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A Night With Dolly – September 9, 2016

Best of 2016, Live Events, Music, Random Musings

Seeing Dolly Parton perform live at the Molson Amphitheatre was like a dream coming a true. No, I didn’t grow up dreaming of seeing that blonde country singer with the big boobs who sings sad songs, but Dolly’s music always seemed to be playing somewhere in the background. What made seeing the country legend perform live for nearly two hours ethereal was the collectively warm ethos of the audience. With their hybrid, modern takes on country garb, everyone was just so…happy. It was a nice environment to be part of.

When the pint-sized singer took to the stage, it was like a queen sitting at her throne. There was a definitive feel of reverence for the woman who has endured fame for over 50 years. From her infectious giggle to her sometimes salty anecdotes, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

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Her setlist perfectly captured her multi-decade songwriting successes. There was some bluegrass, a few early hits, and even some gospel, but it was when the opening notes of Islands in the Stream and the ubiquotous 9 to 5 filled the theatre did it begin to feel like church on a sunday…in a good way.

This woman is a knockout, true talent. Her vocals were beyond crisp, and her penchant for rhinestones and glitter was not hidden in any way. I’m very grateful I got to see her.

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Favorite performance? Hmm, tough one. Obviously I want to say Nine to Five, but if I had to choose, Coat of Many Colors really hit home (as it usually always does). I wish she did sing “Hard Candy Christmas”, but hey, she couldn’t sing everything.

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Just Another Pop Discourse: Britney Spears

Mixed Feelings, Music, Random Musings

So much to talk about, so little time.

Let’s get the biggies out-of-the-way. This is going to be a series of posts, so I’m starting with the closest to my pop-cultured heart.

Britney

Ok, girl. I’m going to break it down right now for you. Anyone who knows me knows I have nothing but unwavering, unadulterated love for Britney Spears. A long-time fan, I’ve followed her through her highest highs and lowest lows. I empathized with her maternal and mental health issues, and celebrated her when she reclaimed the pole position on music charts around the world.  Her dancing is once again on point, and the lavish praises for her Vegas show are unanimous. I believed in the ‘Holy Spear-It” through and through.

But things have changed. For starters, her team seems to have decided to move into a more urban, hip-hop feel for her newest album “Glory”. Now, I don’t know how to make this more abundantly clear, but I will try. Britney rose to fame because of her fun, cheesy, and catchy pop songs. Her growls when enunciating the words “baby” and “me” were catchy and endearing, and sort of funny. People liked it. So when the corny “Make Me” was released, I thought to myself, why are these label execs trying to make Britney compete with the vapid Justin Bieber’s and bland Selena Gomez’s of the world? People don’t look to Britney to keep up with the current musical trends of the time. They just want a hard, sing-along-y, entertaining pop song. Why is this so hard to understand? Why can’t people just be allowed to keep doing what they’re good at? I sincerely doubt that Britney is holding business meetings to veer into different facets of the music industry. The woman is singing her greatest hits night after night, for Pete’s sake. If she wanted to re-invent herself, wouldn’t she be playing more new music in her set?

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Secondly…and I know this is a hard one to reconcile, but Britney has got to start singing. I mean, I know her vocals aren’t the strongest, but they’re certainly unique, and people like them. So why does she still lip sync to the high heavens? It was acceptable for a time because who could refute  the “I can’t sing live when I’m dancing so hard” argument, but come on, her dancing isn’t even that intense these days. Throw them vocals in is what I say.

Lastly, I’ve read this whole “Britney gets really anxious and nervous before a show” notion. Ok, I could totally appreciate that performing for the crowds of ‘famous’ people that consist of silicone and stupidity could indeed be nerve-wracking. But here’s an idea…don’t do it. Don’t put yourself into a situation that is uncomfortable, but also don’t say you get really anxious and nervous when you’re performing with reckless abandon night after night in Las Vegas. It’s insulting to your fans, Ms. Spears.

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I like the “Glory” album. It’s fun, if not a bit incoherent. She’s singing again. I don’t know though if Britney is lazy, tired, or mentally unwell. It’s really none of my business. I do know that she’s capable, but not producing. If she’s tired, then take some time off. Money’s not an issue.

I may sound like a bitter, old crone, but I expect more. Yes, she’s sweet, and kind, and innocent. Yes she’s just a mom who loves her kids. But, girl, if you love your fans so much (and the Britney Army is certainly loyal), give them what they want, even if it’s just one really good video. It’s the least you could do.

 

 

 

 

 

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An Interview with Premier Photographer to the British Stars: Roger Sargent

Best of 2016, Concert, Film, Music, Random Musings

After building up suspense over the past few days, it has come time for us to reveal our extremely fortunate opportunity to post our exclusive interview with the man behind all of the photographs highlighted in the clues.

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Oasis

Roger Sargent, savant photographer of some of British music’s biggest names EVER, graciously accepted an interview request from Reading Other People. This is the man who photographed everyone from Suede to Blur, from Paul Weller to Richard Ashcroft. And, oh,  did I mention he’s the genius behind the infamous Libertines record we posted a few days back?

Now, for your reading pleasure, check out our intimate interview with the awesome-beyond-words Roger Sargent.

Reading Other People (ROP): First of all, I thank you a million times for allowing me to interview you. It’s an honour. Your portfolio is literally a whos-who of not only my all-time favorite artists, but a testament to timeless photography. How do you go about selecting your subjects?

Roger  Sargent (RS): I literally go with what I’m currently buzzing off. I think throughout my life I’ve always retained that excitement for the new, it keeps me young (ish) and inspired. New bands are less jaded and still love being around each other. So largely I’m continuing to discover new bands the same way I always did – radio, word of mouth, YouTube. There are fewer and fewer magazines left now so I tend to contact the bands and labels direct.

ROP:  How did you come upon a career in photography? You clearly have an innate talent to capture both the solitude and intimacy of your subjects.

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Liam Gallagher and Tom Meighan

RS: When I was fifteen I kinda new what I wanted to do – shoot for NME. I was lucky enough to achieve that about five years later having studied photography at university. I think one (of many) things that my course leader Daniel Meadows taught us was “if it’s not good enough, you’re not close enough”

ROP: Cat Power…The Libertines…true renegades of rock music. Is there something about their ferocity that attracts you?

RS: I like to feel (at first) a little intimidated by bands, great artists always have that spark and potential for chaos. The feeling that literally anything can happen.

ROP: How do you choose to style the shoot? Do you let the artist be organic, or is there more staging going on?

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The Libertines

RS: That really depends on who. Some artists have an innate sense of self others need a little help. I like when bands look like a unit, that something gels them together. That can even be an abstract uniformity. It’s easy enough to tweak things but way more satisfying when it’s all “there”.

ROP:  Is there a medium that is your true favorite? Photography? Video? An amalgam of both?

RS: At the moment video, but it’s still pretty new to me. The two have so many similarities. I’m a little down on the photography medium because there are increasingly fewer outlets for it to exist. But everything changes and it’s not like it will die. But it needs to be valued more.

ROP: You shot the Boo Radley’s! Were you able to get “Wake Up, Boo” out of your head at all whilst shooting?

RS: Ha! No! But happily so. I was there during the recording of the album. It’s still a great favourite of mine. Happy times. Though Martin (Carr) told me recently he still can’t listen to any of those records, which is a shame.

ROP: What’s your take on modern music today? Who have you been listening to?

RS: There’s loads of great stuff happening at the moment. I tend to listen to what I’m involved With. So, Sunflower Bean, a lot. Fat white Family, Sleaford Mods.

 ROP:Who is your dream subject to photograph, either alive or dead?

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Richard Ashcroft

RS: The Doors would have been fun. But honestly, it’s the next truly exciting talent I’m more interested in.

ROP: Your portfolio is like a scrapbook of my favorite artists. Where’s the Belle and Sebastian pic?

RS: I did shoot them live once….but back in the day they were incredibly camera shy and hated the NME. Two things that didn’t help!

ROP: If you had to choose three words to describe your style, what would they be?

RS: Honest, intimate, reflective.

ROP: What advice do you have for aspiring writers and photographers around the globe?

RS: Be unique!

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Roger Sargent

 

Visit Roger’s website  st https://rogersargent.carbonmade.com/ for more info about him, and to check out more of his portfolio.

My Wandering Days are Over

Music

It seems I’m forever delayed these days. If I had to make the analogy as clear as possible to you all, it would go something like this: you know when you’re waiting for the bus and there’s that person who ALWAYS makes a mad dash to get on the bus? And they do that every single day? Well, that’s how I’m feeling. Call me always a little late for the bus.

That being said…

Riding on city buses for a hobby is sad, right?

The most lustrous and emotionally resonant band that has characterized my own personal development played down the street from me a few weeks ago. While it was the third time I have seen them shine their beauty unto their appeasing minions, this appearance hit me on a more deeper level than the others. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it’s because timeless music transcends context. Regardless of the reason, Belle & Sebastian’s set list seemed to have been curated for my personal enjoyment. Look what they played!

  1. (Extended Version)
  2. (Just the first few lines)
  3. Encore:

By the time song #6 finished, I was practically swooning.

I also just recently learned what a Arab Strap really was. Yikes.

Stuart Doing His ThingOn-Stage Mayhem