In 1996 I found myself in the position of being unemployed and searching for a job. While driving around my Mid-Western town filling out applications I saw an Air Force Recruiter’s office as I sat at a stoplight. I went in and told the man in the blue uniform behind the desk I was looking for a job. Four months later I completed basic training and moved on to tech school where my roommate, who like myself was also from Indiana, spent a lot of time listening to music. Not being allowed to have a TV in our room on base gave us plenty of time to listen to a myriad of discs in his 200 disc CD changer. It was during this time I first heard the album When I Woke.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of the sounds coming from the stereo because I hadn’t heard anything quite like it. The intro, Drum Trip, was so full of energy, loud, rhythmic, and new. Then like the Kool-Aid man the song Ecstasy bursts through the speakers and gave my ears an emphatic, “OH YEAH!” The music was unique with drums, lots of drums, a flute, guitar, bass, and the singer sang and made noises like no other I had heard before. “Who is this?” I asked. I felt I was up on my music but when the words Rusted Root came out of my friend’s mouth I could honestly say I had never heard the name.
During those four months in tech school I had to of burned that CD up, I loved it. I moved onto my next base where I continued to listen to the great songs on that album. Driving down the road with the windows down belting out the words, even if I didn’t know all of them, was something I’d do frequently. Though I love the high energy songs like Ecstasy and Martyr the song that most often prompted the push of the repeat button for me was Beautiful People. A beautifully crafted song full of emotion and for one reason or another it resonated with me. (Seeing them perform live 4 times I’ve yet to hear this song live but I hope to one day!)
“Great story Jason, why are you sharing a story from 20 years ago?”
In the past few years I have taken a liking to photography. I’d like to be an artist who uses a pencil or a brush but the best I can do is a better version of the hand turkey I drew in kindergarten. I used to think it would be fun to be a musician, though I earned medals for singing in junior high I didn’t think my rendition of Edelweiss would earn me the front-man spot in a band. So, my creative outlet has been through the use of a camera. And this is where the story about Rusted Root from 20 years ago begins a new story about Rusted Root today.
I mentioned in my last blog I was getting the opportunity to shoot a Rusted Root concert through my mini Tweet campaign to the band. My plan was to Tweet Rusted Root from August 1st through their show date on September 1st and hoped they’d respond. To my surprise they responded faster than expected and it gave me the opportunity to speak to their publicist about shooting their show. What an opportunity! I really couldn’t believe it actually worked and neither could my friends.
Going into the show it wasn’t clear what the shoot would entail, but I was stoked, and I planned to make the most of my opportunity. When the show date rolled around I found myself front and center, just a few feet in front of this band I’m so fond of, and I am shooting their pictures. It’s been a few years since I last saw them play so I was excited to see them again. When Patrick, Liz, and Michael walked onto The Vogue stage the crowd cheered, they began playing Martyr. Normally, I’d be in the crowd jumping, dancing, and singing along but instead I was roaming the floor in front of the stage with my cameras. I was there snapping pictures of the well-dressed Patrick Norman on bass, Michael Glabicki in his signature hat and on this night some stylish leg warmers, Liz Berlin in her thick soled boots playing cow bell, Dirk Miller positioned in front of laser lights on guitar, and Cory Caruso providing the beats on percussion.
For three songs I got to be closer to the band than anyone else doing what I love to do, shooting pictures, and on this night it happened to be of one of my favorite bands. With two cameras in hand I fired away, taking shot after shot, singing, and probably grinning pretty big too. After my allotted time was up I moved back into the crowd and enjoyed the rest of the show as a fan dancing, jumping, and singing.
It was a great night, I got some great pictures, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
I'd like to do it again sometime.