• New Orleans Jazz Festing at Home

    I wanted to write a post today because I am really missing Jazz Fest this weekend and the time I usually spend in my second home city of New Orleans more than I expected. The festival was first postponed and I had hope for the Fall but then it was officially canceled this week. I didn’t think that anything could stop this festival. I have only seen this festival cancel one day over the 12 years I have covered it. On that day in 2016, it flooded and people were literally swimming out of the fairgrounds as Stevie Wonder took over a megaphone to tell them to go home. The music has continued in sheets of rain, lightning, oppressive heat and mud but this virus took it down in its 51st year.

    This festival was one of the first major festivals that I covered when I started working as a music photographer. I even bought a house and moved to New Orleans as a second home in part because of this musical event and the love I developed for this special city and its music.

    I have developed a lot of beloved Fest traditions over the years from seeing friends to Cajun food selections. Almost every day at the fairgrounds I have a crawfish enchilada and a snowball. Other days when I am more adventurous I will have a pound of crawfish and beignets from Café Du Monde. I can always expect a few days of rain boots and my JazzFest poncho to be needed to protect my camera gear from summer rains at the festival but it has all become part of the fun over the years to post our selfies in the storms.

    The music is what keeps us coming back year after year. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has music that sets it apart from all the other festivals. It has legendary musical acts in Jazz, Blues, Gospel and mixes it with some of the today’s newest acts. The music is also global each year bringing artists from all over the world to play for the crowds of over 425,000 people over the eight-day festival. I was really looking forward to seeing The Who, Foo Fighters, Brandi Carlile and Lizzo take the stage this year. I also never miss hometown favorites The Revivalists and Big Freedia. 

    WWOZ New Orleans is replaying Jazz Fest sets from over the decades during the days of the festival and people all over New Orleans are “Festing in Place.” I am driving down next Thursday to New Orleans. I have found that even if I must stay at home I can at least do it listening to the show and ordering takeout from my favorite JazzFest food vendors.

  • Interview: Chef Emeril Lagasse

    Chef Emeril Lagasse is one of the most beloved chefs in the world. He was one of the original celebrity chefs and has always encouraged us to “Take it up a notch.” He was a regular on Food Network for many years and taught us all to cook along with him. He now makes guest appearances on shows like Top Chef to inspire and support the next generation of high talent chefs. Chef Emeril shows no signs of slowing down and as we face this pandemic and is doing everything thing that he can to take care of his employees and his beloved community in New Orleans.

    We were able to catch up with Emeril and discuss how to help your local restaurants, travel inspirations and New Orleans hidden gems.

    The restaurant industry has been hit hard through this pandemic shutdown. I know you are devoting the proceeds from restaurant gift card sales to your employee fund. Are there other efforts that are taking place within the restaurants for the staff and community?

    I have hundreds of employees, many who have been with me since day one, 30 years ago, and many who have just begun their journey with our family. They are all equally important and absolutely vital to this industry. It is the individual people who collectively make up our team and allow us to cook and create the dining experiences for our guests that we are so proud of. In addition to our Employee Relief Fund, and donating gift card sales to help our employees and their families, my restaurant team in New Orleans has partnered with #LocalHeroesChallenge and Chef’s Brigade several times over the past few weeks to ensure that those on our frontline are shown appreciation for their selfless work. We provide meals for hospital units, police stations, fire stations, and first responders. We will continue to do this as long as it’s needed.

    How can others help out?

    The best way to help out is by donating to or purchasing from your favorite restaurants or organizations that are focused on helping the hospitality industry at large. This can include gift cards, merchandise, etc. There are so many great groups that have showed up, and even formed to help with these efforts. Also, there are many groups and organizations that are helping with feeding the frontlines – I mentioned a couple in New Orleans but if you look in your community you will see who is doing the work and how you can help. 

    What item is a must have during quarantine?

    Alcohol! Ha. Also, I don’t know what I would cook without some chicken stock. But seriously, an ice cold Peroni while you wait for your roux to cook helps pass the time and is my personal version of a timer – two Peronis and I know the roux is done.

    You are one of the most recognizable chefs in the world with TV shows, cookware, cookbooks and amazing restaurants. Is there anything else left on your culinary bucket list?

    Oh man yes, the culinary bucket list is long! The thing about being a restaurateur is that the hard work never lets up. Emeril’s restaurant turned 30 years old on March 26th and while I’m so proud of that, my philosophy is that you have to keep evolving no matter how new or old your brand is. We are excited to add a seasonal and vegetarian tasting menu to the offerings and really just keep learning, responding to the needs of our customers and highlight the best ingredients we can find through our dedicated purveyors. 

    What dish is your guilty pleasure?

    Anything with a good gravy. The kind that sticks to your ribs. Last week I made Swedish meatballs and ate for three meals – over rice with steamed broccoli, over some warm buttery egg noodles, and then the grand finale: a meatball sandwich on toasty French bread with some melted provolone.

    Is there any ingredient that you refuse or avoid using?

    Margarine. Just use butter! 

    The restaurant industry is such a competitive landscape. Is there a secret to staying original and relevant in this industry?

    A quote I recently came across by Simon Sinek reminded me of something I believe to be true: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” I fell in love with hospitality because it allows me to connect with people every single day. The passion I have for meeting new people, learning from them, and teaching them is as important to me as the art of cooking itself. It always has been and always will be about the people. If you keep this in your mind, and let it be the foundation for every step of the process, from the sourcing of ingredients to the cooks on your line to the food on the plate, you’re doing the right thing.

    I spoke to Isaac Toups recently and he spoke about you being a mentor. He said he learned how important it is to take care of your staff while working with you as the most important lesson. What advice would you give to aspiring chefs right now?

    Isaac is a great cook and a dear friend. In the vein of “being about the people” – this belief starts with the people who work hard, day after day, in my restaurants. The dishwasher, the hostess, the server, the reservationist, the line cook, the pastry chef. There are so many roles in a restaurant and every single one of them is as important as any other. My advice to anyone in the hospitality industry is to seek out an environment where you feel valued every day.  Valued by your coworkers, your management team, and however far up the food chain it goes – it’s important to feel like a family. That can be eating together before or after a shift (we call this family meal in my restaurants), or being exposed to continuing education around food, wine, spirits etc. thus having the opportunity for upward growth, or feeling comfortable asking questions. Whatever your role is, find an environment that is fulfilling in multiple ways. Your growth & success whether individually or as a team will come easier this way.

    Is there a travel experience that has influenced your cuisine or certain dishes?

    I spent a while in London last year – I enjoyed eating at all the more modern restaurants from casual to fine dining. It’s an everchanging environment out there and I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now and I get excited every day when I see, learn, or am inspired by new things. It’s not always about the food I’m tasting either. As a restaurateur, I look at service, plating, décor, music, uniforms and even flatware! It all matters and all lends to the ultimate experience. I’m excited about bringing some new things to all my restaurants this year. Always learning, always evolving but staying true to myself. It’s exciting and that feels good right now when things are the way they are right now.  

    Is there a city you would like to explore or re-visit through cuisine? Where is it and what draws you to it?

    I want to get down to Mexico City and some of the surrounding cities like Oaxaca. So many amazing things are happening there with dining whether its street food or Michelin stars. And talk about big flavors! There’s an ever-present Mexican influence on regional American cuisine, especially in the south. I like to keep a pulse on modern influences so I can evolve my food with my chefs.

    What is one dish no one would expect you to love?

    I had reindeer heart when I was in Sweden. It was delicious. 

    What is the most special thing about New Orleans to you?

    New Orleans is not just a city. It’s one big family. My family. I moved down there 40 years ago and fell in love. There’s so much to love. It gets in your soul and it never leaves you. It changes you, softens you, hardens you, inspires you, pleases you, challenges you, forgives you, and loves you forever. I will forever be grateful to my New Orleans family and look forward to serving her forever.

    Any hidden gems or recommendations in New Orleans?

    Pho Tau Bay. Not as hidden as it used to be but still my go to for weeknight dinners. My favorite dishes are: Chargrilled Pork Spring Rolls, Chicken Pho with extra bean sprouts and the Chargrilled Pork Vermicelli salads with an added Egg Roll. The Banh Mi’s are also killer.

    Once quarantine is over do you have a dream vacation destination?

    I can’t wait to get out on my boat with my fishing buddies. A couple long days of sport, cooking on the boat for a crowd. Man, I can’t wait.

    Photo: Josh Brasted

  • The Average Cost of a Vacation

    Right now while we are staying at home I am sure some of us are trying to plan our next vacation. Due to the current economic client, any may also be short on funds so this is a great time to discuss budget travel options. We partnered with Jamie Johnson for a guest content post to discuss to discuss ways to cut back on your spending and still be able to take that vacation. Her post is below.

    One of the most important aspects of personal finance is saving for things like a home, college education, and retirement. Many people also prioritize taking a vacation, either annually or as the opportunity arises. When it comes to paying for a vacation, though, how do you know what you should be spending and whether you’re getting the best deal for your money?

    According to a recent survey, the average American expects to spend nearly $2,000 on vacation. For families, that can easily reach into the five figures. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of that money will go towards travel costs like airline tickets, with lodging being the second-largest expense.

    There are several ways to cut back on your spending while still planning a trip you’ll enjoy. This article will break down the different components that make up the cost of your vacation and discuss ways you can save.

    Vacation Costs: Lodging, Food, and Entertainment

    Hotels and Lodging

    Lodging costs can vary widely depending on where you stay. If you’re staying at a relative’s house for a couple of days, that will obviously be a low-budget expense. Spending a week at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City or renting an Airbnb property with its own private pool in Mexico? That will definitely cost you.

    Throughout the United States, the average price of a hotel room is about $129 a night —  but if you stay in a more expensive city like New York, you should plan to pay more. Hotel prices in the “city that never sleeps” averaged about $262 per night in 2018, according to The New York Business Journal.

    If you’re hoping to stay somewhere decent but don’t want to shell out a lot of money, look into non-seasonal lodging. You can often find good deals during the off-season when prices are lower. You could also plan a trip with multiple people and split the housing costs.

    Travel

    Unsurprisingly, travel costs can vary greatly depending on the method you choose. The price is determined by where you’re going and how you plan to get there.

    For instance, traveling by car is more affordable than a plane trip but also more time-consuming. Let’s look at the three main ways you can travel during domestic trips and how to plan for each.

    Plane

    Although airline travel has become more affordable to many Americans in recent decades, flying by plane is still pricey enough to make some families think twice. As of 2018, the average round-trip domestic flight was around $350, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). For a family of four, that amounts to $1,400.

    The costs increase significantly if you plan to travel internationally. According to the U.S. Passport Service Guide, the average international round-trip ticket price is a whopping $1,368.

    However, there are ways to save on plane tickets. Signing up for price alerts could help you book cheaper flights. Any rewards you accumulate thanks to travel credit cards can also help offset the costs of air travel. If that strategy doesn’t work, try buying your tickets at the “right time.” According to the CheapAir.com 2019 Annual Airfare Study, the magic number is 76 days before your departure date for domestic flights.

    For international plane tickets, the best time to book varies based on region. If you’re heading to the Caribbean, you’ll want to purchase airfare 207 days in advance; for a trip to Asia, trying booking 120 days prior to takeoff.

    Train

    Traveling by train may be a good option to consider, especially if you’re taking a relatively short trip. City-to-city train tickets on Amtrak cost between $20 and $400 one way, depending on the distance traveled and when your tickets are booked.

    However, you may be able to find discounts on Amtrak tickets. Children ages 2 through 12 qualify for half-priced tickets every day, while seniors can receive a 10% discount on most trains. Group discounts are also available, and if you belong to any professional organizations, some of your fringe benefits may include discounted train tickets.

    See the full article here: The Average Cost of a Vacation

  • Interview: AJR’s Adam Met

    AJR is a trio of brothers who released their third full length album, Neotheater, last Spring ending up at Number One on the Alternative and Rock Albums chart. They have been on the road the past few years performing on tour for fans all over the world. Their tour stops included some of the major music festivals in the United States and I was able to catch their show and photograph the band’s sets all over the country at Voodoo Festival, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.

    Many people may not know that Adam (the “A” in “AJR”) is finishing up his PhD in International Human Rights, serves as the Executive Director of Sustainable Partners, Inc. and is a United Nations Development Programme Advocate. I wanted to take some time and talk with Adam for a special Earth Day interview where we chat about music, activism, touring more sustainably, and AJR’s “Time for Change” initiative.

    I had no idea you were finishing your PhD in Human Rights. What specific organizations do you support or does the band support?

    I do a lot of work with the UN Development Program. Because of my academic work, the UN actually reached out a few years ago and asked if I could help promote their sustainability initiatives, their sustainable development goals and their 17 goals that aim to end poverty and protect the planet from climate change. A few years ago, I started my own nonprofit called Sustainable Partners which amplifies how businesses can move in a sustainable direction. We have done a lot of partnerships with companies, Live Nation and iHeart, and now we are working with a bunch of brands on advertising campaigns. Sustainability and human rights are two of my big passions in addition to music.

    Festivals are trying to become more sustainable. For example, they are encouraging people not to use single use plastic and bring their own water bottles. Have you seen a shift?

    Yes, I have definitely seen a shift and that is what we are doing on our tours as well. We are trying to use locally sourced catering, eliminate single use plastic, and incentivize carpooling. Every little bit counts. Something that has been interesting to me is figuring out the way to balance educating our fans about this because it is something I am passionate about and at the same time focusing on the art of the music.

    I travel a lot and so do you guys. Travel is hard sometimes because I have gone into situations and been in countries where there are obvious human rights issues. Do you have any thoughts on how to be more responsible with travel? It is hard for me to tell people not to go to certain places because I want people to be educated about the real situations that are happening around the world. It is hard to know that maybe your money is going to supporting something not great.

    My specific PhD work is about the relationship between sustainability and human rights around the world. There are so many amazing green projects being built, wind farms, solar plants, hydroelectric plants and they are all doing great work because they are moving to renewable energy. At the same time, they are kicking indigenous populations off their land, they are contaminating water, they are violating human rights around the world. 

    We have such an amazing opportunity right now with the world transitioning to renewable energy, that we need to build human rights into renewable energy. When we are building a microgrid or new solar farm, they need to take human rights into account at the bedrock of it. Not have the attitude that we are going to build this solar farm and “hopefully” protect the people who own that land. 

    In terms of travel, and I know it is not a perfect solution, we offset all the carbon for all of our travel. We pay for carbon offsets, we plant trees, we pull plastic out of the ocean. But as far as picking countries that you are going to that have a lot of human rights violations, that is not the strongest ways to impact their policies. There is so much activism that you can do, and so much activism has moved online. There are great groups that are doing petitions. The real thing, in my opinion, is it starts with businesses. Businesses, having their business work or not work in a country is going to influence these countries to make positive decisions about human rights.

    I also saw you went to March for our Lives. I was also in DC covering the event. That was and amazing experience and I know your song “Burn the House Down” was featured in a March for Our Lives campaign. Why is it so important for you and the band to participate in this movement?

    March for Our Lives is an unbelievable organization. It was built by students for students. They figured out the right way to communicate the messaging about gun sense legislation. The fact that people are scared to send their kids to school because they are afraid there may be a mass shooting is insane. School is supposed to be the safest environment there is for educating kids. Because of the pandemic and limited students at school, March was the first time in years that there wasn’t a school shooting in the United States. (Note: The first month since 2002) That is absolutely insane. These students have done an incredible job. They have made it more about mobilizing people more than focusing on the one cause. It has been about getting people out to vote to make the change and the action itself instead of educating people.

    It is Earth Day. The band tries to offset carbon emissions and you try to partner with companies like Delta who are offsetting carbon emissions. Why is it important for you to use these companies and how do you find these companies?

    I do a lot of research but there are a lot of blogs that have posted about the businesses doing the best jobs of being sustainable. Offsetting your carbon is a good step but some of the clothing companies we use, some of the companies we choose for catering they go further than that. They go further than offsetting their carbon. They use local farmers to produce the food or their supply chains are done in a sustainable way. Their shipping is done a little bit slower but doesn’t put as much CO2 into the air. It takes a little bit of research, but a lot of people have done this research already so there are sites that aggregate it. It is really easy to make a switch. Like Chipotle for example, that company is everywhere and they do a great job of supporting local farmers.

    You are a family band. Is it hard being on the road with family 24-7?

    I think one of the most valuable things about being in a band is I am on the road with family. I don’t think I’d be able to do this if it weren’t family out there with me. My two brothers and I, we have very different roles in the band, we take on different responsibilities and we trust each other with those responsibilities so there is no ego. There is very rarely any conflict because we can be honest with each other and we trust each other.

    I have only seen you guys out in the festival atmosphere, but the whole band always seems like you are having a really good time on stage. What is your favorite song to play live?

     “Burn the House Down” is probably my favorite to play live. I play bass and there is a really fun bass line in that one.

    And the crowd goes crazy. They know all the words.

    That is so rewarding, even the songs on our album that are deep cuts that have never been on the radio, the fact they know all the words is insane to us.

    Are you working on any new music in quarantine? Are you quarantining together?

    Ryan and Jack have an apartment together and I am in a different apartment. They are quarantining together. But yes, new music is being made. We write and produce everything in our living room normally so this is not very different from the normal writing situation. There are new songs and a new project being put together right now.

    How are you staying connected to fans right now?

    Mostly through social media. We are supposed to be on tour and we are postponing the tour that is supposed to start in a few weeks. We are trying to give as much as we possibly can through social media. At the same time, everyone is doing a lot of self-reflecting right now because we are being put in situations we have never been put in before so we need that time also to self-reflect. I promise on the other side of the self-reflection and the other side of this quarantine there will be new music.

    The band has travelled all over the world. Do you have any hidden gems you have come across from a travel perspective?

    We are big foodies so we tend to categorize places where we have had really interesting meals. Sydney, Australia, I wouldn’t say it is a hidden gem but it is very far from the US, some of the best food we have ever had. There is a place by the Heathrow, the London airport that has unbelievable dumplings and you would never know that place would have amazing dumplings. We got there and they were closed and we said we just came here because the reviews were so amazing for your dumplings. They re-opened the restaurant for us to just give us the dumplings. They were the nicest people. Food is such a big part of the road because we wake up, promo with radio station, we are in the venue, we soundcheck, we perform, we do meet and greet, and the thing that differentiates each place is the food. We try to find some sort of local restaurant. Even in Russia, we were in Russia twice in the last year, we went and tried the local Russian food and it was really good.

    Your videos always have a whimsical approach, including the new video for “Bang!” Who comes up with the ideas for the videos?

    It is normally a mix. This video we knew we wanted to do something card or gambling themed but wanted it to have a Wes Anderson vibe. We came up with that concept then brought in the director. Some of the videos we have done completely ourselves. We have an animated video for our song “Turning Out”, and Ryan storyboarded the entire thing and directed and we brought in an animation team. The song “I’m Not Famous” we shot, directed, edited, and produced completely the three of us. It depends on the video. More recently we have brought in a director to give the idea, add things to the idea, but it is generally us that comes up with the initial idea.

    Tell me about the AJR Plant a Tree initiative you guys did?

    Through my nonprofit, Sustainable Partners, our newest campaign is called Time for Change, and essentially what it is, we work with businesses to run advertisements you see on social media, on YouTube, on Facebook and at the bottom of the advertisement it says if you watch this video all the way through, we will plant a tree, pull a pound of plastic out of the ocean or relieve someone of their medical debt. It is a really cool program because it is what businesses are looking for, for people to watch their ad all the way through and become familiar with their product. At the same time people feel good about giving up that 20 seconds of their life because they are doing something good for the world. The results we got from this ad campaign for our summer tour was staggering. The click through rates were higher than we had ever seen before for any tour and the completion rate was 30 times the average you get on these platforms. In less than a month, we sold 100,000 tickets and planted 100,000 trees. We are all about finding creative ways to incorporate and use people’s time they are going to spend anyway for good. Now we are expanding and working with other artists, we are working with other brands using this Time for Change campaign.

    Do you have any messages for fans struggling with staying at home?

    For me the best thing about this quarantine is finding new outlets to put energy into. I have been really working on my cooking skills. It could be that or puzzles or writing something or writing music. You don’t have to produce anything, but to find a new outlet for your energy. Now is such an amazing time to find something new. Even if you are terrible at it, who cares, you are indoors, you are not really sharing it with anybody. Just try it for yourself.

  • Cincinnati Ballet – NYC

    After speaking with Peter Frampton this week, I was nostalgic and inspired to write about my time working with the Cincinnati Ballet during their 50th anniversary season and covering their shows for CityBeat and Corbis Images. At the time I was covering the ballet, Peter Frampton and his longtime composing partner Gordon Kennedy had created the music for one of their ballet pieces called “Hummingbird in a Box.” My music photo and ballet photo worlds came together and it was fantastic so I was so happy to be able to see the piece with Peter at a performance in NYC at the Joyce Theater.

    The ballet usually performs at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati but in 2014 I was able to join the company and cover their first show in NYC in over 35 years at the Joyce Theater. The show program in NYC included Hummingbird in a Box, set to seven new songs by grammy-winning Frampton, Chasing Squirrel, a daring and eccentric work by Trey McIntyre, and Caprice, a new ballet by Val Caniparoli. Hummingbird in a Box was choreographed by Adam Hougland.

    The show in New York highlighted the skills of some of my most beloved dancers at the company including a Liang Fu, James Gilmer , Patric Palkens and Sarah Hairston. Many of these dancers have gone on from Cincinnati to continue their amazing dance journey. James Gilmer is now part of the word famous Alvin Ailey dance company. Patric is now a soloist at the Boston Ballet and longtime principal dancer Sarah Hairston is Director of Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Dance Academy.

    I took ballet classes for a decade when I was younger so I am always so excited to be able to photograph professional ballet dancers. For several years when my travel schedule permitted I would shoot studio and dress rehearsals with the ballet company here in Cincinnati. It was a great joy to be able to see the productions come together and all of the hard work that goes into producing the shows. 

  • Interview: Peter Frampton

    I have had the pleasure of working with Peter Frampton several times over the years he lived in Cincinnati. I have been able to photograph the magic onstage and some truly remarkable moments with Peter and other guitar legends.

    His careers spans decades and he embarked on his worldwide farewell tour in 2019 after being diagnosed with (IBM) Inclusion-Body Myositis, an inflammatory muscle disease that could ultimately affect his ability to play guitar. So far Peter is feeling great and will continue the world tour once the current pandemic “stay at home” orders are lifted around the world. Peter’s memoir “Do You Feel Like I Do?” is also in the works and is set to be released in the Fall 2020. 

    I was able to catch up with Peter by phone and discuss farewell tour highlights, the autobiography, new music, his friendship with David Bowie, his foundation that continues to seek a cure for IBM at Johns Hopkins and much more.

    You are always on the go. How do you stay sane during the quarantine situation?

    I am doing ok actually because it just so happens that I am working on a book. We did all the taped sessions of talking and Alan Light who did Greg Allman’s book is working with me.  He is a phenomenal writer and a lovely man. He put together ten sessions, maybe more, two hours at a time we spoke together. He came down to Nashville where I am, I went to New York as well. They put it into what they call the manuscript and I am going through it right now sentence by sentence. I am going through it and adding stuff that I forgot. It is very interesting. I am taking this time to read about myself which is sometimes very painful.

    I know your book is set to come out in October. Is it an emotional experience to re-live some of those moments?

    Yes, it is amazing how much it affects you mentally. I would always sleep well when Alan would come down to my place and we would do 12-2 or 2-4. Saturday night was fine right after the first session but I either couldn’t sleep on Sunday night after two of those sessions or I had really strong dreams bordering on nightmares. 

    It is almost like a therapy session.

    It is like, in one weekend, doing four therapy sessions, well more since they only see you for 14 minutes now. It is affecting me more than I thought, re-living it all, because I have regrets. I used to say I didn’t have any regrets but oh yes I do and we bury those. We try to at least. We don’t want to think about those skeletons in the closet where we might have not been the person we always hoped we would be. It is very interesting how the mind works.

    Tell us a little bit about your friendship with David Bowie and tell us a special moment between the two of you.

    I actually met Dave before we physically went to the school together, I was too young. My father was his art teacher at Brumley Technical High School. We went one weekend to the school fair where they were selling stuff to raise money for pencils and supplies. That was the first time I saw Dave play in a band. He was on the school steps outside playing with a band called The Konrads, playing the sax and singing the songs of the moment whether it be Elvis or Eddie Cochran or whatever it was at the time. I looked up at Dad and said, “Who’s that?” And he would say “Oh, that’s Jones.” I said, “I just want to let you know I want to be like him.” My father gave me one of those rolled eyes looks and said Jones was very musical. 

    I went up and talked to him that day. We became friends from that moment onwards. I was 12 and he was 15 maybe. We jammed on my Dad’s art block stairs with guitars in those days. We have basically been friends for a lifetime until we lost Dave. Dave always kind of saw me as a little brother, it was a family thing because he was so close with my Dad. After school, Dave stayed in touch with not only me but my Dad. 

    One memory I have is that we were on a plane once. We were taxiing and smoke started coming out of the air conditioning units and we were told to get off. Dave just picked me up and threw me down the slide before him. That was a moment I will never forget. I have never mentioned that before. They pulled the tail off. It was the old 727 and the slide came off where the tail came off and I ended up in the grass by the runway after he tossed me down the slide. 

    There was another moment that shows my Dad’s relationship with Dave. We were doing an announcement gig, a press conference where we played in London. My Mom and Dad came to the show. Dave did a little bit of talking, introduced the band and introduced me. We played a bit, maybe three or four numbers. Afterwards we were backstage and Mom and Dad are backstage where everyone was hanging out. I looked around for Dad and asked Mom where he went. She said she didn’t know, she said that he and Dave had gone off somewhere. That was the relationship they had. It was very special. Dave was someone that was a bit like my older brother who looked after me.

    A year ago, you embarked on your Farewell Tour after your IBM (Inclusion-Body Myositis)diagnosis. How are you feeling now?

    I am feeling good thank you. We are a bit disconcerted because of the pandemic; we have had to hold up on any travel. I can’t do my second visit for the drug trial to get my pill. After the first three months after they have seen you and have done a muscle needle biopsy and blood work. They keep that for three months and do the same tests again and compare the data to see what has happened in that three months, then they give you the pill which I was supposed to get on March 17th. Obviously, nobody is going anywhere right now so we will have to wait and start back up when the all clear is heard.

    Are you still working with Johns Hopkins?

    Absolutely. That is where I go for the trial and there is an incredible group of doctors there led by Dr. Lisa Christopher-Stine who is the head of my clinic there. She has this incredible group of passionate doctors who want to find a cure for this and that and the other in the Myositis area. I always look forward to going there even though some of the stuff they may do to me isn’t great because I feel this incredible passion to find the cure. I know they will do it. I just know it.

    Are your ticket sales still raising money for the foundation there?

    Yes. Whatever we do from now on. Whenever we go to Europe or South America or the last couple of places I want to go to, they will be selling the CD which all the money will go to charity. Half will go to Johns Hopkins and the other half will go to another charity. There is talks of doing the same thing we did in America with the ticket sales, the promoters will take a dollar from each ticket which is very generous and donate to the foundation. We need a lot of money elsewhere right now though. I have been donating to that as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t get as bad as they said it was going to get yesterday.

    I am from Clarksville, Tennessee. I believe you live in Nashville now. 

    Yes

    I saw you were also trying to raise money for Hands on Nashville online. Were you affected by the tornado in Nashville?

    No, being where I am in downtown, I was incredibly lucky, as we all were here, it was north of us. Not much north but I felt it go past. It woke me up because I live in a high rise. The wind and the rain on the window, the pressure in my ears changed. It woke me up straight away. When I got up to go the safe room in the middle of my apartment, it had already passed because it was going so fast. Within the tornado it was 200 miles per hour as it is turning but it was moving over 50 miles an hour. It seemed like it was here and gone. It had already done damage in the West and then went across East Nashville. By the time it got to Cookeville it destroyed everything. My heart is in my hands for those people that not only went through that, but two weeks later they have no home and can’t leave their home. It is devastating.

    It breaks my heart because I went to college at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville and I saw the pictures and I cried. It was devastating.

    As with tornadoes, it picks and chooses the side of the street they go to and what house and what building and it looks so strange with it zig-zagging across and one house will be completely untouched and one house across the street you can see into the basement. They are horrible things.

    Last year you said in some interviews you wanted to record as much as possible. You said you were doing your book right now but have you been able to record in Nashville at this time or are you unable to because of the stay at home orders?

    No, not at this time because of the quarantine. I wouldn’t want to be close to any of my band members. It is the stay at home time. We have all been separated because of this. Even before this last tour, we had recorded three and a half albums, one of which has come out. We have another Blues one in the can. I don’t know when that will come out. We did an instrumental covers album. This is because we didn’t have any new material straight away after our tour with Steve Miller a couple years ago now. I wanted to do covers of everything so we could get into the studio and play as much as possible in the shortest amount of time not knowing how long my hands would last on me. Then I started writing because I was inspired by the band and how great the recordings were coming out. We did half a Peter Frampton solo record as well. When we get the all clear, we will finish the solo record. The next one to come out, which will most likely be next year, will be the Instrumental Covers record.

    Why did you choose to do the all Blues record?

    It was because we had done two summer tours with Steve Miller. Steve would get me up every night to play between two to six, depending on how he felt and how it was going, Blues numbers with him every night after my show. I started getting back into the Blues big time. He was suggesting numbers and I was suggesting Blues. It made me realize how much I love playing it. I said to the band when we get home, we will take nine days off, let’s all choose our favorite Blues numbers and make huge list and see how many we can record and make a Blues record of covers since I hadn’t had time to write anything. We went right in and did nearly 50 tracks of Blues stuff. Some of them we would run through once and decide it wasn’t working. Most of them we would listen to the original and play as close to the original as possible but still sound like us because we are playing it. We wanted to pay homage to the original recordings and even though with today’s recording equipment it is going to sound somewhat different. Some would say better, others would say worse. Comparing it to the oldies. We tried to stay as close to the originals as possible.

    One of my highlights of my music photography career was seeing you play with B.B. King and the record reminded me of those times.

    That was so great. B.B. would ask me everyday if I was going to come out. I would say yes of course. It is the King. Nobody says no to the King, not that I would have wanted to anyway. Sitting next to him on stage every night while he was with us, that was a total unexpected pleasure and honor.

    I know you work out a lot. What is your home workout routine looking like these days?

    I am using Zoom or Facetime with my trainer. I go to a gym six days a week. That’s all I have. I don’t have a drug. The only thing that will keep my muscles as long as I can is to workout as much as possible. We are doing all the same sort of stuff that I do in the gym because at home I have all the equipment we take on the road usually. I have weights, bands, things to stand on. I just get direction from my trainer and we work out for an hour everyday usually around 8:30 in the morning.

    I also know you like TV a little bit. You did a few cameos on Madame Secretary. Are there any shows you are binge watching while you are home?

    Yes. The Stranger was one I was watching that I enjoyed. I am a film buff. I love old movies and new movies. I love technology and camera work and cinematography. I am a big fan of that. You should watch Casablanca first. Michael Curtiz directed that. If you look at what he directed, it is a who’s who of amazing movies. He only got one Oscar. He wasn’t the nicest guy. He got his only one Oscar for Casablanca as director. They have now made a movie called Curtiz which pays such great homage to him. It is like watching the making of Casablanca. It is fictitious obviously because nobody really knows what they were talking about behind the scenes. It is so cool. It is a great, great movie. I would recommend that.

    I just remember going to the bar in Casablanca in Morocco and realizing they didn’t film anything there when we went inside bar. It was a funny moment.

    Did they have a Sam playing the piano?

    They did and they had the movie playing in the background the whole time and I had the best screwdrivers I’ve had in my life with fresh orange juice. 

    Your son is in a band, the Julian Frampton Band. He has been opening for you on the tour. Has it made the tour more special for you?

    Oh yes. Having my son first of all, when we were on the acoustic tour, he and his partner Ben opened up for us on the acoustic tour and he would sing a couple numbers, me and Gordon and him. That was great. Having his band open up for us was even better. Having the ability to offer my son those eight or nine shows on the West Coast was wonderful, a big, new experience for him and the guys in the band. If he wasn’t good, he wouldn’t have been there. I am a big fan of Julian. He is writing some stuff right now that is phenomenal. As always, he is very prolific. I look forward to hearing more form him.

    Do you have any other highlights from the U.S. leg of the tour?

    Every night of the tour had a highlight at some point. It was usually at the end when I realized there was so much love coming at me from the audience and they didn’t want me to leave the stage. I kept it together most nights until that moment and then when I would turn around and walk off I would lose it a little. It is a very heady moment. They just wouldn’t stop. It was an amazing feeling and I really truly treasure my fans out there. It is such an honor to feel that much love from that many people at the same time each night. It was amazing.

    I can’t imagine you slowing down or retiring, but once these tours are over, are there any dream travel destinations where you would want to go and visit that you haven’t been able to or go back to?

    I have played Italy many times. I have to go to Italy and stay there a while. It is one of my favorite places. Italy is definitely on the list. I have never been to India. I have never been to Thailand or any of these far off southeast Asia places. I have been to Japan and Australia but I had to do more touring elsewhere so there are a lot of places I missed along the way I would like to go.

  • Spectra

    In 2018, U.K.–based design studio NEWSUBSTANCE unveiled Spectra: a round, 75-foot-tall rainbow tower with an interior spiral ramp as an art installation at Coachella. The site-specific piece, became a resident of the festival grounds and was featured again in 2019 and will return in the years to come. 

    In 2018, Ryan (Pavlov) and I took a tour of the Spectra as it made it’s debut on the grounds. The cool thing about this piece is it is interactive with the fans. You walk inside and all the way up and around the ramp to the top of the structure. As you walk you are bathed in different color light from the windows and at the top you are rewarded with sweeping views across the whole festival.

  • Kanye Sunday Service

    My overall highlight of Coachella last year was Sunday Service with Kanye West on Easter Sunday during the second weekend of the festival. Usually the biggest festival moments happen during Weekend One of the festival but that was not the case last year. We all knew about a week before the festival started that Kanye was bringing his Sunday Service to Indio. He had started the Sunday Service around January 2019 for family and friends. Kanye was originally supposed to be a festival headliner but that all fell apart when they couldn’t agree on his crazy ideas for a performance setup at the main stage. The service was set to start at 9 am on Sunday morning but it was hard for me to believe that people up all night at a festival would make it to church. I was proven very wrong.

    Up to this point Kanye had been pretty secretive about what happened at the Sunday Services in Calabasas and only a few Kardashian photos had leaked so there was a lot of anticipation for the event. On Saturday, Ryan Pavlov (my longtime photo editor) and I took a pedicab out to the area of the campground where the event would take place to scope out the situation. I was honestly still trying to see if there was a way to photograph it. Before Coachella last year I had very few usable photos of Kanye West since Essence Festival 2011 where we got to shoot part of one song in the photo pit and it wasn’t great. Since then he has been in a mask, behind a curtain of white light, in a flaming clear box, and on a platform in the dark as we have attempted to take his picture. I was happy to be able to see him in daylight conditions. We talked to security and were quickly told there would be two layers of security with metal detectors to get into the event and that even credentialed media could not bring professional cameras because Kanye had said no photos at church.

    We proceeded to the media area to start the day on Saturday and in the afternoon, we heard that Kanye might make a guest appearance with Kid Cudi, who he has produced and collaborated with in the past, at his midnight set. Rumors of guests are common at any festival and there is about a 50/50 chance of them being true. I was skeptical especially since he was supposed to perform early in the morning on Sunday. It was a tough decision on whether to stay for a midnight set. Covering music festivals with photos is tough and Coachella is the toughest conditions. There is extreme heat all day, lots of walking and then dust. I love it but by Weekend Two it is hard. I made the call to stay for Kid Cudi. I do like him and have covered him for years at his native Cleveland shows so worst case I would get some new Cudi shots. This turned out to be the best decision of the year most likely because as Kid Cudi walked out of the tunnel I saw someone right behind him. It was Kanye coming out song 1 of the performance. Only 3 press photographers had stayed around for the show and we were rewarded. I shot so many photos so fast. I assumed he would leave after a minute or one song but no he stayed out for 7 songs. We were allowed to shoot the whole time he was there without any obstacles other than a restricted movement in the pit. It was amazing. After he was nice enough to give us a photo opportunity I decided not to try to photograph his Sunday Service against his wishes. Ryan and I even debated on not even coming early for the service since we had a long final day of the festival to cover.

    By 7:30 AM my friend Chris was texting us to come to the service. I made a last-minute decision to hurry and get ready and go to the show. We didn’t take any cameras in because we already saw people walking back to their cars to put theirs away after being denied entry. It was a long walk to the campground on the back of the site. Upon arrival there was two extra security checks and lines were starting to be very long at 8:30 AM. People were coming. Ryan and I made it inside and saw there was a huge mound that had been built in the middle and so we went around the back and saw a VIP area where we entered to sit on a hill and have a clean view of the top of the mound. We were close to the Kardashian crew so we assumed it was good spot. Other artists started to appear as well to watch including Lizzo, Travis Scott and Donald Glover to name a few.

    More and more people streamed in and filled in around the front of the mound. There was a booth with merchandise selling “Church Clothes” which were really Yeezy sweat suits, t-shirts and socks for hundred of dollars. Many people waited in line for the clothes during the whole show and missed the performance. They were probably disappointed to see them for sale on his website an hour later.

    Around 10 AM a full orchestra assembled on top of the mound and started playing gospel songs. Eventually over 100 members of a gospel choir led by Jason White filed in and sang. It was so amazing to hear. The hair stood up on my arms. It was surreal. Several songs were performed. Kanye finally entered the event about 30 minutes into the choir performance. I was pleasantly surprised that he really did not make the performance all about himself. For most of the show he stayed buried in the crowd of instrumentalists on the piano. 

    In the background loomed the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, as the choir were singing versions of the gospel numbers “How Excellent”, “Satan, We’re Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down,” “This Is the Day,” and “Water.” Dancers emerged during the set that had been sitting among us in the crowd in the matching purple yeezy outfits and added to the spectacle.

    Chance the Rapper and Kid Cudi made surprise appearances and sang with the group. Chance makes his faith no secret and often incorporates it into his songs and dynamic solo performances. Midshow, the singer Teyana Taylor emerged for a version of “Never Would Have Made It.” After her song the group marched around the mound and into the VIP section dancing and singing praises. West joined in the group with his hair dyed a mottled purple, matching his outfit. He rapped just twice during the show parts of “All Falls Down” and, at the conclusion, “Jesus Walks,” the early hit that served as a foundational element of the performance. 

    Toward the end of the event DMX led a prayer and story of sorts. At the end the choir, dancers and West exited and the orchestra played as the 100,000 attendees left the grounds. Some may call the event sacrilegious but I thought it was really wonderful and may have brought the touch of the gospel to many in this crowd for the first time. By the end I was relaxed, so happy I had not missed it and found myself wanting all the church clothes.

    Note: Photo was taken with IPhone

  • Interview: Duff Goldman

    Ace of Cake’s Duff Goldman is the owner of Charm City Cakes and is widely recognized as one of the best bakers in the world. He is a judge on Food Network’s baking competitions like Kid’s Baking Championship and Spring Baking Championships. He is currently starring in Season 2 of Buddy vs Duff on Food Network Sunday nights. We caught up with Duff at his home near Los Angeles to talk about baking, some hidden food gems across the United States and how people can get involved to support causes to help kids in need during this time of pandemic.

    This is a crazy time. TV productions are shut down. I am sure you were supposed to be filming. Have you had other businesses effected by the outbreak?

    Yeah, absolutely. I have Duff’s Cakemix which is a do-it-yourself cake studio with five studios in California. Those are shut down. I have two locations of my bakery that are trying to do something online. I can’t let my employees go. I am going to keep paying them. We have zero income coming in. I don’t know how long I can keep that up.

    You are always talking about specific charities that you support on your website, duff.com, and Instagram. Are there any you want to call attention to in this time?

    Yes. No Kid Hungry because kids really rely on their schools for meals each day for breakfast and lunch. School is canceled and that is a really difficult situation for the students and parents. No Kid Hungry is running a lot of different programs across the country making sure their kids are able to get food. They need help because it is not cheap. It is a big, big problem right now. It affects millions and millions of kids. If people want to help, they can go to nokidhungry.org and just know that every dollar they donate is ten meals for kids.

    The other one would be the Independent Restaurant Coalition. There are about 11 million people in the restaurant industry. It is tough working in restaurants whether you are a dishwasher or line cook or server or owner or chef or manager. It is tough right now. Almost everyone in the restaurant industry lives paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of people out there really hurting right now. People can go to the Independent Restaurant Coalition to figure out how they can help. The biggest thing people can do right now is get carryout from your local restaurants, get delivery, tip them well, more than you normally would. Get delivery and get it often. Those guys need to work. Restaurants have lost so much income. People ordering out really helps. 

    You have been doing baking demos on your Instagram. What has that experience been like and why did you start doing it?

    I actually do those all the time, not just during the quarantine. I really enjoy doing them. When you are doing TV filming it is kind of hard sometimes because you are looking at a camera and have to picture the people out there. The more I interact with people, it helps me connect when I am not actually not in front of them. As I am talking on camera, I know the kinds of questions people are going to be asking and so I give that kind of information without them in front of me. Plus, I am a goofy dude and I like to mess around with my fans. It is fun.

    I love your Instagram and your wife’s (Johnna) Instagram. Your wedding was gorgeous at LA’s Museum of Natural History. It was super unique.

    It was really fun too. We wanted something nice and relaxed. We wanted everyone to have a good time and feel good. We had a petting zoo. We had some silly stuff in there.

    For all the non-bakers like myself in the audience, what is the easiest thing you can bake from home?

    I think a lot of people don’t have yeast and don’t want to go to the store but people need bread. What would be fun for people is to bake a pita bread because it’s really easy to make. It is an easy dough to make. It is only flour, water, and salt. You need a cookie sheet and an oven. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a red wine bottle.

    All the non-bakers definitely have those ingredients and wine I am sure. Is there a place you would like to take a culinary adventure with travel you haven’t been able to?

    Italy is too obvious of a choice but it is where I would want to be right now with the comfort food. I think Bangkok. We loved Thailand. We went there on our honeymoon. We didn’t really get to experience all of Bangkok. Bangkok is wild. Everywhere you go, within ten feet of you someone is cooking something.

    What was the first thing you made in the kitchen?

    A mess… I don’t know. I remember when I was a kid we would have Beef Fondue night that was really exciting. My Mom would get the fondue pot and put oil in it everyone would get a pile of raw meat and we would cook our own meat. It was the late 70s and early 80s. Fondue night was so fun. I would get so excited. I really learned how to cook. The longer I would leave it in the crispier it would get. When no one was looking I would turn the heat up so I could get the meat super hot on the outside. It would be crispy but inside would be pink.

    Do you have a favorite cake you have made?

    Honestly my wedding cake. We had three. One was hanging from the ceiling and it was like underwater adventure. There were tons of sea dragons floating around and bubbles. 

    I watched the first season of Buddy vs Duff and part of the second season that has aired so far. It seems like Buddy leans towards “go big or go home” every episode. You focus on the details. Do you think size matters this season because he has had some success?

    Yeah the judges are really impressed with size this season. That’s cool. We just try to make awesome stuff. I like making the cakes we make. They are never as big but they are usually really clean and really perfect. We try to make things flawless. I find when we try to make cakes too big, they get kind of sloppy. When you get up close to them, they are kind of sloppy. The judges here are TV judges, not cake judges. They love it so big. In a real cake competition, they get up close and check for the cracks and the flaws and in this season the judges aren’t too concerned about it.

    You won season 1. Is it hard to defend it this time around and come up with creative ideas?

    I don’t see it like that. I enjoy doing this because I like making cakes and hanging out with my friends and creating cool stuff and bringing something into the world that wasn’t there before. I like telling people to check this out. This is dope. When people ask if I am defending my title. No, not at all. I am not a super competitive when it comes to cake. When it comes to cakes, that’s not what it’s about.

    What’s your most memorable travel pastry experience?

    I was in Hong Kong. I had this like sugar cookie that was stuffed with pork and gravy. It was delicious.

    I have photographed you cooking with celebrities and musicians at BottleRock in Napa. More and more festivals are combining music and food. Do you have a dream Rockstar cooking collaboration?

    There is a band called Trans-Am. They are really good from the DC area. They are like super technical and play all these crazy keyboards. They would be a lot of fun to play music and cook with. If you want to check out Trans-Am, listen to Surrender to the Night. Listen to that album with headphones. Listen to it nice and loud.

    When are we going to see your band on tour?

    We do a lot of charity events. When there are smaller food festivals, we will go and play. It is nice for us because instead of going to a festival and cooking, we get to go and play music.

    Do you have any memorable moments from BottleRock?

    Throwing food at the crowd with Shaun White was pretty epic. I think this year Eric B. & Rakim are going to be there, a rap group from the 80s. I grew up with those guys. I wore those cassettes out. I really hope I get to cook with those guys. That would be amazing. I’m friends with them on Twitter.

    I know you and your wife have spent time driving throughout the middle of the US. Are there any hidden gems you found along the way for people to visit?

    Top’s Bar-B-Que in Memphis. It is fast food bar-b-que. We found this Tex-Mex joint, El Aguila Real, near Battle Mountain, Nevada. It was super good. There is the Good Pie Café in Pietown, New Mexico. It is really cool because it is down the road from the VLA, the Very Large Array, which is the giant field of radio telescopes that look into deep space. If you go to Baltimore you have to go to Faidley’s Crab Cakes.

  • Sarbalé ke

    Sometimes the art pieces at Coachella have a much more global reach and meaning than just a colorful piece if art at a music festival. Last year the piece by Francis Kéré, Sarbalé ke, which means “the house of celebration” in Mooré was a series of 12 colorful steel and wood towers (some as tall as 60 feet) inspired by the African baobab tree. Baobabs have multiple uses as food and medicine. It’s the place where you get together, celebrate, and discuss. “The festival creates a playfulness, through the use of color, gathering, music and dance,” he has said. “I love the enthusiasm and energy of the U.S.” After the festival, he plans to place the installation in the East Valley of Coachella, to live on as a public gathering space.

    Francis Kéré is a critically acclaimed architect and humanitarian who loves to explore the idea of gathering in his works, which often take shape as “canopies and spaces for knowledge exchange.” Kéré has undertaken projects in varied countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Germany, the United States, Kenya, and Uganda. 

    His career highlights range from designing a primary school in his local community of Gando, Burkina Faso, in 2001, to the prestigious Serpentine Pavilion commission in London in 2017, for which he made a great, circular overhang that sprouted up from the ground like a tree. 

    Kéré’s dream is not just to build schools and to provide education, but to create an oasis in which the needs of the villagers of Gando are fulfilled. In order to do this, he has embarked on a project of planting mango trees. The project aims to address several major problems in the region.

    Starvation is rare, but malnutrition is common in Gando and the surrounding area. The main staple is “foufou”, which consists of pounded and boiled millet. It contains few vitamins, and most people eat just once a day. Mangoes provide an important source of nourishment, and the vitamins help to strengthen the immune system. Furthermore, mango trees provide a vital source of shade. Daytime temperatures often reach 40 °C. In the midst of this intolerable heat, the cool space under a mango tree becomes an important meeting place for the village community, where children play, study and rest. A further objective is to teach pupils responsibility. Each pupil is given a tree to look after. In this way they learn how to plant and care for trees, and this is knowledge which they will pass on to their parents and the next generation.

    Due to the rapidly expanding population, and the predominance of firewood as the main source of fuel, Burkina Faso has lost 60% of its trees in the last 15 years. This has led to detrimental consequences for the environment. Trees provide shade, protect the soil from erosion, stop desertification and regulate the groundwater regime. In addition to this, trees contribute to soil fertility, and to biodiversity in that they provide a habitat for many species.

    Many of the festival goers probably did not know the deep meaning and the work of the artists as they used these playful structures as a shady spot to sit or the backdrop of their selfies, but I am very happy that the festival continues to support the artists who do this type of work across the globe.