Living Out LOUD!

Living Out LOUD!

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Robert Randolph and The Family Band


With a foggy head from an after-midnight arrival back on the coast, I sat processing images at the iMac control station. Images from LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) and autumn colors from the Smoky Mountains had me dancing in my chair but it was the friendly elk photos that made me stop and wonder, How did all of these amazing experiences happen in three days?

Receiving the ticket for LEAF was nothing short of amazing. The event was sold out for months. I had a feeling the weekend was divinely unfolding….and it did. I’ll begin this tale on the way to the festival.

SimoneLipscomb (290)I left Atlanta before dawn and made my way in the darkness through the North Georgia Mountains. As sunrise was still an hour away, I found myself in Clayton, Georgia with 36 degree temperatures causing me to grab a vest when I stopped to buy a cup of coffee. Burrrr! Onward and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short little climb up from Waynesville, North Carolina to see the sweeping views…of ice and hoar frost and feel temperatures below freezing. When I exited the heated seats, harsh wind whipped over the ridge and made short work of photographing anything.

simonelipscomb (2) copyBack down I went to get on I-40 east toward Asheville….Swannanoa…Black Mountain. LEAF! I arrived in time to enjoy breakfast from The Corner Kitchen and rosemary potato wedges that made my eyes roll backwards. The chilly but sunny morning had everyone is good spirits. Children were playing, nearby parents were enjoying morning coffee. It was a beautiful atmosphere of love, kindness, joy and…peace.

Ready for a bit of Sunday morning gospel I strolled to Eden Hall to hear Church to the Nth Power. AWE-some!

The sunshine called so I stepped outside and watched monstrous bubbles entertain energetic kids…and adults who were too self-conscious to run after them…but I saw the gleam in their eyes.

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Gee’s Bend, Alabama Quilter and Singer

Then it was time for Willie Sugarcapps…the home-grown super-group from coastal Alabama. I entered their venue early to get a good seat for photographic opportunities but a large section was filled. Almost as soon as I sat down two women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama were introduced and they started singing gospel songs. Then Asheville kids they had worked with during the week joined them and sang and I’m pretty sure most of us in the audience were singing before the music ended.

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The women are part of a group of famous quilters and singers from south-central Alabama and helped the youth learn quilting. A mosaic of intense-color was presented to wild applause.

simonelipscomb (64)Then it was time for Willie Sugarcapps…and they put on a great show. Wow-zers!

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Robert Randolph and The Family Band

Barley’s Pizza for lunch while listening to Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I couldn’t stop moving my feet…luckily I’m relatively coordinated so chewing and keeping time with my boots didn’t cause any difficulties. As soon as I finished lunch I wormed my way into the front of the tent and stood mouth-agape at this pedal-steel-guitar-playing light-bulb-of-a-person. Or spotlight-of-a-person. Forgot my ear plugs and even though it felt like my ears were ripping apart from the speakers, I couldn’t look away…couldn’t do anything but connect with the energy of this dynamic performer.

simonelipscomb (110)As I stood photographing him as he played, I felt his strong love and immense passion for what he was doing. It felt as if he was a pure channel for joy and laughter. It was church for the soul. It was very difficult to stop dancing as I focused and squeezed the shutter on my Nikon. But I managed to get some good shots.

simonelipscomb (142)With an encore that lasted deliciously long, I knew I needed to push a bit to make the next Willie Sugarcapps set up at The Barn. I arrived in time to hear David Wilcox’s final song and even got a few images of him. His music has been an inspiration for many years…geez…I hate to say it but…decades.

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Willie Sugarcapps…Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee Crawford, Anthony Crawford

Then Willie.… Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford. The Barn was a perfect venue for their wonderful music. The second set was a bit softer and the songs took the audience a bit deeper in this smaller, more intimate space. They were having fun and so of course, we were, too.

SimoneLipscomb (8)The darkness of The Barn with filtered light and hints of turquoise, blue, and orange accent colors seemed to weave a sort of magic around the notes, words and harmonies they created. During Grayson Capps song, Love, tears rolled down my face as the words found a deeper place to touch. And yet the energy didn’t get heavy…or sad. It kept getting sweeter and lighter as they played to close down that particular stage of LEAF Autumn 2014.

Love this shot...Grayson Capps and Will Kimbrough having FUN!
Love this shot…Grayson Capps and Will Kimbrough having FUN!

Reviewing over 1500 images wasn’t something I looked forward to but as I progressed through them, frame-by-frame, I saw the energy of life and love and laughter shining through faces. Moments of sheer joy reignited within my heart and I realized I was smiling…and laughing as I worked.

The photography portion of the trip ended yesterday in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I ducked into a corner of the park to capture some autumn colors and saw elk near the visitor center. Of course where twenty elk gather, masses of humans follow.

I started to drive on to avoid the crowd but something made me slam on the brakes and pull into the full parking lot. I waited for a car to exit, parked, grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens and walked toward the masses. It was very crowded and the elk were really too far away to get any decent shots so I walked down to the river for some quiet time before leaving the mountains.

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I can honestly say this mother and baby elk blew my mind….

Absentmindedly looking at rocks on a sand bar in the river, I didn’t notice the elk cow and calf wading in the water, headed straight for me. I gathered my wits and backed away, giving them space to cross uninterrupted. They weren’t stopping regardless.

Once at a safe distance for all three of us, I started photographing them and couldn’t believe my good fortune, luck…or divine providence. Ansel Adams once said he thought he sometimes arrived at a place just when God wanted someone to snap the shutter. That’s how the encounter with the mom and baby elk was for me. The only reason I believe it actually happened is because I have photographs to prove it.

SimoneLipscombELK (1)Three days, three nights and I feel exhausted but like life bestowed upon me some magical window of time. I visited with friends from my old neighborhood, participated in an amazing festival of love and life, heard music that filled me with joy and love, connected with a mother and baby elk in a gentle and respectful encounter….saw brilliant colors of leaves and blue sky. I think over the past three days I was living out loud. And it felt marvelous.

To the LEAF ticket fairy…or fairies…THANK YOU! So much….

 

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