Every so often you meet someone that catches your eye, or in this case, ear. My dear friend, Billy Mann, is a music/business genius and sees talent way before others do. We have been friends since junior high school. We went to Creative and Performing Arts High School in Philadelphia together. Basically we have been friends for over half our lives. I know that Billy is what some would call a music mogul but ya know, to me he’s just my buddy from life. Our friendship is always first and business second. I pretty much had no idea what he really did or who he worked with for a long time. The last time I went to his home I saw all the gold and platinum records on his wall and said, “holy crap, you wrote THAT song? You produced THAT SONG?” I like that I was kind of unaware, except for the stuff that he shares with me, because like I said, our friendship is always first. But this is not really a story about Billy. This is a story of a young boy that Billy believed in. It’s also a story about Billy believing in me.
About three years ago, around our birthdays, Billy and I were having our annual Skype marathon to catch up on life. Anyway in the middle of it all, Billy says that he may have a photography gig for me. He then proceeds to talk about this boy that he discovered in Los Angeles. At the time, this kid was about 14 years old. “Krissy!” (he and my closest friends in Philly call me that), “This kid is the real deal! He is so talented. He’s writes his own music, he sings his butt off, he can dance, and he plays a lot of his own instruments! For real, the real deal. I’m starting to work with him and I need someone to document our first sessions together. He is coming to my house for a week to write and record some stuff. Would you want to come down here and stay for a few days? I would love to see what you can do with him in terms of photography. Think about it.” Then he proceeds to show me this adorable young man leading a flash mob in the middle of a park. And while he is showing me the video, he is playing me some of his music. I watched for a few minutes and knew there was something….different about him. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was in. If Billy was willing to take a gamble on this boy as well as me capturing him, I was prepared to roll the dice right along with him.
So that weekend, three years ago, I met a young boy named Alex Aiono who let me in. We spent three days hanging out. I watched him work, took photos and got to know him a bit. Three years later, we are still friends. And his career is taking off….FAST.
The work I have done in the past with Alex is known as “work for hire”. I’m unable to blog those photos at this time. One day, but not now. However, you can see my work all over his website and even on his latest tour t-shirt. That’s a first for me. 😉
Last month, Alex came to Boston on his first tour. He was the opening act for the “Loud Tour” with the Disney group R5 at the Paradise Rock Club. I rang up Billy and his crew offering to photograph the show. I also wanted to whisk Alex away from the tour bus and just give him a chance to come down from the energy of life on the road. So about 3 weeks ago, I picked up my friend from his hotel on the outskirts of Boston, and showed him around Harvard, grabbed some lunch and then dragged him out to the burbs of Boston to my place for down time. Funny, I thought I would be snapping a bunch of photos that first day together, but I didn’t take many. I wanted him to feel like he had the day off. Which he sorta did, except when my neighbors kids got the surprise of their lives. Alex showed up and shocked all the kids in the neighborhood. I thought they would scream and cry, but they just stood frozen and giggled! It was hilarious. They have been Alex Aiono fans for almost a year now. I played them his music and they are spreading the Aiono Gospel. It’s so sweet to see.
The next day I actually worked and covered the concert for him. Photographing live music is like dancing for me. I actually click the shutter to the beat of the music. It’s such a high. Almost like performing again.
Here are some samples of my two days with my friend Alex. He is 17 now. Keep an eye out for him, because this is not the last time you will see him. He was just listed as MTV’s Buzzworthy artists! It’s only up from here Alex. And it’s going to get even better than this. I promise.
To find out more about Alex. Here are some links for you. SIDE NOTE: I did not get paid to promote anything about him. He is a friend and I just want to see him shine. That’s it. The End.
Click HERE for his website.
Click HERE for his Facebook page.
Click HERE for his Twitter.
Click HERE to buy his music via itunes.
Click HERE for his YouTube page.
Here is his latest video, “Young and Foolish”