Umphrey's McGee February 6th 2010

As many of you know, I started out in photography shooting images of live bands. During the 10 years I have been shooting, my favorite band has become Umphrey's McGee from Chicago. 
Umphrey's or UM is a band that draws on classic rock, prog rock, and has inspirations ranging form the Beatles to Zappa. I have gotten to know the band members, crew and management along the way to my 70th show and have been blessed to shoot some amazing experiences. This show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta was no exception. 
UM is at the cutting edge of technology both on and off stage. In addition, UM loves their fans... I mean really loves their fans. It is this love for their fans, combined with technology that brings us... the Stew Art Series.. or s2. 

For those of you new to UM... they call their "jams" "Jimmy Stewarts". A Stewart is a section of a song where the band will improvise live on stage, having one band member take the lead, the band allows the music to unfold however it is meant to unfold in the moment. It is this spontaneity, creativeness and energetic exchange between the band and the crowd that keeps me coming back for 70+ shows. 
Which brings me to why Atlanta was a special night for me. UM has started doing the Stew Art Series... this is a private "concert" before the night's show begins. They limit ticket sales to 50 people and for $100 a person can attend a private concert where they control how the music is going to be played. How do they do that you ask? With your cell phone, of course!
UM uses a live text screen that the audience can text suggestions of musical styles, specific songs, genres, or goofy suggestions to in real time. The band reads these and plays the music that fits the suggestions on the fly without pausing to discuss what they are going to play or batting around ideas. It is truly amazing to see. As a "for instance", the image above says Waful on acid. Jeff Waful is their lighting engineer... so not only is the band involved in this interaction with the crowd, but the entire crew is in on it... so in response to the "lighting guy on acid" suggestion.. Jeff light the stage like this:
I use this example because without being there it is difficult to put into words what the "Moog Metal Haji" suggestion sounded like. As the S2 continues, the band pauses to take questions from the crowd. This interaction with their fans allows the fans to get to know their favorite band better, get a deeper understanding of the music, where it comes from, how it gets there and where they draw their musical styles from. 
Here Brandon Bayliss answers a fan's question regarding who is early musical influences were and who he aspired to be as a musician when he was a child. 
One of the suggestions that was posted to the board was "oh no, Chris cant play drums!" As the fans know, Kris Myers is one of the best drummers playing live right now, they also know that Jake Cinninger (one of the lead guitarists) is also one of the better drummers out there. So, Kris Myers left the drum set and Jake jumped up there to bang out some nasty drum solos. This instrument is not uncommon... but what happened next was uncommon. Kris picked up Jake's guitar and stated ripping some metal licks on Jake's axe. This was certainly a crowd pleaser and I was excited to get a shot of this special occasion. Here Jake looks on in amazement as Kris puts on his best "Jake face" as he leans back into some power chords. 

The rest of the S2 saw more instrument swapping, with another suggestion coming in to have the bassist, Ryan Stasik, show off his piano skills. One of the things I think makes this band so good is their ability to understand and play each others instruments.

I felt really lucky to have been invited to attend the S2 event. I highly recommend it to any fan who wants to peek behind the curtain so to speak and get to know these amazing musicians a little better. Once the S2 was over, the band came out to mingle with the crowd and eat some pizza, answering more questions, signing autographs and posing for snapshots with the people who love them. I am taken again and again by the bands lack of ego and their willingness to connect with their fans. 
Here are some images from the full show Saturday night...which was sold out, by the way! 2600 people!
Taken with a tilt shift lens


Brendon Bayliss

Jake Cinninger


Ryan Stasik gives the official UM salute. Too much rock for one hand. 


More tilt shift fun
Best Fans in the world!


Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Booth at WNC Bridal Party

Hello everyone,
Just a quick post to say thank you to the WNC Magazine crew... you did a great job putting on this years Bridal Party. Despite the threat of some bad weather, there was a great turn out to the event. The guests had a great time, martini in hand, as did I. We had a lot of traffic at the booth and got to meet some wonderful brides and grooms to be, plus a lot of wonderful people in the wedding business. The fashion show was a big hit to round out the evening, the gowns were exceptional and the flowers were extraordinary! My friend Cami took shots during the event and you can see them here
Thanks again to all of you who took some time to stop by and say hello! It was good seeing you... keep an eye out for the Jon Leidel Photography booth coming around again soon at the next Bridal event in your town. 
Have a great week!



Think No Freezing Rain...

So here I am on the eve of the WNC Magazine Bridal Party. I am excited to be participating, this is sure to be a great event! WNC Magazine said they have been selling tickets like mad, so it sounds like we will have a great turn out.. as long as Mother Nature cuts us a little slack. Looks like we could have some freezing rain first thing in the morning, then it should warm up enough that it will be just a light drizzle.. not too much to keep people away. 

In preparation for the show and with the new year, I have launched a new website with new images and a new style. Please drop by and check it out! www.jonleidelphotography.com 

I hope to see some of you at tomorrow night's event! Stop by my table and Ill shoot a couple of shots with you and your loved one. 

Stay warm!


I want one of these!

Ok, I have been a mac user since 2000-01, in fact my first computer was an Apple IIE back in the day. I used PCs for a while, but luckily came to my senses in 2000. I love Macs. I have a G5 with 9 GB of Ram, Dual 21 inch Cinema Displays, a 24 inch IMac, and a laptop... oh, and an IPhone. That being said... 
HOLY COW I want an iPad. This device is beautiful. For those of you who may not know what I am talking about... watch the video here.
Apple has out done themselves this time... they have created a new type of device that will certainly change they way we think of portable computing. 
The I Pad surfs the web on WiFI or 3G...
Gets your email
Holds your contacts
Has your appointments
Holds All your music
Views your videos
Shares and shows your photos
Does word Processing
Does Spread Sheets
Makes the Kindle look like a coloring book
Allows you access to I tunes for music and video, the App store for over 140,000 apps and gives you access to I Books, Apple's new online Book store. 
All this for $499!  

Ye Haw!  I cant wait to see this in person. 1.5 lbs, 10 hours of battery, less than a 1/2 inch thick, full touch screen for everything. It looks like a beautiful and efficient way to show images to customers, plus read on the plane, get my email, keep my appointments and play games. When I think that Amazon wants $299 for a Kindle and all that is is a gray and black screen for books... I think this is a sweet deal. Go Steve Jobs! 
I heart Mac. What can I say? :)

Winter Beauty

So we got another healthy dose of winter this weekend and I was initially saddened by the weather because we had to postpone our Fundraiser for Journeymen due to the snow, but I managed to make the best of the weekend. I got up early yesterday and saw that the snow had a beautiful crust of ice on it and I knew that I had to get out and shoot before the sun hit it, so I got my boots on and headed out my door. Living on the north side of the mountain, things tend to freeze more quickly and stay frozen a little longer, great for photography, not so good for the road.. but that's another post. :)
Here are a couple of shots from the bushes and tress around my home...
Happy Winter!

Loved the light coming through the pine boughs on this shot.
A leaf holds on from fall.
The frozen snow crystals on this vine looked like a beautiful, natural barb wire.
The delicacy of nature reveals itself to me when I take the time to stop and look.
Frozen "hitch hikers".
The red of the berries against the white of the snow caught my eye here.
Ok, coolest example of mother natures magic right here. This is a spider web that has collected moisture and frozen. It was gently blowing in the morning breeze and to my amazement, the ice crystals did not break, but gently flexed with each breeze.
One of the prettiest blue skies I have seen in a while. No manipulation here... this is the real color.