Photography is… No. 1-Immortality

| October 17, 2018 | Reply

First in a series about photography and why I (Mary Jane Farmer) love it so much. Some of this is ‘borrowed’ from another source, most  is uniquely my own.

Photography creates immortality — Every Thanksgiving, my family is at my house. It’s tradition. The grandkids take out the old photo albums and go through them, again and again. It’s different somehow than seeing photos on a cell phone or social media. They laugh and they remember and relive those good times. And they also remember those gone on before them with just seeing the smiling faces of their loved ones preserved in a photo.

Robert Shaw, photo by Mary Jane Farmer

The four photos I am posting with this article are not family by origin, but all musicians, family by choice, who have all gone on ahead of me, of us. They played Kerrville Folk Festival when I was there as assistant to Producer Rod Kennedy, and as staff coordinator.

Robert Shaw. Robert was a powerhouse of a blues and boogie-woogie piano player. He was 77 when he passed away in 1985. Besides his talent that he shared not only on stage, but around the grounds, he enhanced everyone around him with that incredible, loving grin. The last time he left Quiet Valley Ranch, he pulled his car over to me and said, “I’m fixing to do something the devil hasn’t even done yet, Mary Jane.” “What’s that, Robert?” I asked. “I’m going to leave you now.” And with that his driver went on out the gate and I could hear him laughing as hard as I w

  • Townes Van Zandt photo by Mary Jane Farmer

    Townes Van Zandt. Townes had talent far ahead of his time and his peers, and people sat mesmerized every time he stepped on the Kerrville Folk Festival stage. He was 53 at the time of his passing in 1997. I and Kennedy drove him to Austin, years before that, following one of his stays at a treatment center, trying to get away from the addictions that consumed him. That night, he was to appear on “Austin City Limits” then filmed on University of Texas property. We walked into the green room with him, and it was filled with the smoke, smells, and availability of illegal/dangerous drugs, the very poison that he had been running from. Someone may hate me for saying this, but even his band members, his musician friends, didn’t care enough to help keep temptation away from him.

    Stan Rogers photo by Mary Jane Farmer

  • Stan Rogers. Stan and I became instant good friends during the days he, his brother Garnet, and fellow Canadians Al Simmons and Connie Kaldor were at Kerrville Festival in 1983. We laughed together and with others. At The Inn of the Hills over dinner, we danced, we ate escargot, and later he sang me the last song he was writing at the time, one commissioned of him for a movie. The others flew back to Canada on schedule, Stan stayed one extra night, because he wanted one more night of campfire pickin’.
  • I always got a hotel room during festivals because my cabin became the green room for performers. Middle of the night it was when the phone rang, an AP reporter wanting a comment from me about the Canadian who had died in a plane that night. “What Canadian?” I asked. “Well, I can’t say, but can you make a statement?” What? She began to tell me the story of how the plane made an emergency landing, and as she talked I figured out it was Stan. I spent the next day having to tell others, starting with Chief of Security and Kennedy himself, one new friend of Stan’s at a time

    Wayne Kennemer, Photo by Mary Jane Farmer

    about his demise. Also had to work with Pedro Gutierrez, who had recorded all of Stan’s set, to get it mixed and mastered and quickly sent to BBC TV, being as Canada is under British government and they called from across the big pond asking for our help. No chance to cry, to mourn, to grieve, to talk about him. Business as usual, hoping and helping to keep staff together. It was a year after that festival before I could even listen to his music, it was that hard. He was 34 and had already made a positive impact on the world. He will remain with me always.

  • Wayne Kennemer. Wayne was a friend who lived in Kerrville. And one heckuva good musician. He and I would meet for breakfast mornings. He taught me to add some mustard to my ketchup for even more flavor. He was involved in the filming of “The Alamo-ThePrice of Freedom” for the Imax Theater in San Antonio. It was quite a treat to interview my own good friend about the filming and all the intrinsic pleasures and lessons he had gotten out of being involved. His name isn’t on the credits anywhere, but he was there, involved, and important in his assigned way to its success.

 

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Category: *- Features, - Festivals, MJ's Story/ Blog

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