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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

By DONNA BALANCIA

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

By DONNA BALANCIA

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

Watch the Trailer for the Mick Rock Doc, ‘Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock’ in Theaters April 7

By DONNA BALANCIA

Mick Rock has made a career of featuring artists on film. Now the lens is turned on him.

The Magnolia Pictures documentary on Rock’s outstanding career in music photography will get a U.S. release on April 7.

Few punkers and rising rock stars escaped Rock’s lens. When asked how he built such a remarkable and vast portfolio, his answer: “I just don’t sleep.”

Check out the trailer here:

 

Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello to Release Special Edition ‘Flowers’ Cassette for Record Store Day

By JOHN DALY

With the Flowers In The Dirt Archive Collection edition’s March 24th release date via  MPL/Capitol/UMe fast approaching, Paul McCartney has confirmed a very special Record Store Day exclusive.

To commemorate Record Store Day this April 22, a limited edition three-song cassette of Paul and Elvis Costello’s Flowers In The Dirt demos will be made available at participating RSD stores.

The limited edition cassette-only release will be the first time these recordings — “I Don’t Want To Confess,” “Shallow Grave” and “Mistress And Maid” — will be made available in the same form as when Paul and Elvis first cut them directly to tape.

“The demos are red hot off the skillet and that’s why we wanted to include them on this boxed set,” McCartney said. “What’s great about these songs is that they’ve just been written. So there’s nothing more hot off the skillet as I say. So that was the kind of great instant thing about them.  I hadn’t listened to them in ages but when I did I knew we had to put them out. We made a little tape of them and sent them to Elvis, who loved them too. We said we should put out an EP or something and now the moment’s finally arrived.”

For information on formats, track listings, preorders etc., go to Paul McCartney’s blog.

For a list of Record Store Day participants, see the Record Store Day website.

PHOTOS: An Evening With the Photographic Greats Richard Young and Chris Cuffaro in West Hollywood

By DONNA BALANCIA

They have captured greatness, these rock photographers, but tonight Richard Young and Chris Cuffaro were the center of attention. Young’s show, “Rebels” was held at the Leica Store in LA and Cuffaro held an exhibit at Gibson’s Tower Records.

© Donna Balancia

From Rebels to Greatest Hits

Ranging from Marvin Gaye to The Sex Pistols, Young’s exhibit showed the inner rebellious spirit of the musicians he shot primarily in the early 1980s.  It was a time of transition for many with music moving into the disco era, as his photographs — taken in the dance clubs of New York City  and beyond showed.

As for Cuffaro, whose event was punctuated with performances by emerging bands and appearances by other photographers notably Henry Diltz, the 1990s was his heyday. In addition to Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and NXS, Cuffaro captured a range of artists whose legacies continue on.

Sweet Relief was supporting and President Bill Bennett and Executive Director Rob Max were on hand.

For more information on Richard Young, check out his page.  Chris Cuffaro has a website where all his work is displayed as well.

© Donna Balancia

 

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David Bowie in Mexico City: Photog Fernando Aceves Captures ‘The Chameleon’ in Forest Lawn Exhibit

Bowie in Mexico City By Fernando Aceves

By DONNA BALANCIA

David Bowie loved Mexico City and back in 1997, he spent three days with photographer Fernando Aceves touring the city’s historic museums and the pyramids.

Aceves documented the Bowie tour of Mexico City and brings his remarkable photo gallery, David Bowie: Among The Mexican Masters to Forest Lawn Museum.  The exihibit runs from tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 27, through June 15.

Image of David Bowie © Fernando Aceves - courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Image of David Bowie © Fernando Aceves – courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Bowie In Mexico City

“David’s personality inspired me,” said Aceves, a well-known rock and roll photographer based in Mexico City. “I was always a fan of David’s growing up in Mexico City, but I was more a familiar with his acting like in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Bowie played his first and only show in Mexico City on October 23, 1997 at the Foro Sol during the world tour to promote his Earthling album. Aceves got the great opportunity to accompany Bowie when the concert promoter asked Aceves to help make Bowie’s tour of Mexico City a success.

David Bowie in Mexican City Masters is on display at Forest Lawn Museum through June - Photos © Fernando Aceves courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

David Bowie and The Mexican Masters is on display at Forest Lawn Museum through June – Photos © Fernando Aceves courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Observing The Masters

The exhibit is revealing, showing a side of the performer mingling with locals, enjoying his tour and taking in the culture. In the images, Bowie blows a conch shell, tours the pyramids and observes the master painters with reverence.

“This exhibit shows the down-to-earth man who felt strong admiration and respect for other cultures from around the world,” said Ana Pescador, director of Forest Lawn Museum. “With David Bowie as their tour guide, we are excited to take visitors on an inspirational tour of Mexico.”

David Bowie In Mexico City: He interacted with the people and observed the culture' said photographer Fernando Aceves - Photo courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

‘David interacted with the people and observed the culture’ said photographer Fernando Aceves – Photo courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Sharing: Bowie in Mexico City Culture

“This is a great opportunity and part of our mission to share the culture of Mexico,” said Rodolfo Saenz, senior vice president of marketing at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries. “It’s the 1-year anniversary of David Bowie’s passing and we wanted to celebrate his life and legend.

As the two men toured around Mexico City, David would admire the works of such masters as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo while Aceves would casually document the adventure.

David had a wry sense of humor in his approach - Photo © Fernando Aceves

David had a wry sense of humor in his approach – Photo © Fernando Aceves

David Bowie Fitting In

“He would fit into the paintings while he admired them,” Aceves said. “I was as casual as we could be and I never use a flashbulb. David would say, ‘My man doesn’t need any flash.'”

Bowie was on a mission, Aceves said.

“David had many marks in his Mexico guidebook,” Aceves said. “He wanted to write an article for Modern Painter and wanted to see the works of the masters. I don’t think the article was ever published.

“We went to the pyramids and the Palace of Fine Art,” Aceves said.  “He looked at the paintings with great respect. Mostly he observed in silence. I understand why they called him the chameleon. Like with the Diego Rivera painting, he fit into the painting.”

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David Bowie photo exhibit runs through June at Forest Lawn Museum – All photos © Fernando Aceves

‘Actor In a Movie’

“He called me the ‘smudger’ and he referred to himself in the third person,” Aceves said. “He would say ‘You’re taking David to Mexico City.’ He was aware of the character.”

What is the secret to getting such insightful photos?

“I photographed him as an actor in a movie,” Aceves said. “I had to work as simple as the man.”

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