this out.
So perhaps as we move more and more towards immediacy in the entertainment or arts, that we view and along with it an interesting change to listening to a song from an album rather than the whole thing, or as mentioned viewing a full page of photos, but never looking at a larger version to see the detail in an individual photograph, drawing or painting. At some point I’ll put my ramblings together into more structure and perhaps put a small Survey or Poll together to better gauge public opinion.
It’s hard to believe that this is the most amount of words I’ve been able to put together in almost a month, but one thing is for sure that the everyday stresses of live are a major influence in causing Writers Block. For us at the moment as generally have been for a little over 12 months, Family and Work are the major stress points, with so many things to think about, appointments, phone calls, check ins and ups, bloody forms and more forms, time does disappear so quickly, the madness of bureaucracy and how quickly it can add to already frustrating positions and of course when you stop looking after yourself because you are doing your best to look after everyone else, but the thinner you spread yourself the easier it becomes to lose track of what you need to do, so it’s essential to try and keep yourself in decent shape, not for you but for everyone else, so just doing a little reset on the head every now and then will definitely help your mental state, but it’s a temporary measure. For me it gets thrust upon me when I notice I’m getting overtired, a trigger for my Epilepsy, and in the case of just being overrun with stuff in the last month, forgetting to take my tablets or just remembering, but altering the times drastically (not a good idea with slow release medicine). There’s been some pretty dumb stuff where being very tired I even took a second tablet a couple of hours after the first because I’d convinced myself that I had not taken one at all, that could have triggered an Episode straight away, but luckily it didn’t and I got back on track. So for the next couple of days, I’m going to try not to worry about everyone but me, wish me luck.
With regards the Photography, well I still have Rockingham Festival Galleries to post, although they are long since finished the Reviews haven’t been 100% completed and submitted, which puts more stress on and that’s how you create a vicious circle. So I’m going to power forward with the Gallery posting and hopefully get everything tidied up and submitted. Thankfully Christmas presents are pretty much sorted out, the little guy has far too much and some new stuff uncle and auntie in New Zealand has now been added to the large pile, and he already has enough toys, but the smile on his face will release so much of the pressure it will be worth it.
And as the temperatures outside still haven’t dropped to normal temps I might get out to the Garden a bit more in the coming weeks, the birds are certainly getting stuck into the nuts and fat balls in the feeders, and I haven’t really had a chance to see how the new(ish) camera delivers the hovering/fighting Starlings, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Thrush’s that I’ve already seen around and about. At the start of the year I spent a little more time trying to get shots of our visitors, so hoping to increase the clarity this time around and perhaps get some more interesting stuff of them entering and exiting the feeders/gardens. We shall see.
Currently planning on Gigs and Trips for next year and damn are they coming in thick and fast, which is both great and worrying at the same time, no way I’ll have the time to get to everything, but we will try, more gigs this year than the last two and if we cand fit in a couple extra next year then all the better. It’s also the time of year I will get asked by many to put together my Top 5/10 lists for various categories in music, believe it or not that takes a lot of time and can be a bit of a worry, but will get there, tonnes of really good releases and shows this year and there will be even more next year.
It’s been a pretty crazy year all in all, yes maybe not crazy from a Lifestyle point of view, but having said that it is hectic if not crazy. As time goes on we continue to learn about situations, seeing what happens when work gets really busy, there are hospital or other appointments for the little guy, your spouse works 4 nights a week and you are also at least partially looking after an elderly parent – well where do you have time for other pursuits or just for yourself. For me it often means staying up later at night, which really isn’t helping, have to manage the levels of tiredness or the Epilepsy will make an unwanted interruption to things 😉
I know I’ve said it before, but where does the balance come, and when different things in life kick in, how can you reorganise things to get it all working better for you and your family, perhaps having smaller more focused bursts of concentration for your hobbies/pursuits might work, but that’s not easy when you are doing music photography, or scale back on everything, definitely a possibility, but I’ve already massively scaled back on the number of things I go to, and somehow other things have taken over that time. One thing is for sure were I driving it would save time visiting my mam, would have more options, could go down after getting home from work some days or at weekends make easier trips. But scheduling is out of our control, need to be down for dinner time, and back home for looking after the little guy. Hope this doesn’t sound moany, it’s not meant to, honestly I have it pretty easy, I know there are many people in much more difficult circumstances – I just wish I can figure out better ways of doing things that could maybe benefit all of us. One thing is for sure, all of the stresses and strains are not good for your Mental Health, and usually just when you think you have a handle on something a spanner is thrown in the works, so always be vigilant, and try where you can not to let it all get on top of you, when you are out of action it’s bad for everyone.
But hey I’m still blessed to be able to get away to a few Festivals every year, just posting up the Galleries from last months AOR/Melodic Rock feast Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, UK – brilliant 3 days, great performances and wonderful friends, and I’m pretty happy with the Photographs in general, Getting to mark a couple more bands off the Bucketlist, and again having the pleasure to meet up with some brilliant musicians I’ve gotten to know over the last few years, good times. This event is one that certainly helps calm the frayed edges of sanity, long may it continue.
We recently went to the Wild Lights in Dublin Zoo which was pardon the pun, very illuminating, the last thing we could take our son too for free before he turned 3 last week 😉 and although we weren’t sure just how much he enjoyed it, there was a lot to see, and we enjoyed it. Can see how it would be very expensive bringing a family with a number of children, so perhaps they could look at Family tickets next year, certainly some of the setups he was more interested in than others, but there was a good atmosphere there and some of the animals were still wandering around in the dim night around there areas.
So yes, bloody hell it’s mid-November, soon be time to work on Top Tens of Albums, Gigs, Photos of the year, and I’m already well into the trip planning for next year, that starts as soon as stuff gets announced, so there are items for the calendar right up to next October, it may sound like madness, but if you don’t plan for it there’s no way you can make it happen 😉 And finding the right times to book flights on deals with different airlines, train companies etc, it’s becoming more difficult all the time as rules change, offers come and go…..would love to travel further afield than the UK at least once in 2019 but we will have to see, I’m already committed to 4-5 Festivals, so that will cover most things, a couple of day trips on top of that and we will be done 😉 So hopefully we will be getting to HRH AOR, Blues, Sleaze, Amplified, Rockingham and at least some of Bloodstock. Touch wood.
Also coming in quickly is Christmas, our little guy has already had a wheelbarrow full of toys and presents for his birthday so we’ll be keeping the Christmas stuff a little lower key, and introducing him to Santa, but I don’t think that will hit him until next year, but now he’s walking you never know 😉
This week is all about tying up some loose ends and making sure I’m 100% ready for the last of my Festival Shoots for 2018, and it’s going to be amazing. In total we will have 18 bands spanning the AOR/MelodicRock/HardRock genres and just some excellent bands, headliners this year are Vixen, Nelson and Warrant a nice heavy hitting start to things.
Travelling is changing all the time, used to be something I didn’t have to think too much about, check early for cheaper flights, book when it makes sense and done, simple. Sadly things have changed, certainly for people that are involved in Photography. First off we had the changes Ryanair made to Cabin baggage where you had to purchase Priority boarding in order to carry 2 cabin bags, certainly on overnights that was ok, small camera bag and larger backpack camera back and squeeze in a change of clothes or whatever is needed, but that won’t work for a Festival, so then you add the expense of Priority boarding and a checked in bag/case, now you are doubling the price of a ticket. More new rules coming in at the start of November and probably more to come, the other Airlines are making changes too, everyone is charging more for items you would expect to be free, but at this stage the monetary savings with Ryanair are no more, so for someone that me that travels to the UK regularly it’s just about the same price to fly with Aer Lingus or another airline, so flying one way is an option with one airline, and the return with another airline can prove the most cost effective. Next weekend is easy enough, into East Midlands, bus to Nottingham, and then on the way back, train to Birmingham and flight straight back, certainly could be worse.
Something that will be needed this week is some sleep, last couple of months have been a struggle, a very difficult time, have lost a couple of friends and at the same time learnt of some bad difficulties others are currently dealing with, and then there is whatever you are dealing with yourself thrown on top of that. A few days away from everything might be a tonic, hopefully will be, but I definitely need not to come home more tired than I was going 😉
On top of that I also need to make sure I get some rest because I am already overtired, have felt is the last 2 weeks, and being very overtired triggers my Epilepsy, which I have managed really well to control the last few years, even with a pile of stress, sleeping and eating badly, and everything else, a fit would be a most unwelcome visitor, and when you feel you are in a hole that would definitely dig a deeper one, so I’ll slap myself on the head and sort things out, so off to bed in 10 minutes.
Once again I have the privilege to shoot this great Festival this year and will be shooting/reviewing for the great guys over at MidlandsRocks
Here is a Preview I put together for this years Festival –
Lots of stuff to come from next Friday night onwards, but for now here are some of my photos from the last couple of Rockingham Festivals, I’m still looking to improve this year and look forward to the challenge.
Loverboy – Rockingham 2017
Great White – Rockingham 2017
DARE – Rockingham 2017
Moritz – Rockingham 2017
Vince Neil – Rockingham 2017
Harem Scarem – Rockingham 2017
Dave Bickler – Rockingham 2017
Fortune – Rockingham 2017
Pekka AnsBrother Firetribe – Rockingham 2017io Heino – Brother Firetribe – Rockingham 2017
Just tidying up the review and then I will start adding the Galleries for each of the bands, and I’ve got to be 100% honest, for some of these Band Gallery’s I’m really excited to get them out there, actually very happy with what has come out of the Festival as a whole, and hopefully some of you, the bands and associated parties will enjoy them also.
Over the weekend we had the pleasure of seeing and shooting some legendary bands from the scene such as LA Guns, Jetboy, Tigertailz and Backyard Babies, alongside many different styles of music, Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, even Metal, but the variety made things that bit better. Judging by the faces of those playing on the stages it was a blast all around.
This time around I had the pleasure of shooting for RockposerDotCom, and as always there are plenty of people to thank that make it a brilliant experience, Claire from CentralPress, the HRH Team, all of the Security and Staff at the O2 Academy and naturally all of the bands and fans that go into making the atmosphere so good, relaxed and fun. For this particular weekend massive thanks go to my good friend Rich for his great company and more than a few laughs along the way, and of course the many other friends and fellow photographers that it’s an privilege and a pleasure to see and work alongside and of course to continue to learn from, the shots that I’ve seen so far from this group of guys and girls have been nothing short of spectacular.
There needs to be some massive props going out to some of the bands on Stage 2 this year that made a big impact, The Idol Dead, The Black Bullets and Speed Stroke head the list, but any of them could easily have made an impression on the large stage this year (or indeed next year). Either way all bands I’ll be keeping a much closer eye on in the future and with good reason, cracking sets and crowd reactions to all.
The highlights this year were many, from the joy of just watching Tracii Guns play, watching Midnite City continue to grow and know that you got to see them playing in a pub once, because from now on you can only see them on Main Stages, the joy of discovering new bands to you, that quickly become firm favourites, and of course finally managing to see some bucketlist bands like Backyard Babies, or ones you never thought you would ever see – Jetboy, and they nailed it while they loved every second of it.. Until next year where there are some awesome bands on the lineup, should be a cracker.
Travel options to Sheffield from Dublin aren’t always the easiest, with there being no direct flights and the only realistic and viable option is to fly to Birmingham and get a Train up to Sheffield, which is fine, but gets a little more complicated when you are going to a Festival, and even more so when you are shooting one – so setting out from the house (I live beside the Airport in Dublin) 5:00am get in to Birmingham, couple of hours on the Train up to Sheffield, get checked into the Hotel (if you are lucky to get an early room) and then off the the Festival, it’s all go, especially when you consider you won’t be back to the Hotel until maybe 12:30am/1am the following morning, it takes it’s toll on an old man 😉
That was my excuse for forgetting to swap memory cards and camera batteries from my small bag to my main back before leaving the Hotel, so that caused me to miss a little bit of the acoustic sets, but not much thankfully, a quick run up and down the road, makes you focus a little better after you do something stupid like that though. The other problem for me is that controlling your condition (Epilepsy in my case) is a lot more difficult when you are trying to work hard , forgetting to eat and trying to remember to take your tablets at something close to the correct times. This time around we managed to grab a burger before heading into the Festival, so that kept me going, but it’s all too easy to put food to one side when you don’t want to miss any of the action, so this weekend I did manage to shoot every single set, so proud of that, and was able to pop in and out of the 2nd Stage in a way that meant I wasn’t skipping anything I needed to do. One of these days I’d like to take in an extra day or two at one of these City’s and spend some time exploring, seriously I’ve been to Nottingham tonnes of times but never actually set foot in Sherwood Forrest, despite having stayed a couple of hundred yards from the Entrance a few times 😉 Maybe next year. With Sheffield, well I’ve been to many venues around it, but not seen too much, City Center’s can be pretty grim at times.
Having said it a few times in previous posts, this year has been a big struggle at times, and despite how much I loved the whole weekend, loved working on the Photos and getting time to hang out with friends, I would be lying if there weren’t some really difficult times over the weekend, there were, but sometimes struggles all go to make the effort even more worthwhile, never give up, keep pushing through the bad times, and sit down and talk with your friends.
With circumstances as they currently are this year there was no chance I’d be able to get to the whole Bloodstock Festival, which is a real shame as it’s a brilliant weekend and there were loads of bands that I was interested in each day, but such is life. However I did have the opportunity to take in one day, and the Friday was the one that worked out for me, and damn it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday night (thanks to the offer of a bed from a friend), headlined by Judas Priest and featuring Doro, Kamelot, Suicidal Tendencies, Wednesday 13, and Onslaught among many others. This one day trip to Catton Hall in Derby was going to be brilliant, an early start at 5:00am was going to mean looking after myself, but honestly the trip itself was always going to be really good for my own mental health
Wasn’t shooting or reviewing this year so I was determined to make the most of things and see as much as I possibly could, and to that end the final count was catching full or partial sets by 17 bands on the day, which is good going for an old man, I crashed a little towards the end as I’d forgotten to take a sit down at any stage.
Here are a bunch of compact snaps from the day, it was tiring but so much fun, but you should really check out the shots from the Official photographers and the other Pros that were there, some really amazing work, anyway here are my crude personal pics as a reminder of a wonderful day at one of the best Festivals anywhere \m/ \m/
Lately I have been starting to wonder is your mind much like being a boxer, when you are younger you get knocked down and even if it’s something that floors you for a while, you step right back up again and even if your head has been scrambled you just don’t let it phase you much. But perhaps every time you take a mental blow it cuts down your strength and resolve a little, and just maybe as you get older and keep taking mental blows you windup like a boxer that has carried on their career that bit too long, and every time you get hit you are slower to get back up and much slower to bounce back.
Right now that’s exactly how I feel, and it’s affecting other parts of life, sleeping, concentration, mood, pretty much everything. It’s easy enough these days to attribute everything to stress, being busy in all aspects of life, and that leading to depression, and sadly it’s pretty much right every time, but depression tends to come in bouts when it passes you can usually fight your way back out of the hole you are stuck in, perhaps if one bout runs into another and you are not sleeping and overtired that ability disappears. But at the end of the day you still need to keep fighting it, keep trying to climb back out of that hole.
This time around it definitely feels like a truck ran right over me, stopped and then reversed over me again. Even with this Blog entry I started writing it a few weeks ago and then the words ground to a halt, so back to square one again. That has certainly had a massive impact on trying to get any review work completed, on top of many other things that have slowed down. But at least this week attempting to write has lifted me a little, and getting out to a couple of shows, which were both amazing by the way, had brought some normality back to life. The image at the top of the page is just a personal memory from the show, wasn’t shooting it for anyone, but if you get an opportunity get out and see Sons Of Apollo, having so many super talented musicians on stage at one time is very rare, but they all put in 100% effort and energy into their show, true professionals.
Attempting to ease some of the external pressures has proven a little more difficult than expected, but any piece of progress helps and besides these things always seem to take time to get sorted out now. So we push forwards as much as we can.
At least I managed to submit a Review this week, the excellent Myles Kennedy, you can read it now over on the Overdrive website. Great photos by my good friend Steve at Down The Barrel Photography.
keeep fighting, try and get the head back in some semblance of working order. On the music/photography side, I’m working on a couple of Album Reviews and have the new Roack/Blues/Metal Festival to come in a couple of weeks, Rally Of The Lough in Co. Meath Ireland, with acts like Pat McManus Band, Phil Campbell And The Bastards, DARE, Coroner, Samarkind and many more, really looking forward to shooting this one.
Keeping busy, but not too busy, and organising shows and stuff for the rest of the year, changes in circumstances mean only a couple of nights a weeks are at all possible now, but that’s a lot better than nothing. Roll with the punches, and hopefully get back up a little quicker next time \m/ \m/
Off to the tropical Sheffield and Nottingham for sure, and maybe squeeze in one more, and some stuff next year already beginning to fill in.
When deep in the hole I managed to have a couple of chats with good friends, not deep conversations or anything, but sometimes a chat will be enough to help you crawl out, so if you are down, just don’t ever forget to talk to friends, they will be there for you, so say hello and chew the fat.
Some days you just have to scream, there’s nothing left but it, today marks exactly two weeks since the start of the HRH AOR Festival in Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli, Wales, and I was determined to get the photos and review all done and dusted and to that end I did set about a lot of work, there were thousands of photos to go through, lots of writing to be done, scheduling to work though, and of course all of this with some really busy work going on with my full time job, and family work and life 😉 so unfortunately something had to give and I came down with something that smashed my head for pretty much 5 days and I’m just coming out of the transformation to Zombie today……. so I get to scream this evening……… just not so loud as it might hurt my head…
But as with any other setbacks we have to roll up the sleeves and just get stuck into it again. So this evening I’m determined to get the Day 2 review fully completed and submitted, the Photos have already been sent in, so just a few bands left to complete the writing for and away we go, then it’s onto Day 3, followed by a couple of album reviews and a Preview of HRH Blues 4 which will be taking place in a few weeks. Ah the fun never stops, when does our brain convince us that we are bloody mad to take on so much. Not this month I guess, or next, but maybe at the end of the year when I sit back and look back on the whole year of madness.
So hopefully my head will get back into some semblance of normality and I can get it all sorted and out there before long, and avoid hitting the deck and ending up back in bed for another unwelcome break.
The first day review is here if anyone wants to have a look, working for my good friends at RockposerDotCom this time around.
Of course if the weather holds up it would be nice to get out and about a bit and capture a little of the beauty of our surroundings. Couple of gigs to squeeze in the next few days too, nearly forgot that – March can be such a busy month, and April is often no quieter, bloody hell TOTO is only a couple of weeks away. So much to look forward to, so time to take a bit of a stock of the abysmal diet, need more energy, less weight on me, and better organisation, and to be honest, need a bit more help with some things, at the end of the day all will work out ok we have the technology 😉 stay safe out there, it’s really easy for any of us to slip into depression spirals, doesn’t take too many situations one after the other and boom……and if you need a bit of help, never be afraid to talk to someone be it a friend, a stranger or a professional, just do it.
Arrived back at around 8pm last night and to be honest was a complete Zombie for the whole day from the moment I got up, and then couldn’t sleep, that’s what being overtired does to a body.
As for the Weekend, brilliant, from Joe Lynn Turner to Night Ranger to Skid Row, each day brought some terrific performances, from bands I’d expected to be great like Eclipse, The Radio Sun, Midnite City, Blood Red Saints and more… and then of course there were the wonderful surprised like finally getting to catch Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics and being blown away by the performance, or having a band like The King Lot open up the Friday Main Stage and kicking everyone’s ass into gear from the first song, great stuff and all part of what turned out to be another brilliant HRH AOR weekend.
Lots to write up, just need the head to clear, and let it flow, and a hell of a lot of photos to get sorted through, but will get there, need to get some sleep the rest of the week and go at it again fresh, so far very pleased with how some shots are coming out and a bit disappointed with others…..but that’s the nature of things – will keep plugging away. Have to make sure I don’t get exhausted and bring on an episode, and damn have to hit Sepultura on Thursday and get some other reviews in, busy times.
Very very tired and not sleeping now, but trying to work through the photos, hopefully you will like them when I have the full galleries up, here’s a small taster.