The Felsenthal Formula: Fishing and Fun

Brindle pit bull dog in fishing boat

Bubba, a big ol’ brindle pit bull terrier, is part and parcel of a fishing crew competing in the 2014 Felsenthal, Arkansas Breamfest bream fishing tournament.

Felsenthal, Arkansas is not among the populous giants when it comes to municipalities since one hundred fifty souls, give or take a few, is close to the daily population of Felsenthal. What they lack in size, they more than make up for in, shall we say, “outdoor sporting opportunities.”

Translated to tailgate English, that means they are in the big middle of some of the best dadgum fishing and hunting territory you will find in the lower 48. The town sits next door to Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge. Game fish rich Grand Marias Lake makes up the northwest city limits. Few if any can match that.

Angler fishing at Felsenthal Arkansas

Click on the anglers to see more Felsenthal pictures.

All of the above gives rise to Felsenthal’s annual Breamfest, a festival named after the Bream, a small pugnacious fish legendary for fight and table appeal. The two-day event happens on the Friday and Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend.

Festival activities include a bream fishing tournament, bands, exhibitors, food vendors, baggo and horseshoe tournaments, dances, kids activities, inflatables, sometimes election-year politicians, and last but not least, “hangin’ out.” You can see more pictures of the event on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Click go and look. We will wait here.

Mike Nash playing baggo

Mike Nash of nearby El Dorado, Arkansas works up a sweat in the heat of the Breamfest baggo tournament.

Inflatable water slide

This water slide, one of two inflatables on the site, was easily the most popular attraction of the festival. The line of kids remained constant.

boatload of fishermen`

This crew in the bream fishing tournament had their game face on, ready to drag ’em in.

Angler with large catfish

Someone forgot to tell this large catfish that this is a bream tournament. Nevertheless, this fish is headed for the table.

clown with balloon

This Ecclesiastical appeal under a Razorback tent is a hard combination to beat.

woman angler with bream catch

This woman shows off a fine catch of bream after the weigh-in. Next stop, “grease,” hush-puppies, fries, and supper.

Weigh-in crew at the Felsenthal Breamfest bream fishing tournament

Meet your friendly weigh-in crew, a good-natured husband and wife team who do the job each year.

boy with hobgoblin face paint

This boy was invited to stand for a portrait by his grandfather. Both had a great sense of humor. The face painter did a good job of color-coordination.

Congratulations to Felsenthal for a great event. Your formula, Fun and Fishing, is about as good as it gets.

Check out Felsenthal.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind









You can always use a tad more blues

LIttle B Weevil at the Blues Music Awards

Little G Weevil a fine acoustic blues guitarist performs at the 2014 Blues Music Awards. Since the video guys in both local corners of the picture contributed mightily to the drama, I included them in the shot. Little G was a nominee for Acoustic Artist of the Year.

More Blues Music Awards pictures

Doug McLeod

Click the pic to see Doug McLeod in the chair and on the big screen

For Blues fans, yours truly included, it is hard to be inundated with too much Blues. Given that theory, we are continuing to look at the Blues Music Award this week. We also did more Blues at our sister site, the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. You’ll find a couple of pictures of some legendary blues performers and some headed in that direction.

The event video crew is world class and despite the fact that crew members show up in our viewfinders far more that we like, we are great admirers of the their technical prowess and deep creative skills. The dramatic images they put on the big screens are great photo-fodder — especially when you can put the performer in front of the screen. The next two images show you why.

Guitarist Rory Block

Energetic guitarist Rory Block looms larger than life behind herself.

Beth Hart at keyboard

Just watching Beth Hart work out on the keyboard increased one’s heart rate. There’s so much energy there, it is surprising she is not subject to federal regulation.

Guitarist for Brandon Santini

This is the lead guitarist for Brandon Santini, a Memphis harp player. Unfortunately, I do not have the picker’s name. Wish I did. He was all over the stage like a spider and never missed a lick.

LIttle G Weevil's guitar

LIttle G Weevil’s guitar is showing some wear, which apparently has nothing to do with the sound. In fact, the exterior probably signals “improvement with age,” a message I occasionally impart. (Heh-heh!)

The Four Fabs, Beatles Tribute Band

Closer to home, these are the Four Fabs, a Beatles Tribute group, on-stage at the newly restored Community Theatre in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

There you have it. Another visual dose of the Blues. I trust the imagery imparts the energy.

Be sure and check out our Blues Music Awards Galleries:

Gallery 1, ¦ Gallery 2, ¦ Gallery 3, ¦  Gallery 4

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Top o’ th’ blues to ya!

Charlie Musselwhite and Kid Anderson

2014 Grammy Award Winner Charlie Musselwhite and guitarist Kid Anderson hook up with some fine tunes at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Musselwhite recently earned the Grammy for Best blues Album with Ben Harper for their “Get Up!” collection. He also won the  “Instrumentalist, Harmonica” award at this event.

The 2014 / 35th Annual Blues Music Awards

James Cotton and Elvin Bishop

Click on Elvin Bishop and James Cotton to see more blues pix

I recently made my annual pilgrimage to photograph the Blues Music Awards in good ol’ Memphis, Tennessee. The awards are kinda “the academy awards of blues,” in theory. In practice, the event, while recognizing the best of the best in blues has none of the tinsel-town plasticity associated with the “other one.” The menu is liberally laced with soul-food and I guess the social status is “uptown – down home or the reciprocal thereof,” whatever to heck that is.

The event was May 8, 2014. You will want to see some additional event pictures on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. We’ll wait here while you look.

The Hound KIngs

The Hound KIngs turned out traditional blues that is a balm to the troubled soul. From left, Anthony Paule, guitar; Michael Benjamin, vocals; Scott Brenton, harp.

Suffice to say that a blues concert is an event photographer’s dream assignment. There are no prima donna performers who give you the snub job. The performers sit among the other attendees, eat the same food and wait their turn just like everyone else. The first year I attended, we sat next to the Steve Miller Band, and we never knew it until they were called to the stage. They were all personable and friendly folks.

Aurora "Rory" Black

Guitarist Aurora “Rory” Black, has just hit the final lick of her tune with a flourish of her talented hands. I call this the highly coveted “last lick” shot.

Adriana Marie and L. A. Jones

Band leader Adriana Marie and L. A. Jones, lead guitarist of the Adriana and Her Groove Cutters band cozy up during their opening act performance at the 2014 Blues Music awards. The band far exceeded what one would expect from an opening act.

Blues musicians are for the most part, very talented, humble and gentle souls. The top performers can be amongst you like the Steve Miller Band. Unless you recognized them, you probably would not know they were there. Once the music starts, the 180 kicks in. Their aggression pops out of its shell only when they perform. They dive into their music with ferocity.  Then their emotions are tantamount to a mother Tyrannosaurus Rex protecting her eggs — and their music reflects their feelings. And one other thing,  there is a decided lack of muscle-bound security guards with 28 inch necks at this event. With blues fans, these individuals are not necessary.

It’s nice to know that this American / Delta art form is populated by folks who realize the source of their stuff — and, that the truly great practitioners never forget it.

Be sure and see our Blues Music Awards galleries:

2014 Blues Music Awards Gallery One / 27 pictures

2014 Blues Music Awards Gallery One / 30 pictures


Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Machines at work

large front end loader

This monster front-end loader is on the move in the median of I-40 northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas. Since you can see the construction barrier in the lower part of the picture, you know the huge yellow brute is just a few feet away, probably just outside spitting distance, but not far.

Getting a good look and remaining healthy is the trick

Recently, on a trip to Fort Smith, Arkansas for a church reunion, I encountered the ubiquitous orange barrels which accompany highway construction. This was on I-40 northwest of Little Rock. A note here — it is alleged that the word Arkansas, in Indian, means “Land of Orange Barrels.” While I cannot attest to the truth and veracity of that statement, it is not a stretch to see how the rumor got started  and many of my contemporaries will agree. Most of the work that was going on was in the median which would lead one to believe that construction isolated by barriers should not slow traffic much, but the congestion was not far from bumper to bumper.

congested traffic

Traffic was at a snails pace because I-40 goes through the big middle of the path of the recent killer tornado which laid a wide swath of destruction through that neck of the woods. Between due diligence for construction, cleanup,  and crawling rubberneckers, traffic was lethargic at best — with crawling rubberneckers at the top of the lack of velocity food chain.

Since traffic was slow, I decided to snap a wide angle lens on my favorite Nikon body, balance it on the open window of the truck and hit the shutter button at the correct time, all left handed. The camera zips out six frames per second and the wide angle lens sucks in subject matter like Eureka Hoover — or whatever that brand was. As a result I was able to grab images of machinery one always wants to see but can’t because it is suicidal to look at it in a construction zone. With this technique you keep your eyes on the road and when you pick up some action with your peripheral vision and just hit the shutter button, no looking is necessary.

Once into the storm area, I was taken aback by the abject destruction wreaked by the wicked storm. Since the camera was well poised for drive-by shooting, I kept the shutter button busy. I have included storm damage pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com since it has a larger format than this page. Take a look at those pix then come back to see us.

Tornado damage near Morgan and Mayflower, Arkansas

Tornado damage near Morgan and Mayflower, Arkansas. Click on the picture to see more storm damage images.

Truck and backhoe in interstate highway construction zone

Under normal circumstances you would never see this truck framed by a backhoe. It is over in a fraction of a second. Granted, it is not a life changing sight or a defining moment, but it is neat, and available only by a “get-lucky” photo. The camera was moving in one direction and the truck on a 180 from the “Kodak.”

closeup view of dump truck

Up close and personal with a dump truck. I knew it was there, but not where. Six frames per second solved the view.

closeup of large backhoe

Snuggling up to a backhoe at 60 mph. We were leaving the storm area so we could pick up some speed. Just a tad of blurring in this one.

Many people allege that advancing technology stifles creativity. I am of the opposite school. Without a good dollop of technology, these images would have been impossible. It’s simply a matter of looking for opportunities.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind





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