Thursday, April 30, 2015

Concerts in the Park begin tomorrow--and One-Eyed Doll on Saturday at the Boardwalk

The Soft White Sixties at the Assembly, Sacramento
The Soft White Sixties
The annual outdoor concert series, Concerts in the Park, begin tomorrow in Sacramento. 5 p.m. until 9 pm on Friday evenings throughout the summer, mostly local bands and talent, beginning tomorrow with Island of Black & WhiteDrop Dead RedRiotmaker, and DJ Epik.

The one I'm most looking forwards too, of course, is The Soft White Sixties on July 10th. If you haven't seen and heard them yet... be there!

Kimberly Freeman, guitar and vocals, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Kimberly Freeman, One-Eyed Doll
Then on Saturday evening, One-Eyed Doll is back at the Boardwalk in Orangevale. Gives everyone who missed them last time another chance! Don't waste it... they're wonderful.

The heart, and the art, of Montreal

Streets and street art, Montreal, 2015
Street art, Montreal, Canada
So... I was in Montreal for the final one of this year's Marillion weekends (and yes, there will be photos soon, I promise). First visit to Montreal: lovely city, lovely people, and I really enjoyed the French-ness of everything.

Streets and street art, Montreal, 2015
Musician, Street art, Montreal, Canada
Walking along Rue Sainte-Catherine, couldn't help but stare at the street art. Vivid, expressive, and sending some very strong messages.

Streets and street art, Montreal, 2015
Part of a building on Rue St Catherine, Montreal, Canada
See more examples in the Toon's Tunes Montreal gallery!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One more Marillion weekend... and the sky above the rain.

Greenland March 2015
Ice cracking, Atlantic Ocean west of Greenland
This coming weekend, I will be in Montreal for the third and final Marillion weekend of 2015. You should be there. Really.

It's been a few weeks of intense travelling, and some spectacular views--the concerts, of course, but also from my window seat. Check out these shows put on by Mother Nature!

Greenland March 2015
See more in the From My Window Seat gallery. All taken with Nokia Lumia phone.

Volcano and clouds, Seattle to Sacramento
Leaving Seattle

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Witches. Take a listen. Then go see One-Eyed Doll. OK?

Kimberly Freeman, guitar and vocals, One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale, CA
Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll
While the Marillion Weekends are happening, I'm so attuned to their music, anything else is having a hard time finding ear-space or listening-room, and it's difficult to give anything else the fair hearing a review deserves. New albums are piling up, music that was ordered a while back and recently received; it's gathering dust and probably will until after Montreal.

One album that I can't miss mentioning, though, is One-Eyed Doll's release, Witches. Well worth the wait... if you haven't heard them yet, now is the time. Witches is a mix of heavy rock, theatre and beautiful vocals. Spooky-good. "Prayer", almost orchestral, then "Black In The Rye", more reminiscent of the previous album, "Dirty"... and later in the album, my personal favourite: "Stillness".

Take a listen to "Prayer" here:

And be aware: you really, really won't know the full One-Eyed Doll experience until you've seen Kimberly and Junior live, on stage, in a venue near you. Check their website tour page for dates all over the USA--and if you're in Northern California, head to the Boardwalk in Orangevale on May 2nd.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Steve Rothery Band: delightful!

Steve Rothery, guitar, Steve Rothery Band, PZ, 2015
Steve Rothery, Steve Rothery Band, PZ, The Netherlands
If you have the chance to see the Steve Rothery band live, jump on it. As well as performing at the Marillion Weekends, the bands album, The Ghosts of Pripyat is available now.

Oh, I mentioned it before, did I? Then you should take note already. OK?

The Steve Rothery Band are Mr. Rothery of course, Dave Foster also on guitar, Leon Parr on drums, Yatim Halimi on bass, and Riccardo Romano (also of RanestRane) on keys.

Steve Rothery Band, PZ, 2015
Dave Foster and Yatim Halimi
Steve Rothery Band, PZ, 2015
Steve Rothery and Leon Parr

Steve Rothery Band, PZ, 2015
Leon Parr, Steve Rothery, Riccardo Romano

More photos in the Toon's Tunes Steve Rothery Band gallery.

The story of an unreadable 32-gigabyte CF card: what was lost is now found

From the pit, Marillion Weekend, The Netherlands
Anyone who shoots a lot of photos, whether a wedding photographer, sports journalist, wildlife or music photog, knows that one horrible day, a memory card may fail. You can lose everything that was on the card, if you haven't yet been able to back it up. A 32-gigabyte card can hold an enormous number of images, even when Raw file sizes are more than 20Mb each. What happens when you lose that precious work?

This happened to me on the last evening of the Marillion PZ weekend. I'd had a warning during the afternoon, when a strange error message ("Do you want to format the card? Y/N") (Um, no!) prompted me to switch off the camera, restart and see it was fine, back up the card immediately, and then relegate it to my only-as-a-last-resort memory card. Unfortunately, I had to use it again, late in the evening, as all the others were full. Yes I did think I had taken enough cards with me. I guess that's another lesson learned.

When I went to back up this one card, late at night, it told me there were no images. It lied: I knew there were at least 100 which had not yet been backed up. In the scheme of a 7,000+ image weekend, 100 isn't many to lose, but who knows... that one, best-of-a-lifetime image might be in there.

The secret with an unreadable card (or disk, or any other computer media) is not to do anything else with it. Don't try taking another photo. Don't try writing anything else to it. You need something that will read from the card, but not change anything.

Back home, I tried several different software products, all of which promised to restore data from memory cards, and all of which failed. The majority of these products allow you to try first--see if anything can be found--before purchasing and restoring the files. All worth trying, but in this case, useless.

I could see there was data on the card. But everything said the folder that should contain the images was empty.

Last resort--I took it to Best Buy's Geek Squad to see if they could help. The nice guy there also tried everything: the software they had could "see" the files, but not restore them. It could "see" files of the right size! So they were still there... just not readable. Darnit.

Then he found a software package that I had not discovered online: I returned home with my card, downloaded the trial software... and voila! It started discovering the image files. (An immediate indication that this software "knew" image files was that it asks you to select the type of files you are trying to recover--in my case, Canon raw).

Under $40 and not only do I have my lost images back, I also have a few from last year's Aftershock festival, which were deleted each and every time I reused this memory card but which had never been overwritten, I guess. So the software does what it says--finds and restores not only damaged files, but also those that have been deleted.

Something for your toolkit?

This weekend, I'll find out if my one best-of-a-lifetime shot has been restored. I don't think it's in this set, but there are some pics that will make people happy. And that's what counts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Refugee camps, ISIS, Damascus, 1948... and revisiting Gaza

As I read the news this morning about ISIS (IS) entering a Syrian refugee camp, the Yarmouk camp near Damascus, capturing and trapping around 18,000 people... and then reading that the camp has been in existance since 1948... it's horrific.

Why, why, why are people still living in camps so many years later? This still doesn't make sense to me. In other parts of the world, people have been displaced, gone through very hard times, and then one day grown into new homes.

People shouldn't have to live like that. They should be able to build homes and futures for themselves and their families.

It doesn't always mean going back "home", because that place may no longer be there.

Here's my story of Gaza, and Polish refugees, from 2012. It rings true as much today for me.

Oh and while the BBC broke the news, CNN mentions nothing... nothing. So much for journalism today.

(And maybe the BBC are just being inflammatory... maybe Yarmouk is not a "camp", but an area of Damascus that has long been inhabited by families who arrived there in 1948... it's not clear. Where have all the good journalists gone...)