June 16, 2010

The stories behind the music portraiture of Todd Roeth

avett brothers todd roeth

This weekend a photo exhibit opened up in Southern California showcasing the music portraiture of Todd Roeth, a wonderfully talented Denver artist (and friend) who I’ve worked with on many occasions for interviews appearing both on Fuel/Friends and on Gigbot. The Setlist: Music Portraiture by Todd Roeth exhibit is running through August 5th at the Brooks Institute of Photography.

I’ve always been fascinated by the way an insightful photographer can capture ephemeral moments in a concrete way. Todd’s exhibit pairs audio clips + music alongside his massive-scale portraits, so you can hear the artists’ recollections of the photo shoots, or Todd discussing artistic direction used for that shoot, or just thoughts of folks like me who were involved with them. For this exhibit intro, I said:

I think that music photography is a wonderful challenge for someone that really loves music. To me, music a lot of the time is interesting because of the person behind it — what they’re trying to say, who they’re trying to reveal of themselves, or who they want to be. Good music photography elucidates a certain aspect of a person, or challenges the viewer in a certain way by pressing against maybe what they think is true of that person, versus what the lens can actually capture, and Todd has a very intuitive sense of knowing what will work…

LISTEN: What I remember of the Langhorne Slim interview and photo shoot @ The Boulderado Hotel

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langhorne slim todd roeth

Even without going to the exhibit, you can see and hear the rest of the features virtually — from portraits of folks like The Avett Brothers, Jesse from These United States, Joe Pug (from this interview), Patience from The Grates, Handsome Furs (from this interview), Thao Nguyen (from this interview), Catherine from Horse Feathers, Gregory Alan Isakov, Blitzen Trapper, The Knew, and Nathaniel Rateliff.

I was at many of these shoots, and I love hearing the slightly-twangy reminiscences of a good, earnest friend who normally doesn’t talk much about all these things going on in his head during the actual shoot. Now I can see some of the methods behind his wonderful madness.

As for me, I’m off to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival early tomorrow morning. In addition to seeing folks like Dave Rawlings Machine, Alison Krauss, Ben Sollee, Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, and Court Yard Hounds over this summer solstice weekend, I will be interviewing Josh Ritter over beers around this time tomorrow. I am beyond excited to speak to an artist who I think is one of the best songwriters of this generation. Wish me luck; I might come back from the Festivarian campsite as a hippie. We’ll see.

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  • Funny you put this up… I just got in touch with Todd last week about getting a print of one of the Langhorne Slim shots. I first saw his stuff when I was looking at one of your old Joe Pug posts…

    Jeffro — June 16, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  • Thanks much for this – some friends wants me to photograph their band during a weekend retreat/recording session, and I’ve been looking all over for tips, and then this pops into my Google Reader.

    Maine Character — June 16, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  • i love the photo/music combo! have so much fun in telluride–stay warm at night! wish i was there hearing all that amazing music.

    heather b — June 17, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  • Hope you’re having an amazing time at Telluride. I’m SO envious. Can’t wait to hear about your conversation with Josh and about Ben Sollee, Mumford & Sons, and of course Josh and the band.

    Allie — June 18, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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