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The Blessings Rock The Heather Harris Photo Exhibit at Pop Obscure Records in Downtown LA

Musicians, Artists and Friends on Hand at Showing


The Blessings performed as fans of photography and music gathered at Pop Obscure Records in downtown L.A. for an exhibit by photographer Heather Harris.

Harris has been shooting rock stars for 50 years, but you would never know it by her youthful appearance and never ending passion for her craft.

Heather Harris and Marijke Koger-Dunham – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Musicians and Friends Celebrate

“Heather has been great to us,” said Jeremy White of The Blessings. “She has been supportive of us and she makes us look good.”

The Blessings, who have three CDs, played some of their well-known tunes in a mini-set, including “Shipwrecked on The Shore.”  Frontman Jeremy White said new music is on the way.

The Blessings band members were among the artists, local as well as well-known, who are  portrayed in the many photos that grace the walls of Pop Obscure. Pop Obscure is the latest entry into the vinyl-seller niche.  The store has racks and racks of old and new records.

Ron Young, wife Renee and Kurt Ingham at the Heather Harris photo exhibit – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

DoGs, Metalers and Photogs

Others on hand to see the work of Harris, which is on display through June 18, included musicians aplenty like Loren Molinare of The DoGs with his wife, Julie, Ron Young of Little Caesar with his wif Renee, Leslie Knauer of Precious Metal, Al Teman of Naked Hand Dance, Inger Lorre, Richard Duguay and wife Paula and snapper Ellen Berman and many others.

The Hailers, April and Robert – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Photos on Display and on Sale

Harris’ husband Kurt Ingham, known to many as Mr. Twister of the bands Chainsaw and Christopher Milk, was on hand to photograph the event.

Among the artists in the featured photographs which are for sale are David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Rod Stewart, The Blessings, James Williamson, Lemmy, The Bell Rays and many others.

For more information check out Pop Obscure Records.

Paula and Julie – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Jeremy White of The Blessings – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Ruby Friedman and Kurt Ingham alike attend the event – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Heather Harris and Twister – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Loren Molinare and Ellen Berman – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Photographer Alyson Camus and unknown attendee – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The Blessings – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Musicians Alex Stiletto of Modern Kicks and Leslie Knauer of Precious Metal share some music talk – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Heather Harris introduces The Blessings at her photo exhibit and quickly departs the stage – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kurt Ingham, known in his younger days as rocker Mr. Twister, stands next to a photo of him snapped by his wife, Heather Harris – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

California Rocker reviewer Craig Hammons with photographer Alyson Camus – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Lights Out Levine of The Blessings and Prima Donna – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Cool couples: Loren Molinare and wife, Julie, with Ron Young and wife, Renee; the guys are in the band Little Caesar – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Chris Carradine, Marijke Koger-Dunham, Kurt Ingham and Heather Harris – Photo (c) Donna Balancia

Heather Harris to Exhibit Her Famous Rock Images at Pop Obscure Records From May 6 Through June 18

The Blessings To Play Opening Night Party


Heather Harris has had a unique perspective from her vantage point as rock photographer in the pit since 1967.  There isn’t much this sharpeye doesn’t see, and she shares her vision with others.

The well-known rock photographer is holding an exhibit May 6 through June 18 at Pop Obscure Records in downtown Los Angeles. Beloved local band The Blessings will play a set during the opening evening on Saturday.

“I enjoy going to local shows and you’ll see my photography exhibit includes not only big rock stars but also local artists,” Harris said. “Local artists become big artists, so we included some local people in my exhibit.”

Heather consults with James Williamson on a photo shoot – Photo © Kurt Ingham

Vast Catalogue of Photos

Harris has a remarkable body of work, but she goes under the radar because of her gracious humility. Many of the most well-known photos of rock stars featuring The Who, Prince and Iggy Pop were taken by the soft-spoken Harris.

Harris’ photographs of musicians have been published in Rolling Stone, MOJO, Billboard, Los Angeles Times, Creem, Music Connection, Warner Brothers, Penguin Books, St. Martin’s Press and many more. Spanning Buffalo Springfield to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, her work includes many of the most important figures in rock that came through her native Los Angeles throughout the past five decades. Check out her blog, Fast Film.

Heather’s photo of The Who – Photo © 1970 Heather Harris

Under The Radar

“A lot of people are surprised to see my old stuff as well, because people konw the images but don’t know my name,” she said. “What I think I’ve done is document music acts with a fine artist’s sensibility. It’s always amusing when they say ‘You did that?’ It’s funny that on Facebook any uncredited, good Stooges photograph leads people to say, ‘Is that one of Heather’s?’ Well, if anyone thinks any good photograph of the Stooges is by me, my work is done.”

Harris who has been shooting photos since the late 1960s has seen many changes in how photos are taken over the years. How has she preserved the images?

Photo of Paul McCartney © Heather Harris

Digitizing Images Today

“It takes money,” she said. “I have 40 years worth of images, when we had the earthquake in Northridge, the chimney fell into the bedroom closet and that’s where my pictures were. So it’s not as if they haven’t been endangered. Some people have full time assistants digitizing, I don’t have that. As far as the digital stuff, I backed up most of it on DVDs, I’d still like to get a book out because we still have books, since the middle ages, and that’s a form of preservation in and of itself.”

Harris said there are very few photographers she pals around with, and even fewer she admires.

“One of the music photographers I was most influenced by is David Gahr, and the most amazing thing about his photos is I’ve seen them in person and they look exactly like they reproduce,” she said.  “He had a beautiful tonality that reproduced exactly like it looked. His images would look good even in newsprint. He had a nightmare – his studio burned down but he had lots of books out there. I bought his book, The Face of Folk Music. His stuff always stands out as the best.”

Iggy Pop – Photo © Heather Harris

The Future of Photography

As far as equipment, Harris says that for her, it’s Nikons all the way and she shoots with a D3.

“You’ve gotta have full frame,” she said. “All the clients want huge files. Your friends complain but clients want huge files. I had always pushed film, I like the look better, I don’t use flash unless I have to. I use the little camera as a snapshot camera, it doesn’t scare people. It’s good enough for most usage.

As for the future of photography?

“The future already happened,” she said. “It’s the micromanagement aspect of the music business rather than visual experts controlling the media.”

The digital revolution has also played a role in Harris’ work and she has adapted. She said while digital is relatively inexpensive compared to the old days of photography, she also enjoyed shooting on film.

“I always took a lot of shots, even on film,” Harris said. “‘People ask why did you shoot black and white? There wasn’t fast color film until the 1980s. It was three times as expensive, but most of the publications were printed in black and white. Yeah it was expensive and also it was hard to duplicate and retain.”

Harris has had her share of wild experiences out in the field.

David Bowie Photo © Heather Harris

Scrapes In The Pit

“The funniest one is, the first concert I went to where they blocked off the stage from the audience and that was the Palm Springs Pop Festival which was before Woodstock in 1969,” she recalled. “They blocked off the stage with chicken wire, I just tore it down and took pictures of The Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons. Why do I only have one picture? Ten thousand people followed me and rioted. They rioted all the way to Taquitz Falls.”

Harris said there is one main difference in today’s music than when she first started out.

“When I first started going to shows there were more Titans straddling the Earth, Jimi Hendrix, like that but the opening bands sucked,” she said. “The big thing about the outfits that put on concerts here for the first time they tried to put on three good acts. Nowadays it’s hard to find bad bands, and there are a lot of good bands. But they’re not great.”

Harris said: “It’s a different world, it matches the bombardment of the current audience who want sound bytes and want things fast and short. I still think the greats of any art form can surpass the limitations of any era by being unique to themselves and universal so I think there’s still room for that.”

She added: “Music is wallpaper to most kids. But younger people like to go to the show and they get their friends jazzed to go to the show. But music fans are music fans. That’s one thing that won’t ever change.”

Pop Obscure Records is located at 735 S. Los Angeles Street in Downtown Los Angeles. For more information go to the Pop Obscure Facebook event page. 

Self portrait © Heather Harris

Setting the Standard: James Williamson Engineers Unique Sounds with New Collaborations

‘Blues Jumped The Rabbit’ is Williamson’s Latest Single


James Williamson believes that change is energizing.

“I like to collaborate with different people and this was a great opportunity,” said Williamson of his newest work with multi-talented musician Petra Haden, on their single called “Blues Jumped The Rabbit.”

“Blues Jumped The Rabbit,” taken literally on Williamson and Haden’s cover art, is believed to be originally recorded in 1926 as “Rabbit Foot Blues.” It received a new turn in 1970 by Bob Dylan collaborator Karen Dalton. The B-side of Williamson’s new vinyl is another interesting find, “Last Kind Words.” The single is out on iTunes and will be available on seven inch vinyl on August 19th.

Collaboration is the key for Williamson, a prominent player with Iggy and the Stooges, who says working with new people has been a great experience for him over the last few years.

Blues Jumped The Rabbit - Album Cover by Heather Harris

Blues Jumped The Rabbit – Album Cover by Heather Harris


Talent Scout

Williamson’s become somewhat of a talent scout in the few years since the release of the last Iggy and the Stooges album, Ready to Die, in 2013.  He seeks out collaborators, traveling around to find musicians that are suited for certain projects. Williamson is exacting about the talent he uses on his projects.

In most music lovers’ books, Williamson had already accomplished more than the average superhuman: He’s the co-creator of arguably the most revered American rock anthem of all time, “Search and Destroy.” As a member of Iggy and the Stooges, he basically introduced an entirely new guitar sound to music and lived a parallel life as an accomplished computer engineer and family man.

As for his music, there is more to Williamson than his vast work in the world of punk. With “Blues Jumped The Rabbit,” he puts out an interesting collaboration with violinist and vocalist Haden that has a unique bluesy feel and has a purpose.

James Williamson and Petra Haden - Photo by Heather Harris

James Williamson and Petra Haden – Photo by Heather Harris


The Charity Factor

“The fact of the matter is nobody buys records anyway,” Williamson said. “If we can get people to be aware of these charities, it’s great, it brings awareness of great causes.”

The money raised from the sale of the vinyl single goes towards the Tazzy Animal Rescue Fund in Burbank.

Williamson was impressed with Petra’s work on The Who Sell Out and he asked a Stooges pal for an introduction.

“I was so impressed with her, and then I found out Mike Watt knows her,” Williamson said. “I started using her on different things. I had her to something on Ready to Die. I liked her work on Ready to Die so much, she would do backing vocals and violin, I thought, she’s so good and so versatile I always though she should have a lead vocal.”

Historically, “Blues Jumped The Rabbit,” is an important song, recorded several times over the course of the 1900s.

As for the literal adaptation of the blues on the album cover, it came from an idea James had a while back.

“I saw this picture of a model with a rabbit on her head,” he laughed. “So I floated the idea by my artistic director, photographer Heather Harris, and she came up with the blue rabbit. It’s different.”

Lisa Kekaula and James Williamson work

Lisa Kekaula and James Williamson work


Re-Licked and Lisa Kekaula

Williamson’s made some other impressive moves into the collaborative world of independent musicianship.

He and Lisa Kekaula of the Bellrays released a single called “I Love My Tutu,” a release that benefits Project, Hawai’i, for homeless children in Hawaii, where Williamson lives part of the year.  Kekaula was a prominent player in Williamson’s Re-Licked project.

Last year, Williamson released the album Re-Licked, bringing together alternative A-Listers in an award-winning one-off concert at The Bootleg in Los Angeles. He met with many musicians before finalizing the lineup for his Re-Licked recording.

Williamson relies on another Re-Licked musician, Joe Cardamone of Valley Recording for his projects. And Williamson’s son, Jamie, is also getting into music more and more — he was also involved in the collaboration with Kekaula. Williamson hinted that another single would be coming soon, this one an up-tempo original tune that he wrote with a young musician.

Petra Haden - Photo by Heather Harris

Petra Haden – Photo by Heather Harris


Getting Recognition

The award-winning computer engineer, who was honored in Washington, D.C., last year by the American National Standards Institute, Williamson has been realistic about his music career. There were times when it was not easy. And he balanced the unpredictable music business by starting a successful engineering career.

Though he thinks it’s even harder to make it in music today, relationships and persistence matter, Williamson says.

“The only game these days is playing live,” he said. “And of course live requires you to have enough recognition to get a gig … or at least get a break. In that sense it’s always been that way, however, no promotor wants to risk their money on an unknown because they’re in it to make money.

“But that said, the best avenue is to somehow get into an opening slot for free or whatever and kick some serious butt, such that the audience wants you back and the promoter takes notice. That’s the old school way, and it works, if you can survive long enough.”

DOWNLOAD “Blues Jumped the Rabbit” at ITUNES

Musicians Have More Power Than They Believe; They Gave California Rocker The Awards in 2015

Ron Young with James Williamson - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young with James Williamson – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Extraordinary musicians who each took a gamble helped earn awards from major journalism organizations this year.

Donna Balancia’s video coverage of “The New Basement Tapes: One Night Only,” was good enough to earn California Rocker a Best Entertainment Blog third place finish in the LA Press Club’s National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.

Heather Harris secured second place in the Photo Essay category of the LA Press Club’s entertainment awards for her photographic coverage of “James Williamson Produces A-List Concert.”  California Rocker was fortunate to present Heather’s outstanding photography of Williamson’s live “Re-Licked” concert in Los Angeles. Heather’s work documented a remarkable one-off event that showcased some top talent in Rock N Roll.

45 - Copy

Alison Mosshart hugs James Williamson at ‘Re-Licked’ concert – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Both of those were risky one-off concerts that turned out to be remarkable events.

California Rocker also earned several “finalist” designations in 2015, and an honorable mention from the International Photography Awards for its coverage of the very first Rock In Rio USA festival in Las Vegas last May.

See The New Basement Tapes

See James Williamson’s Concert

See First Rock In Rio USA Concert

Awards For Reporters Help Promote Musicians

Today more than ever, the awards and wins — no matter whether they’re first, second or 15th — are significant and have relevance to journalists and musicians alike.  Especially to those journalists and musicians who are doing it on their own, competing against bigger entities.

— California Rocker is a 2-year-old “blog” that was started for the purpose of promoting independent, young, and upcoming musicians through top-notch music journalism. Its mission is to help musicians promote and publicize their work in an environment today that is extremely challenging for musicians and journalists alike. When our work is honored by the Los Angeles Press Club and similar organizations, the musicians also win.

TNBT Card shark

The New Basement Tapes: Rhiannon Giddens, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith, Elvis Costello and Jim James – Oh, and Johnny Depp (not pictured) – Photo © Donna Balancia

— There aren’t very many “music journalism” categories of the few journalism awards that are actually presented today.  There really aren’t that many journalism awards these days — or journalists either — as the shift is towards eyeball-seeking, clickbait-driven management initiatives, and media executives who care more about advertising than editorial integrity.

— Heather’s fine photographic work on James Williamson’s “Re-Licked” show was a solitary effort and was coverage of a live concert. The win for Heather was second place to a major national magazine which had used four people for a posed studio shoot.  It is the first year the photo essay category was introduced and Heather’s work, as always, stood out among the rest.

The New Basement Tapes at Montalban Theater - photos and videos © Donna Balancia

The New Basement Tapes at Montalban Theater – photos and videos © Donna Balancia

— The Best Entertainment Blog award for California Rocker was third place to two blogs owned by major corporations which have many times the resources.  California Rocker’s producer and contributors not only write, but shoot still photos and videos; edit the writing; edit the stills and the videos; upload the work; tag and categorize the work; and then social media-ize all the content, promoting the content, photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.

So, to be in the mix — and to win at these awards presentations — is vital.


Frank Meyer and Lisa Kekaula at James Williamson’s ‘Re-Licked’ concert – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Why Awards Matter

The digital era has revolutionized music and its distribution, and also the journalistic coverage of music.  It’s a learning process that we master together for the best promotion. While new digital technologies have enabled musicians to distribute on demand, it is also creating a mindset whereby consumers — and some broadcast groups — don’t want to pay.

In an ever more challenging world in which many personalized flourishes are disappearing, California Rocker and its contributors take the time to relate to the subject matter in a human manner.  California Rocker interviews its subjects, reviews the material before it goes online, consults with the subjects of the interviews and works toward establishing good will at all opportunities.


Joe Cardamone performs with James Williamson at ‘Re-Licked’ show – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

We are pleased that California Rocker secured its 2015 wins and “finalist” designations from the Los Angeles Press Club and for the other nominations and honorable mentions. We have come a long way and also have a long way to go as California Rocker grows in viewer/readership.

A big round of applause goes to all the musicians who have supported California Rocker, our advertisers and sponsors who are happy with the work and to our journalist contributors.  We’ll continue to put forth the talents we meet, present the musicians and their work, and show ’em all what Rock N Roll is really all about.

A prosperous and healthy New Year to all.

Punk Weekend Rocks With Cheetah Chrome, James Williamson in SF Show

Cheetah Chrome James Williamson and Streetwalkin' Cheetahs

Cheetah Chrome James Williamson and Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs – photo by Kuuguy1

By DONNA BALANCIA – It was a great weekend in California for the punks.

Cheetah Chrome and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs hit San Francisco; Richie Ramone, The Sonics and The Dead Kennedys rocked The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.; and Bad Religion and Guttermouth played the Picnic in Pozo.

On a day that brought out punk rock’s best across California, the choice was difficult as inevitably, fans opted to go regional.

Cheetah Chrome

Cheetah Chrome gave a great one-off show in San Francisco – Photo © 2015 Russell Allen

Cheetah Chrome of Dead Boys fame took the stage of San Francisco’s Verdi Club stage with his West Coast Band, The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, and gave the crowd its money’s worth.

“The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs got the call to back Cheetah Chrome at this awesome punk festival and he mentioned that James Williamson would be sitting in, but to keep it secret for a while,” said Frank Meyer of The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs. “Eventually the word got out, so there were  definitely a lot of Stooges fans in the audience.

“The place was packed and Cheetah’s set was well-received throughout. Then the place went absolutely berserk when James came on stage,” Meyer said.  “People are fascinated by him.”

Chrome and the Cheetahs opened with the classic “Big Cat,” and played some favorites including the RFTT tune “Amphetamine,” “Ain’t It Fun,” with Ralph Carney from Tom Waits’ band on sax, and Williamson came on for “Raw Power” and “Search And Destroy.”

Williamson, who last January hosted the Re-Licked concert featuring Chrome and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, had one question about the gig: “‘Ain’t It Fun’ to catch up with Cheetah Chrome?” he asked.



See video of James Williamson, Cheetah Chrome and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs here courtesy of Kuuguy1:

Rock Photogs Heather Harris and Markus Cuff: Let Your Lens Find The Truth

Heather Harris and Markus Cuff are two outstanding rock and roll photographers from different eras, with different styles, and with different specialties.  But they both agree the way to handle a challenging and restrictive age in photojournalism is to let their lens find the truth.

The two well-known rock photogs were interviewed by author and radio host Nikki Palomino on her Whatever68 radio show last night.

Harris has shot some of the most interesting artists of our day ranging from punk rockers of the late ’60s to Glam Rockers and beyond — in big venues and small.  Cuff is about rockers, music, motorcycles and tattoos, and his work is published in the top mags.

In 1973, Iggy and the Stooges had the audiences frightened, standing way far away in this shot - Photo © Heather Harris

In 1973, Iggy and the Stooges had the audiences frightened, standing way far away, as Heather Harris recalled. — Photo © Heather Harris

Both agree that while digital aspects and technology have helped improve the profession, restrictions at events, increased competition among publications, and declining media space has made the art of photography tougher than ever, for veterans and newbies alike.

Harris, who was first published in 1969, said the key for her initial success was hanging with the music writers and “UCLA Mafia” who all went on to make it in the business.

“Well I was always doing art drawing, since 3, I always drew from photographs. …When I was 12,  I learned about copyright law and perhaps maybe I should take the photographs that I drew. In the meantime, in the early to mid ’60s, music was my life raft keeping me afloat, and when I started to go to concerts it never occurred to me not to bring a camera even though I didn’t have good cameras. I had a crummy Instamatic but I do have live shots of Buffalo Springfield. I went to art school at UCLA but never studied photography. I’m self-taught, I tried to figure out what the best people were doing.  I knew I preferred the natural live look. I met people who helped me a great deal. I started getting published in around ’69 and hung around with a lot of music writers so I would hear about good things coming up.”

Those good things included groups like Iggy and The Stooges.

“I knew John Mendels(s)ohn, who was an excellent writer and he introduced me to The Stooges in 1970,” Harris said. “He was a bit of a contrarian so he liked anything that was disruptive, so that was a natural with him. And people forget that outside of Detroit and New York people didn’t hear of them and when they did they didn’t like them, so he was one of their early champions. but they didn’t come back to LA until ’73. That’s when I photographed them at the Whisky. I was still a poor college student so the only freebie I could get was a second show at the Whisky. If you could, imagine the difference between a first and second show at the Whisky in 1973, and all the photos you’ve seen that I took of The Stooges there were from a 22-minute, second set of two songs.

“I didn’t have much in the way of instruction, just tried to do it. I knew the looks I wanted; there’s a lot of people who are great photographers that I studied. I liked David Garr, he always to get always the natural light but always the emotion and his pictures looked different that everybody else’s.

Johnny Ray and author and Radio host Nikki Palomino at Precious Metal Reunites Show -- Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Johnny Ray and author and Radio host Nikki Palomino — Photo © Heather Harris

“Other than that, I tried to photograph important music, music that influenced me.  I have worked on staff at some periodicals.

Palomino asked: At the time, at the Whisky when Iggy Pop was playing, how was the audience?

“They were terrified of the band,” Harris said.  “I have one great picture of Iggy hanging off the stage and there’s no one near the stage.”

Cuff, meanwhile was in a band and made his transition by coming up through the Guitar World, Guitar School, and motorcycle magazines like Easyriders and then finally Tattoo Magazine, where he’s been for 18 years.

“My first published work was in Guitar World and Guitar School, stuff like Flea and John Frusciante,” he said. Cuff found an interest in the motorcycle world when no one else was shooting bikes.

Like the musicians they cover, both photographers create their best work while taking a risk.  Harris gave Palomino examples of bands who took a chance.

Mr. Twister, Harris’ husband, played in some theatrical proto-punk bands Chainsaw and Christopher Milk — bands that never get their due, she said.

“They say that the pioneers get all the arrows,” Harris said. “When it’s new not everybody gets it, I was very used to this from art history, where the best people in art aren’t necessarily known in their lifetime. The Stooges were like that initially. The bands my husband were in were theatrical proto-punk bands that influenced Cheap Trick, although they deny it now, The Tubes. But again they were amongst the first to do it so they’re not necessarily remembered.  Although my husband was the first performer banned from the Troubadour for his performance … He had a very raunchy act.”  READ HERE FOR MORE ON MR TWISTER, CHRISTOPHER MILK, AND CHAINSAW

Palomino asked, “So what do you see as far as changes in the bands now?”

“I’m told that the people who are younger than me don’t want to take risks. You have to be able to do it the way not everybody else is,” Harris said.

John Frusciante and Flea taken at Flea's house -- photo © Markus Cuff

John Frusciante and Flea taken at Flea’s house — photo © Markus Cuff

“The record companies don’t want to deviate from the formula. … I think they’ve forgotten the best experience for human beings incorporates all the senses you can, not just hearing… To be there and hear things that don’t show up even, in photos or in reviews that’s what you try to get, to add something to music.”

Cuff said what ticks him off are the rules like having to put down the camera after the third song a band plays, which is ludicrous.

“The technical aspects of concert photography have gotten better than ever. Nowadays you’re locked into two or three songs unless you’re kissing somebody’s ass.  Now its so controlled, there’s no spontaneity.”

Cuff said after the management or venue stops photographs after the second or third song, he would go to the back and shoot with a long lens.  Mainly because all the action happens after the third song, he said.

Harris said that’s one aspect of the business that has gotten out of control, so sometimes you have to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission.

“I try to to see if I can’t shoot bands where I can shoot the whole set.  Sometimes it’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.'” Harris said.

“I was there to do essentially what the musicians were there to do and that’s to get good art. When I started in the ’60s every publicist knew who every photographer was and photography was great publicity. Now it’s considered damage control.

“I know coming from fine art, how little it takes to really improve something. Go to a Rembrandt painting and look at the people and get very close and look at the eyes, there’s a red dot in the corner of each eye. It’s just a blob of paint but it makes the eye look watery and alive, it’s so little but has a good effect.”

“I took a grainy picture of the Who at the end of their first Tommy tour in 1970 and it showed all four members doing exactly what they’re known for, leaping in the air, going nuts on the drums, twirling the microphone and, to me, even though it was grainy, it was perfect. That was the band. That’s as active as they were, that’s as exciting as they were. That was the band. Some people would say ‘Don’t you have any others?’ No they only made just one.”

Markus Cuff has made a career out of shooting the art of motorcycles -- Photo © Markus Cuff

Markus Cuff has made a career out of shooting the art of motorcycles — Photo © Markus Cuff

Nowadays you could get off about 30 shots in the amount of time it took to snap that one, Cuff said.

Harris said the technology has improved photography.

“I don’t miss film because it was hard to deal with,” she said. “Working for magazines I don’t miss working in a cold dark room trying to make deadline,” she said.  “And what they have now is better. Some people prefer film because it’s more hands on. I wish cameras I have now, way back then.  The film i had to use to take that Who shot was called police film, even the instructions talked about the suspect rather than the subject.

As far as the intrusion of the Internet on how photographers sell their work, a proliferation of content from citizen-journalists, as well as the downsizing of magazines has hurt.

“In relation to magazines, Easyriders stopped a long time ago, I got with American Iron and then i have been with Tattoo for about 18 years. The tattoo world has been pretty rocked especially tattoo mags, by the tv shows and the ubiquity of tattoo magazines. When I started there were eight, max, decent tattoo magazines. Now there are now like 25 and they’re all called ‘Tattoo’ or some variation on that. There’s a lot of magazines, like Inked, a coffee table with a lot of girls in them. if there’s girls and they’re young even if the tattoo isn’t real good, eh it’s fine.  So it’s a whole different world now. My work was always go around the country, go to shops and shoot their best work, and it was top shops, it was double-A tattoo work. Everything’s changed a lot because now, it’s the print world is really down and the tattoo magazines are trying to readjust to the digital platform.”

The nature of the picture has changed because the music has changed, Cuff said.

“How many pictures can you get of somebody wearing mouse ears behind a turntable?” Cuff asked. “A lot of those acts they may be fun to listen to … but you get two shots and you’ve got the whole thing. There’s a lot of strange anti-theatrical music out there now that’s not particularly photo friendly.”

“That’s why I like new bands that are good, they’ve figured out they want to do something different,” Harris said. “The history of art doesn’t go forward unless you take a chance.”

James Williamson ‘Re-Licked’ Show Featuring Biafra, Mosshart, Released On Video

Last January, The Stooges’ influential guitarist James Williamson gathered together some of his alternative A-List pals and put on the ‘Re-Licked’ show at the Bootleg.  It rocked the house.

The Re-Licked show featured Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Cheetah Chrome, Lisa Kekaula and other fantastic musicians.  The artists reinvigorated some classic but “underexposed” songs written by Iggy Pop and Williamson.

Read the Review of the show here.

Here is video of that show courtesy of Yahoo!

James Williamson’s ‘Re-Licked’ Show: ‘Alternative Music’s A-List’ Brings Raw Power to New Project

Lisa Kekaula with James Williamson at Re-Licked show Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Lisa Kekaula with James Williamson at Re-Licked show Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Cheetah Chrome Bring It to Bootleg Show


SILVER LAKE — There was a kitchen drawer at our house that had all sorts of cool things: From screwdrivers to Scotch tape, gumballs to love beads. My dad called it “contained craziness.”

It was like that the other night for James Williamson’s Re-Licked concert at the Bootleg.  Set against a ambient backdrop, the show was a powerful reminder of punk rock’s past, and an exciting sign of the future of the genre.

Accompanied by what could only be called The A-List of Alternative Artists, Williamson amassed a show that was one of the most action-packed we’ve ever seen.  Williamson may have been known as producer and guitarist before, but now he can certainly claim the title of talent scout and promoter.

Calling on his relationships with people like Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Joe Cardamone, Lisa Kekaula of the Bell Rays, Cheetah Chrome, and Frank Meyer and the Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, Williamson took a one-off show and turned it into a screaming social event of great success.


James Williamson with Jello Biafra - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

James Williamson with Jello Biafra – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Band Street Walkin’ Cheetahs and ex-Dead Boys guitarist Chrome lent support as opening acts and joined in the action during the main show, as did “new guys” The Richmond Sluts, who were the young standouts.

The Richmond Sluts’ music and appearance were reminicent of a true 1970s rock n roll band. The charisma, stage presence and white go-go boots of frontman Shea Roberts is really something to appreciate.  Roberts is clearly the new sex symbol of Rock N Roll.

Williamson said he selected Carolyn Wonderland to sing “Open Up And Bleed,” because he was looking for a Janis Joplin-type style for the song.  She breathes new life into a great classic with a feminine touch and vulnerable but commanding stage persona.

Meyer of the popular Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs has a fabulous personality, cool performance style and he did an excellent job running the show, introducing performers and keeping people laughing with his jokes. He gave super energetic renditions of “She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills” and “I’m Sick of You.”

Mosshart’s performance is always something to see — unique and relaxed — her body twisting with each word and wild hair seemingly with a life of its own. She knows how to keep the audience hanging on every motion.

Her crooning “Till The End of the Night” captured the audience as she is both flirtatious and powerful in her delivery. With Malin on “Wild Love,” she shows a gregarious and giving nature in her performance. She clearly enjoys collaborating with established as well as up-and-coming musicians.

Ron Young with James Williamson - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young with James Williamson – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young of Little Caesar was a breath of fresh air with his hard rock style.  He delivered a solid performance of “Rubber Leg.”  Young’s the kind of guy you want to be in the trenches with, as he is a real team player with a great attitude and cool swagger.

Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line taunted the audience with “Scene of The Crime” and “Pinpoint Eyes.”  This Los Angeles artist has been working with The Icarus Line and previously fronted Kanker Sores. Kekaula’s wild energy turned “I Got A Right” into a hopping punk revival, soul style.

The opening song was a predictor for the superband performance: Biafra’s “Head On The Curve” was a wild shout out to both Iggy Pop and his Dead Kennedys days — he is still a wild man and compelling to the point where you can’t keep your eyes off him.

For show-enders “Search and Destroy” and “Louie Louie” it was like controlled chaos erupted on stage, and it was calamity on whom to focus the lens.

There was so much action at once it was like a three-ring circus with people running all over the place — Malin whipping his microphone cord around, Cheetah Chrome’s bald pate gleaming, Biafra waving his arms around, and Kekaula relieving her fellow musicians by fanning them wildly.  Yes, with a fan.

Meanwhile, Williamson, who assembled the crazy crew of alternative’s wildly talented, kept his cool, calmly playing his well-recognized guitar in the corner of the stage.

When we asked him, “How did you keep a straight face?” he responded with a cool chuckle and the whole reason for the show: “It was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?”

Yes It Was.   See The Entire Show HERE

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