Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography: Blog https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog en-us Jack and Susan Goodwin (Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:25:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:25:00 GMT MerleFest 2012 - Sunday https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/5/merlefest-2012---sunday Susan and I arrived early to open the WDVX booth and plan our day.  Roy Book Binder at the Americana Stage, Scythian at the Watson Stage, followed by Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives and Alison Krauss and Union Station.  That should make a full day.

Washington, D.C., based Scythian has become a favorite at MerleFest for their kicked up Celtic adrenaline music.  They kept the audience on its feet from beginning to end - closing with a cover of "Those Were the Days."

Scythian performs on the Watson Stage.

After leaving the Watson Stage area for a break, we stopped by to see Turtle Old Man at his booth.  He makes exquisite jewelry from fossils and gemstones.  

Tuttle Old Man (Jim Rice) from Boone weaves silver wire through polished stone.

Next up on the Watson Stage - Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.

Marty Stuart

We wrapped up our musical weekend with the first half of Alison Krauss's set.

Alison Krauss

Susan and I returned to the WDVX booth to get ready to close and tear down once the crowd had left.  Anna, Josh, and Drew had already taken inventory and done what preliminary work could be done, so we sat and listened to the music coming from the Watson Stage.  By the time that the music ended with a final tribute to Merle, fans were headed for the exit, without a lot of interest in stopping to visit.

Oh, and after seven years, I'm still trying to catch up to Roy Book Binder.  Due to a schedule mixup, Susan and I had to stay in the booth while Roy was doing his final set for the weekend.  Maybe next year.

Thanks and deepest gratitude to Susan, Drew, Anna, Josh, and the other volunteers who helped staff the WDVX booth.  Thanks too to Jonathan Maness for the planning and preparation for MerleFest.  With luck, he'll be able to join us next year.



(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music Americana MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/5/merlefest-2012---sunday Wed, 02 May 2012 00:56:08 GMT
MerleFest 2012 - If it's Saturday, it's all music https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---if-its-saturday-it-s-all-music Today, Susan and I decided to try to hear as much music as we could.  Right now, we're listening to the Tedeschi Trucks Band perform on the Watson Stage.  But that wraps up the evening.  We started our day at the Creekside Stage for Jim Lauderdale and friends.  From there we headed to the far corner to the Hillside Stage for the Greencards.  Led by the husband and wife team Kym Warner and Carol Young from Australia, the Greencards are producing some of the finest Americana music around.  They filled the Hillside Stage area to capacity.

Kym Warner on mandolin. Carol Young on vocals and bass.


Wylie and the Wild West followed the Greencards on the Hillside Stage, so there was no reason to go anywhere else.  If for no other reason, you know Wylie's distinctive yodel - it's the "Ya-hoooo" in the yahoo.com commercials.  But his music is much more than that.  Check out this video on YouTube:  Yodeling Boogie.

The Hillside Stage is home to a five-year MerleFest tradition:  The Hillside Album Hour featuring the Waybacks and friends.  The first album hour wasn't even planned that way.  The Waybacks just went onstage with a bunch of friends and played the songs on "Led Zeppelin II."  It was such a hit that MerleFest asked them to do something similar the next year.  So it was "Sticky Fingers."  Since then, guessing the album has become an annual event.  Two years ago, the Waybacks were joined by everyone from Sarah Dugas to Jerrry Douglas to Jim Lauderdale to Elvis Costello in re-creating "Abbey Road."  And in 2011, Joan Osborne lent her vocals to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of "Eat a Peach."  (All but "Sticky Fingers" are available online at FestivaLink.

Once again, an overflow crowd gathered before the Hillside Stage, waiting to see who had guessed right.

And this is the reaction when the Waybacks opening gradually gave away the album:

For 2012, they had chosen Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?"  The Waybacks and friends (Sarah Dugas, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Jim Lauderdale, Kym Warner, Christian Dugas, and Jens Kruger took the audience from "Purple Haze" to "Stone Free."

Sarah Dugas sings "Purple Haze."

With James Nash providing the guitar licks.


Sam Bush and John Cowan stepped forward for "Hey Joe."


And what does it take to have Jim Lauderdale, Sarah Dugas, and Sam Bush as you backup singers?


The artists gave us a beautiful and touching rendition of "The Wind Cries Mary" in honor of recently lost friends from long-standing MerleFest stage staff to Earl Scruggs, Dick Clark, and Levon Helm.  And then, just to throw a curve and some humor at us, they performed "Third Stone from the Sun" as a mixed medley with Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" (sometimes known as "Everybody Must Get Stoned").

What a treat.

Saturday's not over.  Susan Tedeschi's singing "Why Don't We Do It In the Road" right now.  And there's more to come.


(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music Americana MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---if-its-saturday-it-s-all-music Sun, 29 Apr 2012 03:44:06 GMT
MerleFest 2012 at the Midpoint https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012-at-the-midpoint Los Lobos is onstage - the last performance on Friday.  So MerleFest is almost halfway over.  What happened on Friday?  Well, here are a few things that appeared in front of the camera.

I'm not even sure who or what this is.


Red shoes.  It can only be Casey Driessen.


Jonathan Scales of the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra playing "Pan Grass."


Wylie Gustafson of Wylie and the Wild West imitating Paul Zarzysky during "Rodeo to the Bone."


Patrick Simmons, John Cowan, and Darrell Scott.

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Original Lineup with Casey Driessen.

And tomorrow will be even better.

(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music Americana MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012-at-the-midpoint Sat, 28 Apr 2012 03:49:11 GMT
MerleFest 2012 - Random Sights on Thursday https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---random-sights-on-thursday Thursday's winding down.  Dailey and Vincent are onstage.  Here are a few things seen around the festival today.

Volunteers Dick and Anne Ince staff the WDVX booth.

Sand sculptors at work.

WDVX fan Doyle Carter from Morristown, Tennessee.

Jim Lauderdale joins Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins of Donna the Buffalo in the Watson Stage.

(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---random-sights-on-thursday Fri, 27 Apr 2012 01:06:31 GMT
MerleFest Check-in and Setup https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-checkin-and-setup Susan, Drew, and I arrived at MerleFest check-in this morning (Thursday, April 26) about 9:00.  Wow was it raining!  After picking up the WDVX passes, we were escorted to our booth in the Shoppes at MerleFest.  There it was, a 10x10 foot tent with a table and two chairs.  We had just a few hours to convert it to a miniature WDVX museum and merchandise shop.

While Dailey and Vincent did their sound check, we unloaded Drew's truck and tried to remember how things went together last year.  Piece by piece, things came out of boxes and found their place. Anna and Josh joined us, and we were done just in time.

9:45 am - Before


2:30 pm - After


The gates are open, and here come the music fans.

(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music Americana MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-checkin-and-setup Thu, 26 Apr 2012 19:04:01 GMT
MerleFest and WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-and-wdvx East Tennessee's Own WDVX is a listener-supported community radio station broadcast and webcast from the Knoxville Visitor Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Fifteen years ago, WDVX started broadcasting from a fourteen foot camper trailer in Clinton, Tennessee.  The station was established with a mission to preserve and promote the music of the Southern Appalachians.  WDVX plays Americana, bluegrass, classic country, bluegrass gospel, blues, and traditional music.  (Pretty much the things you find at MerleFest.)  Over the years, WDVX has received many recognitions including being named Bluegrass Station of the Year seven times by the International Bluegrass Music Association.  WDVX's Freddy Smith and Alex Leach have both been named Bluegrass DJ of the Year by IBMA.

Cherryholmes and WDVX DJ Freddy Smith in front of the WDVX Camper at Dollywood in 2006.


WDVX has as a key element of its mission the presentation of live music.  In 2004, WDVX moved its studios to downtown Knoxville and brought back the tradition of live radio performances on Knoxville's Gay Street.  Monday through Saturday from noon to 1:00 pm, WDVX hosts the Blue Plate Special, a free live concert open to the public.  Many of the performers at MerleFest 2011 have played the Blue Plate Special.  Every Monday night at 7:00 pm, WDVX hosts a ticketed live show, Tennessee Shines, from the Knoxville Visitor Center.  And if that's not enough, on the last Saturday of each month, the same stage features Kidstuff from 10:00 to 11:00 (also free) for all the little listeners.  All of those programs are broadcast and streamed live on WDVX.

From WDVX's beginning, its staff and fans have attended MerleFest.  In 2005, 2011, and again in 2012, WDVX has been a MerleFest sponsor.  Our booth at the Shoppes at MerleFest is a great way to visit with our existing listeners and to spread the word about WDVX.  Fans and artists alike stopped by last year.  Please say "Hello" during your trip to MerleFest.

Singer/guitarist Joe Smothers visits with WDVX volunteer Susan Lawson at the WDVX booth at MerleFest 2011.


(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music American roots music Americana Americana music MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-and-wdvx Mon, 23 Apr 2012 20:30:00 GMT
MerleFest and Photography https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-and-photography MerleFest is fun for an event photographer.  Unlike some music festivals, MerleFest is photographer-friendly.  There are restrictions, of course - no admittance to the backstage areas, no selling of your photos without express permission from both the artist and from MerleFest.  But those don't matter to the music fan taking photos to cement his or her memories.

Here are some general tips for photographing musical events:

  • You and a lot of other people are at a concert.  It's all about the music.  When taking photographs, make sure that you don't detract from people's enjoyment by making noise, standing in their way, or otherwise being intrusive.
  • Your photos should be flattering to the artist.  If you capture an unattractive moment, delete that photo.
  • Plan your photos before moving into position.  Check your camera settings and, if possible, take a test shot or two before moving into position.
  • Take you pictures quickly, then sit down or move away.  You don't need lots of photographs of every song.  A few photos of the first song or two should do.  After that, enjoy the music.
  • Microphones  have a tendency to show up in awkward places in photographs - sticking out of singer's ears, covering eyes.  Watch carefully when shooting.  I have found that I usually get the best results when I am photographing from the right side of the audience when facing the stage.  When singers reach the end of a line in a song, they tend to draw back from the microphone and look to their left a little (maybe toward their fret hand).  If you're on the right side of the audience, they'll be looking toward you.  That's the time to press the shutter button.
  • The more members there are in a band, the harder it is to get all of them in one photo without someone being obscured.  Before moving toward the front, try walking behind the audience from one side to the other to see if there is an angle that offers a clear view of all band members.  When you find the best angle, look to see if there is a closer spot with the same angle that you can reach without disturbing fans.  If so, move there and take the photo.  Just remember, sometimes you just can't get that complete picture.


With so many stages to choose from, there are always opportunities to photograph.  Each venue is different, with it's own photographic advantages and challenges.  The Watson Stage features the headliners in the evenings, and the evening stage lighting makes for great photos.  However, unless you have a pass for the reserved seating area, you can't get close to the Watson Stage after 5:00 pm.  The Cabin Stage is adjacent to the Watson Stage, but there's no convenient area for a photographer to shoot from.  The Watson Stage and the Hillside Stage both are fairly high above ground level, so photographing from up front is a challenge.  It's often better to be a bit further back and use a lens with a long focal length.

The Creekside Stage and the Americana Stage are easily approached.  One big challenge at Creekside is avoiding bright spots in the background from tour busses and equipment.  Often, the best photos at Creekside isolate individual performers against darker backgrounds.  The Americana Stage offers a different challenge.  Since it faces west, afternoon light can be rather harsh and contrasty.  The Plaza suffers from similar harsh light.

Jim Lauderdale and Friends (Town Mountain) on the Creekside Stage at MerleFest 2011.  Note the distracting background.

Little Pickers, Traditional, and Dance are all tents, so the difficulties of dealing with sunlight go away.  The Mayes Pit, the Austin Stage, and the Walker Center are all indoor venues.

The Pickin' Place is an area where anyone is welcome to bring their own instrument and join in the music.  There's good music there, and a chance to get up close.  Keep in mind that jamming musicians typically sit or stand in a circle.  You'll be photographing over someone's shoulder.

One final, but important thought, don't forget to photograph everything else.  It's easy to get carried away taking pictures of performers.  When you get home and go through them, you may realize that your MerleFest experience was much more than what you captured.  Keep your eyes and mind open to all of the visual opportunities around you - the crowd, the Shoppes at MerleFest, the scenery, the craftsmen.  Take lots of photographs of things other than the performers.  If you're using a digital camera, electrons are free.  Use them up.

(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music American roots music Americana Americana music MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-and-photography Sun, 22 Apr 2012 20:30:00 GMT
MerleFest 2012 - The Experience https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---the-experience What's MerleFest like?

Besides offering lots and lots of great music, MerleFest has the best family-friendly atmosphere you could imagine.  It starts with your arrival at the main gate on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC.  Fans arrive by shuttle bus, bicycle, or on foot, and are often met by a bluegrass band playing outside the gate.  (All parking is at remote lots, with Boy Scout troops and others providing frequent shuttle service for donations.)  After a quick screening to ensure that no contraband makes it into the festival grounds, you walk out into the campus.  To your right is the Dance Tent and in front of you are the Shoppes at MerleFest.  More performance venues spread in all directions with enough space between to keep the music from overlapping.

Pick up a copy of the MerleFest program and check out the map and the stage schedule (if you haven't already).  Pick a direction - maybe straight ahead.

Peruse the Shoppes at MerleFest as you continue to walk.  Stop and visit the WDVX booth.  Jim Lauderdale and Roy Book Binder did in 2011.

Jim Lauderdale, WDVX Program DirectorTony Lawson, and Roy Book Binder converse at the WDVX booth at MerleFest 2011.


As you get to the end, check out the sand sculpture.  Watch it evolve as the festival progresses.

To your right is the Americana Stage, a more intimate setting than the two largest venues - the Watson Stage and the Hillside Stage.  Wander over and sit in the grass.  The music will be outstanding, and the audience will be listening.  That's one or the wonderful things about MerleFest.  The audience would rather listen than talk.  They're listening to good music that sounds good.  The quality of the sound systems at MerleFest is among the best.

If you chose to go left, you would quickly reach the MerleFest Mall where you can purchase CDs from the artists playing at MerleFest.  There are autograph tables near the Mall and schedules of when your favorites will be available.

Beyond the Mall, the area opens into the grounds in front of the Watson Stage.  And beyond that is the food court.  After a quick bite to eat, look at your schedule again.  This is the time when you realize that you want to be at the Hillside Stage - as far away from the food court as possible.

My advice - head for Hillside if you need the exercise or stop at any venue for a performance you will enjoy.




(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music Americana MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---the-experience Sat, 21 Apr 2012 20:24:09 GMT
MerleFest 2012 - The Music https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---the-music I'm studying eleven pages of printout.  It's the stage schedule for MerleFest 2012.  Thursday only takes one page since the gates don't open until 2:30 and only five stages are active.  Friday and Saturday take up four pages each, and Sunday takes up two.


So, I've got highlighter in hand, and I'm starting to plan.  The first year that I went, I made sure to see as many of the artists that I liked as I could.  (You can't see them all, but you can try.)  After the festival, I realized that I had missed an opportunity to discover for myself people I was unfamiliar with.  I vowed that the next year, I would focus mainly on artists I knew nothing about.  Alas, that strategy didn't work either - there was just too much to do and too many to see.  Once again, I'm trying to be aware of where and when favorites can be found without losing track of other great options.  On Thursday, I certainly wouldn't want to miss Donna the Buffalo with Jim Lauderdale on the Watson Stage.  (That's the main stage.)  And later on the Cabin Stage (adjacent to the Watson Stage), Wylie Gustafson (of Wylie and the Wild West), Jim Lauderdale, and Claire Lynch have a songwriter showcase.  At least those two don't conflict.  After Thursday, the decisions get tougher.


Jim Lauderdale performs on the Creekside Stage at MerleFest 2011.



















I've been trying to catch up to Roy Book Binder for five years.  Last year, I was able to hear two songs from his Sunday morning set.  Is this the year for more?  I'm not going to miss The Greencards.  I won't miss them at home, so I won't miss them at MerleFest.  Greencards members Kym Warner and Carl Miner are also playing as a duo - and I hear great things about that configuration.

There's the Hillside Album Hour hosted by the Waybacks.  Each year they invite friends to join them in playing a classic album from start to finish.  It started in 2008 with "Led Zeppelin II" and continued with "Sticky Fingers," "Abbey Road," and "Eat a Peach."  This year's album hasn't been announced, but it should be fun.  (Recordings of the Hillside Album Hour from 2008, 2010, and 2011, and many other MerleFest performances can be purchased online through FestivaLink.)

And what about those artists that I haven't heard before.  I'm still trying to figure that out.

I'm running out of highlighter before I run out of MerleFest schedule.  More later.


(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American Roots Music Americana MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012---the-music Fri, 20 Apr 2012 21:29:15 GMT
MerleFest 2012 https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012 MerleFest - It's almost here.  The festival gates open Thursday, April 26, at 2:30 pm.  There's still time to make your plans to attend.

"MerleFest was founded in 1988 in Memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate 'traditional plus' music."  (MerleFest Mission Statement)



Merle Watson's father, the legendary Doc Watson, performs on the Traditional Stage at MerleFest 2011.

For 25 years, MerleFest has been the premier music festival celebrating Americana and American roots music.  For four days, the festival takes over the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC, with fourteen stages and nearly 100 artists.  (The complete 2012 lineup is on the MerleFest website here.)

As a music fan, I love the opportunity to hear such a wide variety of performers - from the very famous to those I've never heard of before.

As an event photographer, I love wandering the Wilkes Community College campus capturing the experience.

And as a volunteer with listener-supported community radio station WDVX, I look forward to helping staff the radio station's booth, making new friends and visiting with old ones.

I'll have more to say about MerleFest over the next few days and new notes and photos from the festival as it progresses.













(Jack and Susan Goodwin Photography) American roots music Americana music MerleFest Photography by Jack Goodwin WDVX https://rjgphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/4/merlefest-2012 Fri, 20 Apr 2012 00:26:46 GMT