|Rickshaw Theatre September 29 2023|
Last night I was witness at the Rickshaw Theatre to the launching of Art Bergmann’s new record Shadow Walk and his biography by Jason Schneider – The Longest Suicide. He played with a terrific band which featured Dave Genn on keyboards, Steven Drake, guitar, Adam Drake drums, singers Aidan Farrell, and Leo DE Johnson, bongos Murphy Farrell and bassist and voice Bradley Ferguson.
What I heard was, yes, the Art Bergmann I first saw at the Smilin’ Buddha in 1979 but also a new Art Bergmann.
The explanation might be a long and convoluted one, as I see myself in having lived a life parallel to Bergmann’s.
My knowledge of rock music was always limited. In a 1972 high school class that I was teaching in Mexico City my students asked me, “Mr. Hayward, what do you think of Alice Cooper?” My answer, a purely innocent one, was met by a roar of laughter, “Who is she?”
It was in Vancouver around 1978/79 when as a free-lance photographer for Vancouver Magazine I was attached to stellar rock critic and writer Les Wiseman (In One Ear). It was through him that I first heard of Lou Reed, Motorhead and appreciaited the talent of Alice Cooper. It was for one of his articles that I found myself assigned into what I thought was the scary Buddha. But it wasn’t. I watched Bergmann sing and play his guitar. I put my camera bag in a corner and pogoed with the rest of the crowd. It was all wonderfully new. I discovered then Bergmann’s passion, and that Bach was not the only kind of music around.
I took some photographs in complete ignorance. They were microphone shots that are slightly blurry because I was using a slow shutter since my film was not fast enough.
|Smilin' Buddha - 1979|
Since those two photographs I have evolved through the years and I have not done the same stuff over and over. The same I can say of Bergmann who does not rest on past laurels and keeps writing new songs. He has been steady in one aspect. I don’t want to call his music folk rock. I would call it protest rock as the lyrics are almost always (The Hospital Song could be a lovely exception) about the inequalities and tragedies of the 20th and 21st century. They are similar to lyrics by D.O.A. Joe Keithley. I wrote about Bergmann and Keithley here (below).
What you see here (below) are photographs that were inspired by my taking slow shutter speed ones with my digital camera a Fuji X-E3. While Bergmann may have been self-inspired to push himself I was lucky to have in Vancouver two pushy magazine art directors, Rick Staehling and Chris Dahl. They forced me to do stuff I did not want to do and in the end I knew that they were right.
Of the band that played last night I can assert that I have known Dave Genn, and the Drake Brothers for years. My first ever rock photograph, a fave of mine even though I did not know what I was doing featured Gary Cramer and the Works with both of the Drakes. Steven Drake besides being an exquisite guitar player (and bassist) can record music in the worst of places and get good results.
|Gary Cramer & the Works 1978/79 - Left & behind Adam Drake -centre back Steven Drake|
I believe that Lou Reed, Gary Cramer and Art Bergmann sing in what I call sing/talk.
Because of Les Wiseman I may have the experience to have
the opinion that the band I heard last
night was astounding and at my age of 81 I now live in the hope of being alive
to hear them over and over. And of course when I told Bergmann in a phone call tonight that I write my blogs to find out what I am thinking (inspired by Joan Didion) he said, " That is why I write songs."
Thank you Art Bergmann for not playing Hawaii last night.
|First shot yesterday and then I changes my mind on how I was going to do the others.|