Memphis has it all, and Bully Rook has the pictures to prove it. In honor of the Gonerfest Photofest  he curated (which opens tonight), here are 13 questions and answers with our favorite town’s favorite party and photography authority.


JD: What was the first show you attended? (With or without a camera.) How old were you and where was it? Also, what was the first show you started taking pictures?
BR: The first show I ever went to was a Descendents show at the Antenna. It was the summer before I started high school. It was the Enjoy! tour. We just moved back to Memphis from New Orleans where I had discovered Hardcore and Punk Rock from a radio show on WTUL New Orleans. They played a lot of Descendents, Flipper, and Butthole Surfers every week. I used to record every show I listened to. So I won free passes to go to this show from the local college radio station. My stepdad took me. Dag Nasty and a local band called Distemper opened. Back then, like every month the Antenna had Sunday early all-ages shows. The bands would play for the kids and then the Antenna would clear us all out and make the band play again late for the drinking class. At least, I think that’s how it went down.

I got a camera when I started college. I never thought to take it to a show. I think I took some terrible pics of the Rev. Horton Heat when they played the Daisy back in ’92?’93?

In 2005, after my kid was born, I got my first daddy’s night out and went to the HiTone to see Jonathan Richman. I took the camera with me and managed during that show to figure out how to take a decent, mostly in focus pic without a flash.

I wandered into Goner Records the Sunday of Gonerfest 3 to see Harlan T. Bobo play. I just got finished shooting a hamburger eating contest down the street at the Fair. I took a picture of Harlan that ended up on the Goner Welcome Page. That made me think maybe I was good at it so I kept at. If you don’t like what I’ve become, blame Goner. That little bit of encouragement was all I needed.

JD: If you could be any fictional character, who would it be? (Can be from a movie, cartoon, book, comic, song, whatevs.) Why?
BR: I’d be Max Renn from Videodrome so I’d get to ask the most important question ever: “Why do it for real? It’s easier and safer to fake it.”

JD: Your website’s About Page says “Work in Progress” which feels like a familiar universal metaphor. For every artist or designer that is good on bragging (I mean marketing) on themselves, there are others too shy or busy making things to keep up with their portfolios or biographies. Does the phrase “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” resonate with you?
BR: I just think it should be about the photos. They are good or bad, interesting or not. Anything I tell you about my self won’t change that. I also don’t like a lot words with my photos. Too many words is like singer songwriter dude who tells you what the song is about before he sings it to you. It’s either, at best, unnecessary or, at worst, insulting.

JD: If Memphis fell into the ocean, (and you remained) where would you go?
BR: To the bottom of the sea.


JD: I like that the flyer for the Photofest includes someone taking a picture with an iPhone. Lots of skilled photographers seem to despise the advent of smartphone photography. Everyone on the Photofest bill is quite talented and probably has differing opinions themselves. Do you ever take pictures with your phone or a light point and shoot camera? (Either casually or conveniently or experimentally or whatever.) If so, is it something you feel weird doing?
BR: I love taking pics with my phone. The phone cam is the sensory organ of the internet’s collective consciousness. Plus, taking pics is fun. I say the more the merrier. I just wish most people were as compulsive about editing their pics as they are about taking them.

JD: If you had the chance to shoot any show in history, (time machine, whatever) what would it be?
BR: Butthole Surfers – Lafayette, Louisiana December 1984.

JD: What’s your least favorite word?
BR: Stringfellow.

JD: If you HAD to get a big neck tattoo, front and center, what would it be of?
BR: An ironic moustache.

JD: What’s the worst photography catastrophy you’ve had? Think important moment but jammed film, dead battery, full memory card, and other photographer’s nightmares.
BR: I accidentally deleted all of the pics of Dan Melchior I took at Gonerfest 5. Had I not, it would have been the first and only time I ever succeeded in photographing every band at a single Gonerfest. As usual, a liberal amount of whiskey was responsible.

JD: What’s your favorite thing to smell?
BR: My wife.

JD: Did you have any imaginary friends growing up?
BR: I had legendary friends.

JD: What’s the last thing you listened to? (Musically)
BR: A strange early rough stumpy 1983 version of Right Wing Pigeons from Outer Space I found on Joe Jack Talcum’s website. Listened to it like 50 times. When I get stressed I listen to the Slits’ Love und Romance over and over over. The one on CUT. The live version sucks.

JD: What’s the best season of the year?
BR: The Saturday of Gonerfest


Sarah reads too much, has too many mosquito bites, and is still too torn up about David Bowie. Her personal brand is glitter and mediocre karaoke. You can stalk her if you want.

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