Summer Festivals

Having just been to our last festival of the summer I thought I’d share some photographs and what I’ve learned from people watching at these events. Before you start thinking “She’s SO cool, going to summer festivals!” I have to admit these haven’t been cool festivals I’ve been going to… None of your Lollapalooza or Glastonbury for me (wrong country). I think the last time I was cool was when I rocked a curly perm, pencil skirt and leather tie in the 1980s!

Anyway festivals. Saturday evening was Blues at the Crossroads in Terre Haute, Indiana. I learned that I really must check BOTH batteries, not only the one IN the camera, but also the one in the pouch, before I leave the house and not just assume they’re fully charged. I had to resort to my phone camera so really don’t have any good shots at all from that day. And there were SO many great photo opp… from the dancing chicken to the cute kids selling brownies, not to mention the bands and all the great characters in the audience. Also I have never seen so many Willie Nelson lookalikes with long grey hair in plaits down their back. I would have had a field day with my camera (I tend to use my compact at these things as I can get away with a lot more if people think I’m just taking snapshots rather than pointing a huge zoom lens in their faces.) Definitely going back next year with two fully loaded batteries.

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Ken Tucker at Blues at the Crossroads

There are quite a few vineyards around here and most of them put on a few shows during the year, but the last 3 years we’ve gone to the Willow Ridge Blues Festival in Illinois. This winery is out in the middle of nowhere. No, seriously it is OUT. IN. THE. MIDDLE. OF. NOWHERE. But as you drive up there are literally thousands of cars parked along the side of cornfields! Where do all these people come from??? What a great day out though. Sunshine, wine, blues, people watching. It doesn’t get much better than that. I have managed each year to get some good shots at this event, but in 2014 I obviously had more spare time on my hands than I do now and I threw together a collage of the day. I learned at this festival that bikers, grannies, babies, pensioners and college kids could all dance and enjoy the day together. Also that wasps like white wine!

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Fun in the Sun!

I didn’t manage to go this year but last year I went to a Sweetcorn Festival in Urbana. This is actually a lot of fun, and yes, they do have sweetcorn, but they also have beer tents, BBQ and great music. Last year the headline band was The Psychedelic Furs and they sound every bit as good as they did in the 1980s (when I was rocking the curly perm) I think the band this year was Smashmouth but I haven’t heard how good they were. Again, people watching was wonderful. From the dancers jiving with the swing-band, to the country fans with their cowboy hats and boots listening to the twangy country music, there was something for everyone. I learned that if you’re going to eat sweetcorn outside then you’re going to get it dripping right down your chin. Also I learned that you should follow your nose – we smelled something delicious and found a great Indian restaurant.

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Richard Butler, lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs

What else. Well there’s Bagel Fest, where I would have demanded my money back if I’d actually paid any, because I didn’t see ONE SINGLE BAGEL at Bagel Fest. Plenty of other food trucks and carnival type foods, but WHERE’S THE BAGELS??? I didn’t stay for the bands at that one because they were too country for me, plus of course, NO BAGELS. I learned that the bagels were actually only given out in the morning at this festival. Next year I guess. There’s also a festival near me called the Broomcorn Festival which I haven’t been to and there’s an Amish Cheese Festival which I’m most definitely going to next year. FREE CHEESE! Who wouldn’t? Oh and I went, because my mum loves going, to the local Air Show. I hate to admit it but I actually kinda enjoyed it. The people watching again makes up for standing around in 90+ degree heat worrying that maybe the planes WON’T pull out of the dive in time and I’ll be watching a tradgedy in a few minutes time. Yes, I’m a worrier.

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A plane.

One festival I really want to go to next year is the Covered Bridge Festival. I don’t know anything about it apart from covered bridges are very cool and make great photographs. But if there’s thousands of people roaming round then they’re all going to get in the way of my shots, so maybe I should just go AFTER the festival is over.

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A covered bridge

Oh yeah and I nearly forgot. ON PURPOSE! The local Irish Music Festival. We were really excited about that one and it was the worst festival we’ve been to since we moved here. The ‘headline’ band’s rendition of 500 Miles by the Proclaimers was absolutely awful! For a start the Proclaimers aren’t Irish and secondly HOW CAN YOU PLAY 500 MILES SO BADLY! I’ve seen the Proclaimers live and yeah, they’re not the best singers, but they sound exactly like their records. Even the traditional Irish songs were really bad. Anyway I think we stayed about 45 minutes at that one and it’s one we won’t be hurrying back to.

The main thing I’ve learned from these festivals and summer events is that I’m a people watcher. I love people…. as long as I don’t have to talk to them!

 

 

 

New York songs (and pics)

Some more street-life photography with accompaniment this time.

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Everyone’s a critic!

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My 110 year old piano moved all the way from Scotland to the USA

Apparently I’m famous on Twitter. Which is pretty cool because I don’t even have a Twitter account! But my daughter does and unbeknown to me she regularly tweets about things I do…..

Take the other day for example. She went ahead and tweeted “Just lay down in my bed for a nap when ALBA decides now would be a good time to practise her C Major scales on the piano. Now it’s Yankee Doodle and now it’s Row, row, row your boat. Alba hasn’t played piano in 30 years. What’s going on? Life sucks.”

WELL….. of course she then came downstairs to see what the heck I was doing and offer advice (her first year at college was as a music major in piano) and that’s when she told me about the Twitter fame. I appropriately rolled my eyes and told her that

a) I got the piano tuned 2 weeks ago and have been practising EVERY day since. It just so happens she hadn’t been in the house whilst said practicising has been going on.

b) The choice of toones was because I am re-learning from scratch and had dug out her old piano books from when she was 6/7 years old. She just hasn’t heard me play the Disney songs yet…

c) I didn’t even KNOW I was playing a C Major scale – I was just warming up my fingers.

d) You’re 21 years old – YOU DON’T NEED A NAP! GET A JOB!!!

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Love me some Disney!

Anyway I’m continuing to practise every day (mostly when she’s at college) but yesterday as I was happily tinkling away on the ivories I looked around for Dawg as he’s always at my feet and follows me from room to room and I couldn’t find him anywhere. Seems he too had had enough of my playing and had taken himself off to his cage in the corner of the room. He didn’t quite have his paws over his ears, but I’m pretty sure he was wondering how to stop the noise. Huh, everyone’s a critic!

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What’s that face for – don’t you like my playing piano?

Photo 101: Treasure

Thinking about today’s assignment and wondering what to do for treasure I thought about the photograph I put up last year, one of my all-time favourite portraits I’ve ever taken and thought no way I can take a new shot  that I’ll like as much as that one. Take a look here if you’re interested https://alba1047.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/photography-101-treasure/ 

So going with my self-imposed rules of taking a new shot every day I started wandering round the house… do I take a shot of a gemstone (my son used to collect them) or the daffodils on my kitchen table (which to my horror were covered in ants… I spent a good half hour this morning trying to herd them outside… I hate killing them if I can help it). In the background as always I have music on and then it hit me. What if I take a photograph of something to do with music. Music always has been and always will be part of my daily life. Even more so than reading or photography or any of the many other ways I like to pass the time (blogging?!?) I couldn’t live without music. Anyway here’s today’s photograph of something I treasure – my 110 year old piano that we shipped all the way from Scotland to the USA with us.

Piano keys

Doing exceedingly Scottish things

Last week was a bummer… but Friday night lifted it out of the doldrums!

Love me a good concert, especially when I can be patriotic and let my Ninja-Scottishness come out. Heck, I was even up dancing – not the Highland Fling although I CAN do it, but I’m still all stookied up with my broken wrist (that’s MY excuse and I’m sticking to it!) Anyway, brilliant concert Friday evening, if you ever get the chance to go see The Red Hot Chilli Pipers you should definitely go! My American friends also thought it was fantastic, so you don’t have to be Scottish to appreciate them.

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Red Hot Chilli Pipers bagrocking

As an aside, I was there with my husband and daughter, who both laughed at me because I took my wee flag on a stick with me (it’s about 30cm) Did I even get to wave my flag once??? Naw, I didnae! Because they both waved it non-stop the whole evening!!!

Not quite a ceilidh but a pretty good party nonetheless. “Heuch!”

Thinking out loud…

One of my favourite ways to spend time is listening to music, and if the music is live then all the better. From my very first concert (Eagles cover-band in the local pub when I was 17) to last Sunday’s concert in St. Louis I’ve loved every single band/singer/group I’ve ever heard live. I can’t think of one group I wouldn’t go and hear again (yep, even the Eagles cover-band. I still have a spot for ‘Lying Eyes’ all these years later)

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the USA so my daughter and I managed to get tickets to go see Ed Sheeran in St. Louis. He wouldn’t have been my first choice as I’m not a big fan of his poppy stuff (The A-team and Lego House don’t rank high on my favourites list) but I do like Bloodstream and his Hobbitey-little-song and absolutely love ‘Make it Rain’ (which I know he didn’t write, but it’s still my favourite). Anyway live he was just amazing. How can one man with one guitar and one loop machine (or whatever it’s called) make so much wonderful LOUD music. He was fantastic and I thoroughly recommend going to see him if you can.

Next concert is on Sunday – a Blues Festival at a local vineyard. Excited about that one  too!

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Oh yeah, and support act was…….. Hanson. Yep, Hanson of Mmmmbop fame. And they were very good actually! 😉

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Happy groovin’ Blogging Buddies 🙂

Photography 101: The Edge

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The Edge

Am I cheating?? Hell yeah!!

But technically The Edge is in my photograph. Just that my seats were 50 miles up, but I’m sure if you zoom in enough you’ll see him….

Taken in St. Louis at the Busch Stadium – text added later because I thought about printing this off as a poster at one point.

Photography 101: Street life

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Beale Street, Memphis

Ahhh, Memphis Tennessee, Home of the Blues!

Been there twice now – first time with kids so we couldn’t go into any of the bars on Beale Street which was SO hard because almost every place we passed had live music coming from inside, each one sounding better than the other!

Second time we were there was with (adult) friends so we took full advantage of the wonders of Beale Street. Not to mention fabulous cocktails at the Peabody Hotel which cost an arm and a leg, but were so worth it!

Of course when you’re in Memphis too you have to visit Graceland and watch for flocks of Elvises. Actually I really enjoyed Graceland and was surprised at how it wasn’t half as tacky as I thought it would be. I would highly recommend it to you if you’re ever visiting.

Best part about Memphis was walking along Union Avenue and singing ‘Walking in Memphis’, the Marc Cohn version, not the Cher rubbish copy. I have to say no-one else was impressed with my singing and refused to join in. At one point they actually crossed the road so they wouldn’t have to walk beside me. I got the hint.