It’s Christmas time and that means its time for Narada Michael Walden’s annual Holiday Jam Dance Party at the intimate 142 Throckmorton Theater benefiting the Narada Michael Walden Foundation which provides scholarships to young musicians. This was the annual benefit concert’s fourteenth year. This year patrons witnessed performances by The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, on saxophone (and a few vocals here and there), Jeanie Tracy, Sakai, Lydia Pense, Manuel Romero, Vernon Ice Black, the Narada Band, and of course, The Santa Babies.
Since Narada has been touring the globe as Jeff Beck’s drummer for the past year, there was some uncertainty that there would be a Christmas concert this year, but when the concert was officially announced and the lineup was chosen just weeks before the date of the show, excitement began to build among Bay Area music fans. Narada managed to put the show together within a week of returning home from the South American leg of the Jeff Beck tour, but the quality of performance matched that of a show that had been touring for months. Fans went crazy for The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, and appreciated his frequent crowd interaction. Other crowd favorites included Sakai when she was able to break away from the side stage microphones and take on a song of her own, the always animated Jeanie Tracy, and the legendary Vernon Ice Black shredding on his guitar. Narada closed the show with the James Brown classic Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto and his solo snare drum rendition of Little Drummer Boy with which he opened last year’s show.
The Narada Band (ft. Clarence Clemons)
Narada Michael Walden
Troy (Booda) Lampkins
The Santa Babies
Narada Michael Walden
Narada Michael Walden (Little Drummer Boy Solo)
Vernon Ice Black
End Notes: This was an entirely seated concert except for the few times when the performers got the crowd out of their seats and dancing along. This made photography a little bit more challenging because I had to either shoot from the back of the theater or from very low in the very front of the crowd. I photographed the entire concert and used all three of my main lenses with the 70-200 f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4 being the two used most. Lighting was low and my white balance was set at Tungsten the entire show, but there were some added blue lights that I didn’t remember from last year that added some really good contrast and variation of color. With the 70-200 f/2.8 I relied heavily on the in-camera shake reduction since I was shooting between 1/10 and 1/45 most of the time making blur an issue. Luckily, Clarence was seated and had virtually no movement while playing giving me the opportunity for some great shots of him zoomed way in at 1/10 of a second with no blur. With the 50mm f/1.4 I could shoot as fast as 1/125 at f/2 making blur less of an issue. Narada was in the back and his drum set was on a riser, but he was still hard to shoot from the main floor with the other band members in the way and the lack of light so I shot most of my photos of him behind the kit from the first row of the balcony during the second half of the show resting my lens on the guard rail for added support.