In Memoriam – Chuck Berry – The Indispensable Man

© John Gellman

Chuck Berry, who was perhaps the most influential guitarist in the history of music, and one of rock music’s great songwriters, died yesterday near St. Louis. He was 90 years old. If anyone was the father of rock ‘n’ roll, it was Chuck Berry. Rock ‘n’ roll might exist without him, but it certainly wouldn’t sound the same. I took this picture on May 1, 1971 in Chapel Hill, NC. He played at Jubilee, a day long music festival at the University of North Carolina.

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Buskers of the day – Nitsa & J.C. Rainwater

© John Gellman

Nitsa and J.C. Rainwater are back, and have been playing around town for the last few weeks. It was so cold outside today, they finally agreed to come to my Flatiron Studio for a portrait instead of busking in the freezing weather. They will soon be reassembling their band, The Cricket Creek Gypsies, when the other members arrive from their diaspora. In the mean time they made their own addition to the band, future spoon girl Mica, who is four months old. Mica coo-cooed quietly in the studio while we took pictures.

 

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Geneva at Izzy’s

© John Gellman

I stopped into Izzy’s Coffee Den for a cappuccino this afternoon and was struck by the beautiful redheaded girl sitting by the window, lit by intense sunlight that made her hair glow. Her name is Geneva.

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How drum circles start

© John Gellman

Seventy-two degrees in February is global warming I can live with. It was so warm, and it was Friday. It started with a single drummer around 4:30 in the afternoon at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. By 6:30 there were a hundred people carrying on and and at least a dozen drumming. Not a midsummer crowd, but still, impressive for the middle of February.

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Portrait of an outside agitator

© John Gellman

Everyone has been asking me if I have been taking pics of the anti-Trump protests that have become almost routine here in Asheville lately.   (I have not.) I pretty much got my fill of protests in the early seventies when I protested Nixon and the war in Vietnam. Though I’m certainly no Trump supporter, I can wait and lodge my official protest in 2018 and 2020, the next times I vote in national elections. Despite my lack of personal participation, a small group of orderly protesters were out again today as I walked around for a while. I was standing at one of the main intersections downtown and this nattily attired protester walked ahead of the group and stopped to ask me “What street is this?” No local person would ever ask me that question, so I knew he must be an outside agitator. But I thought he sure doesn’t look like a street fighting man to me, and I’m guessing he can’t always get what he wants. Well, it is Sunday. Maybe he got out of church, went to the Asheville outlets to spiff up his wardrobe, and then came downtown to go to the demonstration and get his fair share of abuse. (My apologies to Mick Jagger for paraphrasing his lyrics.)

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Will you be my Valentine?

© Renda Writer

That’s right. I’m unattached. I live alone. My social calendar is… well, open. This is as close to Internet dating as I will ever come. So, stop me on the street. I’ll take you to dinner. Or not. Have your way with me.

I saw this artwork painted on the back of an abandoned trailer in the Foundation graffiti area of Asheville between the railroad tracks and the river. The trailer was parked across the street from the new location of 12 Bones BBQ, but it and the other trailers have just been moved away. I have no idea what happened to them. Such are the perils of gentrification. I generally don’t photograph the artwork of others but this was so cool, I knew last August that it would make a great Valentine Day post, so I shot it. The artist is Renda Writer, who graciously gave me permission to use and alter his artwork, and who can be found on his website www.rendawriter.com.  He is the founder of the World Peace Mural Tour, and has done murals all over America and in Mexico.

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Charlie Starr giving me a look

© John Gellman

This is why I love sound checks. Certainly couldn’t ask Charlie to turn around and face me during a show. I shot this last week at Asheville Brewing Company before Blackberry Smoke’s afternoon acoustic set benefiting Shepherd’s Men veterans group.

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Smoke ‘n phones

© John Gellman

This was the view from the back of the stage after Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr asked the sold out Asheville crowd to light their phones. The band played a great set at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville Friday night.

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