A few weeks ago I read a small piece in the Sunday paper about a singer/songwriter named Jess Chalker. Apparently she’s famous on YouTube but I’d never heard of her so I checked out her videos. An hour later (and way too much data download) I emailed Jess and asked to review her EP Launch at The Basement in Sydney. I don’t know why I did, I just went for it. She actually emailed me back and agreed!!! Yep, I squealed when I saw my inbox.
So last Wednesday morning I woke up and my stomach turned. I’d been excited all week about covering the concert but when the day arrived panic set it. What the hell was I thinking??? I’m not a concert photographer! I don’t know how to write concert reviews! I’m just a Mumma and a self-glorified blogger. What the hell was I doing??? Luckily I had a hair appointment so I had lots of time to sit and think quietly to myself. I wrote all my questions for Jess on my iPhone (oh, did I mention I was interviewing her too!) whilst staring at myself, hair covered in black goo, convincing myself I had what it took to not only get the job done, but do it well. With my new crazy fringe I rushed home, got dressed and kissed the baby goodbye.
Of course everything would have gone to schedule if the train line wasn’t being reconstructed on the same day. Steve had to drive me to the next available train station which was half an hour away (oh, and did I mention it was the first night of State of Origin), traffic was horrendous and I arrived late. I cried. I thought I’d blown my chance. I contemplated getting straight back on the train and heading home, but I didn’t. I wiped up my mascara and soldiered on… in the wrong direction. Apparently Macquarie Place and Macquarie Street are very easy to get mixed up. I was already tired, frustrated and it was wet and windy. Eventually I got to The Basement at 8:45pm. To say I was a little flustered would be a major understatement. I wasn’t even sure if they’d let me in. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who was late, the show was meant to start at 8pm and didn’t start until almost 9:30pm… hooray! I flashed my Media Pass at the girl at reception, got my stamp and headed inside.
The concert was to promote her EP “Said the Raindrop to the Seed” and I was so proud to be apart of it all. I got a quick run down of the photography rules from the manager and wandered around, checking out the angles, lighting and playing with my camera settings. I was in way over my head. I was shooting without flash in a dimly lit room and I couldn’t remember a thing about white balance. I was in deep but this was a once in a lifetime night and I could either sink or swim. Slowly but surely, throughout the night things I’d learnt long ago came back to me.
Jess had such a stage presence. You couldn’t help but feel involved. I love this picture because it shows the passion and intensity she put into her songs. Karina Aivazian (at the piano) opened with a short set of beautiful melodies on the piano and I particularly loved “Boy, the Girl is Crazy” which you can listen to on her myspace page. She also accompanied Jess with some songs. The girl has some magic fingers that’s for sure… but back to Jess.
The Basement was much smaller than I had imagined but it was perfect and I plan to go to a lot more of their performances. Like maybe the Frank Zappa Tribute Band in July, I thought my husband was the only one on the planet that liked him. I was pretty limited as to where I could stand and take photos but as the club was small I didn’t have to worry about not having a giant zoom lens. Most of the time I shot using my 50mm but I did use my 18-135mm too. I didn’t concentrate on being too artsy as I was too busy trying to manually focus and more often that not I took blurry photo after blurry photo. I guess I can only get better… right?
This is one photo I’m glad I managed to focus. There were some pretty famous people there that night and Jess was brave enough to invite Andrew Farriss from INXS up on stage and together they sung “By My Side“, an impromptu duet. I can see Jess going far. People believe in her and most importantly, she believes in herself. She was confident, beautiful and utterly lovely, to both listen to and watch. I found myself smiling in the dark, escaping into her lyrics, melodies and voice. If you ever get a chance to see Jess Chalker play live… GO!
After the concert was over (I couldn’t stay to watch Tonks Green as I’d miss the last train) I waited to interview Jess. As I watched her move her way over from the stage, I couldn’t help but feed off her energy. As her mother clutched her shoulders with wet eyes and proclaimed how proud she was of her, her elderly grandma pushing through the crowd to simply kiss her on the cheek and fans of all kinds wanting signatures or just to simply blush and say hello. I was excited and so happy for her. The night couldn’t have gone any better and what a great way to launch a career. I decided not to interview Jess on the night and that we could easily do it via email. I wanted her to soak it all up… it was her moment.
Before I left I asked her to sign my CD (which she gave me as a gift) and if we could take a photo together. She said “of course!” and a stranger snapped this… an out of focus/inbuilt flash mess. I kind of like it, especially the old guy rubbing his head in the background. I was really proud to have met her and even prouder of myself for having the guts to write her an email and ask to be involved. I’ll definitely be doing more of that in the future.
Thank you Jess Chalker for being lovely, for being kind to strangers and letting me review your concert (which I’ll be submitting to publications, not this… this is just a blog post lol) Not only has your music inspired me but you’ve given me a renewed sense of self worth. I may be a mumma, a wife, full time cleaner and a part time blogger but I’m also a photo journalist. I’ve been certified freelancer for almost a year now but this is the first time I felt like I’d earned the title. Thank you for your silent encouragement.
I was lucky enough to be given a signed copy of Jess Chalker’s EP – Said the Raindrop to the Seed and I also have another to give away. I bought it, Jess signed it and it can be yours, all you have to do is be a follower and leave a comment answering the following question:
Who would you love to see live in concert?
Boring Bits: To enter be a follower and leave a comment with your answer. Make sure your email address is available on either your profile page or blog. If you enter anonymously (don’t have a blogger account) then leave your answer, name and email address in the comment. If your name is drawn and I cannot email you there will be a redraw. This particular giveaway is open to Australian & International readers.”Said the raindrop to the Seed” giveaway competition closes on Friday 4th June 2010.