The End comes quick as a bullet according to Craig Minowa, lead singer/songwriter of Cloud Cult, this past weekend a brilliant man’s amazing journey ended much too soon for those of us left behind.
I first met Stewart Oskenhorn at a fund raiser for the local Colorado Waldorf school, a friend of mine said “man you gotta meet Stewy, you guys will get a long great, he loves music as much as you do”, yeah right I said and made my way towards a slight man about my age, spectacle glasses, long hair and a graphic T, and flip flops I think, proper attire for the middle of winter in Colorado.
Stewart and I hit it off immediately and had a lengthy dialog about the recent shows we’d seen and the art of concert photography. Stewart said he would be glad to assign me to shoot some shows for him/Aspen Times in exchange for some photos,
His first request from me was for some photos I’d taken of a local Colorado fiddle player he was doing a piece on, I sent all the photos I had of the young virtuoso and he replied:
Got them. Thanks. Looks great, and I should be able to use one or more. How would you like to be credited?
Great meeting you, and look forward to doing some work together.
Peace, S, what a perfect way to end an email I thought to myself, at that moment I knew I’d met a kindred spirit. Within a few months Stewart may have wished he hadn’t met me because it wasn’t long before I began emailing him for “assignments” to shows in every direction, Napa, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and yes even Aspen, he rarely turned me down and if he did it was only because he was shooting the show himself.
Over the next couple years we exchanged dozens of emails, they were usually brief and to the point but almost always included “So what did you think of the show?” to which I’d have to give him my two cents.Here is one exchange;
You all set on Red Rocks? How was Bottle Rocket? Who did you shoot?
– My Reply –
Bottlerock was nice, but super crowded, expected 35,0000 had about 50,000 I think.
I shot Alabama Shakes, Allen Stone, Andrew Bird, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Donovan Franjreitter, EDward Sharpe, Flagshio, Flaming Lips, GroupLove, Mavis Staples, Rodrigo y Gabriella, The Shins, The Black Keys, The Wallflowers and Vintage Trouble. I am slowly getting the photos up, you can see them at gonzoshots.com or my Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/gonzoshots/sets
Just let me know who you are interested in and I’ll send you as many as you want of each artist.
The highlight of the weekend and perhaps my life was a show in San Francisco at a small club (500 seats) , the band was my favorite band ever called Cloud Cult have you ever heard of them? Let me know and I can turn you on to several of their 10 albums.
– Stewarts Reply –
I saw Cloud Cult at Belly Up a few years ago — loved them. Did an interview with the lead guy. Interesting story behind that band; sad, too. I guess you know it if you’re a big fan. (See attached.)
Man, make me jealous seeing all that music. What was the best stuff?
I can use a few Harper & Musselwhite pics.
And so it went, our brief dialogs about our shared passion, can you imagine my thoughts, the guy has the best gig in the world and he says he’s jealous of me!
Then one day last summer I was shooting the Jazz Aspen Festival and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s had just finished, I was milling around the photo pit, when out of no where Stewart walks up and asks me, “So how long did it take you to get over the pain of your divorce?” I was taken aback, how did he even know about this troubled period of my life. After a couple seconds I began to speak and I could see in his eyes this couldn’t be a shallow reply, he really needed to know that this, like all of life’s most difficult times could be over endured. “Time” I said “It just takes time, just take it one day at a time, it will get less painful, the gaps between the intense sorrow will increase, the horrible nightmares will ease and you will come through this, you will be stronger, more empathetic and a better human being”. I told him that we should meet for lunch sometime, anytime, just hang out, have a beer and talk. We never had that lunch.
I am haunted by this brief discussion, should I have reached out more, should we have found a quiet place to talk, should I have made the phone call and set up lunch?
I’ve always hated the Nietzsche saying “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” I’ve always thought fuck that shit, I’ll take the little less strenuous path, stay away from anything that might even come close to killing me and take a little less strength in exchange, but the bastard was right, after 54 loops around the sun on this ole blue orb I know I’m stronger than I used to be.
For what its worth, I’d gladly trade a little of that strength now for a lunch date with Stewy
RIP Stewart Oskenhorn – November 28, 1963 – February 2, 2014.
Photo By Leigh Vogel
She wrote on Facebook
”I waited around that day to get this photo of Stewart Oksenhorn for a story on the Aspen Times moving to the new location. Stewart was busy that day, but I always thought that his office environment was the coolest. Stewart knew I was waiting for him and he sent me an email titled, "yo!" The email reads, "Leigh, I’m back in the office, looking good and ready to be shot." And here is the shot. — with Stewart Oksenhorn.