Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Dodge In Winter

When I was a kid, my father bought our family’s first new car, a white 1966 Dodge Dart. The Dart was the Cadillac for the working class. However, never to indulge, my father purchased a model with only basic standard equipment, manual transmission, with no AC or radio. The only extra was a cigarette lighter, which my mother did her best to wear out. However, the car was plenty roomy for the four of us, and the smooth nap-inducing ride made it possible to tolerate our marathon vacation road trips. During those trips my father would drive with Zen like focus, while my mother sat next to him, simultaneously reading and conversing. In the back seat, my brother and I played games and waged endless sibling battles, often ending with my father’s backhand slashing over the front seat like a catapult. Thirteen years later, I took possession and the keys from my father and drove from St. Louis to college in Carbondale Illinois. Despite rust along the fenders, an oil burning engine, and mandatory weekly spark plug cleaning, the Dart was a reliable old friend. One Friday afternoon, during my senior year, I left town for spring break. Just after sunset, I passed through Nashville Illinois heading north. I was tired and anxious to get home. At the far end of town, I came up behind a van as we approached a railroad crossing. The warning lights were flashing at the intersection, but the van continued over the tracks, casually, without hesitation. In this life altering moment of weakness, I was just tired and distracted enough to believe it was safe to follow. From my perspective, the crossing gates had not lowered and there was no train was in sight. In reality, there were no crossing gates at all. There was also an unseen second set of tracks. On those tracks, just out of view, was an oncoming freight train. As my car reached the end of the intersection, with open road just a few feet away, I looked up to my left. Out of the darkness, the engine rolled up like the Titanic. I remember reacting, but nothing more. The train slammed into the back door of my Dodge Dart, kicking us, like a tin can, to the other side of the tracks. Several minutes later I woke up to the conductor yelling at me through a shattered window. The next day, my classmates Jean Kracher and Barbara Lang drove 50 miles from Carbondale to pick me up at the hospital. Dressed in my finest blood soaked sweater and jeans, we drove to the local tow yard where I collected my scattered belongings. Barbara took photos as I stood beside the remains of the family car. Rather than crumple beneath the locomotive, the Dart’s steel body had taken the hit, like a champ, staying in one piece as we spun around. That morning, I stood there, feeling like a crash test dummy on his luckiest day. Smiling through my stitches, I thought at least I’ll get some good pictures. I never saw the photos, but I’ve been blessed to see 30 years since the family car saved my life.

Friday, December 10, 2010

At Your Service

I ran into this old acquaintance on Halloween. We use to hang out a lot. It was always a great time, but I never failed to get a hangover, run out of money, loose a job, or girlfriend, or find myself in some unfortunate situation. The last time I saw him was over a year ago. We’re driving to work, and some nut starts tailgating us down a side street. Suddenly the car roars past us, like the speed limit isn’t good enough for him. My friend says, “You gonna let him get away with that?” So I punch the gas and we race to a traffic light. It was red, so I made the stop, but the nut ran the light, leaving me behind all pissed off at 7:00am on a misty Monday morning. I flashed on a few consequences - accident, fistfight, injury, insurance, police and lawyers. So I say to my friend, “Dude, this isn’t how I want my day to go, alright? I’m dropping you off and you can ride with someone else after this.” My friend didn’t get upset or anything. He just shrugged it off and said no problem. So anyway, we chatted on Halloween. He’d had a good year apparently, with all his work paying off in the coming election. “Hearts and minds and Fox News,” he said proudly. Then he went on and on about the Tea party, his clients in the Senate and bla bla. By then I was losing interest, so he leaned close and whispered, “Evil is out, ignorance is in. It’s an easy sell.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Thousand Winks - Time Travel Made Easy

Still photography captures a single perspective, slowing it down, infinitely, allowing us a microscopic view of the moment. Film and video record entire events, and they heighten our perception when these events are sped up or slowed by timelapse. Imagine a sky with clouds flowing like ocean waves, a thunderstorm sweeping across a city like a dust broom, or the single stroke of a Hummingbirds’ wings. As Einstein pointed out, time is relative. Perhaps the Earth is perpetually dizzy and the hummingbird is relaxing as she drinks from a flower.

When I was shooting Super 8 film as a teenager, I experimented with time-lapse photography. At summer camp, I thought it would be a good idea to film a sunrise. That morning, while the rest of the camp slept in their bunks, I stood on a hillside, in the morning mist, shivering and clicking off frame after frame, and wishing the sun would hurry the #%^! up. Back home that winter, I set up my camera, aiming it through a window to our back yard and my parents’ garden. Faithfully I clicked off two frames every day until the next summer. Then, for some reason, I never developed the roll. I had become distracted. My parents were in the process of a divorce, and I was about to graduate high school and go off to college. Time was moving too fast.

Recently, I’ve been inspired me to give timelapse another try. Stock media services have become big business online, and are a great source of ideas and inspiration. In the stock media world, timelapse is king. HD video is common now, (with automatic cameras, yea!) and videographers are capturing amazing cityscapes and natural vistas like never before. I’ve begun building my own portfolio of stock footage and images to use in music videos. Here’s a recent clip. From my friends’ office overlooking downtown Oakland, the camera faces west toward San Francisco for a busy 24 hours.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Live At The Lucky 13"

Recorded after hours at the legendary Lucky 13 bar in Alameda, California. Thanks to the L13 management and staff and second camera, Charlene Bissinger.

“Thirteen Blues”
Carl Weingarten – slide guitar, looping
Live at The Lucky 13, Alameda, California

GUITAROSPHERES Video Series – “New music in unusual spaces.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Ambient Jazz Quartet

Jeff Oster (trumpet), Michael Manring (bass), Dave DiLullo (percussion) and I did a show at The New Zealander, Alameda in early July. We played to a full house, and have been asked to return in September. The two hour set is condensed to a steady 10 minute flow of improvised ambient jazz.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Loop Light"

This is the first in a series of music videos aimed at presenting new music in unusual spaces. “Loop Light” is a piece for slide guitar and loop pedals, recorded in the sanctuary at FCCA in Alameda earlier this month. The acoustics were excellent, thanks to the wood floors and curved interior of this vintage 1904 church.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Got Your Ring Right Here

When going on a date, it’s always important to notice what your companion is wearing. If you don’t, you’ll miss out, and she will notice that you’re missing out. If she happens to introduce you to several of her close friends, it’s important to notice what they are wearing as well. This is a lot of noticing for me to keep up with, which is one of the reasons I became a photographer, and thus carry a camera with me to all events where I might notice things, and would like to remember them later. On this occasion the closest of my date’s close friends was wearing a ring. This ring was hard, if not impossible, not to notice. It was large, even at a polite distance. After my polite noticing, our friend brought her ring up to my camera lens at kung fu speed, though thankfully coming to a safe stop at a close viewing distance, where my camera took notice.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Gallery Gig

"The Gallery Gig" Video

Jeff Oster - trumpet, flugelhorn, looping
Carl Weingarten - slide guitar, looping

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Pipewinds" Video from Dreaming In Colors

Since reissuing Dreaming In Colors in February, the CD is making its way onto radio, and distribution through CDbaby, Amazon and iTunes. When the LP version was originally released in 1985, "Mermaid" was the popular tune. This time it's "Pipewinds" that's catching the downloads. The song features Walter Whitney's classic analog synth orchestration, toe tapping groove, and ethereal space-flute melody. This new video production includes new original footage, plus brilliant animation by David Baumber.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recording Session with Michael Manring and Celso Alberti

I recently dreamed up a trio music project, and invited two of my favorite musicians to record - bass guitar maestro Michael Manring and Brazilian percussionist Celso Alberti. The two very busy working musicians, graciously accepted my invitation upon hearing several demos I’d produced.

After the usual cat herding, our schedules came together and we all arrived at Noah Perry’s Merritt Sound Studio on April 19.

The full day session went even better than expected, with the live bass, drums and looping guitar, shaping into an exciting new recording. Release is a few months away, but we'll be posting tracks in progress. --Carl

Download/Play this 3 minute MP3 excerpt of "BlueScapes" download mp3

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bone Dog Blues ( video)

"Bone Dog Blues" is on both escapesilence (2002) and the Hand In The Sand Compilation (2004). The song received good airplay, including NPR’s All Thing Considered, and the CD also came in at number one on that year’s Echoes Radio Listener’s Choice Poll. The tune is a straight ahead instrumental, and the theme, featuring Brian Knave’s excellent harmonica, is up tempo and cinematic. Enjoy.

Check out the following video I just produced, a concert performance by singer percussionist David Dilullo and singer Nadine Risha.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Alameda On Camera 2010

During the last weekend of February 2010, The Frank Bette Center hosted the annual Alameda On Camera photography event. 48 bay area photographers, me included, were given 48 hours to take pictures within an assigned 48th slice of the Alameda map. I was given the north eastern tip of the island, which includes Lincoln Park and the High Street Bridge.

There are few better motivators than a deadline. The advantage of photographing where I live is knowing the territory. This is also the disadvantage. How to make fresh the commonplace?

I approached this challenge in the following ways:

1. Find the most unfamiliar (to me) locations in subject area
2. Be there during the most dramatic light – morning, evening
3. Don’t plan the shoot other than what gear to bring
4. Shoot with multiple cameras – digital, film and pinhole
5. Stay for a while and take in the scene, like a movie
6. Give chance a chance

The above helped me to capture several great images in different styles. However, the final inspiration came from a familiar subject – the weather. It rained that weekend. The alternating sun and rolling storm clouds gave me ever changing views, filling the frame and broadening the perspective of each subject.

The Alameda Camera show opening was Friday April 2. The house was packed and of the awards given, my black and white photo Steel Cathedral won Best Classic Photo. Three additional photos I submitted are also on display through the end of April - Bike Night, Lightning Survivor and the panoramic pinhole, The Guardian.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dreaming In Colors

Among the few thousand independent LPs that made their way into record stores during the mid 1980s was an electronic music recording I produced with my friend and keyboard wizard Walter Whitney. Dreaming In Colors was
the fifth, and last, vinyl LP released on Multiphase Records. The music received good reviews, including from
critic Dean Suzuki, writing for Option Magazine, described the album’s guitar and electronic landscapes as, ”smart
and well-crafted . . . fabric of elegant sound”.

get music on iTunes

However, within months, Dreaming In Colors sold out, as did our main distributors, NMDS and GEM in New York. They went Chapter 11, pocketed our receipts and disappeared with what inventory they had left. With no income from sales, Dreaming In Colors went out of print. Only 1000 copies were pressed.

Despite its short run, Dreaming In Colors continued a life of its own. Over the years the music has appeared on radio, internet broadcasts, record auctions, news groups, and music blogs.

Walter and I have kept in touch, and we even released a second recording, Primitive Earth (CD1989), which is still available. Last year I retrieved and listened to the master tapes of Dreaming In Colors, and was inspired to release the music on CD. I sent a copy to Walt, who in turn mailed me a disc of orphaned songs that we hadn’t used (due to vinyl time limits) on the original release. Teaming up with producer Noah Perry, we spent several weeks remastering the analog tapes to 24bit digital. With the new material added to the lineup, the CD now includes all the tracks produced for the original album.

Finally, the reissue also features a gift from writer/producer Dean Suzuki of KPFA-FM. Upon hearing a demo, Dean graciously agreed to write a new set of liner notes, which follows up his original 1986 OP Magazine review.

Dreaming In Colors is now available direct from Multiphase Records, or on CD and MP3 from CDbaby and Amazon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pinhole Photography

I don’t know what it is about low-tech, but I’m there. It’s often the beginnings of an artists work, or trend in technology and culture that are more interesting to me than the periods that followed. There’s beauty in the basics. Case in point - Pinhole Photography. It’s just a hole in a box, but add camera and film technology, and a creative world opens up.

Pinhole photography is more versatile than ever. An array of cameras have been produced over the years, but recently a new generation of artists have emerged, pushing the genre forward with their own vision and new custom built designs. - see Flickr. Still, the art centers on its essential and beautiful concept - forever mysterious, Nature’s Eye shapes untamed light into renderings of the physical world.

The attached photos are the first in a new series of pinhole images I’ve been working on for several months. “Alameda Under Rain” is a one minute exposure made with a Holga 120 Panoramic Pinhole, as were “Cathedral, Oakland” and "Three Ships".

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Super 8 Movies

For about 10 years, between junior high through college, my career goal was to be a filmmaker. When I was 7 my father gave me a still camera for Christmas, which began training my eye, and took pictures from time to time with whatever film I could afford. At 13, my mother gave me a Super 8 movie camera, and it was destiny from there. During this early geek life I produced about 50 short Super 8mm movies, many with sound. I tried every genre from clay animation to comedies and documentaries, usually with my friends and family as subjects or reluctant cast members. In high school, I entered the national Kodak Teenage Movie Awards, and won two honorable mentions. However, that would be my highest climb up the film business food chain.

After college, I began producing music, which had opened as the next independent frontier. By that time, my films had gone into storage, and I kept them as anyone keeps their family pictures. They were part of another life.

Recently, after 30 years, I retrieved these films out of storage. I wanted to see if that unfinished life had anything to tell me now. Like a box of old love letters, I hesitated with mixed emotions at looking back. So why was I holding on to them? As I made my way through the stacks of reels, I remembered most of the films, but some were surprising. One such relic was a 10 minute movie called “The Fair”. I had shot the footage one day during my summer break in 1978. My home town of University City held a street festival, and in true experimental film-school mode, I captured the event with a micro lens, filming faces and objects in tight close-up, with blurry waves of people, double exposures, and crowds moving in slow motion. All the effects were done in the camera, a Fuji Single 8mm that allowed me to rewind the film, make fades, overlap, shoot high speed, etc. There was no soundtrack, but I had apparently spent time editing the film, and probably stopped when school started that fall.

Nothing plagues the artist quite like unfinished work. However, 30 years is plenty of time to make a fresh start. This look back gave me some inspiration. I transferred the footage to video and began a new round of editing. The more I studied the film, the more it clicked what I was attempting. Most of the original cuts were fine, and I didn’t want to remake the entire project. Instead it was really about finishing what had been started. I added a soundtrack, a loop-guitar piece called “Panomorphia” recorded this last year, and it all came together. Whatever meaning I was originally trying to convey, the old film and new music bridged two unfinished lives.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010
8:00pm - 11:00pm
1539 Lincoln Ave
Alameda, CA