Rock Photo-Maestro Barry Brecheisen Instructs at Blues & Brews
by Leslie Vreeland
Sep 13, 2012 | 708 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BLUES LEGEND BUDDY GUY at a previous Blues & Brews Festival, Telluride Town Park. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen)
BLUES LEGEND BUDDY GUY at a previous Blues & Brews Festival, Telluride Town Park. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen)

“Rock and roll photographer” has got to be high on anybody’s list of dream jobs, and this weekend offers a chance to finally be one. The Ah Haa School is offering a course it calls “Ah Haa’s Backstage Pass.” It’s a special opportunity to get into the “media pit” at the Blues & Brews Festival – where professional photographers go to capture their most memorable concert images. The course also buys you Barry’s Brecheisen’s brain. Brecheisen, Blues & Brews’ official photographer, who also photographed Lollapalooza, has shot the Rolling Stones, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie – in short, rock & roll royalty – and will instruct on how to photograph “a singer, a guitarist, a drummer, a solo artist.”  

The technique for each is different, but it all boils down to the Holy Writ for rock photographers: Three Songs, No Flash. According to Brecheisen, the  standard rules are these: photographers are allowed to stay in the pit for exactly three songs – the band KISS, which he recently photographed, permitted just two – and can’t use flash bulbs. It’s an incredibly brief amount of time to get everything right. If you’re photographing the Police, for instance (which Brecheisen has) “your ultimate goal is [a shot of] all three members of the band, not just Sting.” Not easy to do in a dynamic situation. When he shot Metallica, “They were playing on a stage in the round. I knew I didn’t just want a photo of [lead singer] James Hetfield, so I had to run all the way around,” snapping a camera the whole time, in order to catch the band’s two other members before time ran out. “In theory, a concert should start slowly and build. Photos should be during the encore,” he says. But that’s not how it works, so photographers do the best with the limited time, lighting (“sometimes it’s awful”) and other variables they have to work with. Along with photographer Nori Lupfer, who also specializes in shooting colorful, high-octane events – she’s photographed circuses in Brazil, Russia and Europe – Breichsen will share tips, explain what he does and how he does it, and critique photos taken this weekend, including his own. “The meat and potatoes will be composing the shot – what to look for,” he says. He’s been sifting through his own images to serve as examples. “Sometimes you nail it, sometimes you don’t,” he says of the capricious nature of his job, as much art and improvisation as F-stops. “Concert photography is just capturing a moment. You put yourself in a situation where you can kind of feel the mood.” The cost of the seminar includes a three-day pass to the Festival. The course starts today, Thurs., and runs through Sunday. To learn more, visit ahhaa.org/ahhaa-school/adult-workshops/.

Paint Your Wagon in Montrose

Growing up in Eastbourne, a small town on the south coast of Sussex, England, Jane Pierrepont never imagined she’d be a theatre director. But she did catch plenty of TV Westerns. “I was fascinated by cowboys and Indians,” she says. “To this day I have the TV series Rawhide on DVD, which I still watch.” When the movie Paint Your Wagon was released – which, like Rawhide, starred Clint Eastwood  – “of course I had to see it.” She never forgot it, and eventually, moved to the States and got involved in community theatre in Texas and Key West. “I decided then, ‘if ever I’m to do a musical, it will be Paint Your Wagon,’” she said. Now she’s got her chance: she’s the director of Paint Your Wagon in Montrose at the Magic Circle Theatre.

PYW is a musical comedy, written by Lerner and Loewe. At the time it debuted, on Broadway in 1951, the composer’s greatest work still lay ahead of them. A few years later, they would go on to write one of the greatest musicals ever composed, My Fair Lady, as well as the score for the movie Gigi. Paint’s pedigree shines through nevertheless, in memorable songs like Wandrin’ Star and, especially, They Call the Wind Maria. The lead role, of a young girl who grows up in a mining camp, is played by Lauren McCay. “There’s a kind of innocence about her. Her voice does not have that fully-mature, ‘Broadway’ sound, which is perfect,” Pierrepont says. “She’s exactly what she wanted.” The play’s storyline is more straightforward than it is in the movie musical. For example, the male lead (played by Montrose physician David Olson) “does not live with two women, and he’s not falling-down-drunk” the way he is in the movie, Pierpont says. “Children can come and see this. It’s a lot of fun, and very much a family show.” The show’s choreographer is Cathryn Frates, owner of A Time To Dance studio in Montrose. Frates was generous not only with her time (like the rest of the cast, she’s unpaid), but her pupils, Pierrepont reports. “We took four of her students to do some of the harder dance parts.” Paint Your Wagon runs weekends through the end of the month. For more information or to buy tickets, visit magiccircleplayers.com.

Also in Montrose this week, the Chipeta Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society presents “Beneath Blue Mesa,” a talk by historian Dave Primus about what got left behind when the Blue Mesa Dam went up. It turns out there was a lot. As the torrents cascaded over the spillway in celebration that day in 1965 when the dam was completed, fishing resorts, small towns, and a narrow gauge railroad all disappeared beneath the rising water. Primus has used historical records, photos and memories of local residents to piece together memories of an earlier time, before the dam deluged the floor and rock walls of the canyon. Today the Blue Mesa Dam is a recreationists’ paradise, known for its fine fly-fishing and boating. What the water giveth, it also taketh away. The talk is next Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Montrose United Methodist Church. This event is free, and begins at 7 p.m.

Finally, a reminder: this Saturday marks the Fortuna Tierra Club’s 8th annual Home Tour of several beautiful places on Log Hill Mesa outside Ridgway. The FTC was organized by women who live on the Mesa, to give aid and support to their neighbors. This year the event includes a juried art show and sale at the Divide Ranch and Club, where the tour begins, and where maps to the homes are available. Tickets are $15 in advance, and $18 at the door; there is no charge for admittance to the art show.

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