Rizla Racing Day @ TT Circuit in Assen 1/2

On August 8 the eleventh edition of the Rizla Racing Day was held, a day with demos and races and all that free of charge. I missed the morning program (motorraces) but arrived at the moment that Jasper Iwema was racing a few laps on his motorcycle. No race, just a few laps waving to the audience (a lot of people attended, from what I gathered about 50.000). Anyhow… no real interesting shots of Jasper then. Once Jasper had left the track, Robert Doornbos drove a Mercedes SLK on the circuit and drove some lucky prize-winners round the track, pushing the Mercedes to it’s limits and drifting though the corners. After that Yelmer Buurman drove his AC Milan Superleague Formula car on the track and entertained the crowd with a roaring engine, seriously fast laps and a few burnouts and donuts on the start.finish grid. the photos of this set are of tho separate demonstration-runs that were held between races

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After the demonstrations it was time to get racing and the cars of the ATS Formel 3 Cup came onto the track, but not before the Rizla ladies were paraded up and down the starting-grid holding the starting positions of the various drivers. Once the cars were on the track and found their place, for a while it was extremely busy on the starting grid. Once the mechanics had left the race could finally begin. The whole race lasted thirty minutes and one extra lap. During the race I relocated from the GT-corner to a corner a little further down the track to get a few different shots

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Good times, bad times

I just noticed it’s been over a month since my last update on the website. In photography I have to admit nothing much has happened the last month. Concerts in my region have been at a standstill and I’ve invested my time in another hobby of mine: cycling. Bought a new racing bicycle and have been on that as much as possible for about 4 weeks now and it was bliss. So once the concerts start going again, at the very least I’ll be in good shape.

In about two weeks the Noorderzon festival in Groningen will start. A festival that combines theatre, dance, music, literature and film and is held from the 19th of august till the 29th. Unfortunately I’ll not be able to attend all evenings (there’s a daytime job that needs some attention too), but I’m currently looking into a schedule that will allow me to see the more interesting concerts. All in all it promises to be a great program and a fantastic start to the new season.

Yesterday also my Canon EF100-400mm lens  was returned to me and now works just fine again. I might take it out for a spin this weekend at the Rizla Racing Day event at the TT Circuit, weather providing.

So far for the good times. Unfortunately one cannot go without some bad times too and I was gutted yesterday when my 15mm fisheye lens fell -with a loud CLUNK- on the street. Glass seems to be OK, but the electronics are no longer responding and manual focus doesn’t run smooth. So I’ll have to send that in for repair in the hope it will return quickly as I use the lens for concerts, panoramas and what not (however -seeing as my EF100-400 was gone for a month- I’m afraid this will take some time too).

Anyway, the season’s about to start again and I’ll be adding new blogposts soon :)

80th TT in Assen

With all the music events last week you’d almost forget that the TT Festival was originally set up to entertain the locals and the thousands of visitors that came to Assen to see the motor races. It was no different last week with people from all over the world visiting our provincial capitol.

The Assen races are different from all other races in that these races are held on Saturday instead of Sunday. That also means that training session start on Thursday and there is more training and the qualifying sessions on Friday. I had already decided not to go to the actual races as it’s pretty darn hard to get a good location for photos and you’re likely to get shouted at at used as target practice for junk-throwing if you do stand up to get decent pics.

Friday the 25th was the best opportunity for me and so I wandered about all day, eventually making my way all around the track getting shots from all locations. A few places that I already knew would deliver me some decent shots and a few new locations that gave me great views to the various corners in the track.

Most of the day was fabulous. The sound of the engines is great, the weather was superb and I enjoy being round the track. However from the very first shot I took, my 3 month old 100-400mm Canon lens decided that it didn’t feel like taking pictures, so I had to battle my lens all day long (tried the 70-200, but that just didn’t take me close enough). Eventually I found a way to at least get the lens to work most of the time so I got some great images anyway.

I’ve divided the images by racing class, the training sessions and qualifying sessions are mixed. First of all there were the 125cc bikes. I really love this class, it’s the rookies class, a well filled field with riders that will fight for every place in the grid. This makes for very aggressive and entertaining racing

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Next up was the Moto2 class, a class that has replaced the 250cc and this new class mostly consists of Honda 600cc bikes. The field is very well filled with a lot of riders so this class also makes for interesting races

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And then finally the MotoGP bikes were let loose on the track. The sound of these bikes is incredible and they’re so very fast. However with Valentino Rossi out due to an injury, the class lacked a bit of fun, also for the Valentino tribune. Another problem with this class is the small amount of riders in it. As awesome as these bikes look and sound, they need a fuller field to make the races a bit more exciting. Still…. what a sound when these com roaring past

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Snoop Dogg in da Oosterpoort

We have the The Hague counsel to thank for last nights gig. Snoop Dogg was to headline the Parkpop festival, but the counsel feared riots at this gig and so forbid it. Having some time on his hands, Snoop Dogg did not go to Amsterdam, nor to Rotterdam. Snoop Dogg came to the city where everyone is dope, where the venues are the shit. He came to where no one would object to his concert fo’ shizzle and where all the sexy ladies love to shimmy their badonkadonks: Snoop Dogg came to GRONINGEN! (OK, I’ll stop writing slang from here on ;))

Once the gig was announced some days ago, it sold out in no time and I was very happy to have gotten permission to shoot and even more to find a photographers pit, though is was set up very small. The venue was full. From top to bottom, the whole standing area and all seats and balcony were full.

The band came on stage and a few bodyguards. I counted six big dudes in suits doing nothing more than stare at the audience looking glum. As there’s security of the Oosterpoort on duty, these were probably meant as stageprops. Large heave stageprops.

The DJ on stage got the crowd going and under a roar of applause Snoop Dogg, with his trademark blinged up microphone entered the stage with the crowd going wild. During the next three songs I worked like crazy getting images. The battery of my 5DmkII decided it wanted no part of this and was completely empty. All had to be done with the 1DmkIII, switching lenses to suit the shots I wanted.

After three songs I headed to the balcony to see a few more songs and the audience response. When Snoop wanted the venue to scream, they screamed, if they had to wave an arm, they did.  That was a great sight by the way.

It’s not my kind of music at all, but it was fantastic to see a gig like this an to see the audience respond so massively to the band

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Wende in Hedon

On Saturday June 26 I drove to Zwolle to visit Hedon for the first time since quite some time. Wende had a show here with band and I really wanted to see her again. I saw her in Groningen in November last year, but to see her in a club-gig seemed a very interesting concept.

Driving to Zwolle on the day that the Dutch TT was held is an interesting experience. Long traffic jams, motorcyclists passing you by on every possible side and the amount of spectators that sit besides the roads are incredible. All the way from Assen to Zwolle in the most unexpected places there’s people cheering the motorcyclists on.

The Hedon doors opened at 20:00 and around 21:00 the venue was well filled when Wende Snijders and band came onto the stage. The gig was incredible. Switching from small singer/songwriter to cabaret, electro-beats, piano ballads and Wende capturing the audience attention with her incredibly intense, passionate performance. Her voice is just sublime and with her sensually walking on stage, Wende wrapped the audience around her hand with ease.

Most of the songs played were from her latest English album, but they also played a French chanson that was totally reworked to suit her current style. The gig was awesome, absolutely blew me away. The gig in Groningen last year was good, but here in Hedon -in a club-venue- it all fitted together

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Cuby & The Blizzards and Mooi Wark at TT Festival

On Thursday June 24 the second night of the TT Festival started and as the Dutch were playing the last match in the first round of the world cup, a large screen was set up for the crowd to see the match and as the Dutch won, the crowd were happy. A good start of the evening and in preparation to the first gig the DJ had the crowd jumping, singing and doing the polonaise, with beer flying through the air and an ever more cheery bunch of festival goers.

But they were here for music (well, a lot were probably mostly there for the beer, but must were there for music) and Thursday was the Night for the ‘Assenaren’ (inhabitants of Assen), but we didn’t mind if you weren’t from Assen. As long as you had a good time. Th first act of the evening was out national Blues legend “Cuby & The Blizzards”, the band that practically introduced blues to the Netherlands.

The band has been inactive for a few years but have been on the road for a long time again now and still produce new songs and albums and they have a loyal support. Musically they’re also still very good. Not as raw and rock-like as the new generation of bluesbands, but they manage very well.

Playing a set consisting of lots of old time favorites and some new work, they played a great set and these days they expanded the band with a horn-section, where I recognized one of the New Cool Collective members. A great gig and I was glad to see these men still hold their own

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Although at first I told myself that I’d go home after Cuby & The Blizzards, standing where I stood, I thought I might just as well wait for the next act: Mooi Wark. A band singing in Dutch dialect. The songs are a bit camp and are based on utter nonsence, but I must admit that if you filter out the lyrics and the idiotic nonsense in between the songs, the music itself is tightly played and at times even reminds me of Status Quo. Beer was flying around a lot and the crowd was getting jollier by the minute so once I had my photos I got the heck out of there. It was fun, but not really my kinda music

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Caro Emerald and Waylon at the TT Festival

Wednesday evening June 23 the ‘TT Festival’ began in Assen. Three evenings of fun, fair and music to entertain the masses that are attending the TT Races on Saturday and the training and qualifying sessions before that. Wednesday was dubbed Soul Night and they had three national soul acts on the main stage. The first was local singer Roan whom I did not see. The next two artists were more up my alley.

The second act of the evening was Caro Emerald with band. They play a mix of ballroom jazz, mambo and a bit of jump’n’jive. Swinging, joyful summer music. Caro’s name is rising quickly in the scene with the album ‘Deleted scenes from the cutting room floor’ doing very well. Internationally her star is also rising when her version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ was discovered in America.

The was a large crowd on the ‘Koopmansplein’ where the main stage was set and the mood was very good. The band played a great and cheery set (any band including a piece of Ennio Morricone filmscore in their live act is a good band in my books), all the hits and singles were played and of course as an encore ‘Bad Romance‘ just had to be played and was received incredibly well by the audience. Fantastic gig.

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After Caro’s encore the stage had to be rebuilt for the next act and the audience was entertained by a DJ set playing some goldies oldies that underwent a dancebeat update and some popular singalongs. But a quarter to twelve it was time for the next act: Waylon, a Dutch soul-singer who participated in ‘Holland’s Got Talent’ (finished in second place) and eventually got signed to Motown. He has a great band with him and though the music isn’t really up my alley, I must say I was impressed. He has a great voice and won the audience over easily.

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Billy Talent in De Oosterpoort

Last night Billy Talent played at De Oosterpoort in Groningen. I very nearly missed this one as the approval e-mail was received minutes after I had left for cycling training. Thinking I’d not get to see this gig, I went for a 70km trip and got home at 20:00. Only then I found out that I did get to go there after all and had about 30 minutes to shower, get the gear together and get over there. I’ve never been so happy with opening acts as I was last night.

Upon arriving at the venue the band Ravens, a local act, was playing the last bit of their set. I haven’t heard enough to really have an opinion about this gig, but the audience seemed to like it

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Once the Ravens had left the stage, I tried to get a little closer to the front of the stage. Shots from the side are fine, but in the middle of the action is better. Didn’t get all the way to the front, but I found a slot anyway and it was only going to be for about a song and a half.

About half past nine the lights went out and the band came onto the stage, under loud roars and applause from the audience (aged around 20, man I felt old). Being a punk-rock band, the band dived in full power and that rubbed off on the audience that jumped, pogoed, sang and screamed to every band’s request. The pit was formed in no time. Light was fantastic and I would have loved to see the whole show, but with a gruesomely busy week ahead I thought the better of it. Loved the energetic show though

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Take Root 2010

It still a few months till the festival is held, but after reading a few Twitterposts of the Take Root festival I couldn’t help but post a blog about this upcoming festival.

More and more names are starting to be added to the line-up and after having been disappointed with the line-up of the past few festivals in this part of the Netherlands this year, the Take Root line-up is starting to look like the best line-up I’ve seen like… forever! The artists that have been named so far are just amazing and I really can’t wait for this years addition. The list isn’t final yet, but here are -in no particular order- a few names that have been made public:

– Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan (wow… that’s just so awesome)
– Phosphorescent (very curious to hear this, should be fantastic)
– Wilco (main act with long show)
– Iron & Wine (wanted to see this for so long, love this band)
– Black Mountain (psychedelic heavy rock, odd name in the list, but I love them)
– Damien Jurado (only seem him once, curious to see him again)
– Frank Fairfield (ought to be a great act)
– Carrie Rodriguez (loved her CD with Chip Taylor, can’t wait to see her on her own)

More names are to be added, but this on it’s own is already an awesome list and I do believe this to be one of the best line-ups of Take Root ever. September’s gonna be a great month :)

Guus Janssen, Oene van Geel & Ernst Reijseger in Vera

On June 16 the fourth and final De Derde Helft (The Third Half) was held, a concept introducing modern classical music to a younger audience. Held in the Vera venue, the music has a way more open and less formal character. Also, by choosing modern classical music you learn that there is much more then ‘merely’ Bach and Mozart.

On this last evening of this series Guus Janssen (piano), Oene van Geel (violin) and Ernst Reijseger (cello) led the audience though some interesting, complex compositions with a highly experimental character and every so often some jazz or blues rhythms found their way through the compositions. At first I had to reset my mind expecting more structured music, but once I was in the right frame of mind I enjoyed myself a lot.

The first two sets were played by the trio and in the third set three students were added to the group and the sextet played another four compositions that went down very well too. The concert went very well, an attentive audience, a familiar atmosphere with room for a little fun here and there and lots of great music

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The Black Box Revelation in Vera

Arno Hintjens had given the evening a good start of Belgian bands in Groningen, but there were more to be seen. Vera had The Black Box Revelation on the agenda  and opening for them were The Van Jets, also from Belgium.

I managed to get to the Vera venue in time to catch a good part of the set of The Van Jets. A lot of light and tons of it from the rear of the stage. The sound rough and wild mixed with a bit of glamrock and lots of happy little girls at the front of the stage. A fun set

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But as soon as the stage was rebuilt the main act came on and rocked the venue. The Black Box Revelation is a duo. Two young guns in a setup much like The Black Keys, but wilder. Rouch blues, some punkrock and a good load of garage rock. Wild drums, screaming guitar and endless amounts of furious enthusiasm. It was absolutely fantastic

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Arno Hintjens in De Oosterpoort

On June 12 Belgian Arno Hintjens and his band played in the small hall in the Oosterpoort venue in Groningen.

Arno plays a mix of rock, blues, new wave and French chansons and flirts with Arabian music. His voice is a raw, lived through one and he looks impressive on stage.  His band is as varied as are his songs and the sound is great.

However, seeing as I have two other Belgian bands to shoot that evening, I’m forced to leave after 6 songs. A shame, it sounds great

Scenery 2010 in Grand Theatre 2/2

After the dramatic departure of Assacre, the floor of the venue was now prepared for Lucky Dragons. The audience quickly seated themselves around the strange devices that were to be used as instruments and quickly found out that they were also to take part in the music as it was being made. Luke Fishbeck of Lucky Dragons kept an ambient sound going to which the audience could play the odd instruments (light beams from a beamer reflected from the back of CD’s, odd sticks hooked up to wires and wires that, held in hands would produce sounds). Very interesting and entertaining

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Finally the act on the main stage was revealed. Well, revealed… hidden in layers of smoke Santa Cruz, a droning black metal band rocked. Hoovering above them was a huge skull made from TL lights that flickered on and of helping to create a very impressive image. Greatly rocking set. The acts were jumping from one extreme to another, but that worked wonderfully well

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This is the point where I unfortunately made a rather big mistake in timing. After the Santa Cruz gig, Eklin was up and I assumed this to be in the same hall as all gigs were held here. A mini venue was being built in the center of the hall and I expected Eklin to play here and so patiently waited until it seemd to take rather a long time. It was only then that I realized that Elkin was already playing in another part of the venue, so I rushed there. The set was already nearly done and due to  the complete lack of lights I saw no other option than to attach my flash to the camera and take a few shots. Only took two as not to disturb the gig and the audience any more then necessary. As for the gig I’m afraid I saw to little to say anything about that, but I’ll check them out when I have a chance as they get great reviews

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Back to the main hall and back in line for the mini venue. Unfortunately the venue was filled up in no time and for a while I feared to miss the act completely. But thanks to a very nice nurse guarding the entrance who noticed my cameras (it can be handy to have them all hanging around your neck) I was let in after all and following a cameraman I even got front seats. In there was Kania Tieffer, from Belgium, playing a very energetic mix of lo-fi electropop/hip-hop/dance. Brilliant set

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After this gig Mik Quantius was playing a rather odd set of  music in the same area where Eklin played earlier, but due to the complete lack of light I wasn’t able to take any pictures there worth publishing. Not even the flash was able to get anything worthwhile there. And there was more to bee seen after that with Laser Poodle and DJ MVSCLZ, but I was beat, had a fantastic time and headed home. But the festival is most definitely worth repeating!

Scenery 2010 in Grand Theatre 1/2

A little while ago I read about a festival in Groningen that -on paper at least- looked very interesting. A joint initiative by art-colective Owsum, the venues Grand Theater and Vera and Popcultuur Groningen brought together a very broad set of musicians in an inspiring visual venue and dubbed it Scenery 2010. A combination of art and alternative music. And as I love to try out new things in music, this seemed like the place to be.

About half past eight the festival started with French garagerockers ‘The Feeling Of Love‘. Interesting band, great sound but a bit of a challenge with photography as is was nearly pitchblack (but then… hey, I have a Canon 5D mkII now, with ISO-speeds up to 25600, I can overexpose pitchblack if I have to). Half an hour later the band was informed to stop so that the next act could start. Man, that half an hour flew by.

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Next up was Cupp Cave, seated in some sort of tree house overlooking the venue. This was more of a DJ set. Nice beats and kept the audience entertained while the venue was prepared for the next act.

Next up was yet another completely different kind of act: Ernst Glerum. On an improvised stage in front of the main stage (kept hidden for a later gig) Ernst played a selection of classical and improvised jazz and pop songs on upright bass, solo. For this set two wide benches were placed for the audience and luckily they paid good attention to the set as this could have easily drowned in mumbling audience chatter

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Immediately after the set of Ernst a tape with a background-score was started and on the scaffolding high up in the venue the one-man thrash/death metal band Assacre entered the venue, dressed in hooded robe. Followed by a spotlight and a camera he walked around the whole of the venue and even outside. We -the audience- followed his actions via the projected film until he entered the venue ground floor and mingled in the audience. All this while playing thrash metal and acting out all the theatricals like the death metal bands. Hilarious and great. Fantastic combination

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Jenny Lane in Simplon

Back in March Jenny Lane played in the Oosterpoort venu in Groningen, opening for Joss Stone and I remembered that to be a fun gig, but I was a bit psyched concerning the Joss Stone gig. So I decided I’d definitely check out Jenny again if she’d aver play around here again.

So what luck was it to find out that she would in fact play in Groningen again. Not the Oosterpoort this time, but in Simplon and now as the main act.

Opening for Jenny was Celine Cairo, a nineteen (!!!) year old singer songwriter backed up by Mart Jeninga on bass and Matthijs Lievaart on violin. A great act to open the evening with lovely songs

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A short break later Jenny and band entered the stage. Glad to see Jenny’s still as wacky as she was in March, only now she wasn’t just opening the evening, she owned it. lots of fun on stage, an attentive and enthusiastic audience and a great band. Jenny was all over the stage, making friendly with the backing vocalists, playing airguitar besides the guitarist and for some sensitive songs on a seat together with guitarist and accordion  player. And all this wearing a very large hat, that can’t have been very comfortable. Great gig and I had a really good time. Glad to see that the gig in the Oosterpoort wasn’t just a one-off

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