June 18, 2017 – DJ Joshua Pocalypse

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I can’t even tell you what happened to Joshua Pocalypse, friends. I met him five years ago when he was making music before an event at a local club. He was – and likely still is – a musician. He’s a DJ with a supremely keen ear. And, from what I recall, he paid his bills working for his father’s business at a coffee roasting company.

Can’t seem to pin him down on social media, although I know he was on Facebook at one point or another in the past. Nevertheless, today’s image is one of a DJ, performing for a club slowly filling up with people. There was an intensity to him that I found very magnetic. I like to think that the images here speak for themselves.

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June 17, 2017 – John Doe

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John Nommensen Duchac, professionally known as John Doe, is a signer, songwriter, actor, poet, and guitarist. He is most broadly known for co-founding the LA punk band X – a group he still participates in – but he has also been performing as a solo artist. His compositions span a variety of genres, including rock and roll, punk, country, and folk. In today’s image, we see him performing in his country mode at The Bisbee Royale.

I am genuinely of the impression that most artists – true, in the bloodstream, unable to turn it off artists – naturally progress and experiment and often dip into different styles, experiment with blending genres, and even migrate to different media (from music to painting, or sculpture to poetry, or any combination you could imagine) in the pursuite of novel ways of expressing ideas and keeping their creations challenging on fresh – not just to the rest of the world, but to themselves as well.

John Doe is one of these people. Always trying new things. The leap from punk to country may not seem feasable, and it takes people like John Doe to throw his hands in the air and say “fuck it, guys – it ain’t that big a deal.” The leap from music to film is probably a little more intuitive; Doe has performed in dozens of movies and television shows including, just to name a few, Road House, Wyatt Earp, Boogie Nights, Carnivàle, and Roswell.

I only met him briefly, but he seemed appeared undeniably pleased to be playing to a thankful audience in an out-of-the-way small town. He was all smiles and handshakes and put on a great set.

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June 16, 2017 – Serena Rose

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This hard-working multi-instrumentalist is more than just a musician. She’s woman who performs in multiple bands, makes amazing photographs, and pursues her creative impulses with an elegance and casual calm that causes photographic artists like me to pause, re-hinge my jaws, and ask “how on earth did she do that?” I first met Serena when I became acquainted with Randall Swindell, the front-man of Ensphere, several years ago.

I photographed Ensphere at their rehearsal/performance space downtown and managed to nab some photographs at a few of their performances at venues down on 4th Avenue, the highlight of which was the record release performance at Plush for their album ‘Corpuscle.’ Serena and Ensphere alum Michael Ludovici share a creative and romantic connection, performing together with Ensphere and with a side project as a duo under the moniker Dyadic.

Beautiful, multi-talented, and kind beyond measure, I recommend checking out Serena’s work:
Dyadic
Serena Rose Photos
Ensphere

Here’s one of my favorite photographs from Serena’s “Levitation” series.
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June 15, 2017 – Swindy

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Randall Swindell has been on the music scene in Tucson for years. I was fortunate enough to meet him several years back when he was the front-man for Ensphere. The ambient/progressive rock team has been through a couple of iterations throughout the years and have recently begun performing again. Randall also began his own solo project, Swindy, in July 2016 after teaming up with drummer Mike Jenney(Alter der Ruine & Assemblage 23) and guitarist Jeff Sargent (vocalist for Industrial Band 51 PEG).

Randall is a consummate performer, having also worked with Flam Chen, a pyrotechnic theater troupe here in Tucson. Swindy has shared the bill with Orgy, Powerman 5000, Trapt, Otep, Dope, Combichrist, William Control, and many others. He is a hard-working performer, an incredibly kind and generous personality, and continues to book shows out for 2017 while working on an upcoming full-length record.

Check out Swindy’s acoustic set of “Reflection” at KFMA below and hit them up on Facebook here.

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June 14, 2017 – Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl

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It’s still hard to put into words when I look back on these two. I met the husband and wife musical duo at a 4th Avenue bar in Tucson, Arizona back in 2005 or 2006. The two were playing music in the bar lounge. It was a week night and there was no cover charge, which is really the only reason my girlfriend and I went out that night; we were both going to university and didn’t have a tremendous amount of spare cash, so free music and cheap happy hour drinks were always a solid draw.

I really enjoyed the music. Amy and Derrick always had magnificent chemistry. They always seemed happy and in love, and that came through in their music. They’d take breaks in between songs and interact with the crowd, ask questions, take requests, and make jokes. It was impossible to walk away and not take some of that joy with you. As relatively broke as I was, I had to buy one of their albums, and it become a regular part of my musical rotation.

Years down the road I secured a job in the old copper mining town of Bisbee, Arizona. With the mining operation all but shut down, the town had long-ago become a mecca for artists, musicians, drop-outs and various other vagabonds. It’s unique color and history also make it a draw for tourists, which sustain a healthy hospitality industry – restaurants, bars, and hotels abound in Historic Bisbee. As it turned out, Amy and Derrick called Bisbee their home; they played multiple sets at various venues each and every week. My favorite times were Wednesday nights at The Copper Queen saloon where Amy would play solo, seated behind her keyboards, and take requests from anybody who happened to be there – funny, improvised, and ingenious performances. I quickly learned, when dropping by Doug Stanhope’s Super Bowl party, that the couple actually rented a house from the comedian and lived adjacent to the Stanhope compound.

In a small town, everybody seems connected to everybody else in one way or another.
I could never boast a close, personal relationship with Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl, but I always enjoyed their music and their kind, generous energy.

Amy Ross suffered from lupus and kidney problems. After spending more than a week at the Tucson Medical Center, she passed away at the age of forty. She’d been suffering from a blood infection and died shortly before a scheduled surgery. Derrick shot himself in the head in his home in Bisbee with a firearm he purchased shortly after his wife’s death. Amy’s death was announced on her Facebook page:

“Hey kids! Bad news! I died this morning and Derrick didn’t know how to tell you. I love you all and hope you go out and be nice to someone. Funerals are a bore so hopefully I don’t have one. Give Derrick some alone space…He stinks at this stuff so leave him be for now. Thanks for all the kindness…Please spread it around.
~Whiskey”

We learned shortly thereafter that the message was penned by Doug Stanhope after receiving permission and password information from Derrick.

It’s hard to tell if anybody had any idea that Derrick would take his own life. He’d mentioned that he might kill himself while speaking on Stanhope’s podcast before Amy’s death, but such a public proclamation – and on a comedy podcast no less – didn’t seem to bend too many ears, especially when speaking with a man known for humor that’s regularly pretty dark.

The whole town, still absorbing the loss of Amy Ross, was in shock after learning about Derrick’s suicide. A gathering of locals descended upon The Grand Hotel Saloon in celebration of the lives of Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl. Local musicians sang songs, covered tunes from the deceased couple, and many glasses were raised. The bar was packed with glassy-eyed locals, and I like to think that it was a decent send-off.

Today’s photograph was taken in the green room at The Bisbee Royale, a short-lived night club that is now home to the local radio station.

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June 13, 2017 – Jessica Fleet Smith

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I’ve known Jessica Fleet Smith for a few years now. I’d always see her and her husband at Mimosa Market, a small bodega up brewery gulch in Bisbee, Arizona – one of those places tucked just far enough away that few tourists ever find it. She’s a unique creature, light-hearted and quick to smile, and always seemed rather shy. That’s part of what makes her so intriguing, I think. Effortlessly beautiful but secure in her relationship, appearing shy but absolutely confident enough to stand behind the microphone and perform in front of a gathered crowd. She’s a very genuine person, reserved and gutsy at the same time.

Today’s image is an unconventional one. I shared it on Facebook a few years ago after she performed with a group called Chasing Light at the Sidepony Express music festival. The classroom, news publications, critiques, and art critics drill into photographers that if the image isn’t tack-sharp, it isn’t worth looking at. This convention of “the image must be technically perfect” robs the photographer of so many opportunities. I’m a fan of atmosphere, of motion-blur, of selective focus – of the certain kind of mood that can be established using these tools. I think there’s something emotional and ethereal about images like this, taken from the crowd, imperfect and out of focus, and let’s face it – I’m no longer in the classroom, no longer pressured to make somebody else’s idea of the perfect picture.

I think this image captures Jessica’s bravery (and her distance) quite well.

Out of the Blue, the group Jessica is currently working with, doesn’t stray from Bisbee very often. But if you’re taking a trip down to the copper town that once was – if the fake, theme-park atmosphere of Tombstone doesn’t distract you from heading further south – I’d be sure to look ’em up. You can follow Out of the Blue on Facebook here.

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June 12, 2017 – The Pit Fire

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For several years, while I was living in the borderlands of Southeastern Arizona, I made it a point to attend the annual Cochise College Pit Fire. The entire evening surrounds a main event, the lighting of the pit fire itself; it’s an ancient method of baking clay pottery in which the pottery is placed in a trench dug into the ground with a wood fire burning above it. The result is pottery covered in interesting patterns and colors.

The evening is peppered with various musical performances on several outdoor stages, dance performances, acrobatics, theater art, gourmet food supplied by the college’s culinary arts club, and other vendors. It’s free for anybody who wants to attend, and it is genuinely one of the more interesting (and little-known) events in this somewhat remote area of Cochise County, right along the Mexican border.

I wouldn’t even be able to tell you if today’s picture depicts a booked performance artist or if it’s just an enthusiastic attendee who decided to spin poi in the field where the pit fire’s lit. It doesn’t really matter – it illustrates the energy and creativity of the event.

If you live in southern Arizona and want to attend, all you need to do is mark your calendar. You can check out their website here.

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