Photographer Daniel Coston’s new show, When the Legends Come to Town, at the Knight Gallery at Spirit Square, 345 N. College Street, features his concert photography. Coston has photographed musicians all over the country, and beyond, for 23 years, but this show focuses exclusively on legendary musicians performing in shows in Charlotte.
There are 102 photographs of musicians in the show, including Taylor Swift, Doc Watson, Jay-Z, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, James Brown, Lyle Lovett and many more superstars.
The show will run through the end of October and you can visit any time Spirit Square is open. It’s free to visit.
There will be an opening event on Thursday, August 23rd, 2018, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check out the photos, eat some pizza, and listen to some of Coston’s favorite albums.
All the photos are available for purchase, framed, for $100 each. You will probably need to act quickly if you are interested in purchasing some of them.
Note: He’s also got a show right now at Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Boulevard, with some of his portraiture work with musicians. You can visit any time Petra’s is open. There’s a closing reception on Monday, August 27th, 2018, at 7 p.m. There’s no cover for the closing reception.
I visited “When the Legends Come to Town” with Daniel Coston, and he shared some of his thoughts about a few of the photographs, as well as his memories of the shows where he took the pictures. (His words are edited very lightly for space.)
Aretha came to play “Music with Friends.” Two days before the show Whitney Houston died and a lot of us thought the show wasn’t going to go on because of her relationship with Whitney. We got the word the next day that she was going to do the show. The whole runup to that day was remarkable. 20/20 from ABC came down and interviewed her. The place was very packed. It was very emotional. Largely she stuck to her usual show, the hits, and she was in very good voice and she sounded great. And about two thirds of the way through she sat down at the piano and did a tribute to Whitney. She started to play the chords to “I Will Always Love You” and then it just went full on gospel. Aretha kind of felt her way through the song, playing different chords, starting a call and response. Nine, ten minutes of just her throwing her emotion out, throwing it up to heaven, and just letting it all go. And it was an amazing thing, not only to see her create on the spot, but also watching her play piano with those amazing gospel chords, and that voice to match. It was a very real and emotional moment.
The Avett Brothers
This is a picture of them near the end of the show. It was their last annual New Year’s Eve show at Neighborhood Theatre. The place was beyond capacity and you could tell that they were about to break very big. I couldn’t even get to the front of the stage, so a lot of the photos from that night, including this one, are from behind the stage and I’m really glad I got these angles. You can see the crowd, you can see the guys, you can see the emotion. I’d photographed them for so long… I’m really glad I was around for that, and got to work with them when I did, and witness so much. It’s funny that Scott’s on the floor because usually Seth is the first one to hit the floor.
Hugh Masekela did a master class at Northwest School of the Arts after a show at McGlohon Theater, and I was invited by the Blumenthal to tag along and take pictures. Hugh was one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever been around. He just emanated that old school jazz coolness and he was talking to the kids, discussing different things, playing for them. This picture was taken in the band room and he was demonstrating some things to some kids. This is not the photo I would have originally intended to put in this show. I have some great pictures of him in front of a white music board that I really love. But we lost him earlier this year and this one reminds me of everything I enjoyed about that experience. Some of the kids knew of him, and some didn’t, but they all responded to him. He’s talking to them and he just had this really cool demeanor and then he would start playing, and they were like “Oh man, you’re somebody.” Even if they didn’t know it was Hugh Masekela, they responded to what he was doing in that room.
Just a great, great show. Obviously, like many of us, I’ve been a fan of Tom Petty for many years. He looked great. He was having a really great time. He was having a lot of fun with the audience. If you listen to someone all your life you really hope for that first great show. You finally go to see him after all these years and you’re like, “Oh my God, it was a great show, it was everything I wanted it to be.”
Sometimes photos can be surprising. As a photographer you have your head stuck on whatever your favorite photo was at the time you took them. You’re like “okay, that was good; okay, that wasn’t good” and then you look at them years later and some photos can jump out and say “Hey, where’ve you been? Do something with me!” And this picture jumped out at me and said “Do something with me. I’m a black and white, and if you print a certain size, this is going to work.” This is actually one of my favorite pictures in the show. It’s a personal favorite, because Elton John is a personal favorite of my wife. So, I wanted to make sure to get this picture in this show for her, but also just as a reminder that even I’ll discover things in the archive and go “Yeah, that’s pretty cool.” He’s always in motion, but this one kind of pares it down to just him. He puts a lot of show out in front but there’s a real serious piano player behind all that.
Just a true legend, songwriter, producer, singer. He really did change the face of American music. I was struck looking at this picture and a number of others in this show–I never really realized until I put this show together how many famous musicians I photographed in Charlotte. For many years I worked with legends all across the country, Mr. Cash, two days with Les Paul, the famous garage rock luminaries in New York. Georgia, Texas, England, Iceland… It was nice to put this show together and realize, I really have done a lot of work with a lot of great musicians here in Charlotte, in the town I’ve lived in for 35 years.
When the Legends Come to Town
Spirit Square, 345 N. College Street, Charlotte
Through end of October
Opening Event: Thursday, August 23rd, 2018, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.