Jay Blakesberg Kicks off Northeast Book Tour in DC

Continues with Stops in Charlottesville, VA & Roanoke, VA

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By Mike Marsala

All the years combine they melt into a dream. For Jay Blakesberg, the past several decades have been quite the dream. Jay has documented pop life/culture since he was 15 (though he may not have even known he was doing so at the time). The 1978 Grateful Dead at Meadowlands would change Jay’s life. This was it.

They say if you want something in life, reach out and grab it. Jay’s photos are tangible, the intangible memories and stories behind them are equally or more inspirational.

The psychedelic roller coaster has taken Jay across the country where he has been able to document everyone: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones to Bono of U2 to the Grateful Dead to Dr. Dre to Neil Young to Barenaked Ladies to Snoop Dogg to every one under the sun. He’s been assigned over 300 projects for Rolling Stone magazine.

The lifelong journey of adventure is just as impressive as his photos. You see, Jay says if you don’t take photos of what you love, the art isn’t there. There are so many great photographers out there, but those who capture the energy and spirit in the most genuine way for whatever passion they have ultimately have a golden touch that separates what they do from others in a very special way. Jay’s touch is capturing the live music experience. Sure, a lot of it is centered around the Grateful Dead.

Last night Jay Blakesberg gave an incredible presentation cataloging his dreams along the Golden Road at Gypsy Sally’s in DC. He was a 15 year old with his dad’s camera, last night he sat in front of us and told us how he got to take the Final shot of Fare Thee Well with the core 4 members of the Grateful Dead, Jeff Chementi, and Trey Anastasio in front of 70,000 plus fans at Soldier Field in Chicago. Through all the stories of debauchery, life on the road, encounter with law enforcement, hotel parties, waiting days on clients to show up to photo shoots, the awe of spending time with Tom Waits… In all of these instances the story was captivating, but what stood out most was the passion and authenticity behind each tale. It was dinner table talk about encounters with all sorts of rock star. Moreover, Jay is a living testament to do what you like what your life. Jay went out and chased it, and he is in a great spot today because he did just that.

Going to find Jorma of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna, stalking him into a deli in NYC and snapping that photo at age 16 and its publication thereafter in Relix changed his life.

I’m not going to spoil the stories of Dr. Dre showing up late, insane backstage parties with Primus, or his epic tales of life on the road with the Grateful Dead, but I will recommend you go see him if he is within driving distance of you.

Photographers speak with their photos. But more often than not I find the most reward in speaking to them about the stories BEHIND those photos and what these experiences have done to shape them into the person they are today.

We are the sum of our experiences.

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