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Even Boston and Chicago had 50,000 watt stations that featured a healthy diet of country music. I didn’t know all of this when I started photographing the obscure long-forgotten beer joints and music parks, and the never-remembered people who patronized them. I didn’t want the music, and the people who made it, to disappear. And sometimes for low-paying magazines and clients.
And much of the country dialed in the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. I just thought I was fulfilling my final history assignment from my ex-teacher, the legendary E. And while that seems a tad pretentious, what can I say? In a way, it mirrored the approach of many of the musicians. Fred worked in a shoe store as a salesman much of his life.
One thing led to another, as so often happens in photography, and was born.
In 2001, I wandered into the Shim-Sham Club in New Orleans, and caught the first annual Tease-O-Rama event.The people I met and the tales they told could fill a book. That's where folk-tales, myths, and even the bible come in. It was this work, and other work like it, that sold me on becoming a photographer.In fact, they did—my first book of photos called (1987). If you read or see anything you like here, feel free to borrow it. Until then, I had been studying history, with the goal of a Ph D and an academic career.With this in mind, I have photographed country musicians in Nashville, my family and friends in Massachusetts, horse racing at Saratoga, nightlife in Buenos Aires, old highways everywhere, everyone in Cajun Louisiana, South American baseball, camel breeding in Dubai, tri-racial families in Maryland, and much, much more.For subjects, I prefer older cultures and places, especially disappearing ones.
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I didn’t know there’s be a plethora of scholars, formal and informal, to do what I set out to do—much better and more thoroughly, it turns out. I’m not humble bragging when I say others did it better. Few of them had investors and marketing teams to direct their careers. He told stories about work, friends, cars, and sports. His favorite story was the one about selling a lady two left shoes.