Something smells fishy here

Father and son fishing in the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest tournament

The father flicks a fresh cricket toward an unsuspecting bream as his son watches his bobber looking for the telltale signs of ‘bite’ as they fish in the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest fishing tournament.

One of the rites of spring in LA is bream fishing, aka perch in some parts of the county, but down here it’s mostly bream. You’ll also hear “bluegill,” “red-ear,” and from some Alabama transplants, “shell-crackers.” Whatever the moniker, the scrappy little critter thwacks out one of the best fight-per-ounce ratios in all of fishing. If one gets up close to a pound, it’s close to a record. They also come out of the frying pan with a fine taste.

Angler fishing in the 20167 Felsenthal Bream Tournament

An angler and competitor in the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest tournament is looking for just the right place to ‘put it on the plate’ for a his next, or perhaps first catch.

Link to corndancer dot com

Click the picture to see more breamfest pix at Corndancer dot com

The tiny town of Felsenthal, Arkansas, waaaay down in LA, not far from the Lousiana line is the site of the Felsenthal Breamfest, perhaps the only fishing tournament which targets the feisty little fish. See more of this tournament on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com, our sister web publication.

They love the protection of underwater “structure” so it is necessary to place one’s boat in and among the trees, stumps and weeds that make up the aquatic boondocks of a given body or water when seeking bream. As a result the catches of limbs, twigs, leaves and other peoples lines comes close to equaling the catch of fish. #%*!*#!

Angler fishing in brush in the Felsenthal Breamfest fishing tournament

The high water following a string of spring storms put boats in the upper level of shrubs which would under normal circumstances be high and dry.

Festivities unofficially start on a Friday afternoon and by launch time the next morning, the population of Felsenthal will have tripled. There’s a government campground nearby which accounts for most of the overflow. Launch time is at daylight or so and by noon, it’s all over but the weigh-in. By 1:00 p.m., the catch is headed for grease and happy eaters — because in addition to their scrappiness, they have a great taste. As the good ol’ boys say,  “Thim li’l boogers eat good!”

Woman landing a fish

This woman appears to be landing more fish than her husband, but the Alabama couple seems to be happy with fish in the boat with no concerns about score-keeping.

Anglers fishing in bream tournament

If there is ever an Olympic event for synchronized bream fishing, these guys would be a shoo-in.

Anglers at the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest fishing tournament.

This couple is ‘sho-nuff’ fishing in the sticks. Notice the direction of the boat, they’re leaving the sticks.

Angler weighing in at the 2016 Felsenthal Breamfest.

A tournament competitor prepares to have his catch weighed. Though he was out of the money, he is happy because supper is going to be a ‘nice mess of bream’ with onions, slaw, hushpuppies, sweet tea — and if fortune smiles, peach cobbler for dessert.

There you have it. You’ve made a swing through a bream fishing tournament without burning a drop of gas. Of course, my pickup burned about a tank-an-a-half to get the shots. Such is the price of a higher calling to serve my fellow citizens of Mother Earth.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Just in case you want to take closer look at Felsenthal, here it is:



New looks and second looks

53 Chevy fire truck converted to mobile BBQ pit

Highway 63, nee Highway 15, as it snakes southward in Bradley County, Arkansas, back in the day, went through downtown Warren right by the fire station. Not having been that route lately since there is now a by-pass, I missed the old ’53 Chevy fire truck turned mobile BBQ pit at the Warren Fire station which I caught on this trip. See another view of the truck on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Old fire truck at Warren Arkansas

Click on the fire truck to see another view at Corndancer dot-com,

After completing the shoot of the fishing tournament of the Felsenthal Breamfest at Felsenthal, Arkansas I decided to take the roads not previously traveled where possible. In so doing, I happened across a location stored for shooting in the back corners of my gray-matter memory bank and found a couple of new ones. I looked at a couple of familiar but “under-shot” barns, the old fire truck and a nubbin of a tree delivering an almost spiritual message, some of which you will see here and the rest you can see on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

old pastime theater at Warren AR

While in Warren, I took the opportunity to shoot the old Pastime Theater building. Though the building and marquee have seen better days, they are still a valuable reminder of how we lived in past years. The marquee is a fine example of old theater art and conjures up memories of Saturday serials, Coke bottle days and steaming popcorn.

father and on fishing

While shooting the Felsenthal Breamfest, I grabbed this long lens shot of a father and son concentrating on the serious business of putting fish in the live well.

Ferns growing in oak tree

While shooting an old red barn (see it at Corndancer dot-com), I saw these ferns doing their best to make a home in the gnarly bark of a big oak tree. They are growing against the odds.

It is refreshing to be able to discover new scenes and looks from old territory. These discoveries are not on the scale of radium and a new planet, but at this level, they are satisfying. All is takes is a bit of misdirection.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind






Another swing through the Ozarks

1941 Dodge panel truck

In 2016, a 1941 Dodge panel truck, regardless of condition, is an attention grabber. It got mine. It appears to be what it is – something to grab others attention. It’s on Arkansas Highway 23 south of Huntsville.

Old barn at KIngston Arkansas

Click on the barn thumbnail to see the real thing and more Corndancer dot-com.

Though I have learned that the unexpected is expected when motoring through the Ozarks of north Arkansas, I must say that when I laid eyes on the rusty 1941 Dodge panel truck parked in front of a cabin on Arkansas Highway 23 south of Huntsville, I did a double-take.  The cabin is of modern construction using the “log house” technique. It appears to have been unoccupied for long enough to be nearly choked by aggressive weeds (as if they needed any encouragement).

The old truck appears to have been parked as an attention-grabbing piece of yard decor. If that is so, it worked on me. Turns out, the old car was a harbinger of things to come. There was a decaying old barn less than a quarter mile from the old truck. See it and more barns, cows other stuff on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com (It’s the grayish looking one with part of the left sided missing).

Well preserved old barn

This well-preserved old barn is off Arkansas Highway 74 southwest of Huntsville. I had limited time on the trip and got a good angle without leaving the truck so I have no further information. Maybe next trip.

I proceeded from there to Huntsville and grabbed a Sonic No. 1 cheeseburger with a large sugary drink and fries then backtracked to where Arkansas Highway 74 peels off of highway 23. The stretch from there to Kingston, Arkansas was a honey-hole of photo ops including barns, what appeared to be and old church (mind you some of the old school houses looked like some of the old churches).

Old building at Wharton Arkansas

Although this appears to be an old church, it could be an old school. No one was around on Saturday afternoon to confirm or deny in tiny Wharton, Arkansas. Though it has been recently preserved with siding, the native stone, aka rock, foundation gives it away. It is old. What ‘UPPER WHARTON’ means is beyond me. Just before I got to this old building at Wharton, I shot a great red barn, see it at Corndancer dot-com.

Collapsing house at Wharton Arkansas

Next door to the old preserved building, I found this not preserved and crumbling residence. It’s hard to guess the age, I’m thinking ‘old,’ as my best guess. There is a driveway ending a few feet from the front steps of the house, if that is a clue. Your guess is as good as mine.

Large rock on gatepost

To photograph the collapsing house, I had to butt the tripod up to a gate barring entrance to the premises, the left post of which was topped with a large rock. I have no explanation, but it must be a common practice in Wharton because a half-mile or so away, the fence around a fine looking barn was equally equipped.

Fencepost with a large rockk on top of it

Not far away from the gatepost with a rocky-top was a fence post with a rocky-top.

A Saturday afternoon swing through the Ozarks is a good way to pass the time of day. At least this weekend it was. If it is in the dead of winter with a few inches of ice and snow, wide-eyed fear and trepidation will replace wide-eyed enjoyment. But that’s another story.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind




Rythmic recognition

Woman drummer

This woman, surrounded by blue lights, not only is the drummer in her blues band, she is also a spirited vocalist. At the Blues Music Awards we do not see many women drummers – she was the only one in 2016 – and did a rockin’ good job.

I’m partial to drummers since my brother Hank is a drummer and a fine one. When photographing bands, the lead out-front instrumentalists and vocalists seem to be the photographic targets of choice and the drummers, relegated to the back of the bus so to speak, get the short photographic shrift. Not so this time. The drummers are the stars of this show.


Click on drummer to see more drummer pix at Corndancer dot-com.

The pictures for this post come from the 2016 Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Unfortunately for this one, I was unable to match names with the fine drummers in the pictures, so you can either make up names or ask around. If you get lucky, let me know.

Be sure and see additional Blues Music Awards drummers on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. There’s cool lighting and good looks at the Blues Music Awards drummers which, to the best of my knowledge are available no where else – just like the ones on this page.


This drummer taps out the rhythmic base paying close attention to the other performers.

Smiling drummer

To get these shots, it is necessary to snake your way through an obstacle course of speakers and cords and place one’s self at the one of the back edges of the stage. For that reason, most drummers are not aware of the camera since they focus on what is in front of them. This dude was an exception and put on his best smile. See another shot of him on the Corndancer Photo of Week page.

side view of drummer

These drummers have to be some of the best, because they rotate in and out of the same set of drums for each band versus their own personal arrangements to which they are accustomed – and they still rock!

head on view of drummer

This is a get lucky long lens shot from way back in the audience. There is so much visual interference from camera to subject when attempting these shots that they are rarely successful. This is the exception.

These views for the most part are not available to most viewers and require a photo pass to access the points to shoot, so hopefully you saw some imagery not seen elsewhere. And you joined in our salute to the not-s0-often-photographed drummers.

And as a side note, my multi-tasking brother has other talents than his musical skills. He is also a pilot and flight instructor with permits to fly dadgumnear anything.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Back to the levee

Donkey with head in pickup truck window

A curious donkey extends a welcome to her territory on the levee. Fortunately, her deep curiosity was matched with outgoing friendliness, a good thing when she has big teeth and outweighs me by 800 pounds or so. Click on the picture to see our original November 2014 post, Miss Donkey Congeniality.

A redirected trip finds new donkey friends

View of harvested rice field from levee

Click the rice field above to see pictures from the ‘Balcony of the Levee’ on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

In November 2014 we planned a trip to Elaine, Arkansas  to shoot the jillions of birdhouses residents have seen to put up in the small Delta town, but a a split in the road leading to a nice stretch of levee with a good gravel road was too much to resist, so we headed down the levee to see what we could see. We did not expect to have a curious and friendly donkey stick her head in the cab of the truck but she had different ideas.

It was a delightful experience and an exercise in one-handed wide angle shooting since the camera to subject distance was minimal at best. Click here to see our original post, Miss Donkey Congeniality.

And be sure and see the first part of the trip on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. It’s a trip down the “Balcony of the Delta.” You’ll see blue skies against golden harvested rice fields, cypress trees and a lot of levee cattle.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

It’s gonna rain t’mar

Large tractor pulling a scratcher through a dry field

Agri-activity on a recent Sunday was fast and furious in anticipation of a heavy rain the next day here in LA. This tractor is pulling a ‘scratcher’ through this filed. The ‘scratcher’ aerates the soil and turns dead vegetation under. It is a preparatory step, but not the last one before planting. If the field is left untended before the rain, planting will be delayed.

Tractor in dust

Click on the  dusty tractor to see more ‘before-the-rain’ pictures

There’s nothing like a prediction of a heavy rain to stir up agri-activity here in the Delta. If you haven’t planted and the fields are ready, you get in high gear and get seed in the ground.You can see planting pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here for you.

If your fields are not ready for planting, you get as much preparatory work as possible done before the rain because after the rain, you are effectively shut down until the fields are dry enough to work.

Tractor pulling field cultivator

This tractor is pulling a ‘field cultivator’ which breaks up clods, turns dead vegetation under and aerates the soil. In this field, this rig is part of a field preparation tag-team.

Tractor pulling roller-hipper

The second part of the field preparation tag-team is a ‘roller-hipper’ which makes makes rows and prepares the seed beds in the rows for planting soy beans, corn, or milo.

Details of roller-hipper on a tractor

Here’s the business end of the ‘roller-hipper.’ It is a complex piece of machinery which requires a lot of horsepower from the tractor to operate it’s sophisticated hydraulic system.

Roller hipper making rows

Here’s what the ‘roller-hipper’ does. It leaves behind rows with a seed bed ready for planting.

Tractor behind a small hill

Since our beloved Delta is as flat as a pool-table and/or a pancake, it is unusual to see a tractor that appears to be on the backside of a hill. Actually, the long lens exaggerated a slight rise in the land.

Tractor pulling a roller hipper

The tractor turned around and lo-and-behold it is dragging a roller-hipper with an additional aerating device that looks like an old fashioned lawn mower.

Rows of young corn

Here’s where all this activity is headed – young corn a week or so out of the ground. A glimpse of the right center of the picture reveals an oops. The planter driver got a cell-phone call, slapped a skeeter, was trying to tear the wrapper off a Snickers or something else that caused temporary ‘distracted planting.’

The big rain came the next day right on schedule. The forecasters got it right. The next day it was warm and sunny. Just exactly what freshly planted corn needs. Most of this corn will go to animal feed. Critters gotta eat.

Thanks for looking,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind







Azaelas up close and personal

Closeup picture of azalea in Pine Bluff Arkansas

At long last, the azaleas have exploded in our azalea rich neighborhood. Their appearance was agonizingly slow – like molasses running uphill in January. Now all of a sudden the fickle plants make their presence known in a big way.

 Our azaleas have joined blooming neighborhood Dogwoods and camellias in their decoration of the macro environment. It is not often that all three are a blooming simultaneously. Perhaps it is a harbinger of a good rest-of-the-year.

Three pink azalea blooms

Click on the blooms to see more azaleas at Corndancer dot-com.

We are giving you an up close and personal look at the azalea blooms since kneeling and squatting are not the norm for observing flowering plants. Be sure and see more of the Dempsey azaleas on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.  We are not captioning these pictures, the blooms speak for themselves.

Azalea bloom closeup

Vertical closeup of pink azalea


Freckled zalea bloom closeup

Freckled zalea bloom tight closeup

Red azalea closeup

‘Nuff sed.

Thanks for looking,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind