Thursday, February 26, 2009

another post... another week gone by... a collection of thoughts...

I feel like 2009 is passing by in fast forward... Another week has passed and March is almost here. Just like in college, here I am waiting till the last minute before the deadline to turn in my report.... I am writing a blog to recap the past week that has sped by faster than a Ryan Dempster fastball. To those who have asked about my Cubs ticket dream... my wristband # did not provide any tickets... but my computer did as I was able to secure a bleacher ticket for opening day as well as some Cubs vs. Sox tickets for June. I do need to find one more bleacher ticket for my good friend Jeremy Mills who will be visiting for opening day - if anyone knows of any... do share.

I ended last week's post with a mention of shots from the Neville Brothers and Dr. John that I had shot at the Cubby Bear the week before... I will just post my favorite shot from that show... of Dr. John. It is rare to see such a big show with a big name such as his in a small venue like the Cubby Bear...
(Dr. John @ The Cubby Bear, Chicago - Photography by Will Byington)

There is so much I love in this shot... the skull on the piano and the look on his face are just two... See more from the show on WXRT's website.

Last weekend a couple fun events filled my time... On Saturday I photographed Chris Festa's Bead Quest bar crawl in Wrigleyville.
All weekend, I thought about trying to find anyway possible to get to New Orleans for the real Mardi Gras... and to ride with my friends in Bike-Us - a krewe of friends who dress in costume and ride bikes through the streets of NOLA on Fat Tuesday. Sadly, airfare was too much...

I have been lucky to do all the marketing photography for Festa T-Shirts for the past couple years. Chris does the annual Twelve Bars of Christmas (TBOX) crawl around Christmas, this past year having 7,000 people join in... and he knows how to throw an excellent party. Bead Quest was a last minute idea that he threw together I would say fairly quickly and yet 1,000 people still braved the cold and snow to clamor for beads and drink all day. If you are on Facebook, you can check out the photos here. I followed up the bar crawl by heading over to Martyrs - one of Chicago's best music venues to see The August and their last hometown show before heading off to Nashville.
(The August @ Martyrs, Chicago - Photography by Will Byington)

The August if you have not heard of them feature some of the finest musicians I know... with Jacky, Wojtek, Tim and Petey... they are stars on the rise. Sadly, this was Petey's last show... but the band carries on... and I wish them all the best! I will be photographing them this week on the CAYAMO cruise and know that soon I will be seeing them and hopefully photographing them in stadiums around the country! As always, check out the pictures from the show - HERE.

A couple other things have kept me very busy this week... two of which, I hope to make the big announcements about soon... one is an "intro to photography" class that I am creating and hope to launch in the coming months. The second... details will be coming VERY soon on... as I just booked my airline ticket tonight for London in May.... is a rough idea I am building for a trip across the pond.
In a nutshell... my idea is this.... that you will all become my boss... and send me on assignment to Europe. I am planning to go, trek through for 3 weeks... taking thousands of photos.... and for a small $20 donation... that a % of will go to charity.... you will also get an 8x10 print of any shot in my collection... at the end of the trip. I will also post blog updates, pictures and such along the way during the journey. More details will be coming soon on the website Right now, that just forwards to my website...but I plan to update it soon.

A couple final thoughts in closing... I have just learned that the Chicago Bull's great Norm Van Lier passed away today. I was lucky enough to meet "Stormin Norman" a few times, esp. through the fantastic charity "Miracle Michael" that I have been a part of the past few years. Norm was a force in the sports and journalism business here in Chicago. Since his playing days ended, he was a commentator and constant on the charity circuit. I am glad I got to know him and will never forget riding around the White Eagle golf course with him a few short summers ago.
(Will Byington with Norm Van Lier - Photography courtesy of the Miracle Michael foundation)

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I am heading out tomorrow to photograph cruise #4 of the year... the CAYAMO cruise featuring Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, Patty Griffin, Marc Broussard and SO many others. Check out the website for all the great artists. Look for pictures and stories on the other side... until then... enjoy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cubs tickets on sale in 8 hours!

I have been thinking all week... have to make sure, by late Friday afternoon.... I HAVE to get at least one blog post in. Wow... this is going to be tougher than I expected... somehow the week flew by and here I am, under 24 hours shy of a full week and finally posting my next blog. I have all kinds of ideas in my head... just not the time to write. I now see how tough if it is for friends who are true writers for a living to generate new content day in and day out. My good friend Kevin Kaduk is the main baseball blogger for and writes the "Big League Stew". He often has to post 5 - 10 blogs in one day during the heart of the baseball season. I don't know how he does it... but my hat is off to him.

Tonight was the 11th annual world wide toast to Harry Caray - the legendary announcer for the Chicago Cubs. I met my buddy Chris Karnak (of Chasing October fame) at the downtown location for a few beverages and to get into the spirit of the approaching Cubs season. You can't beat seeing Ernie Banks, Dutchie Caray and the 101 cent Bud beers.... Plus everyone in the bar was wearing the big Harry glasses and hats.

As most of you know, I am a huge Cubs fan - living 461 feet from Home Plate of Wrigley Field, attending something like 50 games a year, and even putting out a book called WE ARE CUBS FANS. But I have to admit... after the unimaginable collapse that took place last October... tearing the heart out of every fan around the world, as Chris I think it was put it... we all woke up a few days later, with the worst hangover ever...yet we had not been drinking. Spring Training started last week with pitchers and catchers yet other than the never ending story of A-roid from the Yankees... I am still not recovered from that hangover. Opening day in my front yard is a short two months away... but I am still burned. Hopefully the singe will go away before the first pitch on Wrigley grass. I am sure it will. Living in this neighborhood for 5 years now, there are a few days that make you know... the kids will be playing across the street soon... and the excitement of ball games will be back soon. One such day every winter, when the bars open early and a line of fans stretches down the street... is when Cubs tickets go on-sale to the public. For days leading up, you see people making the pilgrimage to 1060 W. Addison to get a bright green wristband with a # on it. It bonds us all together seeing them around town and on the EL home. In just a short 5 or so hours from the time I write this.... they will announce a randomly drawn #... and if it is anywhere close to my # of 16,428.... I too, will head across the street and attempt to buy tickets for the hottest games this summer. Wish me luck. I may be burned... but the thought of sitting in the bleachers with friends this summer, on a weekday afternoon... is just too enticing on this 12 degree evening.

More from me soon... including pictures from the Dr. John and Neville Brothers show at the Cubby Bear on Tuesday night... and a few rants that are on my mind. Until then... enjoy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The blog has been updated!

Where does the time go... as I write this, President Obama has been in office for almost a month.... and a new year is almost a full month and a half in. My last blog update was at the end of October and life is flying by. Before I embark on my goal of a blog a week for 2009... I figured I should wrap up the end of 2008 as there were some very fun, exciting things I was a part of.

Instead of doing one massive single post with pictures and stories.... I have decided to back date them to around the time that each happened. If you have not been here in a while... this will all be new to you and you can back track all the way to the newest post... from Obama's election night in Chicago in early November till now. Take a look, read the entries and hopefully, enjoy a few of the snapshots I have included here. Almost all of these events have MANY more pictures posted... and they can be found in various galleries on my Facebook page. Along with the new year, I am also updating my style and look of my website, etc. I have a new logo as you can see at the top of the page... and hopefully will have a new, better and improved website in the months to come.

As this post really shows, I have been a BIG slacker updating and maintaining this blog. Two of the best people I know at maintaining their sites constantly with quality updates, stories and pictures are Larry Weintraub and David Bergman. Larry is a music industry veteran who is responsible for helping to break many of the rock artists you know from the past 20 years. He is the founder of a company called Fanscape who has revolutionized the idea of social networking and interactive marketing esp. in the music industry. He does a very unique blog with business ideas and models that is always VERY inspiring. He has also been a mentor to me, always offering time and suggestions and motivation. Half the time I do not follow his excellent advice and find myself kicking myself for it later. I strive to get better and he is an inspiration. David Bergman is also very much an inspiration and mentor. His photography has been seen everywhere from the cover of Sports Illustrated (7 times or more I believe) to an image he created of Obama's inauguration in DC that has been viewed over 5 million times. It used technology called a gigapan and is truly special. David works with the Barenaked Ladies and for the past two years, I have had the ability to bend his year for more longer than he should let me... asking questions and getting feedback. His images of sports, music and life capture the moment like none other and offer you the chance to go into another world. Check out some of David's pictures from Ships and Dip here. To both of them I say thank you for the kick in the ass and motivation... even if they do not know it.

So from this day forward... February 13, 2009.... I vow to blog, one single post... it might not be long... even just a few lines with some pictures attached... but I have to post one blog within a seven day period from the last blog.... for the rest of the year.... if I don't - and you call me out on it... send me an e-mail, or post a comment here on the blog... catching me at slacking... and I will pay you $20. That's right... if I slack, I owe you $20 if you catch me. From this day forward, I will no longer back date posts... when I write it, will the the time it was written.

I figure this will be great motivation for me to keep up on this, and offer up one more incentive for you to visit and browse my blog. I am also working on two very exciting and new projects and hope to post details about both in the coming week or so. Without further ado.... I look forward to your feedback and happy reading.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan's Ships and Dip V Cruise

(The Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan onboard Ships and Dip V - Photography by Will Byington)

Just over a month into 2009 and I have completed three of the five cruises I will be doing this year for Sixthman. Cruise #3 was the Barenaked Ladies' Ships and Dip V cruise... this year with special guest Sarah McLachlan among many others.

The Barenaked Ladies are one of the most inventive bands around and constantly strive to put on a memorable concert. I first learned of them back in '95 or so but did not see them till I was living in Hollywood, CA in the fall of 2000. If you get the chance to see them ever... do it.

(Stephen Page of The Barenaked Ladies onboard Ships and Dip V - Photography by Will Byington)

The same goes for the special guest they brought along this year. I had heard of her back in high school and then while interning at Q101 in Chicago back around 1997... but Sarah McLachlan had always been on my radar... but I was never a HUGE fan... that is... until now. WOW.... she put on a concert that renewed my faith in music... and to steal the generic term... could save your soul. She was beautiful, sweet, funny and amazing in concert. I could go on and on... Here is the deal, most people talk about how great my job is and I can't complain... but usually, esp. on these boats... I only get to see three or four songs at most as I have to run off to the next concert, event or happening on the boat. I only catch glimpses. But with Sarah's shows each night... the three times she performed... I sat in the venue, usually on stairs between rows of seats and attentive fans and watched the entire show. And was blown away. I also had the pleasure of meeting Sarah and it made the trip.
(Photographer Will Byington with Sarah McLachlan onboard Ships and Dip V - Photography by David Bergman)

The rest of the cruise was excellent as well. I am glad to say I had the chance to also continue to get to know the band Gaelic Storm. They are a party on stage and anyone watching them gets wrapped up in the festivus. They are friends and fun to hang with. Thanks for letting me into your circle... and can't wait for the HOB in Chicago coming up in March.
(Gaelic Storm onboard Ships and Dip V - Photography by Will Byington)

Bring the Mexican wrestling masks y'all. This shot was taken of Gaelic Storm just after their show on Ships and Dips V.

(The Barenaked Ladies onboard Ships and Dip V - Photography by Will Byington)


p.s. this post would also not be complete without mentioning GREAT BIG SEA... Just like the Storm, these guys from Newfoundland, Canada are exceptional musicians and put on one hell of a show. See Them Also!