by Mary Willson
Renowned music photographer, Jay Blakesberg, has captured memorable on and offstage moments of some of the most notable jam bands including The Grateful Dead, Phish and The Allman Brothers. Blakesberg is one of the most accomplished music photographers of our time whose career has spanned over three decades. This month, he will visit the Mishawaka for the first time where Tea Leaf Green and Hard Working Americans will be performing.
Blakesberg has been aware of the Mishawaka as a utopia for jam band performances but has never made the trip out to Roosevelt National Park. Through his work on a video for SpokesBuzz’s Bandswap, he learned of the Northern Colorado music scene, which landed him at the Colorado Music Party at SXSW this past March.
As plans for two notable jam bands to play the same weekend at the Mish came to light, Blakesberg confirmed he would come for the shows and do a visual presentation/lecture on his music photography career, and most recent coffee table book, called “JAM”.
Blakesberg has worked with many legendary artists including Neil Young, Tom Waits & The Flaming Lips, to name a few, and he has many great stories to go along with these photo shoots. The book “JAM,” which will be available at the Mish, features his live concert photography with text written by the artists and “offers a glimpse into those intimate moments in which we feel a personal and almost spiritual connection with the musicians who bare their souls for us.”
The special lunch presentation will take place on Sunday, July 20 from 12-1:30pm after a performance by Tea Leaf Green the night before and before Hard Working Americans hits the stage later that night, which is no coincidence as Blakesberg has long standing connections with both bands.
He has been a fan of Tea Leaf Green since 2005, and shot photos for their newest album, In the Wake, which is TLG’s eighth studio album.
“We are part of a music scene that prides itself on its independence and chooses content above celebrity,” said Josh Clark, lead guitarist of Tea Leaf Green. “We are very lucky to have Jay along to document this ever evolving musical culture. Jay understands “the moment” that exists between a musician and fan and serves as that ever-elusive dragon we all chase. Every once in awhile we catch the dragon and it’s our great fortune when Jay’s lens catches it too. This show is a long time coming, as we’ve wanted to play here for years. Our last attempt was thwarted by wildfires and we couldn’t be happier that we now have a chance to perform at The Mish.”
The second band of the weekend is Hard Working Americans, which was formed in 2013 by members of many well-known bands such as Widespread Panic, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals and Great American Taxi.
Neal Casal, formerly of The Cardinals, is now with Hard Working Americans as a guitarist, singer, songwriter and photographer. Blakesberg connected with Casal immediately after meeting, not only because of his amazing musical talent, but also for his photography.
“Neal is an amazing photographer with a keen eye; always shooting his musical adventures,” said Blakesberg. “I feel that what I have been doing for the last 30+ years is ‘Visual Anthropology.’ My photography is very much a personal diary of my life adventure, and that’s what Neal is doing as well, but from the inside!”
Casal’s bandmate, Dave Schools, is the critically acclaimed bass player for Widespread Panic and was first photographed by Blakesberg in 1991 for a story in Rolling Stone Magazine.
“It is great to see Dave stretch out and work his magic in a new direction,” said Blakesberg.
Blakesberg will surely be documenting more rock and roll history from his weekend at the Mish with Tea Leaf Green and Hard Working Americans and maybe even come home with images for his next book.
To view Blakesberg’s work, check out www.blakesberg.com or on Facebook at Jay Blakesberg Photography. Signed copies of “JAM” will be available at the Mishawaka for $40 during the event. See details at mishawaka.ticketforce.com.