Buy this product here: Sloth Not Only Does My Mind Wander Sometimes It Walks Off Completely Shirt, hoodie, tank top
Home page: Beutee Store
Sloth Not Only Does My Mind Wander Sometimes It Walks Off Completely Shirt, hoodie, tank top
I was fortunate to be invited to shoot photos of Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville last Wednesday night. After enduring Bonnaroo in all of its frenetic bigness, a show in a venue like the Ryman was a welcome change.
The sincere beauty of Ben Harper’s voice, his delicately-inflected lyrics and heartfelt frankness were refreshing in a music industry which seems to make music using the “throw mud at the barn door and see what sticks” method. The new songs, the newly streamlined tour, and the richness of the Ryman auditorium worked together to create one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
I was actually there to photograph and interview Oliver Charles, Ben’s drummer. Adam Topol, Jack Johnson’s drummer, described Oliver to me as his favorite drummer on the planet. I met Oliver at Bonnaroo and we formed an instant bond. The self-described “gutter punk” from L.A. Makes high-level drumming seem easy.
I would almost rather not write anything at all than write something negative, and I had no plans to review the show. I was there to talk with Oliver. As fate would have it, the show had such a vivid impact on me that I felt forced to do a concert review.
To prepare myself for this show, I did some reading and one of the things I looked into is the history of the Ryman auditorium. The Ryman website has a detailed history of the venue going back to 1887. As I read name after name of people who have performed there in the past 120 years, I began to get a sense of the Ryman’s mystique. Ben Harper called the Ryman one of his favorite venues to play in, and now I understand why.
The Ryman stage has been host to icons such as Booker T. Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Orson Welles and Bob Hope. Reading through the list is like looking through a prism into the past and seeing a cross-section of American history.
The two-hour drive to Nashville only served to increase my anticipation. I saw Ben at Bonnaroo, photographed him from the stage, but that was different. Bonnaroo is the big show, where everything happens fast. The Ryman was something else indeed.