If a song mentions “West Virginia,” it will most likely catch my ear. So I’ve put together this list of six songs that aren’t about West Virginia (i.e. “Green Rolling Hills,” “Bottom of the Mountain” and definitely not “Country Roads” because John Denver was full of shit, man), but do mention the state by name.
The first show / concert I ever saw was friends’ band in a backyard in Bridgeport, West Virginia some time around 1994. It was the start of many years of being very involved in live music in many ways. I’ve been to a lot of shows over the past couple decades, but only a few of them were documented. I’ve managed, though, to find at least five shows I attended and enjoyed that I’ve found video of on YouTube. Photograph of Fugazi (Pittsburgh, 2001) by me.
Hot Water Music, Indecision, AFI, Sick of It All (Louisville, Kentucky; 2000)
!!! (Wayne, Michigan; 2002)
Fugazi (Huntington, West Virginia; 2002)
Eddy Current Suppression Ring (Austin, Texas; 2010)
Taken nearly seven years ago to the day, this image is of the hardcore band Holden Caulfield playing at the YWCA in Huntington, West Virginia. The show was the band’s guitar player’s last performance, so it was a bit of a celebration. (Below is a video, in which I can be spotted taking photos.) Looking through the contact sheet, I see there was silly string, confetti, a blond wig, and a lot of goofy facial expressions. It was a fun show to shoot.
When American Minor began playing shows around Huntington in 2002, it was perfect timing for me. I was listening to a lot of Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown at the time, and American Minor fit right in with a similar alt-country sound. So I loved the band immediately. Eventually they changed up their style to be more southern rock, were signed to a major label, put out a quality LP, and toured the country enjoying some short-lived (but deserved) national success. More than 10 years later, though, I still listen to their first demo. Here are some image I shot at a show at The Stoned Monkey in Huntington, and below is that demo. Have a listen.
Inspired by the likes of Jim Marshall and Glen E. Friedman, I began photographing my friends’ bands around 1995 when I was 14. For nearly 15 years I took photos at shows on a regular basis until I became pretty cynical about the over-saturation of cameras at shows. Shooting punk or hardcore shows was always the most fun, though. My aim was to be close and intimate with the band performing and the crowd. That is why I most enjoyed small, stage-less shows like this one of Steel Nation playing at The Brickhouse in St. Albans, West Virginia.
Today is the birthday of West Virginia, which was admitted to the Union as its own state on June 20, 1863 after seceding from Virginia. It is the state in which I was born and raised, and for that I am proud. While I have taken many photographs in and of the state, today I’d rather share the work of Builder Levy. He is one of my favorite photographers to have documented Appalachia and its people — and they are some of the most honest, objective and beautiful images of the subject. I recommend checking out his book Appalachia USA, in which these few images can be found. Also, have a listen to my uncle Jerry Andrick’s song “West Virginia” at the bottom of the post.
On this blog, I will continue to use Mondays to post images related to music. As many of the musicians I have photographed are friends from West Virginia, I also have their music to share. Here’s a shot of my friends’ band Down Goes Frazier, who were based in Huntington in the mid-00s. If you’re a fan of the likes of Hot Water Music, Against Me or Planes Mistaken for Stars, have a listen (or download for free) their first two EPs below. Nowadays, members of DGF who aren’t a college professor are playing in the bands Rat Ship and Station(s).
On Wednesday I referenced the Instagram hashtag theme of “Woman Crush Wednesday.” So today I go with the “Throwback Thursday” theme. I’m embarrassed to admit that I did a terrible job archiving my image files before 2006. Most were saved as small JPEGs on discs. This photograph — along with the image I posted last week — is one of the very few that remain from my stint in Charleston in 2004. The photo was from an assignment I did on the city’s Night Out Against Violence, which took place in a downtown housing project. When I saw this boy watching from the other side of a fence, I found it unfortunately ironic that he was holding a plastic gun and also blowing a party horn. That summer I had reported on half a dozen murders in the city, so that moment has always stuck with me.
Monday was Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day), so I thought I’d share this image I took of the Cooper family decorating their mother’s grave near Bradshaw, West Virginia, in southern McDowell County. I spent months documenting the Coopers and another family in War, West Virginia, in 2007 as part of my graduate thesis project.
This photograph is from a session I did with hip-hop duo Rabble Rousers (aka B-Rude and Meuwl) in October 2008. Samuel “Meuwl” Harshbarger (right) was one of my favorite people to photograph. He was smart, funny, charismatic, immensely talented and it was easy to make good images with him. I worked with Sam a number of times between 2006 and his untimely death in 2009. This is hardly one of my favorite images of either of these gentleman, but I share it because I eventually used it as the cover image of the Rabble Rouser’s 2009 record “Tastes Like Crazy,” which you can stream or download for free below. For more images from this shoot, check out the music portraits section, where there will be even more Meuwl and B-Rude photos to come.