Growing up in the small farming town of Harvard, Ill., Tim Van Schmidt never thought he would be shooting photos and writing about rock ‘n’ roll.
In fact, he never planned to be a photographer at the beginning of his career as a local journalist in Fort Collins in the 1980s.
“The photography came because of the writing,” Schmidt said. “How many times do you turn down a photo pass for Eric Clapton before you become a photographer?”
During this time, Schmidt discovered that the best standing location at a concert is right in front of the stage, separated from the crowd of screaming fans, a place that he described as the “eye of the storm.”
“There’s this calm space over by the stage that you get nowhere else,” Schmidt said.
As a writer, Schmidt had to learn the skills of photography while on the job, but he said that when everything finally came together, it was worth all the effort.
Looking back at the past, he wishes that he could go do it all over again with the skills and lessons that he has acquired over the years. Schmidt recalled taking photos at a Paul McCartney concert and didn’t realize that he had to wait until he wasn’t singing into the microphone to get good shots of his face. He said he definitely learned from that experience after he ended up with a bunch of photos of the microphone blocking McCartney’s face.
Yet even after that incident, as well as others such as the time he was knocked out at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, or having a beer spilled on him and his camera at Jane’s Addiction, Schmidt continues to photograph live music and still describes himself as a “severe case of a live music addict.”
“You never know what’s going to happen, every live event is different,” Schmidt said.
As a professional, and still a music lover himself, it seems that he has found a balance between the two and doesn’t find it hard to mix work with his own personal interests. He said he doesn’t even take notes during the concert anymore.
“What was most important about the concert I would remember the next day,” Schmidt said. “Live music should inspire and rejuvenate and interest your brain.
After spending many years writing about music in Fort Collins, Schmidt said that currently there seems to be a need for new energy and new excitement.
“Fort Collins has a lot of music turning around inside of it, but you really gotta poke around and find it,” Schmidt said. “I love big rock and roll but you can’t forget the rock and roll your friends and neighbors make.”
Schmidt’s many years of work have recently been compiled into his new live music Web site KingKoncert.com. The site features concert reviews from the past to the present, as well as a Virtual Hall of Fame comprised of black and white photos of big rock names such as Van Halen, Metallica and Tom Petty, all taking place in Colorado.
Also included in the Web site are excerpts from Schmidt’s book, “Memoirs of an American Rocker!! The 1970s,” which is a compilation of concert reviews of the respective decade. Schmidt said the book is the first of four volumes, as he plans to write three more for the three consecutive decades.
Grouped among hundreds of other live music review Web sites competing for readership, the uniqueness of KingKoncert.com rests in its diversity. Schmidt said he has tried to reflect what the music scene in Colorado really consists of – many different genres and bands. Schmidt said that because bands that are polar opposites are being covered in one place, many different fans are visiting the site.
The Web site also allows people to access the information worldwide, creating a much larger readership, and complying with the technological hype for quick and easy access to information many music lovers possess today.
And even though Schmidt has previously had a physical exhibit in Fort Collins, he said that by “having it on the walls of the Web site instead, thousands of people can access it.”
“It’s a writer’s dream to see people lining up to see my stuff, and it’s a great feeling because those 400,000 people would never have seen my work by reading my book,” Schmidt said.
Recently Schmidt has taken on the editor position of the Fort Collins Forum Online where he is using his skills from writing about rock and roll to cover community issues.
However, he does not plan to stop writing about music any time soon.
“There’s no way I’ll give up my rock and roll work because its so much fun and there’s no reason to stop,” Schmidt said.
He does have a degree in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara to fall back on, but that does not seem to be in his agenda for the near future either.
“I’d rather be on the street doing things than talking about it in a classroom, but it may still come someday,” Schmidt said.
Elena Ulyanova can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.