While most people associate soul music with the greats of eras past, there is a thriving modern soul scene at home and abroad. We're super lucky here in Melbourne to have the likes of Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes and Saskwatch, among many others, to call our own. We have Cherry's weekly soul night; like an old friend, it's comforting to know that you always have somewhere to go when you get the urge to dance until your feet blister. We have many fine record stores specialising in soul, perhaps none more prominent than Northside Records, whose commitment to funk and soul and has surely played a part in our city's love affair with the music.
January has been a big month for fans of soul music in Melbourne, for a few reasons. But for my money, one reason outweighs all others: SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS. The First Lady of modern soul brought her Kings to our shores for a few really special shows. While Sydney was lucky enough to get the extended Daptone family in what must have been one mind-blowingly phenomenal show - several bands on the Daptone label opening the Sydney Festival with a free (!) musical extravaganza known as The Daptone Super Soul Revue - Melbourne got some love too. Sharon and the Kings played an incredible show down south, near where I come from, at an outdoor amphitheatre in a large park in the middle of the country. Saskwatch and Clairy Browne also played, and I went along with my whole family.
The following week, the Corner Hotel played host to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings over three sold-out nights, only this time, she brought her Dap-tastic friends the Menahan Street Band and Charles Bradley, who supported the main act on all three nights. I went along to the third night, and it was a phenomenal show. I was so thrilled to witness Charles Bradley, the Menahan Street Band and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings perform on the same night.
And then came the after-party.
I headed to Cherry with a few of my Saskwatch pals, which is great in itself because did I mention I love Cherry's soul night? There were whispers that a few of the Dap-Kings would make an appearance but I wasn't holding my breath, especially when a couple of hours passed without any royalty in sight. But even aside from the potential appearance of the Kings, it was definitely a gathering of various Melbourne soul people: a few of the guys from Clairy Browne, Northside chief Chris Gill, the now-institutional Cherry soul DJs, the Saskwatch lunatics, a whole lot of soul fans.
And then I kind of lost my shit.
But I have to finish with just one more photo.
She is an inspiration - proof that you can go as far as you want to as long as you have passion, ambition and dedication. And those are things I am going have to remember as I pursue my own creative endeavours. I know there will be times in the future, as in the past, when inspiration like that will be one of the few things that will keep me going. And while I will never lose the memory of getting that advice and inspiration firsthand, or the memory of the feelings that came with it, it certainly doesn't hurt to have these glorious images to keep those memories extra fresh.
Pushing film is something I always meant to experiment with but for some reason never got around to until recently. It involves simply 'tricking' your camera by telling it that the film you're using is faster than it actually is, then processing the negatives according to the faster speed. The result is more grain, higher contrast and more light on the film. When I began looking at live photography, this seemed the perfect time to try it out. And the fact that I love high contrast and big grain was a bonus. The first time I tried it was when I shot Saskwatch live for the first time, but I'll post those photos separately another time. The results were mixed, but promising, with some gorgeous, exciting results. The same could be said for the above shots, which I took when Boomgates launched their album at the John Curtin Hotel late last year. I used two different types of film, which you can probably tell from the shots, and pushed both of them. While there were a lot of shots that didn't work so well, I think the above images are pretty interesting. They capture various aspects of the performance, and they look different to most live photography.
And there you have it - my adventures in live photography and pushing film thus far. There are some misses, for sure, but there are also plenty of hits - or at least the promise of many more hits to come.