By Bill Jenks
The Morrison Hotel Gallery celebrated its 10th anniversary on October 13, 2011, with a music-and-photo fusion bash at New York’s Cutting Room nightclub. “It’s not just about pictures of rock stars,” gallery co-founder Peter Blachley said, correcting our initial impression of what the Morrison Hotel is all about. “We prefer the term ‘fine-art music photography.’”
Ken Regan, the official photographer on Bob Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue, elaborated. “The Morrison Hotel does a fantastic job, not only in the exhibit itself but in tying it all together with events and fine-art book publishing.” Top contemporary music photographer Clay Patrick McBride agreed, chiming in, “The Morrison is THE place you want to be shown today.”
The breadth of music photography the Morrison Hotel Gallery covers was emphasized by co-founder Rich Horowitz, in a multi-media tribute he led to music photographers who recently passed away. “Herman Leonard was relentless, from his classic photos of Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington in the 1940s right through to his shooting the aftermath of hurricane Katrina when he was well into his 80s,” he said.
A virtual who’s who of the world of music photography hit the celebration, including those who shot some of the iconic pix of the 60s and 70s, the classic age of Rock, photos that graced album and magazine covers around the world. About a dozen of those shots were on display and up for bids in a silent auction to raise money for the animal rights group Rational Animal and the humanitarian White Feather Foundation.
Morrison Hotel Gallery co-founder Henry Diltz attended in his accomplished roles both as a top music photographer and a founding member of the Modern Folk Quartet (MFQ), who took the stage mid-evening for a rollicking reunion. They were joined mid-set by surprise guest star John Sebastian, who sang lead on “Good Time Music,” a song he penned for them in the 60s. “I had the Loving Spoonful at my club when they were nobody,” noted our tablemate, impresario legend Joe Marra, pointing at his sweatshirt bearing the famous Night Owl Cafe logo.
Also fusing the worlds of live music and photojournalism during the night was Danny Clinch, one of the leading popular music photographers working today and a two-time Grammy-nominated music video director. He took the stage as part of the Tangiers Blues Band (shown in the photo at the top of the page), who tore through a blazing set of hard-driving electric blues. That supergroup brought together Dangerman lead singer Chris Scianni and keyboardist Dave Borla as well as jazz keyboardist and bandleader Pete Levin.
Actor Danny Aiello emerged from the audience to take a turn at the mike, too. “Here’s one from Gary U.S. Bonds,” beamed Aiello, who then launched into a respectable version of “This Little Girl.”
Julian Lennon sat at a table on the mezzanine overlooking the whole affair. In addition to lending his celebrity status to the fete, Julian currently has his photography being featured by Morrison Hotel in an exhibit entitled “Timeless.”
Photos courtesy Jimmy Celeste.