Luxury Pond at Raw Sugar

Luxury Pond at Raw Sugar Cafe in Ottawa

Back at Raw Sugar Cafe again… not only does the place make a great back drop for photos, they book the most interesting bands. Sunday night was Luxury Pond, a two piece band from Toronto.

I’m not really sure how to describe their music besides to say it was a kind of ambient-folk-trance sound. Quiet vocals, looped ethereal chanting, harp like guitar rhythms and all manner of bells and pedals; I think I saw a xylophone too… or something similar. Dan Goldman is the front man for the Luxury Pond project, backed by Daniela Gesundheit. But they also perform, roles reversed as Snowblink.

I can’t say it enough; it’s always a pleasure to shoot a band that goes the extra mile to put on a show, instead of just throw some music at you. The definitely had a stage presence… very hypnotic and calming… a kind of folk meditation. You don’t have to jump around to put on a show… you just have to convince the audience that you’re musicians and not just a bunch of guys with instruments here to show you their hobby. Musicians are easy to shoot, you just need decent light… it’s the garage band hobbyists that really make me work.

Dan and Daniela will be coming back to Ottawa at the end of July as Snowblink, definitely worth checking out. You can see the rest of the Luxury Pond set and other bands shot at Raw Sugar on my Flickr.

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Marie-Josée Houle

Marie-Josée Houle

I first started shooting Marie-Josée Houle at various venues about a year ago. She’s extremely photogenic and her music is definitely unique in the Ottawa music scene. Whether she performs solo or backed by a band, her music sounds like it’s straight out of a 1940’s french cafe in a Bogart film-noir, while still sounding fresh and modern.

It’s always nice to shoot something different than the standard band line up. And it’s especially nice to shoot a performer that dresses for the stage. Too many bands come on stage dressed like they just walked off the street. Ok… that doesn’t really hurt the music, but it doesn’t really make the band memorable. Performers like Marie-Josée make me look good; it’s really hard to get memorable photos of a band all dressed in miss-matched jeans and t-shirts.

Marie-Josée Houle is currently touring here and there all over Canada and will be heading overseas to tour Europe in the fall. You can see more of her in the Live Music section of my Flickr.

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Giant Hand at Raw Sugar

Giant Hand at Raw Sugar Cafe in Ottawa

I recently had the pleasure of shooting two amazing Canadian performers, Giant Hand and Leif Vollebekk at the Raw Sugar Cafe on Somerset. For the last few years I’ve found new music acts pretty much to be dull copies of one another, but the Ottawa indie scene is producing surprise after surprise.

I won’t go into much detail about the music; I’m there for the visuals, excellent audio is just a nice bonus. Suffice to say both Leif and Giant Hand are performers to listen to if you get the chance. They also turned out to be extremely photogenic.

Raw Sugar is quickly becoming my secret weapon… the green walls, warm lights and mismatched vintage furniture make the whole venue a stage. The only thing it’s missing is a nice soft spot light at center stage for the singers face. A little fill flash fixes the problem but I really hate using a flash during a show if I don’t have to. One great thing about Raw Sugar is nice white ceilings to bounce flash off of, although you have to be careful about bouncing off the walls as the greens and yellows will play havoc with your white balance. You can see more photos of Giant Hand and Leif on my Flickr.


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Apocalyptica at Capital Music Hall

Apocalyptica at Capital Music Hall

Every once in a while you luck in to an amazing opportunity… last fall I lucked in big. I was heading out for lunch at work when three big black tour buses pulled up to the curb. A roady jumped out and asked me if I knew where Capital Music Hall is… which is a common question as the thing is impossible to find as it’s only got a non-descript black door on where the address should be, it’s main entrance is on the back of the building on a completely different street.

I told him where it was, and asked who was playing there tonight out of curiosity. Turns out it was APOCALYPTICA!!!!! A favorite of mine for a long time, I had completely forgotten they where playing because it sold out months ago. The roady was so thankful he gave me a couple free passes to the show, they had been looking for the place for hours. I asked if it was cool if I brought my camera and he gave me a full access media pass!

The show was absolutely amazing. They put me in front of the crowd barrier where I was so close I had a hard time fitting them in the frame sometimes. I thought there would be a bunch of other photographers there, as they had a catwalk set out for them, but I was alone and had the run of the stage. You can see more from the show on my Flickr.

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