from the archives: holy ghost tent revival – the blood beneath

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

Back in 2008, I met a bunch of kids from Greensboro who called themselves Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and with whose music shep. and I immediately fell in love with. Over the next two and a half years, we saw HGTR play probably upwards of 50 times, all over the Southeast. We drove to Norfolk to see them play in an Italian restaurant, if that tells you anything.

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

And in the spring of 2009, they were nice enough to let me hang out while they were working on what wouldn’t become their second album. I never really shared those photos here, as it was at the very beginning of this blog. It seems like a good time to dig them out, though, because HGTR has released those sessions, never before public, on Bandcamp as The Blood Beneath. What a title; these songs are that, really, because they never became that album, but they were recorded and developed here. The first time I heard “Wish It Was Easy” — not in these sessions, and which to my knowledge never made a studio record — it was in the Trekky Records living room, Matt and Stephen, acoustic and a cappella.

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

It’s a record that marks a very, very particular time to me, and a band that was instrumental to my early photography.

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

holy ghost tent revival @ trekky records studio

You can buy all of HGTR’s records digitally at their Bandcamp

holy ghost tent revival through the years

holy ghost tent revival @ cat's cradle

I was supposed to shoot Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Dirty Bourbon River Show & the Woes at Kings last night, but as I was getting to Raleigh, my battery light came on and then as I was driving home, my car died on the side of I-40 so … I didn’t. Instead, behind the jump, I’ve dug out photos of Holy Ghost dating all the way back to the fall of 2008, when I started shooting them. Consider it archival footage, like Elliott Landy’s photos of the Band.

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holy ghost tent revival @ cat’s cradle

holy ghost tent revival @ greene street

holy ghost tent revival @ cat's cradle

For all intents and purposes, except for the pattern of the tie and the quality of the shot, those two images could be from the same night, though obviously they’re not. The top shot was taken with my Nikon Coolpix L3 on October 21, 2008, when Holy Ghost was the local open for Jersey band Steel Train at Greene Street in Greensboro. It was the first time I saw them, and I was instantly and completely smitten. I’ve seen them and shot them in three states, in a dozen different venues over the last two and a half years, on three different cameras and five different lenses. There are more than 600 shots of them in my Flickr photostream; a conservative estimate would be that I have, over two and a half years, taken more than 5000 photos of them in all.

They’d outgrown the 506 and they filled the Cradle last night, though I don’t think they sold it out. They sounded great. “My Heart Is Yours” still and always turns my own heart over because the first time I heard it, it was the chorus, a cappella, in the Trekky House living room, under Christmas lights, just Stephen and Matt, on the first go-round recording their still unreleased second full-length. Two and a half years ago, I knew I was looking at a band on the way up, and they were, and they have been, and they are. I am proud, and I am sad, and I am happy.

I shot well last night, almost entirely in black and white, mostly from the side of the stage; I will always love these boys almost best, but I have two and a half years of history that almost no one else has, and I am done. Going forward is for someone else; but if you want the stories from back then, I’m your girl.

Full set is here.

holy ghost tent revival @ local 506

holy ghost tent revival @ local 506

holy ghost tent revival @ local 506

my heart is yours, honey
what’s mine is yours, honey
but only for a little while

So almost exactly two years ago, on a Thursday night, when I was just getting to know Glenn, I leaned across the bar at the 506 between a Holy Ghost Tent Revival set and a New Familiars set, and I told him he should book HGTR as headliners. They’d fill the place. And he took my word for it, and he did, and they have — and my boys, my boys have outgrown the 506, after two years. They sold it out last night, and despite being down a bass player and a keyboard player and having to make an emergency call to Greensboro and an ex-keyboard player, they rocked the place down to its foundations. Glenn told me he convinced them to do one more show there, one last one, for the last two years, and it was fantastic. It was the perfect way for them to grow up out of this venue, because they have grown up — the steps they’ve taken, the musical growth they’ve made, since we started seeing them in 2008 is just astonishing, and lovely.

The harmonies and the arrangements, the on-the-fly ability to construct a set that didn’t really need as much bass as they usually do. It was a glorious, shivery evening, and I am so proud of them that it makes me want to cry. They have worked so hard, and they are so good at what they do, and they deserve every minute of posted sold out show signs outside the 506. (Full photo set here.)

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bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2010

bristol rhythm & roots

Cost effective and bitchin’, as one of my coworkers would say. Happy 10th birthday, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion! You don’t look a day over seven. You were a highlight of 2009, and you brought it again in 2010. Can’t wait for 2011.

“Was that your brother?” One of the best parts of the festival is the random conversations with bands, and being told that no, that wasn’t someone’s brother, that was one of the big-shots running the festival, was an unquestionable top-notch conversation. I have no defense for my occasional foot-in-mouth disease.

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