Sunday, 30 September 2012

Shooting a band: Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday: from left Michela (accordion, vocals), Bill (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Steve (drums) Graham (fiddle), Roy (Guitar). Photo by Anthony.

 My colleagues at work Bill and Steve have a new band. They are called Fat Tuesday, named after the direct translation of Mardi Gras. As you can imagine with a name like that, they play Cajun and zydeco with a bit of rock 'n' roll and folk too. You can hear samples on their music on their MySpace.

They are shortly to start recording a CD, and needed some pictures for the cover, and also for general publicity. So Bill asked me if I would be willing to do some photos for them. I thought it would be quite good to get Martin and Phil involved as well, so I alerted them to the shoot and they were delighted to come along. So this blog has the nature of a joint piece as it features pictures from us all.

They had arranged for us to meet in a local plant nursery, Preston Nurseries: an odd choice you might think, but the nursery has a lovely fern house, which their accordionist Michela thought might be suitably bayou-like. As it happened, it was an afternoon of intense periodic showers, and the fern house had a netting roof which dripped water constantly. Nevertheless, Martin got some nice pictures of band-members in there.

Michela in the Fern house. Picture by Martin.

For most of the shoot, however, we were outside in a little garden area with a running stream and some raised and boarded areas, which formed a nice backdrop. We got some quite good group  and individual shots out there.

Michela and Steve. Photo by Martin.
Graham and Steve. Photo by Martin.

Bill and Roy. Photo by Martin.
Steve. Photo by Martin.

Fat Tuesday. Photo by Anthony.

At that point the rain really came down. A huge black cloud appeared, and we all had to retreat to inside a wooden hut marked "The Pot Hut". I wasn't too fussed about the cameras, but guitars, fiddle and accordions are not weather-sealed.

It was in the hut that Steve was able to produce his special guests. One was a boa constrictor named Popcorn, and the other was a Chilean Rose tarantula. As well as being CEO of Venomtech, which provides specialist venoms for the pharmaceutical industry, Steve is an animal lover – especially invertebrates and snakes. One of the people who works for him had loaned Popcorn, her pet, and the tarantula was Steve's own.

Steve, with Popcorn. Photo by Anthony.
We had a session in almost total darkness in the shed trying to photograph Popcorn both being held by the band and also in Bill's guitar case with his Dead Man's hat.  Steve is amazingly composed with the animals – he clearly knows how to treat them extremely well and is completely relaxed with them.

The attitude of the rest of the band – and the photographers – was, shall we say, a wee bit more circumspect. Nevertheless, kudos to the band for being willing to handle the snake for a bit. I suppose it's a bayou reference, although I don't know how many boa constrictors there are in Louisiana.
Popcorn on the case. Photo by Anthony.
One unexpected bonus was that the light coming into the shed reflected off light stone slabs on the floor, providing it with a nice quality, even if the quantity was minimal.

Bill, Fat Tuesday singer/guitarist by Martin
Graham, Fat Tuesday fiddle player by Martin

Steve, Fat Tuesday drummer by Martin
Michela, Fat Tuesday singer/accordionist by Martin

By the time we had done with that, the owner of the nursery wanted to go home. So we made our exit, with many thanks to her for her kind patience with us, and across the way to the pub. A suitable place to end a Wonky shoot!

It just so happened that the pub had a nice wooden shelter with some old wooden chairs that made an excellent setting for another group shot. So while the light was rapidly disappearing, we had a go at some group shots (see opening picture), as well as some of their instruments.
Fat Tuesday's instruments. Picture by Anthony.

The spider also came out and we had a go at photographing it on a Stetson belonging to Roy, and on Bill's Epiphone hollow body guitar. The latter gave Bill serious conniptions with the thought that the spider might make a dash into the F-holes, and set up home inside the guitar.
Chilean Rose on an Epiphone Hollow Body. Picture by Martin.
Chilean Rose and Stetson. Picture by Anthony.

The light was so poor that I didn't get any worthwhile shots using available light, but Martin got some with the aid of flash.

We finished the evening at that point. Most importantly, we ended with a pint by the light of sunset: that's the Wonky way.
The correct way to finish a photoshoot. Bill with pint. Photo by Martin.

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