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Joanne Shaw Taylor | Whelan's, Dublin, Ireland | 21.11.15

This one surprised a few people, but yes, I do like blues music. In fact, blues music got me through some fair…

© Shaun M. Neary 2015. Please do not use this image without permission.

This one surprised a few people, but yes, I do like blues music. In fact, blues music got me through some fairly rough college years a few years back. Back then, when things got a bit too rough, I would pour a glass of Jack Daniels and Coke and listen to the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Slim Harpo, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and Koko Taylor. I still do minus the whiskey and tons of added sugar. The opportunity came along to catch Joanne Shaw Taylor at Whelan's, so I went along as I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the performance that night.

Joanne Shaw Taylor has been performing since the early 2000s, and caught the attention of Eurythmics' Dave Stewart who later invited her to be a part of his side project D.U.P featuring Jimmy Cliff, Candy Dulfer, and Mudbone Cooper to name a few. By 2009, she had released her first solo album "White Sugar". This tour in particular is in support of her fifth release that came out last year, titled "The Dirty Truth". If you haven't seen her perform, she's probably one of the more animated and exciting guitarists to grace a stage. I'll even go out on a limb and say that she'll give Simon McBride and Joe Satriani a run for their money in terms of stage presence.

We get a brief set from the Mary Stokes Band. Stokes herself, has been active on the blues scene in Ireland since the late 80s, however fits perfectly for the crowd at Whelan's in terms of getting them warmed up. Standard lighting here which poses no problems. ISO at 1600, with the aperture stopped down to f/3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/160sec to compensate for the bright blue lights that sometimes make catching harmonica man, Brian Palm a tricky experience at times, but otherwise, an easy shoot. A damn sight easier time compared to catching The Devlins at the same venue about a week earlier.

Joanne is up next, and the lights only dim down slightly, so this too shouldn't present any significant problems. A grand total of three people on stage tonight, giving her plenty of room to roam the stage, which she ensures she takes full advantage of. It really doesn't matter which end of the stage you end up on, it's pretty impossible to not get a good clear shot of her. It's clear that she has mastered her art, as she smiles from ear to ear when she is banging out riff after riff and solo after solo. She seems to be a lot more comfortable playing away than she does behind the mic.

Usual drill of three songs, but to be honest, you could get everything in one! So in this case, I just took my time with taking the photos as opposed to the usual time constraints and pressures that come with the environment. I had a bit of trouble with one of the two lenses that I was working with (14-24mm and 24-70mm), so some of the shots that I took on the night weren't as sharp as I had hoped. I chalked that up to the strong back lighting giving me focus problems because the lens worked fine the following night, but I digress. I had enough for the desired set at the end of the day.

Settings were similar as before as the light didn't really change much. Film speed at ISO 1600 with aperture adjusted slightly to f/3.2 as the lights had dimmed slightly, and kept the shutter speed at 1/160sec which was just right for my purposes. It was tricky to narrow this set down, despite the fact that I found myself most of the time just off centre to stage left. Thankfully the crowd were quite easy going and let me move around for the short time that I needed to. Whelan's can have strange crowds, most of the time they cut photographers a break, other times there's just no room to do so, especially when the house is jam packed.

Given the schedule for the week, I unfortunately couldn't stick around for this one. I probably would have provided a review for Pure Rawk had I been able to do so, but time isn't always my best friend. Definitely one for a return shoot in the future though, with Joanne Shaw Taylor, you're in for a good night if you're a lover of blues, or if you just appreciate good guitar work.

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