Event: Willie Nile’s Birthday Bash

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I turned on my tv to watch some news
Some big shot spouting their views
Saw a child refugee drown on the shore
I had to turn it off
I couldn’t take it anymore

~ Willie Nile, Children of Paradise

Do you know the rock ‘n roll music of New York-based Willie Nile?

If you don’t, and you’re a music fan, I implore you to seek him out. You won’t be disappointed.

On Saturday, June 8, Willie celebrated his 71st birthday (actual birthday is June 7) in Asbury Park at the House of Independents.

I had the opportunity to shoot the show via his press people. I’ve wanted to see Willie live since I heard House of 1,000 Guitars about 10 years ago, and while he play Asbury a lot, I never had the opportunity.


Yes, he turned 71, but he plays like a much younger man. Granted, he sounds a bit like Bob Dylan on a few songs, but his strength is his guitar playing. He switched back and fourth between electric and acoustic guitars but had the crowd ( a bit older, some even stayed seated in the back of the house for the show) fist-pumping and bouncing along to his new stuff (from new album Children of Paradise) to old fav’s as well.

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Hell Yeah was a super crowd favorite, and my buddies Bobby Mahoney and Zack Sander came out to hope out on One Guitar (Bobby’s band opened for Willie on this night).


Bobby on acoustic guitar, Zack on sax, and Willie.

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Guitarist Matt Hogan

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Drummer Jon Webber

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Bassist Johnny Pisano

Willie is backed by Matt Hogan on guitar, Johnny Pisano on bass and Jon Webber on drums.

Johnny’s signature move is a flying Dutchman off a riser. I was talking to him backstage before the show, and he was showing me all these cool photos on his phone of him doing the jump. Of course, you have to anticipate when he’s going to do it…and be in a decent position to get the shot.

I slightly anticipated and got a shot of the move, but from back, stage right.


Click here to see more photos from Willie’s show. I wanted to back the photo essay with him doing All Dressed Up and No Place To Go, but it’s copyrighted so YouTube would take it down. Like IG did before I reposted it without the music.

Great show to shoot, very fun and active. Glad I got to the chance to be there for Willie’s Birthday Bash.


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Two fun Willie Nile and photography related things: He may be the only songwriter to rhyme “Nikon” and “icon” (in his song Life on Bleecker Street)

And the Children of Paradise album cover features some strong portraits by Willie’s girlfriend, Christina Arrigoni. I’ve been following her work for awhile as well. Super talented photographer. Check her work out.

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One challenge I had on this night was trying to stay out of the videographer’s way. They are putting together footage of Willie for a documentary, so including his birthday party makes sense. But I had to skip around a little!

Overall, super fun night in Asbury Park to celebrate a birthday. Hope to catch Willie again, sooner rather than later. Much thanks to his media team for getting me in to shoot the show!

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2019

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One thought on “Event: Willie Nile’s Birthday Bash

  1. Pingback: Making Prints – June Edition | JerseyStyle Photography

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