From Borrowing the Class Camera to Showbams Contributor: my photography story with Jessica Hernandez
The first time I had heard of Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas was the day I saw them perform at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma on July 7, 2015. It was part of the Live at Lagunitas summer concert series, and I went to this particular show to see the opener, psychedelic pop band Be Calm Honcho. At the time, I was taking a beginning digital photography class at the local community college, and Be Calm Honcho's Honcho Dreams was the soundtrack of my life. I had seen the band once before, but didn't shoot that night for some inane reason. At that point in my photography career, all I had to shoot with was a Canon SX170, a point-and-shoot. I was able to borrow the class DSLR camera, a Canon Rebel, to shoot Be Calm Honcho at Lagunitas, and maybe the headliner if I didn't prefer reclining in the grass with a beer.
Be Calm Honcho was absolutely thrilling. Lead singer Shannon Harney is a brilliant musician and performer, giving me plenty of great shots to edit back in the class lab. Then came on the headliner Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. They were on tour for their debut album Secret Evil. I was immediately captivated by Jessica Hernandez's exuberant, soulful vocals and unstoppable energy on stage. Moreover, I was rather fixated on her footwear, well worn black Dr. Martens, and her shredded slacks, probably Dickies, topped off with a shimmery vintage button-up blouse. There was a familiarity to her style, resonating with my inner youth, a child of the punk-grunge-ska era of the 90s. But there was something even more familiar about her that I didn't realize until after the show.
Here's me in the crowd with the class camera taking a break from shooting Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas at the Live at Lagunitas concert in 2015. Photo by Victoria Webb.
At the end of the set, Jessica came to the merch table to greet fans. I eagerly waited to meet her ruminating over what I had just experienced, and this feeling that there was something different, yet so very familiar about this band leader. Then it hit me: I had seen countless shows in the Bay Area, but none of them (even unto now), except the Latin music bands, had a Latina lead singer. That was different. But what was familiar was that she looked like me! In fact, she and I share a Mexican heritage. And I am so proud that she wrote and produced the band's latest album with is their first bilingual double LP, Telephone/Telefono as an expression of her cultural experience, our cultural experience.
Promoting the new album on their nationwide Milk and Honey tour, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas made a stop at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco last week. I got to shoot that show and write about it for Showbams. Jessica sang in both English and Spanish. It was so cool to hear punk rock en espanol! Live!
Again, I was spellbound by Jessica's style. This time she wore a bright floral vintage muumuu with a big white bow embellishment and black high-top Vans. But what was more enthralling was the baby bump! A few songs into the show, Jessica shared with us that she was five-and-a-half months pregnant with her husband, guitarist and keyboard player for The Growlers Kyle Straka.
During her set, I was mesmerized by her effortless movement across the stage (think Gwen Stefani on the Tragic Kingdom tour) and how she gently wrapped her arm around her womb, even as the beats and rhythms coming from the stage were anything but gentle! At that stage of development, the fetus can hear the mother's voice and loud noises outside the womb. I could just imagine the baby kicking around along with its mom on stage.
At one point Jessica got up to the edge of the stage right where I was standing. I could feel the cord of her microphone tap my arm as I held up the camera. And practically right in my face was that amazing belly!
After the show, I got a picture with Jessica and I made sure the photographer got Baby in the frame. I thanked Jessica for an awesome performance and for sharing her talents, and for showing us that having a family doesn't have to be sacrificed for rocking on.
From shooting Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas at Lagunitas on their debut album tour for a class project, to shooting them on their sophomore album tour for San Francisco/Los Angeles music blog Showbams, it's as though my development as a photographer, Jessica's development as a musician, and the development of the new life in her are all connected. We are all connected, and the beat goes on.
Please visit Showbams for my show review and more of my photos!