Occasionally, rarely, you see a band who are so good you wonder how you could never have heard of them before. BabaJack are one of those. Singer and percussionist Becky Tate has a mesmerizing presence on stage, Trevor Steger on guitar and blues harp sounds and plays like he was born on a delta somewhere. Together and with a hard hitting rhythm section their music has an obviously blues base, the raw kind of blues that I enjoy the most but with elements of folk and, to my ears, something of Africa about it but I couldn’t pin that down.
For some reason they bring to mind one of my favourite bands, Moriarty, a French group who are country with an air of the Berlin cabaret about them. It’s no that they are like one another musically at all but that they bring an air of unexpectedness with them. It’s blues/ country/ folk but not as we know it, Jim! I suppose what I am saying is that they have that rarest of attributes, originality.
The Boom Boom Club in south London, where I go regularly, is promoted by the saintly Pete Feenstra who in my opinion ought to get one of those OBE or CBE things that the government hand out to people who have served the community. Pete’s services to live music in London can’t be over-estimated. This is a guy who turns out to see a show he has promoted on a wet, cold February night, because he genuinely loves the music and the musicians he promotes. If Pete was getting fat banker’s bonuses for his efforts, I don’t think there’s a music fan in London who would object.
To photography. Where video is concerned, I am low down the learning curve. After much messing about I just shoot Full High Definition (FHD 1920×1080) video at 25 frame per second with a shutter speed of 1/50th second. The lighting level at the club is pretty low and the lighting itself basic and luridly coloured.
For this video, I used the 35-100 f2.8 Panasonic zoom on my GX7. I used the GX7 rather than my GH3 because it has focus peaking and if the subject moves around a lot (and I don’t know this band and how they move), I like the aid given by the peaking. I’ve tried continuous autofocus but it gives those spasms of racking backwards and forwards and look thoroughly amateur. I’m hoping that the GH4 improves on that with its DFD (depth from defocus) information.
So, here I’m using manual focus, setting focus on Becky Tate and then moving across to Trevor on guitar and leaving focus where it is. For myself, I prefer a slightly off focus image to that awful racking in and out.
One thing to note here, I am not a young man and have somewhat shaky hands (thank you, English beer and French wine). The stabilization disguises that to an amazing degree and makes a tripod almost unnecessary. Having said that, I’d much prefer a tripod mounted camera but the denizens of blues clubs might find that a little annoying.
The trade off that I see here is between my 14-140mm zoom and the 12-35/ 35-100 combo. I am watching a band playing a song and videoing it all the way though. If I have to swap lenses, all continuity is lost. I am pretty sure that in the future I will use the 14-140mm f3.5-5.6 for my music videos. When lens changes are a no-no, it’s the go-to lens. I’m entirely happy to use it at full aperture since its good performance is not greatly enhanced by stopping down.
This lead me to a disturbing thought. When I go though my stuff on LightRoom, a disproportional number of shots are made on the 14-140mm. Do I need another lens? Could I do everything I want with just this lens? Ditch my f2.8 zooms? My fast primes? Probably but occasionally not. Could I live with just the 14-140mm? My disturbing thought returns. I probably could.
Boiling it down, I probably could but I don’t have to. That’s the point, isn’t it?