Echo Chamber: Brooke Annibale

[Echo Chamber (′ek·ō ′chām·bər): noun, 1. a dedicated space for the purposes of transmission and repetition of sound 2. a video segment that features your favorite bands playing your favorite songs 3. a video segment where your favorite bands blow your mind].

Words and photos by Jim

Artist / Brooke Annibale
Songs / “Under Streetlights” and “Empathy”
Location / Frick Park at the Homewood Trail
Time / May 10 2011

We’re starting to really love these outside shoots. This one in particular had success written all over it. A singer-songwriter in Pittsburgh’s beautiful Frick Park. How could we lose? I’d scoped out an amazing outlook the evening before with Emily somewhere near the Braddock Trail but was quickly dissuaded. It’s warm out. There’s sun. People have emerged from their winter slumbers and are more than excited to enjoy the great outdoors. My “perfect spot” was overrun with runners, bikers, and walkers on a narrow path. Disaster waiting to happen. We continued to walk around the giant park until we hit it’s most northern boundary – the Homewood Trail. This would be perfect. Intimate, not as busy, and oozing with the mystical feel I was looking for. Count it.

Arranging schedules as such, this one was going to happen right after work before it got dark. Very do-able if we hustled. I picked Justin up from work on the North Side and ran back to my place on the East Side to meet up and caravan to the park. Just enough time for a glass of water and a quick bagel and lox (yum). Justin grabbed 3 lbs of food from the East End Co Op and ate quickly. Brooke arrived exactly as Todd pulled up with Ailene. Right on time. Justin and Brooke hopped in my car and I lead the crew a few blocks north west to the northern entrance of Frick Park. Our destination was a stone embattlement. A fortification. A something. Deciding on a solitary bench down below and up against the beautiful stone wall, we began to set up shop. Shooting in the park, we opted to run extra light and solely on batteries. We were going to move quick and race the sleepy sun. Brooke ignored the mosquitos and warmed up with her acoustic, sitting nicely between the engraved words “Frick Park” on the bench. We waited for chatty older women to pass by. We paused for an anxious dog and laughing baby. Public places mean public noises and as long as it didn’t bother Brooke, we were good to go. With nary a hesitation, Brooke began with lead track “Under Streetlights” off her new album.

Echo Chamber: Brooke Annibale / Under Streetlights from Draw Us Lines on Vimeo.

Beautiful and pitch perfect. We did a few takes just to stay honest. Todd crept through bushes and through leaves. An older gentleman stood just down the path watching and listening, cemented in his steps by Brooke’s gently lilting melody. The whole scene was inspiring. Rustic. Natural. The stone structure added an almost ancient and lonely feeling to the surroundings. Brendan glided down the path on a bicycle in between songs, sweaty but excited to watch. He leant his long sleeve t-shirt to Justin. We were getting eaten alive with the dusk horde of mosquitoes, but we knew it was worth it. We asked Ms. Annibale to try one more song in this location before moving on. She performed and delivered perfectly again…this was starting to become a theme. With two songs under our belts and the light fading fast, we decided to move on and try something new.

Echo Chamber: Brooke Annibale / Empathy from Draw Us Lines on Vimeo.

Our first attempt at walking and shooting. Surrounded by beautiful paths and working so sparsely, it seemed like a good time to try it. We practiced a few minutes. Todd had to walk backwards, concentrating on staying with Brooke and not falling over. Ailene was his spotter, gently tapping him on the shoulder if he strayed too far left or right. I scouted ahead for stray dogs and runners. Justin stayed just out of the camera’s view to capture Brooke’s guitar work and vocals. This would be tricky, but worth the effort. We artfully coordinated a circular switch to get a different angle. Our first attempt took us through an archway that destroyed the sound in heavy reverb and broken tiles. Second take we got tangled up in each others cords, arms, and legs. Third take, a bicycle gang rolled through, briefly apologizing as they rode away in brightly colored outfits. We decided to get off the beaten path and take a stroll through the grass for one last time. Even with all of the messups and external factors, Brooke Annibale continued to produce spot on, amazing performances. Professional. Passionate. We got the take we wanted just as the light was beginning to fade out.

Todd and I grabbed some awesome shots of the front gate as Justin and Brooke packed up their things. In the blink of an eye, it was nighttime and the crickets were in full force. We leaned on cars and discussed upcoming events and the tribulations of scheduling full band practices. We tried not to think about the awesomeness we just captured. It was already evident that this was going to be a great video. It was palpable. Maybe it was the dimming light forcing us to produce under a deadline, but I suspect it was all about the performer and the location. Harmony. Leading the crew back to their parked cars in Regent Square, we parted ways, anxiously imagining how these videos would turn out. We weren’t disappointed.

Brooke Annibale was such a pleasure to work with. She put up with mosquitos and our stupid banter and preformed flawlessly. Her voice and songs absolutely floored us. If you enjoy the two tunes above, make sure you check out the rest of her most recent release Silence Worth Breaking. It’s terrific. Also, Pittsburgh public parks rule! Go out and enjoy them.

6 Responses to “Echo Chamber: Brooke Annibale”

  1. Each Echo Chamber video gets better and better. Im just as cemented in my steps as the aforementioned older gentleman. You folks are great at matching your subjects to the scenes. This was a great fit.

  2. Ever since this shoot I had “Under Streetlights” in my head almost every day until mixing it and handing it over to Todd for finishing up the video and I got the record on Rhapsody so the song is not going anywhere. This was great fun.

  3. Great feature and videos, you guys! I love Brooke’s new album (I’ve been championing it all over the place for months now!) and was happy to see you guys featured her here. Thanks!

  4. Brooke was absolutely amazing, I can’t say it enough. These turned out better than I had envisioned.

    and yes, Brian, her new album is terrific. I’ve listened to it so many times, especially Under Streetlights.

    Thanks for watching/listening.

  5. [...] We love to capture our favorite artists from the city, but sometimes we have to take the city out of our favorite artists. Scouting out a beautiful spot in northern Frick Park, we were able to capture a few solo performances from singer/songwriter Brooke Annibale and man, did she blow us away. Despite mosquitos, chatty women, and exited dogs, Brooke performed our favorite tune “Under Streetlights” from her latest release Silence Worth Breaking perfectly. The quiet intensity of her songs meshed perfectly with the rustic surroundings of late spring in Pittsburgh. Read all about the day of shooting and watch another video at the original Echo Chamber post. [...]

  6. [...] Favorite tracks: Under Streetlights, Empathy, Feels like Home Interwebs: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Echo Chamber Session [...]

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