Ron Thompson, 1994

Making every effort not to confuse the living with the dead, I wanted to resurrect a couple of old pictures. I thought it would be fun to go see Ron Thompson. He’s sort of a journeyman blues guy who always puts his all into his performances. I shot him back in 1994; Krista shot him last Saturday. My heart just wasn’t into it this year.

When I took these pictures at Al Polowski’s night club (the worst “stage” ever for a band) there wasn’t much of a crowd. Like most of the blues gigs, it was poorly attended—which pretty much affirmed that everyone who was there was there because they wanted to be. Shooting blues (from 1993-1995) was an interesting time for me. Slim and Rex thought I was wasting my time and talent on it. But it seemed important somehow, largely because everyone else thought it was so blasé and unimportant. No one paid much attention to blues. I was taken by the high seriousness of the good performers; if you played the blues, you knew there was little chance that you’d ever make much money at it. Though I shot my share of “weekend warriors” who stuck a toe into the blues, I loved the people who were obviously in it for the long haul, no matter what.

Ron Thompson

Ron’s 53 now, and even more energetic now than he was back then. Definitely alive. The key difference for me now is that there are a lot more people paying attention. It was hard to see the show for all the photographers shooting it. I remember one guy in particular, down front with is cell phone snapping away. Me, I just enjoyed the show. It’s great to be able to do that now.

Minneapolis' Finest

Famous Dave’s is to barbeque as McDonalds is to hamburgers (bland and hardly distinctive), and their “blues festival” is much the same. I didn’t shoot the surrounding scenes because it seemed pretty much the same as last year. I feel like the “pig” shot from then summed things up well enough. But the level of performers seemed better this year, and I hope it’s even better next year.