Musical Time Capsules: Local Photographer and Music Writer Unpacks Old Interview Tapes and Turns Them Into an Online Exhibit

Photo by Tim Van Schmidt: Yoko Ono meets the press in Denver in 1988, one of Tim Van Schmidt's first area interview and photo gigs. Experience Ono's press conference on Schmidt's Youtube channel: "Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt."

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Tim Van Schmidt

Before settling in to become mostly a live music photographer, I was a writer, interviewing and publishing articles about musicians from all over the world in the Fort Collins press. I taped most of my interviews and in these strange, stay-at-home times I finally found the time to open that box of tapes and do something with them.

That something was to start digitizing the interviews, edit out all the dull or embarrassing parts, couple them with original photos or vintage press shots, and post them on Youtube for music fans to enjoy– with no strings attached. That is how my Youtube channel — “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” — came to be — thanks to the Corona Virus.

Finding new life for these musical conversations though became an obsession during the confusing lockdown weeks. Sure, I was making the past come back alive in a unique 21st Century way, but it also became a daily routine that I looked forward to each day. It was like taking a music seminar from a different musician every day.

Thanks to my old box of tapes, I listened to Dr. John explain New Orleans music, George Thorogood define why “Bad to the Bone” appealed to everyone, Billy Preston remember his work with The Beatles and Leon Redbone admit he didn’t like most contemporary music. There were talks with great guitarists — including Sonny Landreth, Robben Ford, and Johnny Winter. Richie Havens told me about Woodstock, Terre Roche described being inside The Roches’ heavenly harmonies and Dr. Demento talked about novelty records.

Some of the stuff has regional appeal — an interview with Todd Park Mohr during the recording of “Sister Sweetly,” a long rambling interview with Jock Bartley of Firefall, and two from 1988 — a press conference with Yoko Ono in Denver on a day designated as John Lennon Day by then-mayor Pena and a backstage interview with Jimmy Cliff directly after his headlining performance at the first Reggae on the Rocks show.

But some of it just went out into space. Both Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and singer-songwriter Al Stewart, for example, told me music comes to them in their dreams.

Most of my interviews come from the 1990s and I was shocked that so many of the musicians I had talked to had passed away, including Chris LeDoux, Koko Taylor, Odetta, Utah Phillips, Lonnie Brooks, and more. I was glad to be able to offer their fans something that hadn’t been published before.

But mostly I’m glad to share these intimate talks about music. I’ve managed to publish 50 of them so far and there are more to come.

See my all-new exhibit:

“The 70s Time Capsules!”

It’s an Online Museum of Music…and more!!

Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins, Colorado. In more than 30 years of reporting on the Rocky Mountain regional music scene, in print and online, Schmidt has covered some of the most exciting acts of our times — photographing shows, interviewing artists, and reviewing everything. His online museum of rock and roll is: