Photographer Spotlight: Vernon Webb at Life is good, Catskill Chill & A Bear’s Picnic
Over the past few years, advances in technology has made a variety of things available that perhaps weren’t mere years previous. Take photography for example. With the DSLR assault on the photography world, an aspiring photographer gets the instant gratification of a Polaroid with capabilities that are downright obscene. Gone are the days of waiting until film develops to see if you “got it right.” Rather, all it takes is a click of a button to see what was good, what wasn’t and from there, make adjustments as necessary.
When Kodak introduced the DCS-100 some twenty years ago, they had officially placed the first DSLR on the market, but in comparison to what is seen today, the camera was a brontosaurus. It’s images were produced at a little over one megapixel and the best part, it came with a price tag of over 13, ooo clams.
Twenty years later, Kodak is broke but their digital predictions have proven true to the point that today, a new aspiring photographer will be born and he/she will be able to get into the decently equipped digital market for a 1,500 bucks or less. While awesome, the double edged qualities of the sword show up two months later when that same person will write in with a desire to shoot concerts for Honest Tune — it doesn’t take a brainiac to see how this could become a problem. Well, it has. But bitching about luxury problems is lame (as was the above Cliff’s Notes version of the abridged history of digital photography). It is lame because for every ten emails from those without portfolios and zero experience seeking to shoot a forthcoming one-off collaboration of historic proportions, there is a message from somebody like Vernon Webb, an experienced photographer who simply loves to shoot and in short, embodies the caliber of contributor for which one can only have extreme gratitude.
On a given night, you will find in Vernon in some New York or Jersey venue, hopping from one gig to the next in search of a shot and sound; his love of music is only matched by his love for expressing that love through an image (with the love of his daughter superseding both). He is the kind of photographer that shows up for the openers, and not just when the openers also happen to be a nationally known act (i.e. one that would be self-serving). He is the kind of photographer that doesn’t care if he is in a photo pit at Madison Square Garden or trying to locate a perch to shoot from in any given bar or club. He will do both with the same ethic that once heard, leaves no doubt about what is important to him and what he embodies, whether in photography or life in general.
To paraphrase Vernon, his mission is to be “honest” with his photography, never aiming to take advantage of those that have given him what he dubs as “opportunities.” And when he talks of his desire to historically “document” and to do his part in “sharing” his love for the bands that bring him joy (through photography), it leaves no doubt that Vernon mentally embodies the type of contributor for which gratitude should always be had. But it isn’t until viewing his work that one is fully able to appreciate how all of it translates.
Throughout late August and September, Vernon was on the scene at three festivals so we thought that there would be no better way to give you, the reader, the opportunity to view a large collection of images to see if you see what we do. We are pretty sure you will.
Life is Good® Festival
September 22 & 23, 2012
Life is good® is perhaps best known as the popular clothing line with an optimistic message, but there is more to the brand than the pastel shirts with a smiling face (apparently named Jake) that seem to be in every dresser in America. In fact, there is a lot more.
Playmakers is a non-profit that was set up through the Life is Good® corporation, and it is one with a compelling and unique mission to help children who have been victims of violence or repeated trauma. As they describe it, “The Life is good Playmakers help kids overcome poverty, violence, and illness.” They accomplish this by “using the power of joyful play to heal and strengthen children.” This is where the Life is Good Festival comes in to, well… play.
Each year since 2010, renowned artists come together for a gathering that is strictly dedicated to fundraising for Playmakers. Past artists have included The Avett Brothers, Levon Helm, Grace Potter, Brett Dennen, Ben Harper and so many more. But above and beyond the “adult acts,” the festival stays true to its purpose by providing top notch kid’s acts that have included Keller Williams (Kids) and Laurie Berkner.
For the 2012 installment, fans were treated to more of what they have come to expect with another grand experience in Massachusetts, courtesy of sounds from Michael Franti, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, Soulive, Trombone Shorty and for the kids, popular Nick Jr. singing group, the Fresh Beat Band, amongst many others. To put it all cutely blunt, life was good.
But while the music was indeed grand, it was simply the chosen modality for delivery of a message that was truly grand, that of the Playmakers. After all, is there a better way to get grown-ups to fully realize the value of fun than attempting to dance in sync with Sharon Jones as she teaches “how her (African) ancestors” danced? Simply put and once again, music was blended with cause; what was yielded was something authentically beautiful. But even more beautiful was the amount of money raised for an organization that could not be more worthy.
☼ Life is good Playmakers
- Learn more about Playmakers by clicking HERE.
- To learn ways that you can help, and there are tons of ways, click HERE.
- To watch an incredible video about Life is Good® Playmakers, see below or click HERE.
Click the thumbnail to view more of Vernon‘s photos from the fest…
Catskill Chill Festival
September 7-9, 2012
Returning for its junior year at Camp Minglewood, fans once again flocked to Hancock, NY in search of an ideal dance spot along Sand Pond.
Once again greeted by the unusually awesome festival location — that comes complete with fully functional cabins — the festival’s vibe begins with all attendees either remembering or acknowledging that the event has the true propensity to be more like a vacation than a weekend filled with setbacks caused by having to sleep outside.
For this reason, the Catskill flock was undeterred as intermittent rains showered overhead, ever-focused on the sweet eclectic sounds created by band’s ranging from the sweet bluegrass of Yonder Mountain String Band to the acid-jazz infused electronica of Lotus, the funk of Lettuce, the deadhead appeasing JGB with Melvin Seals and more lyrically driven bands such as the Jennifer Hartswick Band, who recently released Ocean Floor to resounding approval. For anybody else, there was Rubblebucket, a band that is so elementally diverse that there is at least a few sounds that anybody can hold onto.
Yep, there seemed to be something for everybody, including a first look at the recently adjusted Cornmeal, who are now officially minus the handiwork of the Nowak brothers, Kris (guitar, vocals) and JP (drums), and plus Pete Kartsounes and Drew Littell. Unfortunately, the set was little more than an opportunity to gawk at the new kids on the block. Maybe more practice will make perfect. But hey, at least fiddler Allie Kral still wailed; not bad consolation, especially considering a weekend that made any forgettable music, well… easily forgettable.
- Hal Saunders
Some sets for your downloading pleasure:
And some streams…
Lotus- “It’s All Clear to Me Now”
The Heavy Pets- “The Day the Sun Forgot to Rise”
Yonder Mountain String Band- “Rag Doll”
Lotus- “It’s All Clear to Me Now”
Particle- “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”
Click the thumbnails to view more of Vernon‘s photos…
A Bear’s Picnic
August 16-20, 2012
When the last note of music had been played and the final camping gear filled car had cleared the entry gates of Lincoln Park, the 7th chapter of the A Bear’s Picnic story had come to an end. It did so after a weekend that held true to its roots as a celebration of all things Grateful Dead.
Even the name is Dead driven, as it is a reference to Grateful Dead sound engineer, producer of more than a million LSD doses and the man correctly credited for the Steal Your Face symbol design, Owsley “Bear” Stanley, who was also responsible for producing History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear’s Choice). For those who may not know the story, it was as a result of Owsley’s production of the album that the cover design — by Bob Thomas as a tip of the hat to Owsley — birthed the now iconic pop culture symbol, the dancing bears, which of course are seen scattered throughout A Bear’s Picnic. It is also a place where you will definitely hear Jerry Garcia and David Grisman playing “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” (Not for Kid’s Only) at least twice throughout the weekend.
Of course, the lineup is also representative. Past performers have included Moonalice W/Jack Cassidy, various Donna Jean Godchaux incarnations, Dark Star Orchestra, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice. This year would be no different and included a return of 7 Walkers, Mickey Hart‘s first trip (to the festival, that is), Railroad Earth and the only band to be present at all editions of the annual event, New Riders of the Purple Sage.
It was and always will be an event that is one where Deadheads of bold old and new can feel as comfortable as they do in their own home. For some, the annual trip actually represents homecoming, where old tour comrades and road cohorts reunite. In short, A Bear’s Picnic was and is a “family affair” and therefore, a place where you can always find good old Vernon.
- Ben Geralds
Click the thumbnails to view more of Vernon‘s photos from A Bear’s Picnic…
|Vernon Webb lives in Fair Lawn, NJ with his son and daughter, AJ & Logan. He is a single parent and owner of an Internet web page hosting and design company as well as a computer consultant. He is also an aspiring musician who plays guitar, sings and write music. In his spare time he loves to attend concerts and capture the moment from his own eye. His love of photography began in 1977 at the age of 13 where he joined the photograph club in Junior High School. His first concert photo was in 1984 at the San Francisco Civic Center of The Grateful Dead. Carrying a 110 film camera he took his first concert photos and that is where the passion began. Over the years he’s moved to film and later digital that he with a Minolta that he used to take to any show that would allow him to carry the camera in, such bands as The Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna & Blues Traveler. One day he asked a friend of his who had some connections and some expertise in this area of photography and was told that he could see his work in any concert magazine today. A few weeks later that friend passed and Vernon Webb was inspired to grab hold of the reigns with both hands and the rest is history, now shooting for several publications and at least 500 band shoots under his belt he has never looked back and continues to blaze a trail. His dream is to one day shoot for Rolling Stone Magazine.|
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