Paul McCartney – July, 2011 in New York and Montreal

I was standing in center field at Yankee Stadium when I shook hands with Paul McCartney for the first time.

“Great work, man,” Paul said. “Thanks for coming out to do this. Your black & white photography is fantastic!”

For years whenever someone asked me who I'd most like to photograph my answer was always Paul McCartney. And if you know me you know that I've been a Yankee fan since birth, so meeting this legend in center field was like a religious experience.

One of the publicists who helped me get interviews and media credentials in the early days was Steve Martin at Nasty Little Man. His roster includes some of my favourite artists like Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Nirvana, and the list goes on.

Years later when Steve became Paul McCartney's North American publicist, I sent him an email to congratulate him and also said somewhat jokingly how great it would be if he could show McCartney my work someday. Mostly so that I could tell my Mom that a Beatle looked at my portfolio.

Then one day I got an email from Steve saying “Paul wants you to come to New York on Friday”.

Around that time Paul and Dave Grohl had become pals and I wondered if that had anything to do with all this. I asked Paul about it a few years later and will tell you his answer in a future post (see 2017).

From the moment I arrived at the Stadium, Paul and his entire crew made me feel at home. Including his full-time photographer of many years, and one of the nicest people I've ever met, MJ Kim.

In the photo where Paul is looking at the camera he was trying to read the tattoo on my right forearm. Here’s part of an email I sent my Grandma Roslyn about it:

He likes the tattoo on my arm that reads 'Where Stillness And Movement Are Together As One'.  I told him you wrote that to describe my concert photography. Then we talked about how you're a poet in Brooklyn. He smiled and said you sound like a very cool woman! Who knew one of The Beatles would be talking about you one day?

1,2: Sound check with the iconic Yankee Stadium in the background. 3: Me on stage before the show (photo by MJ Kim). 4,5: New York show. 6-10: Montreal shows later that week.

Paul McCartney – July 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York

I asked Paul’s head of security if I could get behind an amp for a few seconds to get a shot of Paul walking onto the stage to a sold-out Yankee Stadium crowd.

There wasn't room for that but he pointed out a gap between two amps in the middle of the stage, but I'd have to run out there in a hurry because the show was about to start!

Once I got there I realized I was totally exposed and had no idea how I'd get back out unnoticed.

Paul walked onto the stage and greeted the crowd with a wave. They went nuts. I got the shot of my dreams but knew that I couldn't just stand up and walk away in the middle of the song, so I sat there and took it all in.

Paul McCartney, right there. Yankee Stadium. Whoa. I pretended really hard that I was invisible so I wouldn't be nervous.

Between songs, I made my exit. I sat on top of a speaker just off the stage and was completely overcome with emotion. I might even have shed a few tears (I totally did). Memories of my Dad and baseball and The Beatles. There was a lot going on in my heart.

Later in the set I sat on the steps leading up to Paul's piano while he was centre stage singing and playing bass. Great spot to get photos of the band with the crowd.

At the end of a song, a spotlight lit up the piano... and me. It was Mix Master Mike all over again!

Paul is walking towards me and I'm expecting him to give me a disappointed look. Instead he gives me a big smile, pats me on the back and says “Are you having a good time, or what?”

After my final show with them in Montreal the crew had some food and drinks in the hotel lounge. I was having a great chat with Brian the guitar player when I noticed Paul walk in. I made a mental note to find him on my way out so I could thank him for everything.

Minutes later Paul squeezed in between Brian and me at this little table and asked me how my week went. He asked if I had fun and got all the shots I wanted. He told me all kinds of fascinating stories and ended up sitting with me for about half an hour. He genuinely goes out of his way to make sure those around him are happy.

The funny thing is the whole time Paul was sitting next to me telling me these incredible stories I really had to go to bathroom. But I knew that if I got up Paul would be gone when I got back.

A million thanks to Paul and his crew for taking such good care of me, and to MJ Kim for showing me the ropes, and thank you Steve Martin!

Nirvana & Jon Stewart – September 24, 2011 in New York

To celebrate 20 years of Nevermind, Jon Stewart interviewed Dave, Krist and Butch Vig who produced the iconic album.

Every weeknight at midnight from 1993-1995 I stayed up to watch The Jon Stewart Show. Not to be confused with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

It was late night comedy TV at its finest and each episode ended with a musical performance. Not only did he have big names on the show but he also broke a lot of up and coming bands. In fact it's how I discovered a lot of the bands that I would go on to work with later. It was the greatest. Check it out online if you can. Truly a gem of a show.

I'd always wanted to photograph Jon and this was such a fun opportunity. So many legends in one room.

Everyone was in a rush to leave as soon as the show was over, but I managed to get one photo of them together on the way out. I added the names and everything to make it look like a classic band press shot. Or as Jon Stewart called it “3 guys in a band and their accountant” (referring to himself).

Foo Fighters – February 7&8, 2011 in Los Angeles

In February, 2011 Foo Fighters played a series of small club shows in Los Angeles to preview their album Wasting Light. Not only were the shows a full two months before the album's release, but they played the whole thing live front to back... and then played an entire second set! (29 songs each night)

Both shows were awesome, but the one at Spaceland was wild because it's the smallest room I ever saw Foo Fighter play, with a capacity of about 250. The stage there is so small that I really had nowhere to hide. You can see from the shot of Taylor and Dave how tucked away I had to be. Definitely one of the coolest experiences I ever had with these guys.

1: Exhausted in the Roxy dressing room after the 29-song show. 2: The White Limo parked in front of The Roxy. 3: Dave writing the setlist in the Spaceland dressing room. 4,5: Spaceland show.

Foo Fighters – August 9&10, 2011 in Montreal and Toronto

Now that Foo Fighters were back to playing arenas, it felt like the dressing rooms were bigger than the venues they played just a few months earlier.

Visually speaking, Wasting Light was one of my favourite tours. Twelve pods moved in all directions, shining lights and displaying video content. The visuals were created by longtime FF Lighting Designer, Dan Hadley who also incorporated a video screen into the stage floor to give something extra to fans seated in the upper levels.

Like their previous arena tour in 2008 there was a catwalk leading to a small stage in the middle of the arena, but this time that stage rose up into the air. You can see in wide shot showing the whole arena that Dave truly appears larger than life.

There was no backdrop because they sold tickets in the upper levels behind the stage, so I wandered back there to see if there were any interesting angles. From the floor I couldn’t see the band because their gear was in the way, so I started to walk back to the front. Just then, that section of the crowd erupted. I looked up and there was Dave standing on top of an 8 foot speaker stack, a good 12-15 feet above the arena floor. He played to the crowd behind the stage just long enough for me to take a couple of pictures (the first two below) and then he was gone. Two of my all-time favourite shots.

Pat Smear

I hadn't seen Foo Fighters in a few months so when I walked into the dressing room and saw Pat I thought, “Wow Pat grew a thick-ass moustache”

“Hey Dustin.”
“Hey Pat. That's a hell of a moustache.” With a straight face he said thanks, and I took this photo.
“Where is everybody?” I asked.
“They're in there filming a shower scene."

That's when I realized his stache was too good to be true. It all made sense once they released the Hot Buns video. Look it up.

2011 - Almost Famous Since 1992

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