A few months ago I was contacted by Los Angeles based photographer Astor Morgan www.astormorgan.com and asked to write an essay on a photograph of Vivian Campbell that he had taken in Los Angeles at the Riverdogs reunion show on December 2, 2017. The original post is on his Instagram Page which is a set of photo essays called "Between sets by Astor Morgan".
Below is my essay, unedited. Thank you to Astor Morgan for allowing me this opportunity.
By Lori Jackson Black
"Last year I got to live out every fan’s dream when I was invited to California to attend the Riverdogs last rehearsal before their first show in 14 years. Some nine months before I had heard my favorite guitarist Vivian Campbell on the radio doing an interview about how he felt Riverdogs was some of his best work that no one had ever heard. I decided to use my social media skills to promote a band I love. Social media connected me with Riverdogs in a way I never dreamed of.
I arrived at the rehearsal studio that Thursday night and the first person I see is Vivian Campbell in the parking lot. I had to pinch myself. Was this even real? It was not my first meeting with Vivian but this was different. The rehearsal studio was not large and a small group of fans, friends and family were there. It was intimate and special for all of us. As the band ran through the set I was standing mere feet in front of Vivian. I got to see the Les Paul that started it all, 72987537 and the guitar that Pete Townshend so lovingly scratched his name into up close. Vivian is not the typical rock star. He is talented beyond compare, but to us fans he is kind and approachable. That night I was able to talk to Vivian in a social setting far different from the meet and greets of the past. It was something special, an evening where many friendships were made.
Saturday night arrived, as had Riverdogs fans from all around the world. There were fans from as far away as Australia & The Netherlands and all across the United States. We met in the parking lot, some of us meeting for the first time, some of us old concert friends. We are rock and roll family. The venue was small and intimate, nothing like the arenas and stadiums that Vivian is used to playing with Def Leppard. I had a spot next to the stage, a little off to the side of Vivian. From that vantage point I got to watch the show from a technical standpoint. That night I witnessed Vivian’s passion for playing, the ease and grace in his flipping of switches and the manipulation of foot pedals. I could feel the bond of the band on stage, the genuine friendships that make Riverdogs something special. I was in awe of it all.
That night was not about Vivian Campbell, guitar hero, it was about the music, it was about Riverdogs. It was about the fans. We use these musical moments to forget about the tough things in life. We forget Vivian has cancer. We forget our own troubles. We become a family for that one night. The music is our connector. The music is what drives us. The music is what save us and for that I am grateful."
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Riverdogs manager Paul Liszewski and lead singer Rob Lamothe for inviting me to the rehearsal. It really was a dream come true!
Riverdogs Website: http://riverdogsmusic.com/
Riverdogs Facebook: www.facebook.com/riverdogsband/
Riverdogs Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/groups/RiverdogsBand/
Below is a photo gallery from the two nights. Enjoy!