Once agin it seems an age since I have had the time to post anything worthy here. But I will snatch 5 minutes now before I go diving off to my Caring duties.
My niece – Rachel Jac – who lives a couple of hundred miles away contacted me to tell me she was the Casting Director for a film company who were due to make a feature film in Wales this year. She said could I help and point her in the direction of somewhere where she could hire children from age 9 and one baby under 1. I did the best I could as far as my contacts were concerned, and then she came back and asked me for some pics of my grandchildren. So, that’s where it began. I had a very enjoyable couple of hours snapping the children and in the end the pics turned out OK or at least acceptable!
Unfortunately, Niamh who is my eldest grandchild at 12, had just gone mad and changed her hair colour to a bright RED! I loved it even though her previous blonde was beautiful. When Rachel got the pics she said they were all fine and could use all the children except Niamh! When I asked why she said because the film is a period piece and the red hair won’t work and the funders will not consider wigs for the children. A shame really, as Niamh is the only one who has her eyes set on acting. She is studying it at school and going to separate lessons. On my advice she is currently attempting to get back to the original colour or at least a more conservative appearance.
It seems to me if one is to set their sights on a career in the entertainment industry, set-backs and disappointments start early! But I know that any dissapointment early on will only go towards building her and making her stronger for the future.
This is another of the pics I have collected over time and whenever there is a credit on the pic I have left it on. Otherwise apologies to the photographer who took it.
I am still up in Golden Valley today everyone was celebrating, or at least starting the celebrations of our dear Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Anniversary. Unfortunately, the weather turned quite miserable with lots of the wet stuff coming down in ‘stair rods’.
I have spent most of the last three days attempting to put together a new web site. I guess I am about 25% through, on top of that I was asked to photograph the Holiday Homes nearby for an article on ‘Park Life’. Unfortunately the rain prevented many decent shots, and when it wasn’t raining the light was rubbish.
Anyhow, dear friends I will get down to some more serious blogging soon, meanwhile here is the pic I promised.
Ok, I have tried to make some sense of the pics of the discarded Bra via a screen grab. I trust it works.
Now I should make it clear that I really don’t know much about the quality and costs of such under garments, but it looked like it was fairly expensive. How on earth could it have been forgotten? What did the owner think when she got home and started to get undressed for bed? Surely she would have missed it then….if not sooner. Of course I am presuming that it was a her, could have been a him, then maybe he wouldn’t have missed it until he looked in the mirror.
Well, I have been up in the Golden Valley now for 11 days, and it has rained every day! In fact when we first arrived we had snow and hail stones as well as floods. So as you can imagine I have taken very few photos. In fact I would go as far to say that I think that Spring is about three to four weeks behind in this neck of the woods. Birds are still nest building! And, yesterday I saw what I believe to be a Grey Wagtail and it’s mate attempting copulation, how late is that? The same thing in the river – which is usually 6 inches deep and was until two days ago 6 feet deep – a pair of Mallard floating down stream at about 10 knots, trying to mate. Every time the drake jumped on her back she nearly drowned! All this time they were coming towards me in the gloom, and they were so interested in what they were doing that they hadn’t noticed me, plus they were white water rafting! (imagine trying to make babies the same time as you are hammering down the river at 70 mile an hour). Anyway, I think I did the duck a favour because as they reached me they saw me he jumped off, they did a mid air spin and flew back up the river.
I had some good news last week. The Sunday Times Magazine (on line version) did an article on ‘Litter’. As it happened I had taken a few pics over time on litter so submitted what I thought may be suitable. I’m pleased to say they chose a photo of a black Bra that I had spotted in a wooded ‘Pull-In’ up near Tintern Abbey ruins in the Wye Valley in Wales. It was on a Sunday morning so I guess the Bra was left there from the Saturday night before! The mind boggles. Check out the link to the post here: http://tinyurl.com/c9pwgv9
Oh well…..let’s see what the weather is like for the next couple of days…that’s all I have left for this month in Herefordshire to get the shots on my list. Unfortunately, I am not holding out too much hope. It’s actually pouring down as I type!!!
Well I turned up an hour before the shoot was due to start and was directed to the ‘Guard Room’. It was just inside the portcullis. I got a backdrop up and a couple of strobes and did a few test shots and waited. The Record company boss turned up on time with the Make-Up Artiste and his assistant, we then waited for Queenie to show. Unfortunately, she had an art exam that morning and was late getting away from school but she duly arrived with her Mum about 45 minutes late.
Next the Make-up girl had to do her thing, unfortunately (unbeknown to me) Queenie is having some trouble with her skin/complexion at the moment and requested the make-up girl to use Queenie’s make-up. So by the time all was finished I guess we must have started the shoot proper about an hour late!
I had a couple of main problems:-
The record company had no specific requirements. Now this may sound fine, as I have free rein, however, if you don’t know what the customer wants, how are you supposed to give it to them? I would have liked to have had an idea of what the forthcoming album was going to be like. I mean was it going to be Katy Perry or Ethel Merman?
The Guard Room was cold and it was giving Queenie goose-bumps on her bare arms.
We had too many people in the ‘studio’ which was having an effect on Queenie, bearing in mind she is only 15 years old (hence the skin probs).
The complexion and the Goose-bumps caused me so many problems, trying to hide them as much as I could via the camera, to save me time in post production.
Anyway, we finally finished, Queenie was a little angel. She never once complained (even though it was obvious she hadn’t done any modelling before) and she just tried everything that people were shouting out to her (including me, but I was allowed). The last thing she said to me as she left was “thank you very much and can you please touch-up my skin before you submit them?” I repied that I would add a little blur here and there if it was needed, she said “NO not a little blur a whole lotta a blur!” And she was deadly serious.
I must say that I did need a lot of time in the digital darkroom but at the end of the day the record boss selected about six or seven shots that he liked and that was that. As many photographers will know, it is strange how the client never choses the photos that you think are the best. They always chose the ones that you wished they hadn’t for various reasons.
I have included a small number herewith, not fantastic I know but chosen by the company. Please feel free to comment, I would welcome any feedback good, bad or indifferent.
I am just about to leave the house to go to Caldicot Castle. I have a commission to shoot a new young girl singer, her name is Queenie May and she appears to be about to break into the big time!
She certainly has a very sweet voice from what I have heard, but I’m sure most of you will know that it doesn’t end there, sometimes it doesn’t even start there! Image is so important and of course the quality of the song. Apparently, her single which was released not so long ago was released very surreptitiously and yet still managed to make the number 4 spot on the Amazon Chart. It is currently at 34. Not bad at all for a first release from a singer with a self penned song.
Once the shoot is over, and the pics processed I will post some for your perusal and feedback. Meanwhile, Queenie – who incidentally is only 15 – can be found on iCloud and Facebook.
I was going through some old images recently and found these.
The Rikki Alan Trio was my first Pro group. We formed in about 1957 and used to play all the rock numbers of the day and especially the Everly Bros. Both Rikki (bass) and Gerry (guitar and Piano) were brothers and the close harmony was excellent.
Next came the Interns. This band was sponsored by Ivor Arbiter, he was the man who got Ringo to play Ludwig drums. Those eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the Interns logo on my bass drum is not dissimilar to the Beatles logo. That is because both logos were painted by the same guy. A one armed sign writer who worked for Ivor at Drum City in London in the 1960’s. It’s amazing when you think that today, millions of pounds can be spent on designing the most effective logo and yet back then, it was designed by the sign-writer and the Beatles just accepted it!
Next of my pics here is with the King of Skiffle Lonnie Donegan. Lonnie was never huge in the States although he did have one big hit there which was, “Does Your Spearmint Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight”. However, in Europe he was huge and has the reputation for starting the whole Beat Boom in the UK. Every kid went out and bought a guitar and formed a Skiffle Group when Lonnie’s first single ‘The Rock Island Line‘ went to No 1! Even the Beatles had a Skiffle group, they were called the Quarrymen. Many years later Singer/Actor/Record Producer Adam Faith got a whole load of the guys that were influenced by Lonnie together and they made and Album. If my memory serves me right I can recall a number of the names, Elton John, Rory Gallagher and Brian May plus a whole bunch more. Sadly Lonnie passed away in 2002 from heart problems, he had , had three heart bypasses in previous years.
I have some great memories of working with Lon at some of the greatest venues in the world, including the Riviera Hotel in Vegas for a couple years on the trot. The Greek Theatre in LA, Harrah’s Hotel in Lake Tahoe, The London Palladium, The Talk of The Town London, with Judy Garland and in Australia, Iceland, and all over Europe. Many stories to be told, stories of working with (either playing for or supporting) Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Vic Damone, Judy Garland, Englebert Humperdinck, Dean Martin, Bill Haley and Little Richard to name just a few. A great way for a young guy from a small town in Wales to grow up. And a number of coincidences of which I intend to post at a later date.
I know, it’s been an age in between posts! But I have finally found a few minutes to jot something down.
During my recent trip to the Golden Valley, I was fortunate enough to actually get out and explore the immediate vicinity, (my apologies if I repeat myself here and there).
You will recall that I went to a village in the Valley known as Vowchurch. Well this time out I went in the opposite direction and visited Peterchurch. Then the next time went back to Vowchurch and then on to the next little village which really was like stepping back in time. However, the first thing that I saw as I entered Peterchurch was a Second WW US Army Ambulance up on a ramp! Not something I expected to find in the depths of darkest Herefordshire.
Kind of weird really and something that made me stop in my tracks and just look at it, and wondered who would have driven it etc.
Immediately opposite the truck was the church of Peterchurch. This was a bigger one than the previous church I had visited but part of the same group (not the correct term I know) and administered by the same clergy. In front of the church was a magnificent example of an ancient Yew tree. The tree is recorded as being at least 850 years old! Apparently, in the Middle Ages many of the churches were used as a refuge and ‘forts’ as the villages were regularly raided by Celtic warriors from over the border in Wales. The main weapon of the day was the bow and arrow and, what wood do you think the bows were made from? Yes absolutely correct Yew. So that it is why in most of the church yards in the UK you will find a really old Yew tree in the yard.
The next village was back to Vowchurch and then on to the old village of Turnastone. As I entered the village it was just like stepping back in time, the first thing I saw was an old farmhouse. It was pretty old but also it was empty. What once was obviously a magnificent family home, was now just sitting there rotting away. From what I could gather it appeared the farm business was another victim of the current economical downturn that is affecting everyone.
Turnastone Court really would have been a beautiful place to live back in the day, and its garden backed on to the little River Dore. However, if I thought this was quaint, I wasn’t any where ready for what I was to see next.
It was almost like stepping onto and Ealing Studios British Film Set. It was absolutely wonderful, well it was for me, I must have take about 60 pics of the place from every angle.
I eventually came to St Margaret’s church and I went in side, it was a sweet little church and once again steeped in history. I took a number of photos many of which are still in the workflow but I will show them as soon as. Meanwhile, I will leave you with just one more pic. This was one I took of a memorial plaque on the wall inside the church.
It is written in old English where the ‘S’ looks like an ‘f’ and the Stonemason would abbreviate words to suit, as he was engraving to ensure it all fitted on the stone. The way that I read it is that young John Roberts Junior died just after Christmas on December 29th 1768 at the age of 22. Then just 12 days later his wife Catherine who was 25 also died as did their daughter Ann. I couldn’t find out anything out about the family or why they perished, but the Plague and the Pox were around at that time along with all the other diseases of the day, and obviously without any real pharmaceuticals to treat the illnesses with.
The poem at the bottom reads: In youthful years through pain and grief, we here retreat and find relief. Waiting in hope out of this dust, to rise and reign among the just.
I am currently away on a trip to the Golden Valley in Herefordshire, UK. It was supposed to be a Nature Photography trip! I say supposed because it hasn’t stopped raining for more than an hour yet. But it is such beautiful countryside that I don’t really mind. Hopefully I will post some pix soon.
It is with great sadness that I have to report the the death of the great British Percussionist Peter Appleby.
As many of my readers will know Pete was the driving force behind the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group when I was still a lad! Previous to joining Lonnie’s band Peter played with an endless list of household names, both Jazzers and popular performers. He was with the Mick Mulligan band for over 10 years, the singer in that band was the legendary George Melly – George mentions Pete in his book. Other names that people will recognise include, The Humphrey Littleton Band, The Johnny Dankworth Orchestra and Dame Shirley Bassey.
In later years Pete devoted himself to musical education and was still teaching up to 2010. I recently received a number of emails from ex-students of Pete’s, one of which is now a Doctor of Music and he owes all his early start in music to Peter. Of course Pete didn’t only play kit, he was an all round Percussionist which included; Vibraphone, Xylophone and Tympani etc. But was more famous for his drum kit work.
I first saw Peter perform when he joined the Donegan band in 1960 and he bowled me over, little did I know then that I would end up taking over the drum chair from him with the band in the late 60’s, a hard act to follow as any musician who has worked with Lonnie will tell you.For the past 30 years – give or take – Peter has been happily married to wife June. Although they had known each for many years before that when June was also in show-business as a professional dancer. For the past number of years Peter had been ill on a number of occasions suffering with a serious chest complaint and even beating Bladder Cancer in 2010 with the ever stalwart care, love and dedication of June.
It was Saturday the 28th January 2012 that Pete passed away in the Middlesborough Hospital, June having called the Paramedics when Pete started having breathing problems the previous evening.
It was reported that Pete died peacefully in his sleep with June by his side.