Angelo Moore (photo: William Wayland)
In 2019 I saw the documentary Bad Reputation and decided I better check out Joan Jett. I even got in a fight with her tour manager before the show. He decided there wouldn’t be any photography at the concert and everybody with a camera got kicked out. Except me. I guess he decided that the guy who could give it back as good as he got deserved to stay. A memorable show, and Joan Jett rocked it, but the photos didn’t make my best of 2019.
I got to see Burna Boy, whose new album has been nominated for a Grammy. But the African Giant at the Fillmore didn’t make my best of 2019, either.
I listened to Sarah Shook and the Disarmers on repeat all summer long and finally caught them at Bottom of the Hill. I even met Sarah Shook after the show and she signed the two LPs I bought. But none of the photos made my best of 2019.
I saw the legendary Robyn Hitchcock do a special performance of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album at The Chapel. Great seated show, but it didn’t make my best of 2019.
My favorite photographs from the year don’t necessarily involve bands you know playing shows everyone wished they went to. Photographs only capture a moment, a moment only about a hundredth of a second long, and when I look back at the year and gather up those moments, some of my favorites were captured in unexpected places with people and bands you may not even know, some in small venues where you may never go.
The exception might be IDLES. I’ve seen stage diving. I’ve seen crowd surfing. At Great American Music Hall, I saw Mark Bowen of IDLES walk off the stage and into the hands of the audience. As he sang and they held him up by his feet, I was thinking, “They’re gonna drop him. He’s gonna fall. They’re gonna drop him. He’s gonna fall.” Does he look worried?
Soul Ska was playing when I walked into Peri’s but I was too distracted to hear the song. Someone had mounted some kind of strobe light behind the stage and I was fixed on it. Normally it’s difficult to work with this kind of lighting but I thought if I could get low enough and if I could wedge myself between one of the microphones and if I waited until Liz Larson took a solo and if she lifted her trombone in a certain way and if Noelle Glory could look up and catch that spot from stage right at that exact moment, there might be a shot.
Nancy Pelosi was accepting an award at the InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco and protesters had gathered outside to pressure the Speaker of the House to begin impeachment proceedings. A photograph from across the street would have shown the large crowd that had gathered with their signs but I felt that a more intimate photograph would better capture the emotion and the urgency of the moment.
How many towns can boast a circus? The single spotlight and the white backdrop at this year’s Halloween show by Poisnivy Circus helped to make this photograph. Instead of focusing on one performer, I viewed the entire act as a kinetic sculpture with the fire dancers and their shadows all of a single piece. This capture of Marisa Gregory and Meredith Briese is just a slice of the larger work.
For North Bay music lovers, Michael Angelo Mannheimer needs no introduction. He was omnipresent at all of Marin’s music venues: 19 Broadway, Peri’s, Sweetwater, Papermill Creek, Smiley’s, Terrapin Station, The Old Western…Michael documented the music scene in a way that was Warholesque with raw videos appearing on social media almost at the same time as the performance. I sat with him between sets at The Soundfest last summer and was deliberate about getting an image of this North Bay legend. He died suddenly two months later.
I set up a pop-up photo studio at Peri’s on New Year’s Eve and invited people to sit for a portrait. This is Bobby Galyan. He’s a lion.
Chari is a Bay Area composer, vocalist, and mixed media artist who often performs as a keyboardist with Bay Area bands and also has several solo acts. I can’t keep up. They recently hired me to do promotional shots for CHARI + The Howlin’ Truth. The session was fun and loose. We tried a lot of different things and got a lot of photographs that I’m proud of. This is one.
Dana Lindstrom gives you everything he’s got all the time. The lead singer and guitarist is a tireless performer and every Milk for the Angry show is better than the one before.
I can’t remember why I was there but Fog Holler was performing on the patio at Peri’s one afternoon. They were so good I was surprised I didn’t know them. I didn’t plan to photograph that day but my camera is always handy and I couldn’t help but take a few shots. Singer and guitarist Tommy Schulz reminds me of Hank Williams, both in his look and his mannerism. I think he gets that a lot.
If you were ever a Fishbone fan and were wondering if Angelo Moore still has it, I hope this photo answers your question. He is always on and plays the Bay Area frequently, often with Soul Ska. This is from a recent performance at Sweetwater Music Hall.
Now it’s time to find the moments of 2020.