Book Notes Blues Legend

Photographer Timothy Kennedy was working on grass-roots community projects in Alaska when news of an unusual concert by blues legend John Lee Hooker caught his attention.

It seems that the singer had established something of a tradition by performing annually during the celebration of the Summer Solstice in “The Land of the Midnight Sun.”

At the suggestion of a musician friend, Kennedy brought his camera to the concert. One thing led to another, and Kennedy suddenly found himself invited up on stage where he took a series of photographs that capture the atmosphere of that event from a vantage point few people ever share: a position right next to the performer.

Five years ago, Kennedy, who is Professor of Communication at the University of Tampa, rediscovered his negatives from that memorable night. He found himself caught up in that concert all over again. The result was a new series of prints and the conviction that the occasion deserved to be memorialized in an exhibit–one that Kennedy entitled “Midnight Son.” In the process of contacting Hooker to let him know about the exhibit, he received word that the blues great had died on June 21, 2001-the Summer Solstice.

From that point on, Kennedy explains, he thought of the Midnight Son exhibit “as a tribute to the memory of John Lee Hooker, the legend and the man.”

The signed, limited edition book published this month by the University of Tampa Press is a part of that tribute. It includes 16 duotone plates from Kennedy’s exhibit. Baron Wolman, first chief photographer of Rolling Stone magazine, writes: “Tim Kennedy’s photos lovingly capture the intimacy of those glorious days when concerts were still intimate, when there was a close connection between the performer and the audience. While the intimacy may be gone, happily Kennedy’s photos remain to remind us of how sweet it was.”

With Monday’s release of Midnight Son, the plates from the exhibition become available to the public in a limited, signed, cloth-bound edition.

For more information, contact Dr. Richard Mathews or Sean Donnelly at (813) 253-6266 or

Leave a Reply

Back To Top