2020 – A Place Of Honor In The Pylon Box

                                                      (ignore April 30, 2017 publish date – this was published on November 6, 2020)


Raise your hand if you have any idea what that title’s about.

Hmm………I think I see some hands going up in the Peach State.


Pylon was an influential Athens, GA, band that I shot twice in the early 1980s: once when they opened for Gang of Four at the Ritz in Manhattan in 1980 and again when they played at Hitsville in Passaic Park, NJ in 1982.

Not familiar with them?


The Box: https://www.ajc.com/life/music-blog/athens-band-pylon-to-release-comprehensive-box-set/BVK4SG5BFVDORLM3YA5HRJP7H4/


In March 2019, I received an email from Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Pylon’s vocalist, saying that she found a shot of the band that I had taken in an old issue of Trouser Press and wondered what else I had of them because they were “working their way towards a reissue project”.

Here’s the TP page and image she found:


Because I had shot them from far away at the Ritz when they had almost no light on them, I concentrated on the much-better Hitsville performance images that I shot from almost point-blank range to send to her. I had also done a quick backstage shoot with them and sent those along too (the TP shot that she liked was one of the backstage ones). The Hitsville shots were fun ones with lots of smiles, personality and dirty socks:


And-oh-by-the-way, I also sent the one semi-sort-of-decent dark Ritz one, but only because that show was their first (I think) big New York City gig, opening for a band they really liked. Stuff like that is important to any band.

After much discussion, I was very surprised to find out that they really wanted to use the dark Ritz shot. I couldn’t imagine why, but – hey – it’s not my project.

After a fair amount of work, the image was put into acceptable shape (though I was still hoping one of the backstage Hitsville shots would get switched in).

As the Box came into being, I found out that it would contain 4 reissued VINYL albums and a book……….not a booklet, but a 200-page hardcover BOOK!





Had they lost their minds?

I really wanted to know what the thought process was here.

Vanessa explains it here in an interview……….note that she was leafing(!) through an old Trouser Press:

But that didn’t explain everything, so let’s dig deeper. It turns out that the band had donated a lot of things to the Special Collections Library at the University of Georgia at Athens, including a drum kit and the dress that Vanessa was wearing in my photo.

They took those items and added Pylon member Michael Lachowski’s bass and borrowed the late Randy Bewley’s guitar from his sons and set all these things up at the SCL@UGA to match the band placement setup in my photo and the resultant photo is the book’s back cover image.


As Brady Brock from New West Records (Pylon’s label) says:

“They think your photo is the definitive live image of the band. They also love the symmetry of it (we are talking about art school kids after all!). The special collections library has long housed Vanessa’s dress, which she also wears on the back cover of Gyrate as well. It was her favorite during this period. We recreated your set up with the dress and the instruments at the library for the back cover of the book.”


Vanessa adds:

“Well they are mirrors, aren’t they? Your photo and the back photo were chosen by Michael Lachowski, our bassist, to reflect each other.”


NOW, I get it (finally)………….and I’m honored.


And now YOU can get it………….it’s being released today! (I hear that a CD version will be out next March).


Just don’t do what this masked man is doing and steal this book (with a respectful nod to Abbie Hoffman):




  1. Michael Lachowski November 6, 2020

    Wow, I love your exploration of this episode, and it’s all true! The photo that we used on the cover grabbed me even as a small preview file. First of all, it’s rare to find a photo of the band live where Curtis is not hidden — behind one of the standing band members, or by his drums and cymbals. And there is the symmetry, of which we never tire. Both guitars are pointing into the middle of the photo. The arrangement of the four of us makes a triangle shape, aided by the diagonal lines of the floor monitor speakers’ outside edges and two overhead microphone stands on the drum riser. The headroom in the book cover includes the spot where the apex of this triangle would exist, right smack dab in the middle of of the area occupied by the L in Pylon. Everything is so balanced, and a triangle is also the essential shape of a pylon, or traffic cone. One insignificant detail that I love: my right foot is off the ground. And other detail that is so Curtis is that one drumstick that projects backwards by his head. I love this book, and thanks for working with us to put your photo on the cover.

  2. Bob Leafe November 8, 2020

    Thanks, Michael………(and I thought I was detail-oriented). I was always aware of the show-the-drummer-in-group-shots problem, so because I was on the second floor of the Ritz (a U-shaped, wall-hugging floor where record company people sat at tables while the overflow first-floor fans stood behind them), I could maneuver laterally to where Curtis would be visible.

    I guess life DOES begin at 40……………at least it does for this unseen-for-four-decades group shot.

  3. Annemarie November 8, 2020

    Congratulations Bob! Great to have your work out there again! Be well, Annemarie

  4. John OToole November 10, 2020

    Wonderful stuff Bob! Pylon were a great band, saw them a few times at Maxwell’s. They’re genuinely nice people too!

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