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Interview with Rock Photographer Alissa Anderson - Part 2

Posted by Miss Ess, March 5, 2010 03:13pm | Post a Comment

Here we continue the interview with San Francisco's own rock photographer Alissa Anderson! In this edition, aside from more chatting about Alissa's favorite moments in her artistic career, check out photos (some exclusive!) of artists including Joanna Newsom, Vashti Bunyan, Vetiver, CocoRosie, David Byrne, SIlver Jews, Beach House, Bert Jansch, Meg Baird, Devendra Banhart, Donovan, Little Wings and more! Please see Part 1 to catch up!

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Joanna Newsom and Neal Morgan - Big Sur - March 28, 2009

Miss Ess: How did you come to photograph the Joanna Newsom show in Big Sur? You were the only photographer allowed.

Alissa Anderson: I planned on taking pictures from the moment I found out about the show since I knew it was going to be such an intimate and historic occasion. I have shot Jo many times over the years, from her very first shows at the Hemlock, and I hadn’t seen her play in a long time. I’ve shot many times at the Fernwood so I knew what the situation would be like. I brought my Hasselblad and just shot a roll from my seat in the front. I didn’t want to be too distracting for Joanna or the band and it was extremely crowded; I was pretty squished up against the stage! Ironically, my favorite shot ended up being the one of her tuning.

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Best of a Rapid Decade: One per year plus a few too good to not mention...

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, January 6, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment

In recently trying to fill in a friend on what I'd spent the last year or two listening to, I realized that my personal taste tends to gravitate towards some element of either Folk form (any hint of hill-folk finger-pickin' or Ozark/Appalachian melancholy and I'm in), Psychedelia or the tendency to extend a theme for a good long jam (a category in which I include a lot of the Jazz that I like), or just a great, funky groove.

With those qualifiers in place, the following is a year by year review of the last decade which somehow got past me with out noticing it. I mean, really?!! 2010?!!!  I didn't see it coming: 

2000: Album of the Year

Air's enjoyable and wacky Moon Safari had been on the decks for a couple years before they contracted for the soundtrack to Sofia Coppolla's Virgin Suicides. The resultant score is absolutely sublime and marked the French electronauts as contenders to watch.

For myself, it was the defining sound of the millennium's new year.
















Shelby Lynne released a killer country-soul gem, I Am Shelby Lynne, that echoed early material from the likes of Bonnie Raitt. Thinking that it was a brilliant debut from a talented 32yo unknown, I was eventually shocked to find that it was her 6th album. I listened to it for months.

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Vashti Bunyan Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, May 28, 2008 07:00pm | Post a Comment
Vashti Bunyan's seminal 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day contains some of the most pastoral songs you ever could hear. Written while traveling through England in a horse drawn caravan and produced by Joe Boyd back in London, the record perfectly captures a bucolic snapshot of that journey. Vashti had had a brief flirtation with recording previous to Diamond Day, when she cut singles for The Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham in the mid 60s. Soon after Diamond Day was quietly released, she quit music and lived on an isolated farm for many years. Fast forward to 2000, when Diamond Day was re-released after languishing in obscurity for decades. It quickly won a new audience, and Vashti was inspired to write once again, eventually releasing her second album, Lookaftering, in 2005 and touring for the first time. In 2007, Some Things Just Stick Around in Your Mind, a compilation of early unreleased and rare recordings by Vashti, was released. Here, Vashti tells us about her early inspirations, her life on the farm, working with Joe Boyd and picking up the guitar once again after so many years away from it.

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ME: What kind of music did your parents listen to around the house when you were growing up?
 
Vashti: My father had a great collection of 78 rpm classical records and a huge old radiogram. I have never been able to put names to the music or the composers, just very clear – sometimes note for note -- memories.
 
ME: Was there a particular person in your life early on who particularly nurturedvashti bunyan early days your love of music?
 
Vashti: My father – although I’m sure it wasn’t something he tried to do. Watching him conduct his imaginary orchestra with a look of such pure happiness on his face maybe had an effect. My brother also – who was ten years older than me and went to college for a year in USA, returning with LP records and a suitcase full of all the bits needed to make up a deck for playing them on. Fascinating to a 5 year old.
 
What was the first bit of music you remember hearing that inspired you to write yourself?
 
I haven’t thought about it till now but I remember this piece of music I loved from when I was about five sung by Kathleen Ferrier that began ‘flocks in pastures green abiding.’ Hmm.vashti bunyan 1960s
 
When did you start playing guitar and writing songs? How did you learn to play?
 
My first year at art school, I was 17; my friend Jenny had a guitar and a Bert Weedon guitar book– with the chords for songs like "When the Saints Go Marching In" and others. I fell upon it. I’d had violin lessons before and so I learned very quickly. It wasn’t long before we both started writing mournful love songs.
 
It sounds like you were a shy person starting out in music-- yet it must have taken an incredible amount of courage to seek a label and record tracks. How did you manage to put yourself out there?
 

Yes, I often wonder how I did it. I was shy around people but I did believe in my own songs. I’ve always been amazed at my youngest son, who was a very shy kid until he got on to a basketball court where he suddenly became tall, confident and sure-footed. I felt like that in a recording studio.
 
Can you recall the feeling of "Swinging London?" Any particular memories from this time that stand out?
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I remember with rebellious pleasure – tinged with guilt -- the way that the older generation were so upset by us all. They had tried desperately to protect us from the hardships they had been through and so unwittingly they gave us minds of our own – and then we flew the nest in ways they could never have dreamed of.
 
When you were first starting out, what artists in particular struck you?

Andy Cabic of Vetiver Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, May 18, 2008 10:30am | Post a Comment
San Francisco band Vetiver's latest album, consisting entirely of hand-selected covers, Thing of the Past, will be released today, May 6! I spoke to frontman Andy Cabic about the recording of the album, the frustration of his first guitar, and his new obsession with the mushrooms in his backyard.


Miss Ess: What is your first musical memory?

Andy Cabic: I have an odd memory of a large sunlit room with light hardwood floors, very reflective and bright, and a there being a step in front of me, and as I'm crawling towards it, Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day" is playing. I grew up listening to a lot of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers and stuff like that, so...it's possible this was an early apartment of my parents’ or something, I'm not really sure. It's one of those weird memories that feels like a dream and I'm not really certain of anything solid about it except for its strength in my mind and how vivid the light and the scene are when I remember it.
 
ME: What was the first record that really blew your mind and made you think about making music your life?  What albums formed your young musical mind?

AC: Well, I don't know that any one record made me come to a decision to make music my life. I just sort of played music, and looked back one day and realized music had become my life and there wasn't a whole lot else I seemed able to do. Whoops!

Growing up, the public library near my father's house was very good. I used to visit it every weekend I spent with him and check out cassettes, as many as I could, and a lot of what I found there had a big influence on me. VU by the Velvet Underground and At Yankee Stadium by NRBQ are two albums I remember renewing for months from the library. I grew up in the suburbs with no older siblings, pretty out-of-the-loop from any signposts pointing the way towards what "the good stuff" was, so...I would spend all my allowance on cassettes, read Star Hits magazine and Tower Records' Pulse, watch 120 Minutes every Sunday on MTV and just figure out stuff through trial and error. I loved anything out of Athens, GA and Minneapolis, and bands like Rain Parade, Camper Van Beethoven, Big Star and Fugazi meant a lot to me growing up.

When did you pick up your first instrument?