Stone Ruination Ale, 3/27/10

I’m a Facebook fan of Stone Brewing Company, and they asked for nice shots of their beer. I don’t normally care for photo contests since it’s impossible to objectively judge something as subjective as the artistic worth of a photo. The more formal contests are mostly just rights-grab scams. But I was intrigued by this project for a different reason.

At the beginning of the month we made a big Costco run and I found a case of Stone Pale Ale on sale for about $20. I took one and placed it on the bottom rack of the shopping cart, which is where it stayed while we kept shopping, paying, going out to the car, and of course, driving away. I didn’t realize that I forgot to bring it home until it was way too late.

I was so mad at myself, I swore that I wouldn’t buy any beer for the house until I was done drinking one of my imaginary-Stones each day until they were gone. Not like I gave up drinking for the month, I do go out to bars to shoot bands, after all. But I have made it through most of March without buying beer for home. My grilling sessions haven’t been as fun, nor has our lounging by the pool, but on the bright side, air-beer is extremely low-calorie and you can drink as many as you like and still drive.

So when this little contest came around, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to flex some of my photo muscles as well as buy a beer for some other reason than just drinking it. I bought a Ruination Ale and a Stone pint glass with a nice logo on it, and ended up doing the shoot at Natalie Kardos’ since I had to return her macro lens. She was kind enough to let me use her soft box and flash units.

Stone Beer Shoot 32710 © Michael Klayman-001

Looks tasty, but I have to wait another four days before I can buy another one.

Moonlight Beach at Night, 3/26/10

The plan was to shoot under the full moon at Swami’s but everyone who I made plans with bailed on me. It would have been easy to just stay home, but I was determined to salvage the night. I made it to Swami’s and was pleased to see stairway access to the beach, but dismayed to see that the stairway had all these bright sodium lights that illuminated the beach, cliffs, everything. That would drown out any moonlight. I made one more stop at my favorite beach in San Diego, the very appropriately named Moonlight Beach.

Moonlight Beach 32610 © Michael Klayman-005

This is my favorite beach for regular beach activities like sunning and swimming, but it doesn’t have a whole bunch of interesting rocks. There are some cliffs to the north and south, but the tide was pretty high and I didn’t feel like getting drenched by a rogue wave. I just spent most of the time pointing the lens out at the water and going for some moody shots.

Moonlight Beach 32610 © Michael Klayman-001

Yes, I realize my watermark is more distracting than usual in these shots. If you want to see it removed, you can buy a print.

Moonlight Beach 32610 © Michael Klayman-004

Moonlight Beach 32610 © Michael Klayman-006

Hopefully next month I can get some people to come out with me and I can be a bit more motivated to hunt down the good compositions.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey, 3/21/10

How is it that more people don’t know about the wonderful jazz shows that are happening in PB? Right down the street from the original Rubio’s, you can catch San Diego’s best kept jazz series. Sunday night was The New Standard Jazz Quintet, supersized for this show from its regular trio format. Click on a photo to be taken to the full gallery.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-001

You’ve read my thoughts on Ian Tordella’s alto playing, but he stuck to the tenor sax for a change of pace this night.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-005

This was my first time seeing John Reynolds on trumpet and flugelhorn. As much as I think I get out and see all the great players in town, it’s good to know that there’s still plenty of swinging cats who I can still discover- all I have to do is get off the couch!

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-024

Justin Grinnell acted as the leader this night, announcing the tunes to the audience and providing some commentary when appropriate. He is one of the founding members of the trio, along with John.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-022

The drummer’s name escapes me, but I know he’s from L.A.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-020

One of my mistake shots actually turned out pretty cool for once. The color and the straight blur lines is what makes it for me. It’s abstract, yet holds just enough detail to recognize the subject.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-023

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-016

Ian gave me his new CD, Magnolia, after months and months of prodding him for it. It’s got his band, Jeff Denson, Brian McLaughlin, and Florian Weber, along with longtime Lens and Eyebrow subject Jeff Miles on guitar on a track. It almost goes without saying that it’s an excellent debut effort, but what’s especially interesting to me is that the relaxed feel of the tunes belies their complexity. It’s good as both a background CD when you just need something to fill space, as well as an album full of harmonically interesting solos.

Ian favors the upper registers of the tenor sax, which gives his sound just a little bit of a bite. I’ve seen him go into more challenging territories live, hopefully the next CD showcases a more edgy collection of tunes. My favorite is the second track featuring Jeff Miles, D’s Melody. I’m going to guess that Ian wrote this as a love song to his wife.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-025

Not to take anything away from this group of players though. Everyone in attendance listened closely and showed their appreciation.

New Standard Jazz Quintet at Tango Del Rey 32110 © Michael Klayman-018

Sunset Cliffs, 3/20/10

Saturday was a gorgeous day, so I headed out to Sunset Cliffs to enjoy the sun and do some long exposure photography with my 10-stop neutral density filter and polarizer.

Sunset Cliffs 32010 © Michael Klayman-003

This was more of a scouting trip to find interesting places to come back to later on at night. I also tried a new post processing technique where I cranked the vibrance and dialed down the saturation.

Sunset Cliffs 32010 © Michael Klayman-004

Sunset Cliffs 32010 © Michael Klayman-006

That big rock always has cormorants sitting on it. Maybe next time I’ll get down to the beach and shoot it from sea level.

Hot Sauce, anyone?

Anybody want some free hot sauces? They’re still good, I’m just not into mouth-numbing heat anymore. The one on the left is a chocolate orange hot sauce for desserts. It’s good on ice cream. Some of them are unopened, but even the open ones are still good. This stuff is all hot enough that it won’t go bad for years. I’m trying to clean out some cabinets and these just aren’t getting used, so let me know if you want one or all of them.

Hot Sauce © Michael Klayman-001

Judgement Day at Soda Bar, 3/13/10

Metal music has always drawn on classical music, but it’s not often that classical musicians have drawn on metal as their performance style of choice. Two brothers in Oakland did just that, though with their 100% string metal band, Judgement Day.

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-001

Anton and Lewis Patzner play violin and cello, respectively, and shred just as hard as anyone in a denim jacket with Slayer patches.

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-012

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-019

After some time spent busking on the streets in the Bay Area, they started landing gigs as a duo. After picking up drummer Jon Bush, String Metal was born.

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-005

The music isn’t pushing any musical boundaries, but to see it performed live from the front row is inspiring. If I hadn’t seen and heard it myself, I wouldn’t belieive that they could make it sound so heavy.

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-015

The brothers grew up playing and studying classical, but the call of the dark side was too strong, and they couldn’t resist this devil’s music for long.

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-004

Rob Crow liked it too. That’s him in back flashing me a peace sign.

Judgement Day at Soda Bar 31310 © Michael Klayman-020

I still can’t stop listening to their beautifully packaged CD,
“Peacocks/Pink Monsters”. Anton wrote some very thoughtful notes in it about the nature of artistic vision and the making of the CD and it’s artwork/video. If you see these guys this week at SXSW, make sure to check them out and support them by buying some merch. They’re nice guys and extremely talented musicians who are pushing their own envelope.

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Photo geekery:

This set and last night’s Hotel St. George set were both excersizes in not using my 17-55 lens, which I normally use 75% of the time. Because of the dark stage and the cello being so far up front to not get illuminated by any of the stage lights, I used my primes of course, but I also tried to make my 11-16 work for me too. The ultra wide angle reduces subject magnification, which has the effect of reducing blur. I figured that I could get at least a half stop slower shutter speed and not add too much more motion blur. I’m not sure if that’s really so true since I still ended up with obvious motion in all the shots. But, the wide view does give the eye something unexpected, and I think when used appropriately, that can lessen the annoyance of the motion blur.

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House, 3/12/10

In an attempt to have a little more free time at home, I haven’t been shooting full shows lately, trying to just shoot the bands I came out to see. I was interested in seeing Softlights, but they didn’t have the El Ten Eleven boys as the rhythm section like I had hoped, so there went shooting them. Abraham held it down on bass, but it was packed and I didn’t feel like muscling my way to the front. Things cleared out just enough by the time Hotel St George came on.

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House 31210 © Michael Klayman-001

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I’ve seen them last. Their latest album had just come out, and they were already working on the next one at that point. This set drew almost exclusively from Fun Shine Line, which I haven’t heard yet.

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House 31210 © Michael Klayman-009

City Boy Lemon was a bit of a departure from their previous two EPs. The music took a turn for some darker tones and themes, reminding me a lot of those great Joe Jackson albums from the ’70s. He sang primarily from the viewpoint of someone who was longing for more women and success, City Boy Lemon is based on someone who is struggling with having a little too much of the good life.

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House 31210 © Michael Klayman-013

The albums I’m familiar with have great, snarly bass tones but this set replaced keyboards for all the songs except one, All Those Dancing Stars (the only song they played off City Boy Lemon).

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House 31210 © Michael Klayman-019

They are evolving with every release, and I can’t wait to hear the studio versions of these songs. City Boy Lemon has a great sound, with very overdriven and swirly guitars. The way they reinvent themselves, Fun Shine Line should be quite interesting.

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House 31210 © Michael Klayman-021

The light was a bit lacking, as they had the front lights turned down just before they started playing. I pulled out my primes to try to get a little more light in, but this was another set where I’d have to embrace the blur. A note to bands that see me shooting- the more light I have to work with, the better your photos will be. I love a challenge, but I love well-exposed, non-blurry photos more.

Hotel St. George at Tin Can Ale House 31210 © Michael Klayman-011

See Michael’s Photo’s- Live! at Queen Bee Art Center, 3/5/10

When I first started planning out my first solo show, it seemed so simple. Hang a few prints on a wall, serve some beer, and have some bands play. How tough could it be? It turns out that it takes A LOT of effort that has nothing to do with clicking and printing. By the time opening night came around though, it was all worth it.

Photo Show at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-001

My photos wil be hanging at Queen Bee Art Center in North Park for the rest of the month, so if you weren’t able to make it to the opening you can still stop in to see them. If you walk from Bar Pink to U-31, you pass within 100 feet of this gallery’s front door. These snapshots are a poor substitute for seeing actual prints in person.

Photo Show at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-003

The first time I walked into this space and saw the big stage, I had the idea to bring in some bands to play while their photos hung on the wall. It always takes me a few days to work on photos and get them posted and as a photographer, it’s just the nature of the beast to be that annoying guy in front shooting photos and to not be there when the bands get to see them for the first time. This show was my effort to close that gap and let the music and images happen simultaneously.  I wanted an eclectic mix of bands that I like, and I’m really happy that they actually agreed to do it!

I tried to just relax and have fun this night, and even considered not bringing my camera so that I wouldn’t be tempted to shoot. Luckily, that insane notion passed quickly.

First up was was Seesaw Ensemble.

Seesaw Ensemble at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-001

No horn player this time, just tasty grooves. Lots of people came up to me to tell me that they really liked these guys, and I’m happy that I was able to expose them to something that they wouldn’t normally hear.

Seesaw Ensemble at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-008

Seesaw Ensemble at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-006

I mention it every time I shoot them, but free jazz is a very broad term for music, not all of which is good. Some of it can be downright painful to sit through.These guys do it right, making improvised music that relies on members that listen and react to each other.

Seesaw Ensemble at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-007

Seesaw Ensemble at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-005

They all have multiple projects they play in, and those experiences inform their playing in a very interesting synergy. There isn’t a permanent lineup, just a core of players that bring in other players when the time is right.

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It’s always fun to see some of my best friends play, and I’ve known most of the guys in the Tracotrmen for almost as long as I’ve lived in San Diego. I kept it secret until now, but their full set of group shots that I did for this show can be found here.

Tractormen at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-004

They improved a lot in the past couple years, and I think Jim is now getting comfortable being a bandleader instead of just a guy making basement tapes with his acoustic guitar.

Tractormen at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-011

Tractormen at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-008

Maybe some bands down here can get them on an opening slot and lure them down from North County more often.

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This was actually my first time seeing Irradio since picking up their excellent album, I am the Horn. I really wish I had bought it sooner, because it stays in constant rotation in the car. Once again, I kept it secret until now, but their full set of group shots that I
did for this show can be found here.

Irradio at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-001

Dan Dasher is one of the more dynamic frontmen in San Diego.

Irradio at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-004

Irradio at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-011

Irradio at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-005

Irradio at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-007

It was at this point that I learned an important lesson in event production.- buy more beer than you think you need, or you’re liable to run out before the last band goes on. Now I know for next time.

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A Scribe Amidst the Lions rounded out the night, playing some songs off their brand new EP.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-004

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-013

Kristofer is another guy who gives his all on stage, and that makes for a great show.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-010

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-005

When I saw this girl spinning to the music, I took this shot and then came over to let her know that I had a shot of her dancing on stage at the Casbah. She told me that she saw it  before and didn’t remember doing it. That’s why I’m here- to capture memories so you don’t have to.

A Scribe Amidst the Lions at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-012

When I asked Seesaw Ensemble and ASATL to be part of this show, I had no idea that Mike Hams played in both bands, and is Kristofer’s brother. My buddy Mike Brown, drummer from Tractormen, really dug his playing in particular.
 
A Scribe Amidst the Lions at Queen Bee Art Center 30510 © Michael Klayman-008

Thank you to all the bands and everyone who came out and supported me for my first ever solo photo show. It was a bit surreal to have so many people complimenting me on my work- I don’t do this for the “glory”, I do this as a sort of compliment to the musicians. Since a few people have asked, I’ll say that I’m not sure if I’ll put another one of these events on or not. Right now, I’m just trying to relax and just have fun shooting again without the pressure of an upcoming show or slideshow presentation. This was a tremendously rewarding experience, though, and I’m happy I went through with it! I pushed myself to make it happen, and it was a success. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you can accomplish a lot if you just believe in yourself.

Gilbert Castellanos Quintet at El Camino, 3/3/10

Gilbert Castellanos has a new spot for his weekly jam session, the El Camino Restaurant, just a block away from the Casbah.

Gilbert Castellanos at El Camino 30310 © Michael Klayman-005

They keep it pretty dim here, so I used my prime lenses, sacrificing versatility for light gathering ability. The small, roving spotlight helped immensely.

Gilbert Castellanos at El Camino 30310 © Michael Klayman-006

This was my first time seeing Brett Sanders on drums.

Gilbert Castellanos at El Camino 30310 © Michael Klayman-009

El Camino is the prefect place for this. the (kinda pricey) mexican food and drinks go well with the Latin Jazz. The place was packed full of music fans. I thought it was funny that each seat at the bar has a tiny TV screen playing lucha libre movies, and fat pig lamps on the ceiling.

Gilbert Castellanos at El Camino 30310 © Michael Klayman-012

I’ll be sure to come again soon, but I’ll leave the camera at home. You’ll just have to see and hear it for yourself.

Gilbert Castellanos at El Camino 30310 © Michael Klayman-011