How does one get known in the music industry?  Remember the way it used to be – traveling around from radio station to radio station, city to city, state to state doing interviews; plugging your songs and upcoming shows; leaving a 45 rpm record (today a CD) behind with the disc jockey so they would have the latest songs; and performing live on these 45—60 minute shows.


Guess what – Young artists such as the Spirit Family Reunion, Sahara Smith, and Existing artists Art Wheeler, Josh Rogan, and the Frank Vignola Trio still do this today.  Some of the brightest and talented are still making the journey from station to station in-between shows; getting their names and music out in the public.  There is also another reason— they love interacting with their fans and bringing new music to the audience.

For the past four months I have been collaborating with Aer Stephen, disc jockey at the University of Virginia’s non-commercial educational radio station WTJU91.1FM to document their visits.

Aer’s show – Folk & Beyond and the Zydecajun Conspiracy, brings “A Gumbo of Americana (Bluegrass, Blues, Dawg, Old Time, Singer/Songwriters, Swing), Folk Rock, Jazz Folk, International and more... with interviews, live music updates and often special guests in the studio.”  If the music or artist can’t seem to find a home elsewhere, Aer welcomes them to his home.  Folk and Beyond can be heard on Thursday’s from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on 91.1FM out of Charlottesville, VA.

When Aer asked if I was interested in working with him during his live show and photograph the guests he brought in — my interest was piqued – what a wonderful chance to actually interact with musicians in a less than hectic environment, and to shoot some potentially close-up photographs.  Close-up?  How about always within 5’ to 8’ of the artist in available light, sharing the space with a videographer running three cameras!  Sometimes the best shot was taken while lying on the floor under the sound table – each shoot is great fun!

So this summer began this great relationship – visiting with Aer when he brought guests on his show; photographing them in this intimate setting talking about hopes and dreams; past, present, and future; their music, their group, and their friends. 

Most were passing through on their way to their next show, some were breaking out into a solo act, some had just started out, and one was a jam session created at the last minute.  In fact, Spirit Family Reunion was on their way to New England and would be playing across the state of Maine, as far North as my home town; and that is at the Northern tip of Maine in Aroostook County.  I need to remind myself when I see them next, to ask if they knew beforehand how long a trip they had in store for themselves that weekend.

Exciting to be there for each one – you bet it is!

Until next time – thx.