I waited anxiously Friday for the postal delivery. Finally around 5pm they arrived looking for my signature for my package. A Nikon 300mm f/2.8 prime lens, just in time for Saturdays gig at the Central Florida Songwriters music fest in Deland, FL. The lens was huge, 6.5lbs and came with it's own satchel. This lens needs it's own tripod, or in my case a mono pod. I had convinced my wife that I needed help as there were 170 artists and 27 stages throughout the city. Could I con her into being my pack horse for this newest prize?
We arrived on the scene a little after 1pm, we packed the gear around and after surveying the land, the 300mm was not needed. Access was good enough for my 70-200mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and my new favorite, the portrait 85mm f/1.14. Fast glass being a must. Cameras set at 200 iso and lower, we were set.
I hear a sound from a small stag off the side of one of the larger stages. I looked over and the player was playing the guitar behind his head, very Jimi like. I hung out and the two songs I heard from Grindstone Sinners were quite good. 70's style Rock n Roll heavy on the guitar licks. We shot a few shots of the 3 piece and headed deeper to flash my new credentials and get a program to get the lay of the land. They were also scheduled to perform on the main stage at 8:00pm.
4 O'clock was the reason for coming as my artist Melissa Crispo was a finalist for Songwriter of The Year. Her band was on the main stage, or stage 1 at 4:00. Toni and I made our way to stage one. An alternative jonrah band, Take Lead, was on stage half way into their set. Clicked a few pics, the headed to the food car near by.
Next on the main stage was "The Wait" curious as it's the name of one of my favorite songs from "The Band". They were quite good and entertaining. I later read they have been around since the 80's with different members. I had lost track of my wife and helper during their set. Suddenly she appears and demand that I follow to a cove where stage two is situated. I couldn't believe my eyes, a band with a 5 year old drummer. He also played harmonica and sang as he strutted around the audience. Truly remarkable as he was as good as he was adorable. A big hat, shirtless with a leather vest, jeans, and cowboy boots. His father played guitar in this three piece and the two of them had a shtik between songs, very entertaining as the 5 year old finished a song about finding a girl with money. "Yep, I need to find me a girl with money" he said.
I googled this band, Jesse Daniel Band to get some background. Jesse is the son, and one time we was in a coma for 22 months. His daddy Daniel never left his side. He use to bring his guitar and play for him while he was unconscious. To this day they are inseparable. They travel to gigs with the drum kit strapped to a Harley. In the sidecar is a stuffed pony. Quite a sight, and seems appropriate since Jesse is only 5.
Finally 4:00 rolls around and Melissa puts on her polished show, one I've seen many times, kind of a warm up for the bands 7 day cruise performing nightly with Melissa Etheridge, Sarah McLachlan, and many others in March.
On the way to the car we stopped in Café Da Vinci where 3 stages were located. We were treated to the energy of Billy Buchanan. He really put on a great energetic performance. We were on a roll and decided to put off leaving and heated out to another stage off the strip. Looking for a gem in the rough if you will. Well, we were treated to rough and no gem. It was time to leave and not add any bad performances to ruin a great day.
When we got back to the house we were informed Melissa Crispo had won Songwriter of the year! What a great day! Now hours of editing in Lightroom. Please check out my galleries of this weekend above.
The 300mm f/2.8 really has no purpose for concert photography. A very expensive lesson to learn, but what a great lens. Friday night gridiron for the paper, here I come.