midtown dickens & matthew e. white @ haw river ballroom

midtown dickens @ haw river ballroom

I have — well, not slacked, but I have seen far fewer shows this year than I did last year, and I have definitely missed a lot of homecoming, release, celebration shows by people I love that I wish I hadn’t. Unfortunately, concert photography is a calling that wars with my anxiety and depression, and I’ve spent a lot of this year trying to manage that and, basically, being unable to leave the house, needing to spend weeks with the blankets pulled over my head, etc, etc.

I did, however, leave the house on Saturday night for my fourth show in four weeks at Haw River Ballroom, which is — for reasons I’ll detail below, besides all the raving I’ve done elsewhere — rapidly becoming one of my very, very favorite places to shoot shows. The light is glorious, Heather and Tom LaGarde have created a beautiful sounding and beautiful looking space, and they’re among the friendliest and most generous people I know.

matthew e white @ haw river ballroom

So it was a pleasure and more than a pleasure to spend Saturday evening shooting Matthew E. White, whose enormous orchestra at Hopscotch was a highlight of the weekend for me, and whose smaller but no less powerful band was one of many highlights on Saturday night. Matthew’s voice is one of the most soothing I’ve had the joy to hear, and I find his songwriting, and his orchestration, even in the bigger moments, the louder moments, to fill me with utter peace. Other people dance to his songs; I zone out in a dreamy trance.

midtown dickens @ haw river ballroom

The evening was topped off with a joyful homecoming show from Midtown Dickens, who have really spent most of this year on the road behind their latest release, aptly titled Home. They play with such joy, and some of my favorite shots from their set were ones like the one immediately above, where the joy just shines straight out of everyone. They are a band it is hard to be sad while watching, and that is a gift in and of itself.

And as for those reasons HRB is one of my favorite places to shoot? Well, Heather has given me carte blanche to attend any show I want, as their guest, to shoot. We’re working on embedding a slideshow of my work there on their website. So I guess I can cross 28. Become the house photographer for a local venue. off the life list. Thanks, Heather & Tom — I’m going to do my best to live up to your generosity.

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