June 30, 2017 – The Mission Creeps

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To close out a month of images of performers, musicians, circus acts, and poets, I decided to reach back to the Zombie Prom and the band The Mission Creeps, and a photograph of lead singer James Arr. The following is lifted from their website, which describes their style and method more effectively than I imagine I could:

“Hailing from Tucson, the same diverse music scene that spawned Calexico and Bog Log III, The Mission Creeps spin tales of a different, darker kind of desert, one of lonesome highways and ghost stories. Inspired by art and film noir and horror movies, The Mission Creeps take their cues from bands following similar inspirations, such as The Cramps, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joy Division, and Deadbolt.

Rue Morgue Magazine described their sound as “awash in surf guitar” and noted singer James “Arr’s ability, much like Nick Cave, to switch between seductive narrative and a raving yelp.” Supported by the throbbing rhythms of bassist Miss Frankie Stein and drummer George “of the Jungle Beat” Palenzuela, a scary good time can always be had at their shows. With six releases, they continue offer up musical tales populated with witches, killer gnomes, and parties for the undead while providing beats that keep the body moving and the demons at bay.”

Every performance is memorable. These guys don’t phone it in.

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June 28, 2017 – Pyrotechnic Theater

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This is Ruben Palma. He decided – after a series of miscommunications that are, ultimately, no single person’s fault – that he doesn’t much like me. I had endeared myself to a local performance troupe, but joblessness, poverty, and the threat of homelessness motivated me to focus my efforts on, well, not winding up homeless and starving. I don’t think that these folks realized that I was promoting them for free and that I was desperate for legitimate work, but they definitely felt burned when I up-and-vanished to spend time with individuals who could actually put food on my table.

I’ve always appreciated what these guys do, and I hold no ill-will personally.
But my experience, and this is a big one, has definitely been that photographers should be more than happy with published “credit” for their work, rather than a paycheck to actually feed themselves and pay their rent. This was a unique moment in my life, when I realized how thoroughly undervalued my craft really was. I literally had people abusing me on social media because I wasn’t in a position to work for free…because I was living on a friend’s couch, in abject poverty.

After Ruben had dismissed me from social media – after a torrent of unpleasant invective – I ran into him one time at a local night club. Rather than let things be completely awkward, he astonished me by walking straight up to me and addressing the elephant. It wasn’t so much an apology as a request to leave the past in the past – and that was enough for me. We shook hands and walked away from each other, back to our respective friends. I’m not sure what the guy’s up to these days, but I hope that things are going well for him.

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June 27, 2017 – Society1

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Years ago, when I was in college, I took it upon myself to do a photo documentary revolving around body modification subculture. I spent all of my free time in a local piercing and tattoo shop, going to weekend performances, and learning about both the contemporary execution and history of scarification and flesh-suspension practices. I hopped a ride to Los Angeles with the owner of the shop to attend a performance by a group called CoRE (Constructs of Ritual Evolution) at The Key Club on the strip.

I sat in the back seat of the car during most of the drive, hungover from a night of moaning about relationships and chatting about art with an old friend, and drinking way too many whiskey and sodas; I pretty-much felt like hell during the whole ride. On the long stretch outside of Yuma, in the front seat, the driver and his girlfriend sparked a joint, but all I could do was close my eyes and try not to feel nauseous. We rolled into Los Angeles after dusk, headlights scattered through red-flag smog-laden air, with about an hour to spare before the show.

The opening act was Society 1, a metal band founded by Matt Zane, a man concerned enough about his image enough to have removed his year of birth from his wikipedia page and edit-out his participation in the Los Angeles pornographic film industry. I don’t really understand why, of course; the attitude of metal is to not give a fuck about that kind of thing.

Society 1 performed a solid set and Zane was unforgettable. Halfway through the show, he sang while sitting prostrate, center stage, facing away from the audience, while hooks were installed in his upper back. He performed the second half of the show suspended from the flesh, microphone in hand, swinging above the audience. It doesn’t get more metal than that, kids. Definitely an experience I won’t forget.

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June 26, 2017 – Erin Deo

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Erin Christine Deo is a mysterious woman. I only met her the one time, several years ago at the Cabaret de los Muertos, so it’d be a challenge to try and put her qualities into words; I never got to know her that well. There’s something undeniably magnetic about the woman, though. She seems to draw attention even a room filled with people, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. She wasn’t the only beautiful belly-dancer to perform that night, but when she left the venue in a glowing yellow cloak, into the night and down toward The Grand Hotel & Saloon, it seemed like all eyes were on her.

I’m not sure precisely what she’s up to these days, but her social media presence indicates that she’s still performing, still her lovely hippie self at, according to her page, “The Department of Sunshine and Rainbows.” She certainly has the confidence and stage presence, and this is one of my favorite photographs from both years that I covered the Cabaret de los Muertos.’

You can follow her on Istagram HERE.

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June 25, 2017 – Terry Wolf

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Artist, musician, rancher, motorcycle enthusiast, hippie, and so many things more, Terry Wolf is a force of nature. I don’t have her life story, but my understanding is that she has lived near and far, done a fair bit of traveling, and has endured about as much as life can throw at a person. She has her own patch of land outside of Historic Bisbee where she raises wolf pups and, on occasion, has bonfire celebrations where she invites the whole town to come down and dance, drink, and be merry by the fire.

She used to work a couple of days a week down at Mimosa Market, a small bodega up Brewery Gulch. Two of her wolf pups would sleep on the worn wooden floors all day while Terry stood behind the glass counter, manning the register. Her first husband’s ashes were scattered on the hilltop above Mimosa Market, where a man had constructed a makeshift shrine decades ago; the white cross at the top of the hill can be seen from the outskirts of town. She was also the very first person in Bisbee to buy one of my paintings – a Dia de los Muertos themed mariachi piece – which was a huge boost to a new artist in town struggling to get his footing.

Some of my favorite memories are listening to Terry play the guitar while John Cordes would play the fiddle – springtime afternoons on the outside porch at The Copper Queen Saloon. Folks from out of town would sit outside on Sunday mornings, drinking cold beer a mimosas, while Terry did her thing. On occasion Mark Pierce – another of this month’s performers – would drag out his stand-up base and play with the band.

Check out Terry Wolf and the Back Porch Swing here.

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June 24, 2017 – Caitlin Strachen

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Caitlin is a magnetic and multi-talented woman. She’s also effortlessly mysterious; she seems almost shy and reserved when you spend time around her because she’s incredibly thoughtful and quiet. But she springs into action when the spotlight lands on her. Today’s images come from the 2012 ‘Cabaret de los Muertos’ in Bisbee, a nascent variety show that, sadly, only lasted two seasons. But hey, that’s small-town life. When one tradition fails to take root, there are always other interesting concoctions that spring up.

At the time, Caitlin was still studying art and living a couple hundred miles north in Prescott, Arizona, but with roots and family in Bisbee, she made the trip down and dazzled. Her first set was a tap-dance, dressed in red and black, and she caught everybody’s eye. In local theater, some presentations are humorously under-rehearsed (but usually beloved because the performers are locally known). This performance, however, was elevated beyond that modest ‘community theater’ standard. She absolutely killed it.

And I don’t think it’s even possible to take a bad photograph of her- truth words.

Porcelain skin, a dancer’s physique, and a captivating smile – she is a pleasure to watch. She sings, plays the flute, and dances, and she does all of these things with a grace, elegance, and professionalism that’s rare, especially for a woman her age. This quiet, seemingly shy blonde girl – with the perfect curly locks – is something special to behold.

But you’ll have to go to Bisbee if you want to see her.

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June 22, 2017 – Beth Hart

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“His love is like fire on the floor/
It’s got me running for the door/
But I’ll be crawling back for more/
Of his fire on the floor”

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Beth Hart is an untamed bundle of electricity when she’s on stage and, even though she’s been making music for almost thirty years, she seems to be cranking out more and more great music with each passing year. ‘The Blues’ magazine called her “the ultimate female rock star,” and she performs like it. She’s recently produced albums of high praise and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with her in the green room for a special holiday season performance a few years ago. Playing to a packed house, she was just as lively and personable onstage as she was backstage; when Beth’s in the room, all eyes are on her. Period.

In April 2015 she released “Better Than Home,” a critical and commercial success topping the Blues Charts and recognized as the No.4 best blues album of the year by Mojo magazine. She has also received a nomination from the American Blues Foundation for Contemporary Blues Female Artist. Her most recent studio album, “Fire on the Floor,” was released last year.

Check out Beth Hart’s website here.

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