Nov 182013

A couple of things regarding rock photography caught my eye last week. First somebody sent me a link to this little story on Dan Corrigan, the house photographer at my favorite rock club, First Avenue in Minneapolis. He’s also known as the photographer for the cover of the Replacements album, Let it Be.

In the video, Dan talks about his strategies to get good photos at shows and the trials of the digital age. I’m not immune to the temptations of taking a photo at a show now and then, but some people really go over overboard.

The other thing that somebody sent me was this treasury of bad indie rock band pix.

I’ve had a (very) small amount of photos published over the years, so I know how hard it is to get a good shot. My rock photos are almost uniformly bad.

My questions to you: Have you ever snapped a good rock photo? And if so, can you put a link in the comments?

Oct 222013


We’ve discussed the importance of a band’s LOOK. There are the Winners. And there are the Losers:

Granted, we can’t all be fetching, but we can choose our art director carefully. Let those photos serve as cautionary images for The Bearded Set, The Wee Precious Ones, Those With Suspenders, or Anyone Playing a Mandolin.

While it’s easy to scoff at many of these photos (and laugh at the captions), is it easier to determine what makes a GOOD band photo?

Aug 022013

Before the summer slips away and yet another musician commits perhaps the most egregious rock ‘n roll fashion faux pas, it’s time we address shorts.

For everyday summer activities, shorts are fine, even recommended. I’ve seen Europeans snicker at American tourists in their shorts. With all due respect to our European Townspeople, bite me and my July tourism shorts! This is not the time or place to examine this side question, but what is the beef Europeans have with shorts? It’s not a matter of modesty, as would be the case for tourists trying to enter the Vatican in shorts. The cameras on European shampoo commercials, for instance, pan back enough so that you can see soapsuds washing down a woman’s bare breasts. It’s not about a sense of rock ‘n roll cool, because most continental Europeans can’t make rock ‘n roll music to save their lives. (I’m leaving our friends in the UK out of this completely. They wear shorts with high dress socks and ties and jackets, don’t they? That’s another kind of weird, but I bet our rock ‘n roll capable UK brethren don’t snicker at their US visitors wearing a comfortable, utilitarian pair of cargo shorts.) If the hang-ups my friends in Italy, Hungary, and France have with us wearing shorts were centered around a sense of rock ‘n roll cool I would understand completely, because…

Jul 312013


A large part of Rock ‘n Roll has always been the aesthetics of it. There are innumerable takes on what makes for a cool Look, but seldom are those looks based on things like “comfort” or “utility.” That’s not to say that a cool look can’t be comfortable, but rather that comfort is a secondary concern. Even “anti-Looks,” like that of Neil Young are still making a statement. To paraphrase noted Canadian philosopher Geddy Lee, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

As the father of 2 young kids, I spend a fair amount of time at playgrounds and get-togethers and such with other parents who may not have the same priorities when choosing what to wear. Plenty are well dressed, even fashionable, but there is a certain pragmatism that take hold when you are getting dressed for a day to be spent hanging out on the sidelines of a little league field or at the playground.

Which brings me to my question: Which is the most style-free, utilitarian, and therefore least “rock and roll” footwear, Birkenstock or Crocs? If forced to wear one or the other, which would you choose? I recognize this is very much a Hobson’s Choice so rest assured, your answer will not be interpreted as an endorsement of one type of footwear, rather it will be seen and an indictment of the other.

Which is the most style-free, utilitarian, and therefore least “rock and roll” footwear, Birkenstocks or Crocs?

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May 072013

I’ve long thought the fat-assed, late-’60s Beach Boys who took the stage for some television performance in all white suits displayed the most clueless stagewear in the history of rock. At least they matched, but the form-fitting suits were all wrong for some of the forms that band offered.

This morning I stumbled across a band with a much worse sense of style. The Unit 4 Plus 2, as seen in the above clip, had absolutely no sense of fashion, at least on the day they showed up for this television appearance. They make Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show look like Audrey Hepburn.

Your mission today is to find a band with a worse sense of fashion than Unit 4 Plus 2. The winner of this Battle Royale will be graded on misguided trend-hopping, lack of coordination, poor tailoring, etc.

Apr 052013


If you’ve been following Rock Town Hall for even a couple of weeks you probably have an inkling of my severe distaste for the mainstream culture of the 1980s. If you didn’t live through that era and find it “charming” or whatever, I feel slightly worse for the future of humankind. That’s OK, I’m used to feeling that way. What troubles me is how we got to this point considering how great my generation was and how much greater our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were. If we were so great, shouldn’t the youth of today be better?

If you lived through that era and look back on it fondly, I am not-so-secretly jealous of you. I had a lot of youthful energy and love to give to the world at that time, and for all my exquisite taste I would have been happy to spread my energy and love on a mutually appreciative world, as you may have been able to do back then. Bravo, ’80s Mainstream Culture Beneficiaries!

Many of my associations with the ’80s, then and now, were filtered through my not-always exclusive pursuits of rock ‘n roll and girls, as I was young enough to call them through most of the decade. I desired a mastery of both, yet constantly found myself falling short of the mark. Most of the roadblocks encountered were part of my genetic makeup and/or self-erected. I think of all the poor decisions I made and inflexible stances I took owing to my born and bred stubbornness. I did have good taste, however, and I have no regrets about that. The mainstream culture of the 1980s threw its share of roadblocks at me. Perhaps no cultural artifact was a more daunting roadblock than a copy of Duran Duran‘s Rio placed at the front of a stack of albums in a girl’s dorm room or apartment.


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