All photos © Brad Hardisty
The Nashville Bridge was rolled out in 2010 at the suggestion of my sister who said that I needed to share my rock and roll and country and rhythm and blues Americana post punk California life with the rest of the world. My first blog printed photo was a portion of a shot I took of The Cumberland River and the bridges crossing into downtown that I took with a 5 mg Fuji auto focus while visiting Nashville in 2006 and wondering if I would ever move here. It is a picture that means a lot to me. I visited Nashville quite often from Birmingham before deciding to move up here and make roots in January of 2008.
Although I did want to just editorialize and conjecture my thoughts on all things music since becoming a music conduit starting at the age of four when I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and then cemented when I banged on garage doors beginning at age five to get in and listen to Count Five (“Psychotic Reaction”) and other San Jose area bands practice their next hit singles. Now,with the blog, I knew I needed pictures to tell the story.
back then, yy eyes were wide open and my neuro senses were in overdrive at age five and six watching a bunch of teenage guys hammer through guitar amps making loud music with girls hanging out until the cops would arrive and shut the whole thing down. I got to get mad at having to quiet down with the rest of the band and older kids.
Well, that’s how it started and this is where I am at right now: Nashville! There is a story behind of every picture that means anything to me.
When I started the blog, I just had a Nikon 12 mg auto-focus camera which was difficult sometimes, especially on band close-ups with lots of lights. Mike Farris was kind enough to let me shoot him down by the Cumberland River after talking about the Nashville Flood and his then current album. Mike Farris & The Cumberland Saints project to benefit flood victims at Crema in 2010 with the Nikon.
Needless to say, I had to rely on kind contributing support of great photographers in and around Nashville and Birmingham for photos when possible for the blog and my articles in Performer Magazine.
Next, I got an HTC Evo 4G phone that actually got some decent shots now and then. Sometimes, it was the only camera available and it would have to do. The pics I took of Jeff Beck at The Ryman actually turned out fairly interesting.
Finally, it was time to get a reliable camera to get some decent concert shots, so, I gathered my limited budget and bought a Canon EOS Rebel T3i about six months ago. It really paid off on Record Store Day this last April when I was shooting multiple bands at several locations. The photo of Tyler Davis of Chrome Pony at The Groove was all you could ask for. The red hair contrasting with the blue sky was superb.
The Nikon camera could be difficult with a lot of action, this shot of Peelander Z at Exit/In during Next Big Nashville 2010 made the best of the cameras limitations, tracers and all, while Peelander Red crowd-surfed, bass guitar in towl.
Okay, here was a tough one for the Nikon. Paul McCartney in Palm Desert, California at Coachella 2009 from 30 yards away, my only usable shot of a real Beatle so far. I wish I was the guy shooting that picture down front.
The Americana Festival 2010 was a real eye opener seeing fans traveling from as far away as Australia to see Hayes Carll play a set at The Basement. Ray Wylie Hubbard was hot that year and the Nikon played with the light a little bit and this photo only worked with some grit in it. I figured it was an “Americana” picture. Maybe it’s just all the facial hair, but, he looks like a smiling Jerry Garcia to me.
Infinity Cat Records had a 10th Anniversary celebration last year and Heavy Cream headlined the second night at The Zombie Shop. The HTC Evo did some kind of funky light thing when a flash went off at the same time from another camera across the room. There is no photo editing. You can’t duplicate that. That’s a real motha fo ya!
IBMA fans and musicians are absolutely some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Rodney Dillard was one of The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show and is still laying it down on the Martin Guitar with The Dillards as he did here at the 2010 conference taken with the Nikon.
Kenny Vaughan is probably one of the most iconic guitarists in Nashville today with a portfolio of work includes Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams and other varied projects including his recent solo record. Mike Farris had one of the biggest bands ever at Grimeys for this in-store with Kenny Vaughan on guitar. I was standing right next to him holding the care above and behind my shoulder to get this one with the Nikon. He kind of reminds me of Angus Young’s other brother from a different mother the way he is holding that SG.
Tristan Dunn is a musician from Birmingham, Alabama that I have known for several years now. He can play guitar, keys like his favorite – Billy Powell and blows harp like Topper Price. I got some great shots of him in front of the Johnny Cash wall before it got damaged and then updated. He is autistic, but, he doesn’t use that as a conversation piece or to get sympathy, he just lets the music do the talking. I have ran into so many big name Country Artists when I run around with him when he visits that I am beginning to think he has a high profile Guardian Angel like Hank Williams or Buck Owens.
Frank Fairfield did an in-store at Grimeys in 2011 and I kind of pushed the HTC Evo as far is it could go with antique sepia tones being the theme. I think Frank is from California’s Central Valley where I grew up. His music is best heard on vinyl 78′s. I have yet to talk to him about Fresno’s famous Di Cicco’s Pizza. Okay…now I’m hungry.
Jeron “Blind Boy” Paxton made the cover of Living Blues Magazine even before any kind of real record release and just a lot of You Tube buzz. He specializes in music from the early 1900′s and is a master on old banjos, guitars, ragtime piano and just about anything he touches. He was hanging out in Murfreesboro at Uncle Dave Macon Days last year jamming with people that had no idea who he was. I guess they thought he just wandered in from some boxcar in a train yard. The photo was taken with the HTC Evo.
Okay, here is backstage with my newer phone, the Samsung Galaxy S III. This is Marion James, Nashville’s “Queen of The Blues” getting ready to go onstage at Nashville’s Metro 50th Celebration downtown. Marion had a top 10 Billboard hit back in the 60′s with “That’s My Man” on Excello Records. She has multiple connections to Jimi Hendrix. Jimi played guitar for her when he lived in Nashville in the early 60′s. Also, she recorded two more singles back during that time with Hendrix tie-ins. One song was written by Billy Cox, bassist for Jimi Hendrix and Marion as well as another song written by Larry Lee who was the second guitarist in Jimi Hendrix’s band, Gypsies, Suns & Rainbows that played at Woodstock. She knew and knows them all. Marion works hard to keep the Rythm & Blues scene alive in Nashville.
Okay, back to some newer shots with the Canon. Reverend Peyton at his recent show at Exit/In provided the opportunity to learn more about the camera’s capabilities. The Rev’s management contacted me after seeing the post to email photos for their use.
Right before Christmas, when I was just breaking the Canon in, I met Mississippi Rosealee aka Rosalind Wilcox who lives in Clarksdale, Mississippi i.e “The Crossroads.” Rosealee is well known in the community as both an artist with her space called Sun House right near Ground Zero and as a musician that includes playing drums for two historic Mississippi Blues musicians, L.C. Ulmer and Robert Belfour. In fact, L.C. Ulmer wrote a song for her called “Rosalee” and is on the M Is For Mississippi soundtrack. She let me set up a shot of her at Hopson’s Commissary that reminded me a little of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album.
Okay, I personally think this is the best candid of Tristen, that I just happened to take at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013 with the Canon. The most important thing is that she liked the picture too. Man, I want to shoot Nikki Lane. Wait, I did get a couple before they closed the set a couple of nights before Record Store Day.
There it is…man, I could do better, Nikki thinks about what she is wearing, the shot, everything, I would love to do a couple hours of shooting with Nikki. Well, Nikki, if you e-mail me, I’m there! Nikki, your neo-classic country meets retro cool thing is sublime.
Okay, the earliest shots with the Canon were the Bang Ok Bang set at the High Watt in August of 2012. I was still learning how to work with the frame speed and all that. Now, just for knowledge of the game: I did shoot 35 Millimeter on a Canon back in the day. This photo was taken in auto-mode and it caught some drum moves all in the same frame from drummer Abby Hairston. I still think it’s cool, in an art crawl kind of way.
Okay, I have been out to a couple of tapings of the Mando Blues Show. That is an adventure in itself, most notably, talking to Futureman about Return To Forever’s Romantic Warrior album and the merits of Lenny Williams’ drums on that. It is one of the famous Wooten’s favorite examples of drums. He said Lenny’s drums sound like a Timpani. Alabama drummer, Dave Crenshaw played drums for Debbie Bond that night and it looks like I set up this shot, but, I didn’t. The Canon again.
Okay, one more and I will let you go. There is a story behind this one too. I ran into Tyler Bryant at Cafe Coco before Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown were going to play at Exit/In. We talked about when he opened for Jeff Beck at The Ryman and he knew I was going to be down front shooting some photos. When I arrived at The Exit/In, Brad Whitford from Aerosmith was talking to his son Graham Whitford, the other guitarist in the Shakedown near the merch booth before everybody started showing up. He was wearing a baseball cap and being very incognito. He looked at me and realized I knew who he was. I could tell he was there just to support his son and didn’t want to draw any attention to himself. So, I just gave him the “Nashville” nod of recognition and didn’t approach or say anything. I kept his cover for him. You see, that is how we do it in Nashville. We let each other relax and feel at home. I got some great shots of the band and got one of the best color shots ever with the Canon of Graham on stage.
I’m happy with the pictures I am getting with the Canon T3i and so is my Editor at Performer Magazine. Even the bands and artists have given me kudos. Maybe next year, I’ll go for a full frame Nikon or Canon.
Well, The Nashville Bridge is almost three years old. I have been writing for over two years for Performer Magazine and a few other scattered published articles. Thanks for indulging me with my lifetime passion for music. Thanks for reading The Nashville Bridge on your laptop, iphone, ipad or droid. I make it as easy to view and read as possible.
“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll!” – AC/DC
All photos © Brad Hardisty
- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN firstname.lastname@example.org