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  • iPhone Challenge: Isbell at the Ryman

    Those who follow my page know that I shoot a lot of live concerts. When I can't get a photo pass, I join the masses in using my iPhone.

    How these photos turn out is often a mixed bag. Cellphone cameras don't capture movement well — if at all — and the lighting also is a challenge.

    But when the show you're attending is a bucket list item — my first concert at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, no less — you've got to try.

    Fortunately, the lighting for Friday's show — part of Isbell's annual residency at the Ryman — was good. And our seats, in the front row of the balcony, also helped.

    These photos show what you can get with an iPhone when the circumstances are right. They're not as good as I can get with my DSLR. But, given the circumstances, they are a great memory of a great show.

    For more photos, go to my Facebook album here.

  • iPhone Challenge: Maren Morris

    My son Ben and I saw Maren Morris Friday in a sold out show at Radio City Music Hall. It was a wonderful concert from a fantastic and amazingly versatile performer who's rapidly moved from clubs to opener to headliner in a span of just a few years.

    I wish I had secured a photo pass for this, but couldn't, so I decided to see what I could get with the iPhone from two-thirds of the way back in the orchestra. There are so many challenges to shooting something like this with a phone, and the result is very different from a news event that you get with a DSLR.

    Overall I'm pleased with these pics, which give the show an abstract look but capture in different ways the audience's enthusiasm for Morris' performance. Curious to see what you think.

    #marenmorris #haileywhitters #kassiashton #music #livemusic #nycconcert #photography #photographer #iPhone

  • iPhones, Billy Joel & Rain

    Continuing what has suddenly become a music thread….

    Billy Joel became the first performer to play three times at Nationals Stadium on Saturday, and he did so despite a torrential downpour that delayed the start of the concert by more than an hour.

    You can't carry a "professional camera" into events like this without a press pass. (I would not have brought my camera in anyway, given the rain.) However, this is one of those times when iPhone photos usually come nowhere close to the images you can get with a regular camera.

    Still, if you're lucky and recognize the shutter delays, you can occasionally get a decent image.

    Let me know what you think of these and the ones on my Facebook page here.

    Joel, as usual, was terrific in concert. He hasn’t written new music since the early 1990s, but embraces one of the best and most popular catalogues with enthusiasm. In turn, the rain-soaked crowd embraced him.

    “What’s it like sitting there with a wet ass?” Joel asked the cheering crowd.

    Fortunately, after seeing the Piano Man multiple times in multiple places (North Carolina, Madison Square Garden), we splurged and bought tickets on the stadium turf. No wet butts for us.

    Unfortunately, we were among the large contingent of the 40,000-plus fans who came to the concert via Metro and were left stranded due to the storms, which delayed the show by more than an hour. Thanks (or not) to “SafeTrack” maintenance, the subway system closed at midnight, and there was no way we could see the encore and make it to the last train.

    Joel even made a joke about the troubled transit system — “Is the Metro running tonight? … So basically, you’re (expletive).”

    With no warnings in advance from stadium officials or Metro — a transit worker at the Navy Yard said they had not even been told about the heavily promoted concert (cough) — we were stuck with a long wait and a very expensive Uber ride.

    The show was still worth it, though.

  • Music Week: Lori McKenna


    Our personal summer concert series began tonight with the first of three shows I'll see this week. First up was Lori McKenna at City Winery in Washington, D.C., and she proved again why the small stuff in life means so, so much. If you haven't heard her music — chances are you have and don't know it — by all means go have a listen.

    Next up: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit at Wolf Trap on Tuesday, followed by the Cowboy Junkies on Thursday at The Birchmere.

  • Music Week: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

    Summer Concert Series Week #2: Jill and I saw Jason Isbell for the fifth time in a year last night at Wolf Trap. Another terrific show, highlighted by an encore of Crosby Stills Nash & Young's "Ohio." We also saw Sarah Huckabee Sanders walking in to the show; two songs later, Isbell played "White Man's World."

    Coincidence? I think not.

    If you're keeping score, we've now seen Isbell & The 400 Unit at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland and Durham Performing Arts Center in North Carolina. Both shows featured Amanda Shires, Isbell's wife, on fiddle and background vocals. We saw Isbell and Shires play acoustic at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville as part of the 2017 Artist-in-Residence series and again at a benefit at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.

    This show did not feature Shires, who is on a tour of her own to promote a new album. (We'll see her at the Birchmere next week.) The dynamic, as a result, was different. Isbell dug more deeply into his catalogue and the show had a harder edge, highlighted by the "Ohio" encore.