Myles Kennedy at the Ancienne Belgique, by: photographer, Cristel Brouwer
Photo: Myles Kennedy, Alter Bridge. Brussels, 2016.
Taken by: Cristel Brouwer
I have stared at this photo in awe since Myles Kennedy shared it on Monday. It’s the wallpaper on my laptop and taped into my notebook. Here’s why…
Alter Bridge — one of the hardest working bands in Rock n’ Roll has also become one of the most gracious — with their rigorous touring schedules, their engagement efforts and of course, their music. When I interviewed Myles Kennedy around the time The Last Hero was released, I focused on (and marveled at) how Kennedy is able to consistently be so encouraging through his lyrics and approach.
“I don’t believe in giving up. Within my years on this planet, I’ve seen too many examples where if you work hard enough and you get back up, you kick the dust off and keep pressing forward, you will get back on path. Life is going to then be much more rewarding as opposed to someone who falls down, stays down, and complains, and blames everybody around them. I don’t subscribe to that theory of living. I believe you make your own destiny. I will continue to convey that in the songs,” said Kennedy.
Last week, Alter Bridge performed at Royal Albert Hall for two nights with the Parallax Orchestra. Even from afar, through grainy iPhone videos, the performance was chilling. The pairing of a genuine band with deep lyrics and a full orchestra, adding melodies to the melodies… triggered a wide array emotions. Alter Bridge continue to challenge themselves. Through it all, one constant always shines bright — they are passionate individuals. Their attitudes are contagious and inspire you to keep striving for whatever it is you are going after. Their fans so greatly appreciate these qualities and the band’s natural ability to make them want to be even better. This photo captures all of that.
I’ve had a very difficult time with the passing of Chris Cornell. Though I am forever grateful for how generous Cornell was with his gift, his shocking passing has rocked me to my core. An article for another time, but Cornell’s words of encouragement were a driving force behind me starting Artist Waves. There have been some incredible Cornell tributes by so many artists the past five months. The Avett Brothers, Live, Norah Jones, Corey Taylor, Coldplay, Guns n’ Roses, to name just a few — all covered Cornell/Soundgarden/Audioslave/Temple of the Dog classics beautifully. However, it was Alter Bridge’s performance of their own song, “Blackbird” at the Rock on the Range festival that has moved me the most. On day two, May 20th, just two days after Cornell passed, Alter Bridge played a late afternoon set. Soundgarden was supposed to headline Rock on the Range on Sunday, the final night of the festival. Prior to the second to last song in Alter Bridge’s set, Kennedy dedicated “Blackbird” to Cornell, “Chris, wherever you are, an ocean of tears were cried for you. We miss you brother.” Kennedy then pauses about five seconds, tilts his back, closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and glides into a wind-blowing guitar intro. After 20 seconds, he stops. Guitarist, Mark Tremonti then begins the signature “Blackbird” riff. Kennedy walks to his right, grabs a towel and wipes his face. It was a total, “This is going to be tough. How am I going to do this? Dig deep, be sound,” moment that was so honest and so appreciated. This photo captures that.
Life Must Go On:
Switch gears a moment. What is going on in the world? Everyone’s divided, there are natural disasters everywhere — devastating hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, the horror of Las Vegas, Tom Petty’s last dance, lock-downs in suburban elementary schools, greed, racism, discrimination and a total sense of “lost”. Seriously, what the hell is going on? Sometimes the only thing that feels authentic is baseball! But we still have the arts. We’ll always have music. It’s a constant companion and commonality. Even if it’s just for two hours at a show. There’s a balance between recognizing and dealing with life’s hardships, and escaping them. This photo captures both.
On the plus side, I am a firm believer that the arts are leading the way. Things are happening creatively that are making walls shake. Barriers are being broken and more importantly, artists are doing things their way. But we need more. As Fantastic Negrito recently told me, “It’s such a vital time for artists. There are other tracks trying to lead us off cliffs. This is our time — artists, writers, producers, film-makers, this is it. The bell has rung — we need you now. There’s a lot of love in the world and we as artists have to show it.” He was right. Even if it’s just the two circles of light at the top, this photo captures that.
Open Your Eyes:
The first time I saw Alter Bridge live was 13 years ago now — October 7, 2004 at Irving Plaza to be exact. I went with three of my buddies. One of them was a big Rock n’ Roll fan and the other two were just along for the ride. A night out in the big city with the boys. Alter Bridge closed with “Open Your Eyes” that Thursday night. As we stood towards the back, my buddy Parker and I spilled our drinks during the last song. We were jumping up and down screaming that wave of a chorus at the top of our lungs. To my surprise, so were the other two. Not only were they singing, but they lost themselves in the song. They happened to know every word of “Open Your Eyes” and in that moment, it meant something personal to them. We all have families now, some additional responsibilities you may say, and in addition to that, we live in four different states up-and-down the east coast. No matter where we are in our respective lives, how little we talk, how different we were, and how we different we still are, we still had that same reaction. Sometimes music makes you remember everything. Sometimes art makes you feel everything… and this photo captures that.
“I took this one at the Ancienne Belgique, Brussels November 9, 2016.
I was lucky enough to be standing on the side of the stage when the audience was singing out loud and kept singing over and over again. Myles just kneeled down and took it all-in, he was enjoying and living the moment.”
Catch Alter Bridge on tour now through December 16th.
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