Monday, May 2, 2016

David P Stevens: All the Way Live

As a kid my favorite jazz artist was Wes Montgomery.  From my earliest relationship with jazz it has been through the guitar.  I tell you this so that you can understand why I am so excited about seeing David P. Stevens perform.  I heard David P prior to seeing him live and I wasn’t ready for his live performance.  He was totally awesome. 

When I go to see an artist I don’t just want to hear the music I want to see them perform. I want to be entertained as I listen to their music live.  I have found artist who sound great when I am home listening to them and then I see them live and they are horrible.  In the case of David P. Stevens he adds an entire new level to his music.  He and his music come to life when you see him perform.  He is an artist who understands how to entertain you while not taking away from the quality of his music and or musicianship.

First you will hear a great musician.  He is awesome on the guitar.  His finger work will amaze you.  His sound is incredibly clean as he  plays with passion and energy.  When I hear him and see him you can feel the music.  He touches you when he plays.  You literally feel the music.  You sit there in amazement of what you are hearing and seeing; you want to get up and dance but you are spell bound by his technique and the quality of the music.  All I can say is, if David P Stevens is in town you want to go see him.

To see more of my images from the show go to the following:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Photography is Jazz for the Eyes

I am well into a new body of work and the journey is amazing. My new work is rooted in my love for jazz and photography.  The work brings together these two loves of mine in ways that is life giving for me and I hope also for those who engage the work.
The past weekend I shoot at The Velvet Note here in Atlanta (Alpharetta) and once again it was amazing.  I am the Artist in Residence at the Velvet Note and Tamara Fuller, the owner has been more than gracious to me.  This week she had Curtis Lundy perform and ignited a new fire in me to hear this great music.  Curtis Lundy was the bassist and music director for Betty Carter and he is still as hot as ever.  

Curtis Lundy was joined by Joe Doubleday on vibraphone, Howard Nicholson on saxophone, Terreon Gully on drums and Louis Heriveaux on piano.  The music moved William Claxton, the great jazz photographer would say, “I listen with my eyes.”  As I watched for light trying to find good shots it was as if I to were playing with the band in my own way.  While not up on stage, I like all the other members of the audience felt as if they were playing just for me.  
One of the many wonderful things about The Velvet Note is its intimacy and exquisite sound.  It is literally the acoustic living room.  It is music the way it was meant to be heard and you are up close and personal with artirst.  My work is to show the music in my images.  Once again retiring to one my idols, William Claxton, “Photography is jazz for the eye.” He then goes on to say, “All I ask you to do is listen with your eyes.” I invite you to follow me on this new journey as this body of work evolves.  

I See Jazz…will you look with me?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Renewed You in 2016: The Challenge of Change

Marcus Miller @Ralph Basui Watkins
To be new or to renew ourselves we have to take on new challenges.  When we put ourselves in situations that challenge us they change us if we don’t fight the process.  The process:
  1. Identify the challenge
  2. Accept the challenge
  3. Fully commit yourself over the long haul to follow through and complete the assignment
  4. Approach the task with an ethic of hard work, discipline and excellence

My new challenge is to develop my craft and work as a photographer / visual storyteller.  To this end I am starting a new challenge this year.  The new challenge is to tell the story of jazz in Atlanta.  I am embarking on this challenge because of my love for jazz and how I see this music. It isn’t music that I simply listen to but rather it is music that moves me.  It moves me as I experience this music with all of my senses.

My goal in this project is to share with the world the texture, layers and beauty of live music.  The images will be those of spiritual music.  Images from churches, clubs and concert halls.  Jazz, gospel and blues because I believe they are from one strand.  I am also exploring jazz and improvisation as a metaphor for life and ministry.  This project stands to change how I see and experience the music that I love.  To have to go out late at night and shoot pictures and capture video is a real challenge for me.  I like to get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to start my day.  To do what I sense I have been called to do will require a complete reordering of my life and schedule. 

I invite you to walk along with me on this journey.  I would also encourage you to take time out as we come to the end of this year and ponder what new challenges you will take on in 2016.  If you want to be new you have to things that renew you.  What are you going to do to renew you?
Marcus Miller @Ralph Basui Watkins

Marcus Miller @Ralph Basui Watkins

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Faith in Sweet Auburn: The Next Chapter

Two years ago I began a journey down Auburn Avenue.  The street was at the brink of construction for the new Atlanta Streetcar. I committed myself back then to follow this story and to begin to build a relationship with the street and it’s people. I have worked at building this relationship by walking this street, day after day, talking to people, taking pictures and telling stories.  I have done this by trying to tell this evolving story while talking about my relationship to what is happening along Auburn Avenue.  I have never hid my hand.  I have always been up front.  My concern was African American history.  Through my blog, Flickr photo albums, Twitter, Vimeo and Youtube channels and Instagram I’ve tried to share this story.  The work has revolved around one key question: How will we remember as the street and the city moves forward?  Will the next chapter in the life of Sweet Auburn remember the former chapters?

This street was the bedrock of the African American community back in the day. King and Maynard Jackson were touched by this street. Martin L. King Jr. was raised on this street and now he rest on this street.  Maynard Jackson’s grandfather once ran this street as he modeled for Maynard how to run this city.  As millions come to Atlanta and journey down to the King Center and Ebenezer do they know they are walking a pass The Southern Christian Leadership, the Mason’s Lodge where John Wesley Dobbs once led, do they notice the bust of John Wesley Dobbs looking onto the street he named?  Do they know they are passing WERD Radio, The Atlanta Daily World, The Rucker Building, the financial kingdom that Alonzo Herndon built and do they stop at the Apex Museum?  Will the new streetcar take them pass history and ultimately lead to historical amnesia?  This work doesn’t answer these questions but it sure hopes to raise them and invite you in on the discussion.

As I approach my thesis exhibition I am eternally thankful to the faculty at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) who helped me see my way through this work.  They worked with me to make sure I led with the visual while not ignoring my love for writing.  They were the perfect faculty for me and I am thankful.  To my colleagues at who pushed me during critiques of the work as it developed, I learned so much from each of you.  To Mr. Dan Moore Sr. and the Apex Museum staff you have been so kind and supportive from day one and I am thankful.  I am honored to have my work on display at the Apex Museum.  My work comes out of the mission and vision of the Apex.  This had to be the first place I had a show and I am humbled to have my work hang on the walls of the Apex. Finally to my family who have supported me through this work.  Your encouragement and patience coupled with your love is what has sustained me during long hours of work.  Especially to my wife, Dr. Vanessa Watkins, without you this would’ve been impossible.  

The show is up and ready for you.  I invite you to come by and see the work:
Opening Reception: Friday, October 16, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. Drop in when you can and come by and take fifteen minutes to see the work and say hello.
Faith in Sweet Auburn: The Next Chapter
The Apex Museum 
135 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 532-2739

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Women of Distinction: "I Remember Her in So Many Wonderful Ways": A Tribute to Mrs. Evelyn Gibson Lowery

On Monday, September 28, 2015 I was there to witness the dedication of a mural honoring Mrs. Evelyn Gibson Lowery.  It was truly a moving tribute.  Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery loved his wife and you could see it in his eyes.  His children and family that surrounded him were evidence of  who Mrs. Lowery was.  She was a first class lady who was a leader and giant of her time.  She not only led in the struggle but she also led at home.  Dr. Lowery said of his wife that according to her, her greatest accomplishment was raising her three daughters.  Raise them she did.  They are all outstanding women who reflect their parents and especially the grace and class of their mother.

As I witnessed the dedication of the mural I wondered if those who walked, rode and drove along Auburn Avenue will take time to remember?  Will they stop and read what is on the mural and Google Mrs. Lowery?  Will they take time to remember her?  I sure hope so because she is worthy of being remembered.   While we remember we should not that she yet lives through the continued work of the Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute.  She also lives in each of us as we continue to struggle for freedom justice and equality.  

What I saw was a beautiful moment that I hope we don’t let slip by.  What do I mean?  As I saw the Lowery family remember I asked myself who in my family do I need to make sure we remember?  What murals should be in our family photo albums that make sure that we don’t forget our ancestors?  The women and men whose blood runs through our veins, those who who  fought for us to enjoy the life we live today?  Whose name do you need to call?  When you call the name of an ancestor they yet live!  Who are you going to resurrect today?