Winter break

I’m coming to the end of my winter break and head back to work tomorrow. It’s been refreshing to have some time off, ride in the light and wake up knowing I have the whole day at my leisure. Unfortunately, at the beginning of my break, my jump trainer called to say she had a family emergency and wouldn’t be teaching until after the new year. I was disappointed to have alot of time off and not feel productive with my jumping, but come the new year, we’ll start back fresh.

My break started by sitting through horrendous traffic on the Beltway on Dec. 21 so I could see my favorite band, Go Radio, at The FIllmore in Silver Spring, Md. There weren’t that many people there, which was surprising for a show put on by DC101, but it made for a nice, intimate feeling, even on the bigger stage. I did photos for, and those are up now on my Flickr page.

On Sunday, I had a really good flat lesson with Oh So. He was quiet enough that we could school some walk-canter and canter-walk transitions. My trainer brought her young horse over to school him in a different arena, so that made for some excitement.

photo-4On Christmas eve, I went to see Lincoln with my parents. It was a bit slow and talky, but I can see why it will probably win every Oscar. My mom decided she didn’t want to go to church that night, which makes it only the second time in my life that we’ve missed Christmas Eve service. It’s the only time every year that we go to church, but I think we were all missing my brother, who spent Christmas with his fiancee and her family in Ohio.

Christmas morning was sort of a non-event without my brother there. It took us all of a half photo-5hour to open our gifts, then my mom and I went for a hack. I did get some pretty cool stuff though. I had been wanting a new lens for shooting concerts and I got a 24-85mm f/2.8, which is really exciting. I’ve pretty much been shooting with just my 50mm f/1.4, but now I have the flexibility of a zoom too. I also got a nice set of different flavored hot chocolates to try. I’m not a coffee person, so I’m excited to take these to work.

Throughout the break, I also got a chance to clip Rocky again and work both him and Toppers quite a bit, which I’m not so sure they appreciated! Toppers in particular was looking and feeling quite good for his 21 years!


On Wednesday, we had pretty awful rain, so my dad and I went up to DC to go to some museums. I usually don’t have the time or energy during the year to go, so it was nice to spend a day not doing horse stuff. We went to the Museum of the American Indian first to see the “A Song For The Horse Nation” exhibition. COTH featured a couple of pieces from it in a recent issue, so it was cool to see the whole thing. We also went to the Air and Space museum briefly and the National Gallery, which had a really cool Roy Lichtenstein exhibition.

Thursday was jam-packed with another flat lesson on Oh So and one on Sam. He was photogood again. We worked on some trot lengthenings and lateral work with minimal tension, which is a win in my book. I haven’t done lessons on Sam regularly for awhile since he’s not consistently sound, so it was nice to have a few reminders on my position and his pace. I tend to lean “at” him a bit since he warms up quite stiff and high-headed. We worked on some counter leg yields and leg yields in walk and trot with more bend than usual to help free up his shoulders, and to my surprise, he came nice and round and got steadier in the contact.

That afternoon, my dad came with me to a travel agency in Fredericksburg so I could start planning my trip to Ireland next year. I came home with quite a few brochures and a lot to think about, but I’m really excited to start researching.

Thatnight, I took my dad to see The Hobbit in 3D since he’s never seen a 3D photo-2movie. I probably should have watched the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy first to refresh my memory, but I thought it was pretty good, and now I have to wait an entire year for the next one!

Friday I spent most of the day outside working all four horses. I had a good jump school with Oh So on my own. I just set up some fences with canter poles before and after them and a few small gymnastics, and he stayed nice and steady and waiting. It’s often a challenge to jump at home because our ring is smaller then the places we usually go, so setting up gymnastics is usually better for both of us.

Yesterday and today were just more of the same. After working everyone each day, I’ve been working on little things that need to be done, but I keep putting off- fixing my music website, cleaning my room and closet, organizing my computer, etc. Now I’m off to work for one day, then off on New Year’s Day, and ready for whatever 2013 brings.

The long-overdue and way too infrequent music post

Although I don’t write about it enough, music is a big part of my life, or at least it used to be before I had a full-time job. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts, but these days, I don’t usually have the energy or time to drive an hour or two to D.C., Baltimore or Richmond.

Going to a concert is sort of like eventing for me. When the lights go down and the crowd cheers, I get the same feeling as when I’m getting counted down in the start box on cross-country.

At the moment, my favorite band is Go Radio. They’re the perfect pop-rock band with great melodies, heartfelt lyrics and it all comes together through lead singer Jason Lancaster, who sings like he means it with an amazing set of pipes. I just saw them on their most recent tour last week in Richmond and it was pretty amazing. Even though there were probably only 100 people there, they put on an awesome show. Although the photographer in me doesn’t like small club shows because of the generally bad lighting, I think I prefer them to bigger arena shows and clubs. On average, the places I go to have about a 1,500 capacity, which is nice, but still not as intimate as the smaller club shows. There’s nothing like standing in the front row and singing along with the band.

My tastes have slightly altered as I’ve gotten older. I don’t listen to as much pop-punk as I did when I was in high school. I’m more into pop-rock and I really like a strong vocalist. Anything with a piano will definitely get my attention. Unfortunately, a lot of the bands I listened to in high school have broken up, and I’m not finding what I’m looking for in the current crop of bands in “the scene”.

I can’t believe I’ve been shooting concerts since I was 16. It started with just my point and shoot, then I started shooting for a website called and was able to get photo passes and learn how to deal with PR and media people. I took over the site soon after I started working for them, but my web design skills are severely lacking, so I’m going to be migrating the site to a WordPress platform in the next few weeks I hope. All of my photos can now be seen on Flickr. I’m currently shooting with just a 50mm f/1.4, but I’m hoping to upgrade to some sort of zoom lens soon.

So, I’m not sure exactly what the point of this post was, except maybe to share some of my photos! I saw two amazing shows last week, so they just inspired me, I think!

Go Radio in Richmond. I think my iPhone 5 will be replacing my point and shoot for videos from now on!

Warped Tour 2012 – July 21, Merriweather Post Pavilion

Well, another Warped Tour has come and gone. I can’t believe I’ve been going since 2003. This year’s lineup actually resembled the 2003/2004 lineups, which was really fun for me. I felt like I was in high school again! Warped Tour goes in trends- screamo, pop-punk, electronica, hard core- this year I think the theme was classic. Bands like Yellowcard, New Foudn Glory and The Used, who were at their peaks when I was in high school, returned as if they’d never left.

We Are The In Crowd

There actually weren’t a ton of bands I was interested in seeing this year, but Yellowcard, NFG, Mayday Parade and We Are The In Crowd were enough to get me to sit out in the sun all day and sweat. I honestly didn’t recognize a lot of bands on the smaller stages. Maybe I’m just not keeping up with “the scene” as much as I used to!

My day started with We Are The In Crowd, a bouncy pop rock band from New York. Led by vocalist Tay Jardine, they had a small, but dedicated crowd at the Tilly Stage. They played a selection of songs from their EP and most recent full length and put on a great show.

Mayday Parade

Next up was Mayday Parade. There was only one stage set up in the amphitheater this year which made it tough to see a lot. I can usually sit there for awhile and cool off and shoot one band, then another immediately after the first band’s set finishes. I wasn’t able to stay for all of Mayday’s set, but I’ve literally photographed them a dozen times, so I got the shots I needed and ran off to catch New Found Glory on the main stage (at the opposite end of the venue).

I’ve been a fan of NFG for years. They were one of the first bands I got into when I started listening to pop punk. They haven’t changed a bit since I last saw them (2008 maybe) and put on an energetic show, full of jumps and plenty of crowd interaction.

New Found Glory

To be honest, I only snapped a few photos of Falling In Reverse for my brother who likes them. Not my cup of tea at all, but the pit in front of the stage wasn’t as crazy as I expected for them.

Next up was Tonight Alive, a band from Australia. I’d never seen them live, but I enjoy their music enough to want to check them out. They had a decent crowd and played a cover of Mumford and Sons “Little Lion Man” which I really liked.

Yellowcard played on the main stage next. I hadn’t seen them live since probably 2004. They went on a hiatus a few years ago, but have come back sounding better than ever. They played a good mix of songs from their large catalog and ended with fan favorite “Ocean Avenue”.


Last but not least was All Time Low. I’m not a huge fan of their music, but Maryland is there hometown and they’re fun to shoot, so off I went to the amphitheater again. They had the biggest crowd of the day and absolutely sold out the place for a 30 minute set. They sounded solid as usual and I did my best with the poor lighting.

Warped Tour is always a fun time, even though you’re sweaty and gross by the end of the day. I think you can never be too old for it and there’s always something for everyone’s tastes. It’s a great place to discover new bands, learn about good causes, and spend $40 on overpriced lunch and drinks like I did by the end of the day!

Bucket List

Eventing Nation had a good topic up last week about bucket lists for equestrians. They asked people to name the things they wanted to do with horses, other than eventing, before they died. I decided to make my own list, but I’ve included eventing things too. I think some could be attainable this year if Oh So and I work hard. It’s a modest list, but I don’t have huge aspirations. As a perfectionist, I’m more interested in seeing and feeling the results in my riding, so no horse diving or steeplechasing on my list.

  • Finish on my dressage score at prelim. Heck, finishing on my dressage score at training level more would be nice too! At prelim, it never happened for me because of Sam’s lack of respect for the colored poles!
  • Complete a CCI*. It could be long format, or short format, but I want to experience dressing up for the jog and learning the FEI ropes. Of course, Oh So would suit the long format and I think the steeplechase would help me open up more than him.
  • Earn a USDF medal. My dream would be to have a prelim/intermediate event horse and a horse capable of FEI levels in dressage. I want a big warmblood so I can feel that powerful movement and so I can perfect my upper level work and finesse my aids with a double bridle.
  • See an event/show in England (Burghley, Badminton, etc). It almost happened in 2007 when I visited the U.K., but the event got rained out. In truth, I’d love to just live in England or Ireland. I’m an Anglophile at heart and I’m obsessed with their culture, scenery, history and equine scene.
  • Spend a winter down South. I keep hearing about how much fun everyone is having down there this time of year, so if I could afford it, I’d love to go.
  • Swim with my horse. I’m kind of scared to try it, but I want to go swimming with either of my horses. Sam has gone to the equine pool before, so I sort of know how he would react, and I know Oh So would go in because he loves water, but after that? Morningside has a lake that people can take their horses to and they had clinics last year on how to swim with your horse, so I might have to sign up!
  • Train another OTTB. I’ve learned a lot with Oh So, and I’m still learning, so to be able to apply that to my next horse would be fun.
In other news, I’ve gone to a few concerts in the last few weeks. More than I have in recent months at least. I saw Jack’s Mannequin on Friday night at the 9:30 Club. The lighting was amazing for photos and there was only one other photographer, so that was great. Andrew McMahon is just so amazing. He’s been through hell and back surviving leukemia and it shows. He seems to happy to be up on stage and the band always sounds so good live. I’m glad I got to see them because I’ve heard they’re going into hiding for awhile after this tour.
Last night I saw The Cab at Baltimore Sound Stage. It was a pretty nice venue and the lighting was quite good for the space, but there were over a dozen photographers! I’m not sure how that happened, but most of them weren’t even shooting for a media outlet and shouldn’t have been there. I just grin and bear it, but I honestly couldn’t move in the pit. I’ll try to get all of those photos up this week.
Also, Oh So’s 12th birthday was yesterday, so we celebrated with an extra carrot and a ride in the freezing cold and wind!

Top Albums of 2011

As much as I love my horses, I have another passion – music. As I’m sure I’ve stated before, I’ve been going to concerts for years photographing for my website Avoid The This past year I haven’t made it to as many concerts due to work, horse shows and the fact that a lot of my favorite bands aren’t touring or are “going on hiatus”. The shows that I have been to this year have all been amazing. When the lights go down and the band hits the stage, I get that same butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling I do when the starter counts me down on cross-country. 2012 looks to be a good year for the bands I love. I’ve got three shows lined up already in February. Since many of the bands on this list released albums on Oct. 4 of this year (it was a great day!), I’m guessing they’ll tour in the coming year.

I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite albums of the year. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of pop and pop/rock!

1. Mariana’s Trench – “Ever After” – I’ve only had this album since Thanksgiving, but it’s like candy. I literally have to stop myself from listening to it too much or I’ll spoil myself. I’m not sure how I missed these guys, but they just make very catchy, very sincere pop tunes. Their last record and this one have been concept albums. This one just flows from one song to another perfectly and I can’t pick on favorite, plus vocalist Josh Ramsay has some major pipes.

2. The Cab – “Symphony Soldier” – Another very pop band, but I love Alex DeLeon’s vocals and they’re pretty good live. It’s been a few years since their last release, but this was worth the wait.
3. Relient K – Is For Karaoke – I’ve been a fan of Relient K since high school. They consistently put out great records and they’re a great example of a pop punk band progressing their sound without huge leaps and bounds. This is a covers album clearly influenced by the 80’s, but they do covers like no band can. They pick some pop hits (Justin Bieber’s “Baby”) and some more quirky ones (They Might Be Giants’ “Doctor Worm”). They can do country, rock, hip hop and pop equally well.
4. We Are The In Crowd – “Best Intentions” – It’s hard not to compare a female-fronted band with Paramore, but I think WATIC stand apart. They’re going where I’d hoped Paramore would go. Catchy pop-rock tunes and great live.
5. Jack’s Mannequin – “People and Things”- Jack’s Mannequin are one of my favorites. After what frontman Andrew Macmahon has gone through, it’s hard not to be inspired. His third full-length is more mid-tempo than his past two releases, but I’m loving it so far. It’s a natural progression and I’m excited to see them live (again!) in February.
6. Yellowcard – “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” – One of my favorite bands from high school who unfortunately went on a hiatus. But they’re one of few who actually made good on that statement and came back. I think this is their strongest record to date and the fact that they released an acoustic version of it makes me love them even more.
7. Mayday Parade – “Mayday Parade” – After a second full-length that many critics and fans thought was a flop, Mayday Parade released an album that fulfilled their potential after the loss of vocalist/song writer Jason Lancaster to Go Radio. I missed their fall tour, but saw them over the summer and I’m excited to see them again this spring.
8. Go Radio – “Lucky Street” – Although I haven’t worn this out as much as I did their last EP, Go Radio put out a great first full-length. It was just lacking the poppiness of the EP, but I have high hopes for the future. Now if only they’d tour more!
9. Simple Plan – “Get Your Heart On!”
– Another one of my high school favorites. Sure the lyrics are cheesy, but after being off my radar for a few years, I’m glad they’re back. This has more of a pop/rock feel than pop/punk, but it feels like they’ve grown with me over the years as my tastes have changed.
10. Cartel – “In Stereo” EP– Cartel are on the way back to their previous form with this catchy EP. Another band with a very strong vocalist. I’m crossing my fingers for a full-length in 2012.
11. This Century – “Sound of Fire” – A new band I discovered this year. Very catchy and I’m hoping for a tour in the near future.
12. New Found Glory – “Radiosurgery” – NFG were one of the first alternative bands I got into in high school and I’m so happy they’re still around. I need to spend some more time with this, but I like what I hear.
13. Westlife – “Greatest Hits” – I know this is really cheesy of me to have a boyband on my list, but I remember Westlife from back in middle school when I was listening to the Backstreet Boys. I had their first three albums, but they didn’t quite hit it off in the US. Once I got to high school, my interest in boybands faded, but last year I saw they had another album coming out. I did some research and realized they’ve done 10 albums since I last heard from them! I love their mid-tempo’s and this 2-disc greatest hits album is fun to spin for nostalgia’s sake. Plus they’re Irish and so dreamy!
14. Family Force 5 – “III” – I haven’t spent a lot of time with this, but FF5 first impressed me at Warped Tour with their live show a few years ago. It’s fun, dancey and has a cool Southern twang.
15. Brighten – “I’ll Always Around” EP – Great mellow, acoustic music for lazy afternoons.

Warped Tour Columbia, Md. review

Well, my whirlwind week has wrapped up and I’m back into a more normal schedule. I went to the Morven Park and Oatlands mansions on Sunday  the 31st since I’d never actually been through them. I took some photos and will try to get those posted soon. This past week, I had the Trilogy saddle fitter finally come out and get Oh So’s measurements for his new dressage saddle. Now to wait 8-16 weeks…

I also wrote up a review of my Warped Tour experience–

The Ready Set

The Vans Warped Tour made it’s annual stop in Columbia, Md. at Merriweather Post Pavillion on July 24. We’ve been having an unusually hot July, but a cold front came through just in time to make the day less humid, but still hot.

There’s a lot to like about hosting Warped at Merriweather. It’s a beautifully wooded area with lots of places to sit in the shade, as well as the big ampitheater which hosts two alternating stages. The parking is easy to navigate and the lines move fairly quickly. It’s also conveniently located between Baltimore and D.C./Northern Virginia.

What I hate about Merriweather is the horrible bottleneck that audiences have to pass through to get to the main stage and most of the merch tents. For some reason this year, the Kevin Says stage was located right along the major walkway before the bottleneck. With people hanging around that stage, plus surrounding merch tents, it made for a busy place. There were also merch tents close to and along the bottleneck, making it even tighter to squeeze through. Add to that food and drink vendors with lines extending into the walkway, and frequent closings of one “lane” to allow emergency vehicles and food trucks through, and it felt like rush hour in DC! I got caught in one crowd that literally was not moving for 10 minutes and could have easily been overheated.

The venue also made some other minor changes like not having any tents at all on the lawn area of the ampitheater. I didn’t like that decision because it forced people to walk through the bottleneck to go to signings and meet and greets.

As far as press, they moved the press tent up towards the parking lot, which was fine, but I would love to have a press entrance if possible. We’re there to cover the show, but I seem to always end up missing the first few bands because of the lines.

I’ve always been a fan of Nissan Pavillion (now Jiffy Lube Live). It was convenient for me to get to and I liked the layout of the festival more, but I’ve made the trek to Maryland year after year to experience

Go Radio

what is now my 9th Warped Tour.

It could be that I’m not as immersed in the scene as I used to be, but this year there were only three bands on my must-see list; Go Radio, Relient K and Family Force Five. But Warped Tour is not just about seeing your favorite bands in one place. It’s also about discovering new music. How could you not considering there are eight stages and over 70 bands playing?

I had a rough idea of who I wanted to photograph when I walked through the gates. The three above are in my top 10 favorite bands, but a few bands I like but don’t love were also playing, so I kept myself busy. In years past, I’ve been frustrated because there were so many bands that I loved playing at the same time on different stages. Luckily I didn’t have that problem this year, so I was free to check out some other sets.

My day started with the long trek to the inflatable schedule. In the end, I purchased a list, which was easier to read. Warped Tour created an app this year which I thought was pretty helpful. It had all of the bands listed with some info about them, plus a place to type in the set times of the bands you wanted to see. I still ended up using my good old-fashioned paper list. I shot The Baby Grand first on the Kevin Says stage. They’re a local band from Maryland, and I know the lead singer’s mother Cindy who runs a MusicBox Promotion company and has helped me out with contacts and photo passes in the past. I’d never checked on TBG before and I enjoyed what I heard. They played a great blend of acoustic/pop rock.

Less Than Jake

Since I’m a fan of most pop and pop/rock music, I checked out The Ready Set next. They sounded really good live and I made a note to check them out when I got home. (And in fact I did. I wasn’t feeling the recorded version of them.) They had a pretty big crowd of screaming teenage girls.  Next up was Go Radio, one of my current top 5 favorite bands. Lead singer Jason Lancaster’s powerful voice really translates live and I really enjoyed their set. They played a few songs from their EP “Do Overs And Second Chances” and some newer songs from their full-length Lucky Street.

I stayed put under the pavilion for The Dangerous Summer. They’re also local to Maryland. I’ve seen them a few times before and know that they’re very well reviewed on, but I never quite got into them. They do a good job live and I recognized some of their songs.

All of the bands I wanted to see were playing on the two stages in the pavilion, but I decided to venture over to the main stage to shoot a couple of bands. This was where I got stuck in the horrible congestion I mentioned earlier. I began to question why I decided to go, but pushed through and made it to the main stage in time to shoot Warped Tour veterans Less Than Jake. I’m not a fan of ska at all, but they had a decent-sized crowd and lots of crowd surfers. After enduring the terrible journey to the main area of the festival, I decided that since there weren’t many or any bands I was familiar with, I’d head back to the relatively cool pavilion.

Relient K was up next. They’re definitely one of my top fives. I’ve listened to them since high school and have seen them countless times. They’re definitely a band that I can say has progressed and matured in their sound since I’ve been a fan, and I like where they’ve gone. They just released a covers EP, but only played “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, which got people jumping. They have such a hugh catalog to choose from, and they went with a couple of tracks from their last two releases.

I stuck around to watch Lucero, who had a country-ish sound. They looked like old-school veterans, and I was surprised to see only one other photographer shooting their set.  I had just enough time to get a couple of shots and went off to the Ernia Ball stage to watch former Taking Back Sunday guitarist Fred Mascherino’s new band Terrible Things. Before this band, Fred had another band called The Color Fred, which I liked  a lot better. Luckily, the band played my favorite TCF song, “Hate to See You Go”, along with some of their current music.

I finished up my day by watching Family Force Five. They really impressed me when I saw them live a year ago. They’ve got infectious beats and a bit of a rap/rock sound that really gets people moving.

Relient K

They came out in Lady Gaga-inspired gallons attached to backpacks, which was odd, but costumes are their thing. It made for some challenging shots, but they took them off by the end of the first song.

Overall, I thought this year’s tour was very diverse, but leaned more towards the hardcore crowd. Therefore, there wasn’t much for me to see, but Warped Tour goes in cycles. It follows general music trends. Last year was more electronic/pop, and in years past it’s been more pop-rock and more sceamo. I think it’s definitely a good barometer of where the scene is currently.

Sometimes I feel like I’m too old to attend Warped Tour, mostly because I’m surrounded by screaming teenage girls and moshing teenage boys. As I was catching my breath, I watched Japanese punk band Peelander-Z bring a young boy, probably seven years old, up on stage. His dad hoisted him up and the band handed him some drumsticks to help them with the song. When the band finished and the boy and his father walked away from the stage grinning, I realized that I’ll never be too old for Warped Tour. It was a big part of my teenage years, and as long as the bands I love continue to play, I’ll keep my summer tradition.


You can see many more photos at my website,