Over the past 22+ years, I've had the privilege of photographing some of the biggest names in rock - among them, some of my favorite bands. These days, however, it's a very rare occasion to find me in the pit doing a show as the photo side isn't really my thing at this point. While I don't have the high-end gear on-hand like I once did, occasionally something will pull me out of my self-imposed hiatus - armed with a DSLR and a few lenses to capture and share an experience through my own eyes. This weekend, that happened. Of all the places, ROB ZOMBIE set-up shop just down the road from my house - a significant occurrence for several reasons, and because of that, Mr. Zombie will be getting his own feature here on THE ROCK FATHER in just a few... but in the meantime, I wanted to share a collection of photos and a few words about the artists who played with him on July 19, 2014 at Austin's Fuel Arena on the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, Illinois - part of a massive event staged by FM Entertainment and 95 WIIL Rock. STONE SOUR, THEORY OF DEADMAN, DEVOUR THE DAY, THE LAST VEGAS, WILSON and CILVER.
In keeping with the illusion of the "Rock and Roll Lifestyle," I could tell you that last Thursday night, I drove into Chicago proper, where I spent the evening having drinks with a group of lovely women, admiring the city from atop its highest rooftop lounge, after which I got home late and woke up the next morning at the crack of 10 wearing the same clothes from the night before. At face value, that doesn't sound like a fitting scene for a married father of two (especially me), but it happened - all in the interest of the greater good - and that's my work. I don't usually talk about the business of digital publishing here on THE ROCK FATHER, and there's a couple of good reasons for it - most notably that my regular readers wouldn't be interested (too many bloggers blogging about blogging, and I don't really "blog" at this point), and I don't like to share my playbook with the world. But here I'm making an exception, because last Thursday was Mode Media's first-ever Chicago gathering, and Mode helps fuel THE ROCK FATHER. I'm a Mode Publisher.
WWE PAYBACK: An Adventure for My Girls, and a Lesson About Commitment to Family and Community... #WWEDadsWritten by James Zahn
November 7, 1985. I was just two weeks past my ninth birthday when my Dad and I hopped in the car and headed north to the Rosemont Horizon for THE WRESTLING CLASSIC, a WWF pay-per-view event for the newly-launched WRESTLEVISION service. It was there that I witnessed some of the true "legends of wrestling" live and in-person... and I can still vividly recall those larger-than-life figures like The Iron Sheik (who entered with a giant Iranian flag), Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Miss Elizabeth, Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Junkyard Dog and Nikolai Volkoff, all flying from the ropes and hitting the mat hard. This was at that time when Sports Entertainment was really becoming a huge deal, and it was something that families would enjoy together, kids would discuss at school, and "Hulkamania" would become widespread while Hogan and others began appearing in cartoons, in movies, recording albums, and selling a ton of action figures. Nearly 20 years later, history is repeating itself... but on a little different level.
Ah yes, "This Sign of the Horns." Whether you view it as a "nod to the goat," "metal fingers," "rock fingers," or even an "homage to the beast," one thing is certain - the horns go together with rock and roll - and metal - like peanut butter and chocolate. Many, like myself, have adopted the horns as a sign of approval, a friendly gesture to signal that "all is well," or even in the chosen phrase of Pharrell Williams, that you're simply "happy." But they need to be done right. A misplaced thumb can easily shift the horns into "I Love You" territory (sign language) or into the Spider-man web-shooter realm. One thing that everyone can agree on? That throwing up the horns just makes everything better... especially pictures! You see, I have a long-standing habit of tossing up the horns on virtual film, so when another "stay-at-home-dad" started getting coverage on sites like Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post for throwing up the horns in photos of his baby, I heartily approved. But then, being a guy known as "The Rock Father," everyone and their brother started hitting me with the link. "Have you seen..." Yes, I've seen it, and it's been shared and re-shared dozens of times around groups that I've joined, and websites that I frequent. There is nothing innovative about throwing up the horns, nothing unique... but it is special. It just makes the world a better place, and whether its a "Metal Dad," a "Rock Father," or anyone else for that matter, horns are a good thing. That said, I decided to go back, just into 2013, and pull photos mostly from my Instagram account, to show just how the horns can make any picture better.
Here's the deal: Crowdfunding projects (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc) being featured here on THE ROCK FATHER has been sort of an issue these past few years, so much so that I've had a few people try jamming them down my throat for potential coverage to the point where I decided that "crowdfunding is not news." In fact, I have said many times that "no matter what the project, at the end of the day, approaching me to post a 'news item' on a Kickstarter (or similar) effort is asking me to help someone that I don't know ask other people (my readers) for money." So I don't do it anymore... unless I get paid to do so. But tonight, I'm going to break my own rules (something I can do since I own this joint), and I'm going to post about a crowdfunding project, a "Pledgemusic" campaign, to be specific - one that I was never even pitched - just because I want to. NERF HERDER is on a mission to make a new record, and YOU should be a part of it.
During the course of my career, I've had the good fortune to have met, and in some cases, worked with some of my favorite artists and performers. I've been able to meet and witness live performances from my top four bands of all-time - FAITH NO MORE, HELMET, PRONG and CLUTCH. I did a music video for FEAR FACTORY... spent a Halloween with SLIPKNOT in Las Vegas... and have crossed paths with more filmmakers and actors than I can count. Over the past few years, something interesting started happening as I switched gears and became more deeply connected to family entertainment... and it all makes an important connection to my own childhood. I've started meeting monsters, particularly those known to populate a certain magical street... SESAME STREET.
The 2014 Rock Father Tour hits the road and takes to the sky again this week, as I head back to the West Coast on another adventure. One of the best parts of my job is a side-gig that I've had with PBS as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent). Having written about PBS programming for quite awhile before we made any kind of formal connection, it's been a real honor to work the the folks from PBS KIDS over the past two years, helping to spread the word about quality, educational programming. Last year was the first year that I'd been invited to attend the PBS Annual Meeting (then in Miami), and this year I've been invited back, as we "get the band back together" and hit the streets of San Francisco to get the rundown and game plan for the next year of PBS programming and events.
You might recall that this past November, I took the family to a new adventure here in the Chicago area, when the World Pet Association launched their first-ever AQUATIC EXPERIENCE: CHICAGO. I posted a full entry about the experience here on THE ROCK FATHER, and evidently it was a success, as it's back for it's second annual run, November 7-9, 2014 in Schaumburg. Also returning is the LIVE SHARK ENCOUNTER, which my kids loved. And the Betta we brought home from last year's show - the one that Addie named "Lula" after a character on DOC McSTUFFINS? She (technically a "he") is doing great and has a new tank!
May 10, 1994: On this date, WEEZER released their self-titled debut album, the one that soon became known as THE BLUE ALBUM. A monumental record that still holds up two decades later (they play it live in it's entirety on a frequent basis), no one would've expected the band to become as long-lasting and successful as they have, especially after the initial "failure" of PINKERTON, and the extended hiatus that followed. Last year, I wrote a feature here on THE ROCK FATHER that is very appropriate to be re-shared today: "Everybody Get Dangerous: WEEZER, Kids and Rock." If you haven't already, go give it a read, and crank up some tunes below...
I never thought that I'd find myself in this situation. Neither in the years before becoming a parent, nor in the 57 months or so since I've been one, did I envision myself as the father of a ball player. It just never crossed my mind, even back when I took my girls to their first Major League ball game last summer, or when I started playing "T-Ball" in the backyard with a little pink plastic set we bought for the girls. Despite knocking the ball around in the yard, I just never had that vision of standing there watching my little ones take orders instruction from a coach. But last night it happened, as Addie (who will be five this year) entered "T-Ball Prep" ahead of starting "Pee Wee Baseball" next month.
It could be said that last night, I officially introduced my daughter to the rock and roll lifestyle. We took a trip into the big city, stayed out late on a school night, and she got ice cream at 10pm. We were living dangerously, and it was all because last night was Addie's first real concert - her first big ROCK show. And what a night it was... at age 4½, my little girl got her first "special pass," met the band, and can now say that she's been on stage at one of Chicago's finest venues, The House of Blues. THE AQUABATS! kicked-off their 20th Anniversary Tour in fine fashion, and being there with my little girl made for one unforgettable night.
Two bands associated with the Seattle sound of the early 1990s. Two deaths... on the same day, eight years apart. One, completely unexpected. The other, expected much sooner. Yesterday, April 5, 2014, marked the 20th anniversary of the suicide of NIRVANA frontman KURT COBAIN, and the 12th anniversary of the overdose that killed ALICE IN CHAINS frontman LAYNE STALEY.