I’ve had the opportunity to cover numerous shows this year and choosing just a few photos has proven to be a very difficult task. I could have easily just picked photos from the few days I spent at this year’s Americanafest, but I’ve tried to include only a couple of photos from that week. From “holler-folk” bands like The Ghost of Paul Revere, to Eastern Kentucky darling, Senora May and Americana giant, Jason Isbell, I’ve done my best to share only the best of the best of my photographs from this year. If you were at these shows, I hope it takes you back to a moment and time, if not, then I hope it gives you a glimpse into what it was like to experience these artists in person.
1. One of my favorite music portraits of the year is Benjamin Tod of Lost Dog Street Band from their show at Mercury Lounge in Tulsa. An intimate show in a small dive bar and their debut in Oklahoma. This photo clearly shows Benjamin with his distinctive 11030 (Hobo zip code) throat tattoo. You can see the intensity in his face as he sings one of the songs in the bands’ extensive catalog. He’s truly one of the most authentic musicians writing music right now.
2. After Quaker City Night Hawks were pulled from their headlining spot at Americanafest this year, Elizabeth Cook stepped up and rocked the Cannery Ballroom with her band, Gravy. An experienced show-woman, Elizabeth Cook and her band put on such a great show with nary a waiver, that it was easy to forget they were never the one tapped to play that set in the first place.
3. When the disco ball went on and the lights started flashing during The Ghost of Paul Revere’s set at Cain’s Ballroom, it was a few minutes of pure magic. Honestly, the show they put on as openers rivaled the headliner, Trampled by Turtles for best set of the night.
4. Hogslop String Band’s set at Ameicanafest was one that I was most looking forward to and they didn’t disappoint. Their jokes and music filled set at ONE in Cannery Row was a highlight of the week.
5. The Vandoliers stole my heart late last year during their set at the Mercury Lounge. Since then I’ve seen them at least two additional times and every time I end up loving them more. If you’ve never been to a Vandoliers show, then you’re in for a treat. They’re high energy and obviously love what they do and it’s a delight to watch. This photo was from their recent co-headline show with Mike and the Moonpies. Easily my favorite show from this year.
6. Senora May graced the stage of Mercury Lounge back in June and sang a host of songs from her debut album, Lainhart. This was one of the best surprises of the year, as Senora live is even better than Senora on her album. One of the kindest, most humble artists I’ve met, it was a joy to capture her on her first ever tour of the Midwest.
7. James Steinle and his Texas brand of songwriting and storytelling was the best welcome home show I could have wanted after leaving the talent packed week of Americanafest. Having never seen James live before, I was pleasantly surprised just how good he is in person. His live album came out earlier in 2019 and I’ve heard a new album is due out in the early part of 2020. I for one, can’t wait.
8. A dream for me since I started concert photography was to photograph Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit. This summer, on a co-headlining tour with Father John Misty, this dream finally came to pass. Luckily for me (and all those in attendance) Amanda Shires joined the last leg of this tour. The one and only arena show I’ve even wanted to cover, the lighting and production were top notch and second only to the phenomenal artists playing that night.
9. Kaitlin Butts is one of my favorite artists to photograph. With her stunning looks, auburn hair and murder ballads, what more could you want? This photo was taken at Orange Peel-OKC, an event put on by Oklahoma State University. Kaitlin was part of a stellar lineup that night and this is easily my favorite photo of the night.
10. No artist I’ve covered in the last year and a half has risen as fast as Tyler Childers. This photo is from Rhythm & Blooms festival, where he headlined night one. The crowd this night was enormous; all gathered under an overpass in the old part of Knoxville, where the main stage of the festival was located. Leaving the show felt like swimming upstream, as the crowd pushed closer and closer to hear this man from Eastern Kentucky sing his heart out.