The music stars aligned last week. Roselit Bone and C.W. Stoneking played a show at Portland’s Mississippi Studios that fit in perfectly with my drive back to Seattle. I don’t shoot many shows these days, but I was excited for this one. I love Roselit Bone. I’m friends with Faith Grossnicklaus, Roselit Bone’s violinist, and I’ve gotten to know the other members of the band over the years. Not all that well, really, but well enough that they’re not surprised to see me hanging around with a camera.
That they were playing with C.W. Stoneking was a wonderful surprise and coincidence. Friends of mine in Seattle introduced me to Stoneking’s music. It’s fantastic. There have been a few late nights at Corvus where Kenna has put on The Love Me or Die for a bunch of grateful regulars nursing that last drink. Some of those friends were coming down for the show. Perfect.
The show was an early one. Roselit Bone at 8, C.W. Stoneking at 9 or so. Both sets were incredible. Seven band members on stage throwing a dark mix of intense, apocalyptic ballads your way. If you’ve been to my site before, you know I’m way out of my league when it comes to writing about music. I know what I like, but I can’t tell you why I like it. OBP Music’s Jerad Walker can.
Those are the photos most people think of when they think of music photography, and understandably so. For that hour or two, we get an intense connection with the band. We read the interviews, listen to the records…now we get to see them bring it all together, live.
They’re also the photos I’m least interested in taking. I love looking at amazing concert photography. But when it comes to taking the shots, I prefer the behind the scenes photos. I have never written a song. I’ll never write a song or play in a band, unless it’s a barbershop quartet in the old folks’ home. I’m fascinated by what first has to happen before a band can get on stage.
To get those photos you need access. I suspect that some of the best music photography – the kind I’m talking about – has been taken by the partners of band members or maybe even band members themselves for whom a camera is a welcome relief from the tour grind and thinking about music non-stop. The other people who get that access are young, hungry photographers who live and breathe music.
I’m none of the above. I just got lucky when I asked a fiddle player in Pike Place Market if I could interview her about busking. I’m grateful that that paved the way for being able to take photos like the ones below. They’re not amazing photos, but I like them. They’re one small part of what happens before a band takes the stage. Song-writing, recording, rehearsing, lining up venues, coordinating schedules, arranging transportation, loading in, loading out, selling merch, sound checking. Then there’s the waiting. Roselit Bone played Mississippi Studios on 12 February. They were in Seattle for a show on the 15th. They’re touring in March. Catch them if you can.