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Skidmore College

From Grace Slick to Grace Potter

October 27, 2016

A legendary rock and roll photographer (and father of Skidmore student Erica Blakesberg '18), Jay Blakesberg has spent 35 years documenting America’s top bands, and now he has a new coffee-table book. He’ll be on campus to present "Chasing the Light," a storytelling and slide show, followed by a Q&A and book-signing Tuesday, Nov. 1, starting at 7 p.m. in Davis Auditorium of Palamountain Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

blakesberg book

Blakesberg has photographed the likes of the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, and Jefferson Airplane, as well as more contemporary artists such as My Morning Jacket and Mumford and Sons. His recent Hippie Chick: A Tale of Love, Devotion & Surrender is a fine-art coffee-table book featuring 445 images. With three short essays by journalist Edith Johnson (known on social media since 2012 as Festival Girl), the book celebrates the free-spirited women who are inspired by, and help to inspire, live music. What the authors call "earth mamas and fairy princesses, hula-hoopers and whirling dervishes, front-row regulars and flower-crown makers" are all presented, alongside anecdotes from scores of women whom Johnson interviewed for the book.

Iconic rocker Grace Slick provides the book's foreword, discussing women in the original hippie-era music scene. In the afterword, Grace Potter mentions those "rebel ancestors" and says her generation is "the living, breathing manifestation of every path they blazed, every war they protested, every song they loved."

"I have felt for a long time that what I was doing is visual anthropology," Blakesberg says, and "this is a unique tribe whose story should be told. These women have . . . forever changed the face of women in pop culture."

Based in San Francisco, Blakesberg regularly contributes to Rolling StoneGuitar PlayerRelix, and other magazines. Hippie Chick is his tenth book of music photography.

His visit to Skidmore is sponsored by the Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative.

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