Rod arrives in Chile

 

 

With over 100 million albums sold and a dozen hits, arrived by private jet at about 17:00 pm today , singer Rod Stewart , who arrived in Chile go over his 50 year career and his latest work , Time , who has been touring the rest of South America.

The artist and the era of mega-concerts in Chile in 1989 , is one of the biggest bets of the 55th International Song Festival of Viña del Mar.

By Artist interpreter hits like Hot Legs and My Heart Can not Tell You No, event production disbursed the sum of $ 720,000 ( nearly 400 million Chilean pesos).

The night of February 27 will open the fifth night of the festival , so declared to be very happy with the invitation. On the other hand , promises a high quality show and hopes that people enjoy with him. "It will be a great show. Highly energetic and colorful ," he said .

Rod retires to gear up for Lancashire concert

 

Lancashire Evening Post

 

27/02/2014

 

 


At the age of 69 – so he can avoid getting injured before his Lancashire concert this summer.

Ardent Celtic fan Rod, who has played football all his life, went out on a high – with a narrow 3-2 win which saw his Sunday League side, based in LA, reach fourth in their league.

“It was beginning to impinge on my work playing on a Sunday, then having to go and play a concert at Vegas in the evening,” he said.

“But I’ve had a great run. I’ve played all my life. The lads gave me a good send off. And now I’m assistant coach to the assistant coach!”

Does that mean that he fancies himself as an Alex Ferguson in the future? “Stay in the background and keep poking my nose in?” he jokes.

The superstar’s return to songwriting with his album Time, after two decades, has been a massive hit – and it forms the heart of his five date tour across the UK this summer.

The tour starts at Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium on June 13 and brings him to at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, on June 20.

He follows that with a performance at Premier League Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium on June 14.

The three venues are the biggest of the five date UK tour, which also includes concerts in Taunton, on June 18, and Falkirk, on June 21.

The Celtic fan is always eager to talk football. He loves the fact all Premier League matches are on the television in LA.

And he’s backing former Celtic player and fellow Scot David Moyes to be a success at Manchester United.

“I think they’ve turned the corner. I wouldn’t write them off,” he said.

“And of course, David Moyes is a former Celtic player. He seems a nice fella and I hope it works out for him.”

He also admits that he enjoys watching United’s “noisy neighbours” City. “I like their approach to the game, they play some amazing football,” he added.

The album has an autobiographical feel to it – and there’s also a sense of returning to the early days of his career in the venues he’s chosen.

Speaking at his home in LA he said: “I really am surprised how well the album’s done. It got to number one. It’s competing.

“It’s an amazing success and it has given me great confidence. I’m starting to look at a follow-up to it as we speak.”

Tickets for his summer UK tour have been selling fast. And he’s looking forward to the five concerts at four football stadium venues and a cricket ground. His fans are already counting down to the big kick off.

Rod explained the thinking behind the tour. He said: “It’s because the album’s so successful. There’s a demand for me to be there and it is great to play smaller places, though they’re not exactly small venues.

“I tend to go to the same places every year, Manchester, Glasgow, London, it’s nice to mix it up and go to other places.

“It’s what I do and I love doing it. It’s my job and I’m just loving it. I’m smiling all over the place when I’m up there. It’s a wonderful way to earn a shilling.”

The venues chosen this summer have also brought back memories of Rod’s early days as a musician, days when he toured the country in vans working to make it to the big time.

One track, ‘Brighton Beach’, is an emotional love song about his time on the south coast as a teenager.

His last performance in Brighton was in November 1986. While he last rocked Blackpool and Stoke in December 1974, with legendary group the Faces.

Rod added: “I remember playing Stoke with Long John Baldry like it was yesterday. There’s a track on the album about Brighton and what that place means to me, I spent a lot of my teenager years there.”

He is still keen for a Faces reunion, though it is proving a little tricky. Keyboard player Ian McLagan has said he wants a Small Faces celebration first.

Rod said: “Ronnie’s in Australia with the Stones and I’m doing what I’m doing here.

“We talked about trying to leave the year 2015 free. We can’t leave it too much longer.”

Rod also expresses his admiration for some – but not all – of today’s musical artists.

“I like all sorts of music. At this stage of the game, it is difficult to be influenced by it. I was influenced by all the great blues artists.

“I’ve great admiration for ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – it was one of the bravest and most beautiful songs written in the last 15 years.

“I also like John Newman, he is very good. There is some good stuff out there, but there’s still a lot of crap out there. The good stuff always rises to the surface.”

For details of how to book for Rod’s summer tour, please visit www.ticketline.co.uk or call 0844 888 9991.

 
 

 

Rod to tour the US with Carlos Santana

 

 

Rod Stewart and Santana will be joining forces for the can’t-miss musical experience of the summer!  The 18-city North American tour joins two of music’s most influential hit makers and dynamic live performers for an incomparable evening of music beginning May 23 in Albany, NY.

 

Tickets for the tour will go on sale beginning Friday, March 7 at 10AM (local time).

American Express® Card Members can purchase before the general public beginning Monday, March 3rd at 10AM in Rosemont, IL and Tuesday, March 4th at 10:00AM for all other markets, through Thursday, March 6th at 5pm in Canada and 10pm in the U.S. (local time).

 

For the Wantagh concert, Citi cardmembers will have acess to presale tickets beginning Tuesday, March 4th at 10AM through Citi’s Private Pass Program.


May 23 - Albany,Times Union Center

May 25 -Uncasville, N.Y.,Mohegan Sun

May 27 -Pittsburgh,CONSOL Energy Center

May 31- Buffalo,First Niagara Center

June 3 - Louisville,KFC Yum! Center

June 6 -St. Louis,Scottrade Center

June 7 - Lincoln, Neb.,Pinnacle Bank Arena

July 31- Eugene, Ore.,Matthew Knight Arena

Aug. 2 -Vancouver, B.C.,Rogers Arena

Aug. 4 -Calgary,Scotiabank Saddledome

Aug. 5 -Edmonton,Rexall Place

Aug. 8 -Winnipeg,MTS Centre

Aug. 10 - St. Paul,XCEL Energy Center

Aug. 12 - Denver,Pepsi Center

Aug. 14 - Kansas City,Sprint Center

Aug. 16 - Rosemont, Ill.,Allstate Arena

Aug. 19 - Washington, D,C.,Verizon Center

Aug. 20 - Wantagh, N.Y., Jones Beach

Rod in Uruguay

Rod Stewart takes daughter Ruby out for a hot drink in an all-white ensemble

 

Daily Mail 13/02/2014

He is often treating wife Penny Lancaster to a coffee on the go.

But Rod Stewart headed out for a hot beverage with his daughter Ruby Stewart on Wednesday in Bel Air.

The 69-year-old singer tempted fate that he might spill his drink as he sported an entirely white ensemble, apart from his black sunglasses and comfortable grey trainers.

The 26-year-old blonde injected a touch of colour into their day by wearing a long khaki green coat, blue jeans and brown boots.

But the model followed her father's lead by sporting a white T-shirt and had her hands full carrying two beverages.

Rod opted for white trousers and a white jacket and T-shirt combination and had a stern look on his face as he walked alongside his daughter.

Rock overtakes pop in UK album chart

Rock music overtook pop in UK album sales last year, winning a bigger share of the market for the first time in five years.

Rod Stewart's Time was the best-selling album to be classified as rock by the Official Charts Company, followed by Arctic Monkeys and Bastille.

In total rock accounted for 33.8% of album sales, compared with 31% for pop, said industry body the BPI.

However, pop records still held the lead in single sales.

Some 36.2% of all single track sales were classed as pop, led by the likes of Katy Perry, Pink and Ellie Goulding.

Rock accounted for 21.4% of singles sold last year. It was followed by dance on 16.1%, helped by Daft Punk and Avicii, and R&B on 13.5%, thanks to Robin Thicke, Naughty Boy and Justin Timberlake.

BPI spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "While the appeal of pop remains consistent, the popularity of rock music tends to ebb and flow a little more, reflecting the excitement that can quickly build around new acts as they burst through.

"With Arctic Monkeys now taking on near-iconic status, and the likes of Jake Bugg and Bastille to name a few connecting with a new generation of fans, rock music looks set to enjoy another wonderfully vibrant period."

Dance music also fared well in 2013, recording its highest share of album sales since 2006 with 8.3%, thanks to homegrown acts such as Rudimental, Disclosure and Calvin Harris.

MOR/Easy Listening was responsible for 8.1% of album sales, buoyed by big-selling releases from Robbie Williams and Michael Buble.

But R&B dropped to its lowest share since 1995 with 5.7%, while hip-hop accounted for 3.6% of album sales.

Overall album sales in the UK dropped by 6.4% in 2013 to 94 million. It was the first year since the early 1980s that no album sold a million copies.

n the late-’70s, hemmed in by disco on one side and punk on the other, many rock artists of Rod Stewart‘s generation felt like the trends of the day were passing them by. Ever the optimist, Stewart decided that if he couldn’t beat ‘em, he’d join ‘em.

The result, as captured on Stewart’s 1978 album ‘Blondes Have More Fun,’ was the disco-fueled party anthem ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?,’ which topped the charts in Feb. 1979 and helped take the album to No. 1 on its way to selling an impressive 14 million copies worldwide. Although the single’s dance beat — and the album’s continued drift away from the rock sound that made Stewart famous — dismayed some longtime fans, it was a calculated gambit that ended up paying off in a big way.

“We were in the studio and ‘Miss You‘ by the Rolling Stones was a big hit. Rod was always a guy that used to listen to what was going on around him. He was always looking at the charts and listening. He was a big fan of the Rolling Stones, so when they came out with ‘Miss You,’ disco was really big at the time, so he wanted to do some kind of disco-y song, something like ‘Miss You,’” explained drummer and co-writer Carmine Appice in an interview with Songfacts. “With the band, he would always tell us, ‘I want a song like this’ or ‘I want a song like that,’ so I went home and I came up with a bunch of chords and a melody.”

After hooking up with his friend Duane Hitchings, who took Appice’s demo into his studio and “made my chords sound better,” Appice recalled, “We gave Rod a demo of the verses and the bridge, and Rod came up with the chorus. We played it with the band many, many ways before we got the correct arrangement with [producer] Tom Dowd. Unfortunately, they put so much stuff on it that it dwarfed the sound of the band. It made the band sound smaller because it had strings and two or three keyboard players, congas, and drums. When we were doing it, we thought it was going to be more like the Rolling Stones with just the band playing it. It came out and went to No. 1 everywhere.”

That’s overstating things just a little, but ‘Sexy’ was definitely a worldwide sensation — the single alone sold more than 2 million copies in the United States. And although Stewart was no stranger to the pop charts in 1979, this song’s success was more or less the final death knell for his image as a rock artist. During the ’80s, he’d further polish and mellow out his sound, with hits like ‘Young Turks,’ ‘Infatuation,’ and ‘My Heart Can’t Tell You No’ making the Rod who fronted the Faces more and more of a distant memory.

As Stewart later admitted in his autobiography, he was well aware of the critical derision that greeted ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ — and he suffered his own regrets after he, Appice, and Hitchings were taken to court by Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, who accused the trio of plagiarizing his song ‘Taj Mahal.’

“It was only a pop record, but you’d have thought I’d poisoned the water supply,” sighed Stewart, who admitted, “It didn’t help that the marketing campaign for the single had me stretched out in full Spandex-clad glory beneath the slogan ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’” Of the trial, Stewart wrote, “I held my hand up straight away. Not that I’d stood in the studio and said, ‘Here, I know we’ll use that tune from Taj Mahal as the chorus. The writer lives in Brazil, so he’ll never find out.’ Clearly the melody had lodged itself in my memory and then resurfaced. Unconscious plagiarism, plain and simple. I handed over the royalties, again wondering whether ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ was partly cursed.”

Perhaps the only clear winner in the saga was blues legend Taj Mahal, who had a bit of fun with the whole thing by recording a song with the same riff, which he titled ‘Jorge Ben.’

Curse or no curse, ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ served as one of the more effervescently unabashed attempts by a veteran artist to follow a new trend during the ’70s, and for better or worse, years after it topped the Billboard charts, it remains a signature song in Stewart’s catalog. And whether we prefer Stewart’s rock roots to his poppier ’70s and ’80s sound, we can all agree we’d rather listen to this than the ‘American Songbook’ records, right?



Read More: 35 Years Ago: Rod Stewart’s ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ Hits No. 1 | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/rod-stewart-da-ya-think-im-sexy/?trackback=tsmclip

n the late-’70s, hemmed in by disco on one side and punk on the other, many rock artists of Rod Stewart‘s generation felt like the trends of the day were passing them by. Ever the optimist, Stewart decided that if he couldn’t beat ‘em, he’d join ‘em.

The result, as captured on Stewart’s 1978 album ‘Blondes Have More Fun,’ was the disco-fueled party anthem ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?,’ which topped the charts in Feb. 1979 and helped take the album to No. 1 on its way to selling an impressive 14 million copies worldwide. Although the single’s dance beat — and the album’s continued drift away from the rock sound that made Stewart famous — dismayed some longtime fans, it was a calculated gambit that ended up paying off in a big way.

“We were in the studio and ‘Miss You‘ by the Rolling Stones was a big hit. Rod was always a guy that used to listen to what was going on around him. He was always looking at the charts and listening. He was a big fan of the Rolling Stones, so when they came out with ‘Miss You,’ disco was really big at the time, so he wanted to do some kind of disco-y song, something like ‘Miss You,’” explained drummer and co-writer Carmine Appice in an interview with Songfacts. “With the band, he would always tell us, ‘I want a song like this’ or ‘I want a song like that,’ so I went home and I came up with a bunch of chords and a melody.”

After hooking up with his friend Duane Hitchings, who took Appice’s demo into his studio and “made my chords sound better,” Appice recalled, “We gave Rod a demo of the verses and the bridge, and Rod came up with the chorus. We played it with the band many, many ways before we got the correct arrangement with [producer] Tom Dowd. Unfortunately, they put so much stuff on it that it dwarfed the sound of the band. It made the band sound smaller because it had strings and two or three keyboard players, congas, and drums. When we were doing it, we thought it was going to be more like the Rolling Stones with just the band playing it. It came out and went to No. 1 everywhere.”

That’s overstating things just a little, but ‘Sexy’ was definitely a worldwide sensation — the single alone sold more than 2 million copies in the United States. And although Stewart was no stranger to the pop charts in 1979, this song’s success was more or less the final death knell for his image as a rock artist. During the ’80s, he’d further polish and mellow out his sound, with hits like ‘Young Turks,’ ‘Infatuation,’ and ‘My Heart Can’t Tell You No’ making the Rod who fronted the Faces more and more of a distant memory.

As Stewart later admitted in his autobiography, he was well aware of the critical derision that greeted ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ — and he suffered his own regrets after he, Appice, and Hitchings were taken to court by Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, who accused the trio of plagiarizing his song ‘Taj Mahal.’

“It was only a pop record, but you’d have thought I’d poisoned the water supply,” sighed Stewart, who admitted, “It didn’t help that the marketing campaign for the single had me stretched out in full Spandex-clad glory beneath the slogan ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’” Of the trial, Stewart wrote, “I held my hand up straight away. Not that I’d stood in the studio and said, ‘Here, I know we’ll use that tune from Taj Mahal as the chorus. The writer lives in Brazil, so he’ll never find out.’ Clearly the melody had lodged itself in my memory and then resurfaced. Unconscious plagiarism, plain and simple. I handed over the royalties, again wondering whether ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ was partly cursed.”

Perhaps the only clear winner in the saga was blues legend Taj Mahal, who had a bit of fun with the whole thing by recording a song with the same riff, which he titled ‘Jorge Ben.’

Curse or no curse, ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ served as one of the more effervescently unabashed attempts by a veteran artist to follow a new trend during the ’70s, and for better or worse, years after it topped the Billboard charts, it remains a signature song in Stewart’s catalog. And whether we prefer Stewart’s rock roots to his poppier ’70s and ’80s sound, we can all agree we’d rather listen to this than the ‘American Songbook’ records, right?



Read More: 35 Years Ago: Rod Stewart’s ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ Hits No. 1 | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/rod-stewart-da-ya-think-im-sexy/?trackback=tsmclip

n the late-’70s, hemmed in by disco on one side and punk on the other, many rock artists of Rod Stewart‘s generation felt like the trends of the day were passing them by. Ever the optimist, Stewart decided that if he couldn’t beat ‘em, he’d join ‘em.

The result, as captured on Stewart’s 1978 album ‘Blondes Have More Fun,’ was the disco-fueled party anthem ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?,’ which topped the charts in Feb. 1979 and helped take the album to No. 1 on its way to selling an impressive 14 million copies worldwide. Although the single’s dance beat — and the album’s continued drift away from the rock sound that made Stewart famous — dismayed some longtime fans, it was a calculated gambit that ended up paying off in a big way.

“We were in the studio and ‘Miss You‘ by the Rolling Stones was a big hit. Rod was always a guy that used to listen to what was going on around him. He was always looking at the charts and listening. He was a big fan of the Rolling Stones, so when they came out with ‘Miss You,’ disco was really big at the time, so he wanted to do some kind of disco-y song, something like ‘Miss You,’” explained drummer and co-writer Carmine Appice in an interview with Songfacts. “With the band, he would always tell us, ‘I want a song like this’ or ‘I want a song like that,’ so I went home and I came up with a bunch of chords and a melody.”

After hooking up with his friend Duane Hitchings, who took Appice’s demo into his studio and “made my chords sound better,” Appice recalled, “We gave Rod a demo of the verses and the bridge, and Rod came up with the chorus. We played it with the band many, many ways before we got the correct arrangement with [producer] Tom Dowd. Unfortunately, they put so much stuff on it that it dwarfed the sound of the band. It made the band sound smaller because it had strings and two or three keyboard players, congas, and drums. When we were doing it, we thought it was going to be more like the Rolling Stones with just the band playing it. It came out and went to No. 1 everywhere.”

That’s overstating things just a little, but ‘Sexy’ was definitely a worldwide sensation — the single alone sold more than 2 million copies in the United States. And although Stewart was no stranger to the pop charts in 1979, this song’s success was more or less the final death knell for his image as a rock artist. During the ’80s, he’d further polish and mellow out his sound, with hits like ‘Young Turks,’ ‘Infatuation,’ and ‘My Heart Can’t Tell You No’ making the Rod who fronted the Faces more and more of a distant memory.

As Stewart later admitted in his autobiography, he was well aware of the critical derision that greeted ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ — and he suffered his own regrets after he, Appice, and Hitchings were taken to court by Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, who accused the trio of plagiarizing his song ‘Taj Mahal.’

“It was only a pop record, but you’d have thought I’d poisoned the water supply,” sighed Stewart, who admitted, “It didn’t help that the marketing campaign for the single had me stretched out in full Spandex-clad glory beneath the slogan ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’” Of the trial, Stewart wrote, “I held my hand up straight away. Not that I’d stood in the studio and said, ‘Here, I know we’ll use that tune from Taj Mahal as the chorus. The writer lives in Brazil, so he’ll never find out.’ Clearly the melody had lodged itself in my memory and then resurfaced. Unconscious plagiarism, plain and simple. I handed over the royalties, again wondering whether ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ was partly cursed.”

Perhaps the only clear winner in the saga was blues legend Taj Mahal, who had a bit of fun with the whole thing by recording a song with the same riff, which he titled ‘Jorge Ben.’

Curse or no curse, ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ served as one of the more effervescently unabashed attempts by a veteran artist to follow a new trend during the ’70s, and for better or worse, years after it topped the Billboard charts, it remains a signature song in Stewart’s catalog. And whether we prefer Stewart’s rock roots to his poppier ’70s and ’80s sound, we can all agree we’d rather listen to this than the ‘American Songbook’ records, right?



Read More: 35 Years Ago: Rod Stewart’s ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ Hits No. 1 | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/rod-stewart-da-ya-think-im-sexy/?trackback=tsmclip

Time is on Rod Stewart's side

 

 

Rod Stewart usually can be counted on for a couple of things in concert: to be rakishly charming at all times and to deliver a solid array of hits in that distinctive rasp that makes today's Top 40 acts sound like meerkats by comparison.

In 2013 he released Time, his first album of original material in more than a decade - no doubt his American Songbook collection had its fans, but even Stewart tired of the classics after a point - and returned to the charts with the giddy rocker She Makes Me Happy.

Stewart, still cheeky at 69, called from Los Angeles to talk about his album and upcoming tour due to kick off in Buenos Aires on February 22.

 

Q: WHAT MADE THIS THE RIGHT TIME TO RETURN TO WRITING AND RECORDING ORIGINAL SONGS?

 

I hadn't written a song for 13 years. I'd done the American Songbook (albums) and the Christmas album and I was running out of options. (Time) was inspired when we started writing the book - it inspired so many memories.

 

Q: HOW MUCH OF THE SET WILL BE DEDICATED TO THE NEW SONGS AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT, PRODUCTION-WISE?

 

It's always a big show, though I don't have Celine Dion with water and the front of the Titanic (as in her Las Vegas show). We rely on the music. It's a glamorous stage with high-tech video work. We'll probably do four or five songs from the new album, maybe three. People always want to hear the songs they know and they're quite right. If Sam Cooke was alive, I'd want to hear all the old stuff. It's a big band - 14 people. My daughter, Ruby, might be coming out. All the girls take part in a drum solo dressed in leopard print - it's very Rod Stewart. And we'll do about five acoustic songs.

 

Q: DOES IT BUG YOU TO BE ONSTAGE AND SEE SO MANY PEOPLE FILMING THE CONCERT ON THEIR CAMERAS RATHER THAN PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU'RE PRESENTING AT THE MOMENT?

 

It doesn't worry me at all. I encourage it, especially in Vegas. Some of the people who perform there have people thrown out. I do the opposite - I encourage people to come down to the stage.

 

Q: YOU'VE EXTENDED YOUR VEGAS RUN FOR TWO MORE YEARS, SO I GUESS IT MUST BE GOING WELL?

 

It really is. I'm astonished, because we just play our music and get on with it. It's a happy show, it's a happy band, that's why we're always smiling for two hours. It's contagious. People leave with smiles and footballs. It's intimate and you can tell stories for the audience and there isn't a bad seat in the house. It honestly is better than playing arenas.

 

Q: WHAT'S NEXT ON THE PLANNER?

 

We're going to make a new album, either originals or a country album. I've covered a lot of country songs, and songs like You're in My Heart are very country oriented. It would be interesting to do it.

Win chance to see Rod Stewart in concert at the Britannia Stadium

 By The Sentinel

 

AS a further incentive to potential customers, Holdcroft Nissan is offering anyone who takes a test drive in the new Qashqai the chance to have their name entered for three prize draws which will see six lucky winners getting VIP tickets to see Rod Stewart perform in concert at the Britannia Stadium in June.

Draws will be at the end of March, April and May, and each winner will get a pair of tickets that will give them the best view in the stadium, including a meal, drinks and preferential box seats with a Nissan host.

Art on the tracks

 

Art

02.01.14

An artist creates art to plug a hole in the universe. A model railroad builder is more practical. But can there be art without intention

 

 

Rod Stewart—yes, that Rod Stewart—is a model train fanatic. This, I admit, took me by surprise, although to deep-dyed Stewart fans and model railroad enthusiasts it’s apparently old news. He has, after all, been at it quite seriously for a couple of decades and a model train fan since childhood. The third floor of his Los Angeles home contains a model railroad layout that measures 23 X 124 feet, and he estimates that he has at least another three years before it’s complete.

I would have known nothing about this had someone not sent me the February issue of Model Railroader magazine with a feature about Stewart’s passion. I laughed when saw the story. And then I began reading about the depth and breadth of his zeal (he has two assistants, he rents an extra hotel room on the road when he’s performing for designing, building, and painting the structures that populate his layout). Then I studied the photographs in the magazine closer—and the more I looked, the more impressed I became. The attention to detail, coupled with carpentry skills and a painter’s eye (he’s colorblind and someone has to check his reds and greens, but still), strongly suggest that here is an artist—a nutty artist, maybe, but an artist.

This begs the question: what is an artist? The answer grows harder to formulate by the day. Someone who makes something out of nothing? Someone who clarifies the world in ways no one had thought of before? Yes and yes, surely, but we know there’s more to it than that. Art, more and more, is a know-it-when-you-see-it commodity.

Are all model train enthusiasts artists? No, but some of them certainly are. You have only to Google model train layouts to behold a wealth of creation. Cities, towns, landscapes—some of them are small, some enormous, some exact replicas of some place and time, and others purely the imaginative creations of their makers. Part of our fascination with this activity has to do with nostalgia, but part also has to do with that far more obscure fascination with making things small, with creating a ship in a bottle, or a small town the size of a suitcase. The people who make these things, the best of them, are curators of the past and creators of totems that resonate in our minds in strange ways. Whenever I stare at a particularly complex train layout, my first thought is always how little the model trains have to do with it. They’re almost an afterthought.

Consider the work of William Christenberry (who, as far as I know, has nothing to do with model trains), the celebrated photographer, painter, installation artist, and rabid collector. Like his mentor Walker Evans, Christenberry not only photographed rusted old signs and billboards but eventually wound up simply ripping them off the buildings where he spotted them and lugging them home to his studio.

Perhaps my favorite Christenberry creations are the miniature versions of buildings he’s obsessively photographed. Some of these buildings are surreal, like buildings in a dream—partly realistic, partly fantastic. Others are exact replicas, and weirdly it’s the replicas, complete with Alabama red clay beneath them that Christenberry hauled from the site of the original buildings, that stir my imagination. These structures—old white frame churches and sheds and houses—have obsessed him for decades and his reconstructed scale models now obsess me.

Whenever I see them, though, I ask myself, exactly how do these constructions differ from a model railroader’s buildings? The attention to detail is the same, the desire to replicate a real object is identical. So why is one considered fine art and the other the harmless pastime of a hobbyist?

The easiest answer is that intention is the defining difference. An artist creates art to plug a hole in the universe, to scratch some aesthetic itch. A model builder is more practical: he—and it’s almost always a he—just wants to flesh out his trackside landscape. But that raises an even knottier question: can there be art without intention?

The same week I received the latest issue of Model Railroader with the Rod Stewart story, I attended a lecture by John Foster at the Metro Show in New York City (the show is a gathering of national art dealers all exhibiting under one roof—so there’s a booth full of Bill Traylor paintings, there a collection of collectible American flags, and elsewhere everything in between, from Philip Pearlstein nudes to old tin toys).

Because I know Foster, I was there in part to offer moral support, but I also wanted to hear what he had to say about collecting. Artist, graphic designer, author, blogger and website curator extraordinaire—he’s a faceted man. He’s an omnivorous collector of fine art, outsider art, vernacular art, and stuff that no one without his discerning eye would ever have thought to call art: family snapshots, gas masks, river rocks, blotter paper, rubber hat molds, lawn ornaments, a paint-by-number portrait of John F. Kennedy that hasn’t been painted. There is no way to categorize what he collects, except to say that it’s John Foster’s collection. And it’s astonishing. In 2005, Art and Auction named him one of the “Top 100 Collectors” in the country.

He introduced himself to his audience, also mostly collectors, by saying, “I am John Foster, and I collect things. Objects. I collect art by people whose names are well known. And objects whose makers are unknown. All of these things hold equal weight in my collection or they don’t stay.”

One of the categories that Foster collects is known among collectors as Vernacular Photography, and in Foster’s case, this means old snapshots that he finds in yard sales, antique stores, and flea markets. These are discarded personal photographs, perhaps because they were duplicates, or because no one remembered the people or places in the pictures (or perhaps because they remembered them too well). The discarders certainly attached no merit to the photographs. But Foster does.

He doesn’t care about the subject matter of these photographs. “I care only about what is on the square or rectangle in front of me,” he said.  Rifling through shoeboxes of old photos set out on someone’s front lawn, what he dubs “the debris fields of bad and mundane snapshots,” he nurses the hope, as every scavenging collector must, “to see anonymous pictures bump into territory owned by Andre Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Sally Mann.”

This is not the same thing that artists have been doing since Duchamp hung a urinal on a wall and called it art. This is not repurposing. The photographs Foster collects were photographs before he found them and they remain photographs. It’s his eye, his curatorial discernment that retrieves them from obscurity and sets these little one-of-a-kind masterpieces before us. Beauty, in his case at least, really is in the eye of the beholder.

“I seek images,” Foster said, “that are arresting for their uncalculated and peculiar power of strangeness and unknowability, images ambiguous or coincidental, dreamlike, oddly humorous, or uncannily beautiful. I look for these accidental mysteries—these images stranded in time.”

As a roadmap for art lovers, I’d rate that excellent advice. Whatever delights your eye—Rod Stewart’s train layout, William Christenberry’s constructions, or the photograph taken by someone who didn’t know what they had—that’s sufficient. While we wait for time to sort it all out, why not have some fun?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PylyazGY1AU

NEXT RSFC EVENT

Mallorca Party

16th - 19th October

2017

SPAIN

 

May 25th 2017,

Celebrate '67 Live

SSE Hydro Glasgow,

 

             

 

 

 

 

      

 

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