I made a few stops along the way on my journey before I landed in law school. I feel like a cat with 9 lives, only I was not losing lives along the way. Instead, I was gaining life experience. Every detour set me up for the next. This blog is my space to talk about the journey, check in with those I have met along the way, and find out where the next off-road might take me.
One of my favorite side steps along the way that remains a true passion today are all things music & entertainment. But, as with most things in my life, I am not content to sit on the sidelines as a silent observer. Immersion is a goal.
Feeling uncertain of what to do with my business degree after I graduated from USC in 1995, and restless in my efforts at retail management and big construction, I decided to try teaching on a whim. You can see a pattern of significant sway in my courses. These paths could not be more divergent! Discontent quickly set in again. I required a time-consuming and creative side hustle to keep me fulfilled.
I went to see 311 one night with a girlfriend. I took some photos of S.A. Martinez near a fake plastic Christmas tree. They were totally unposed and unprompted. Suddenly, I was headed straight for the pages of Rolling Stone (in my head). The concept for a music “zine” as they were called back then started to form. I think I was blogging before blogging was a thing. I borrowed a nice camera from one of my fellow teachers in the art department at the high school where I was teaching, and I was off to shoot my first live show – Cigar Store Indians performing at Elbow Room in Columbia, South Carolina.
One of my photos of Cigar Store Indians from that night was published in Creative Loafing. Not exactly Rolling Stone, but definitely enough to feed the desire to keep going. It was the beginning of an exhausting cycle that consisted of waking up at dark thirty to teach at one of the largest high schools in South Carolina during the day, making an approximately 1 ½ hour drive to Columbia to shoot a show for the evening, driving home late night and repeating as often as I could find a new artist of interest.
The shows got bigger and my passion grew. My first “big” show was Widespread Panic in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had my own camera equipment by then, but I had no idea what I was doing. I was not a trained photographer unless you consider my semester in the dark room working on my high school yearbook. My equipment paled in comparison to the professional photographers in the media pit around me. One of them kindly offered to loan me a lens at that first show. I added to my collection over time. I shot on film, and hoped I got good images.
At first the zine included photos and a review of the show written by me or one of my girlfriends posted on our site. That segued to actual interviews. Soon, publicists were contacting me to ask for us to attend and cover their emerging artists. I will never forget getting calls offering for us to attend a Jimmy Eat World show in Charlotte before they hit. It was awesome to feel like our hobby actually gave us a voice that people wanted to hear.
Single shows grew to festivals which afforded the opportunity to shoot more and varied artists. I traveled the Southeast with my girlfriends in our free time volunteering at music and film festivals. My time off from teaching fueled the fire.
I also started managing a band out of Charleston, South Carolina called Shaman Mary that I met at one of their performances at New Brookland Tavern in Columbia, South Carolina. I use the term “managing” loosely. Also new to booking and management, I was learning my way and they thankfully trusted me to practice on them. Shaman Mary eventually disbanded and moved on to other projects. Eric Bass, the guitarist for Shaman Mary, is now the bassist, producer, et al for mega successful Shinedown. Eric was and is a hard-working visionary and I love to see the successes of people I have had the opportunity to meet and work with along the way.
Through all of the work in the industry I began to understand that it was a challenging male-dominated profession. I had to be thoughtful about interactions with artists all the way down to planning location and who would be present for interviews. I wanted to be taken seriously and I knew I had to be thoughtful about it.
I kept pushing and one opportunity led to another. Borne of our volunteer work at a film and music festival in Athens, Georgia was the discovery of a joint promotion by Levi’s and the anti-violence organization PAX. They requested video submissions for the role of Levi’s Fuseheads to join the Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray and Fastball on their 1999 Fuse Tour. We submitted a video not expecting to ever hear back, but by an amazing stroke of luck were picked!
We were flown to Los Angeles for media training at Levi’s headquarters for a few days, and sometime thereafter joined the Northern leg of the tour. We were presented with our very own Levi’s themed tour bus, complete with denim covered couches and two turntables and a microphone, upon arrival. We were interviewed by radio and television in each city, raised money for PAX, and hosted local contest winners to meet the bands at each venue. It was such a fun experience that I will never forget.
After returning from the tour, I started working full-time for EastCoast Entertainment while studying for law school. I was convinced I would move to NYC to be an entertainment lawyer, but another detour along the way led me to family law. I continued shooting shows sporadically throughout law school, and remember leaving a study session the night before my Torts exam to photograph the Deftones more than two hours away, much to the dismay of my small group who continued studying after I left. (Don’t worry, I still got a good grade!) I was also a weekend radio show host at WUSC 90.5 FM during law school. It was a great platform to continue to learn about emerging artists and bring their music to the 5 or so listeners who tuned into our show, Pirate Nerd Radio, regularly.
As law school concluded and my real career as a divorce (not entertainment) lawyer began, my available time to devote to my passion dwindled. Randomly, I met my husband on a vacation in the Bahamas and learned that he was there working as a lighting designer with Counting Crows for a private show. We had an instant connection and were engaged in Cape Town South Africa about a year later when I went out to visit him on tour. Our lives are different. I appreciate the creativity he is able to express in his work, and it is a nice counterbalance to the structure I have. We now have a 10-year old that we try to give the best of all worlds so she can find her balance and passion along the way too.
I still spend more time than any human should searching for new music on Spotify. It feeds my soul and helps me keep cranking out the law all day long. I also use more than I will admit of my discretionary budget on concert tickets (except for the shows my husband is able to provide gratis).
As we roll into the end of 2019, I am reminded that my tour with Goo Goo Dolls was 20 years ago this year! Sometimes we take the best detours just remembering our past so that we can consider where we want to go. I intend for this blog to be a creative outlet where I relive some memories with some old friends, and explore new connections and ideas. I hope you enjoy retracing this journey with me and discovering where new paths might lead…