THE GREAT GUITARS

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There are a lot of great guitarists plying their trade as 6 string gunslingers these days, in every musical genre from rock to pop, classical to folk, from metal to jazz. A world of talent to choose from, and enough diversity to cover the globe and reach out to the heavens! Back in the time before ipods and cell phones, when vinyl ruled the world, three supremely gifted guitarists recorded and toured the world as good-will ambassadors of sound, calling themselves “The Great Guitars”. Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis. ……and truly great they were, as anyone who ever saw of knew them can attest! ( myself included) Alas, these giants are no longer with us. Today, we have a new generation assuming the roles, and (deservedly so) the title of “The Great Guitars”. Peppino D’Agostino, Vinny Raniolo, Martin Taylor and Frank Vignola. These four monsters of the guitar tradition have filled the very large shoes of their mentors and inspirations and filled them with grace and a musical verve equal to the originals. They proved their mettle at a recent concert sponsored by the Levine School of Music held at The Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. on a warm spring evening and set the stage on fire with fretwork that stunned the ears and eyes, from the sublime to the incendiary.
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Martin & Peppino
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Vinny, Frank, Martin & Peppino
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Tearing it up with Vinny & Frank
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Martin, how do you do that?
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Peppino D’Agostino
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The Great Guitars
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The very gifted, Martin Taylor

ANTIQUED

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On our recent visit in a southerly direction, through Winchester, Harrisonburg and Staunton, Virginia, we happened upon various reminders of these town’s genteel and charming pasts. While the usual strip malls, big box stores and detestable chain eateries were very much in evidence, churning out their oh, so regimented and reliably bland totems to mass consumerism, we also encountered the quaint and polite charm of a by-gone era, along with the reminders of the individual American spirit that is so often overlooked today. photo ablogold9.jpg
The Scales of Justice, Harrisonburg, VA. photo ablogold7.jpg
The DIXIE Theater, Staunton, VA. photo ablogold1.jpg
Home after a hard day’s work, Winchester, VA. photo ablogold5.jpg
George’s, Harrisonburg, VA. photo ablogold2.jpg
Cleaning up in Winchester, VA. photo ablogold3.jpg
The skies the limit in Staunton, VA. photo ablogold4.jpg
When a car dealership really meant something, in Harrisonburg, VA. photo ablogold6.jpg
Now this is a home worth coming home to!

THINKING OF YOU

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On a recent roadtrip to Staunton, VA., we came across yet another tranquil oasis and resting place of the departed on the outskirts of town. Here are but a few of the interesting bits of funerary art that helped fuel my creative mind that day. photo abloggraves2.jpg photo abloggrave8.jpg photo abloggrave6.jpg
They do love and respect their dogs down here in Virginia- photo abloggrave4.jpg photo abloggrave7.jpg
A more apt name was never seen photo abloggrave3.jpg
Crossing Over photo abloggrave1.jpg
Remember the Maine! Don’t see many of these photo abloggrave5.jpg
Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door

THE DINER ART of MICHAEL G. STEWART

Although it seems that I am primarily a photographer, back in the day I was first and foremost an artist. My hands were permanently stained with India ink, and my second finger had a divot that took two years to regain its normal shape. While searching through some old files, I came across these examples of my old craft, and now, with renewed vigor, I hope to once again create images in pencil and pen. Enjoy! photo afbIMG_1743.jpg
The Short Stop Diner, in Wheaton, MD. Long gone, the building awaits yet another owner photo afbDSCF1704.jpg
Counterman with cigarette photo aIfbMG_1734.jpg
The Silver Spring Tastee Diner, 1985 photo afbIMG_1739.jpg
Christmas Card with The Summit Diner, Somerset, PA.

THE HIGHTSTOWN DINER EXPERIENCE

On our way to cover the NEA JazzMasters in NYC every year, the intrepid Miss Julie and I always make a point to stop along the way, take a break from the New Jersey Turnpike, and have an invigorating breakfast at the Hightstown Diner. It may not be the original, classic structure, pictured on so many vintage postcards, but it is friendly, charmingly local, the coffee is good, and the experience is what we all go to diners for! Just off exit 8, the sad and long abandoned Mom’s sits in the shadow of the new exit overpass, the reminder of tasty pancakes from my youthful trips to Maine, but an extra 5 minutes into town still yields the goods of small town eats in a wasteland of fast food franchises. Check it out, it’s a great treat! photo ablogdiner2.jpg
Long closed, Mom’s! the name said it all! photo adinerblogIMG_7005.jpg photo ablogdiner3.jpg
You gotta love the art at Mom’s photo ablogdiner8.jpg
Even though the new “Enviornmental” style facade can’t really compete with the original, it still has certain charms photo ablogdiner5.jpg
A great breakfast and never-ending coffee,with plenty of bacon  photo ablogdiner6.jpg
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We only stop here once a year, and run into this fun & friendly father and son every time! What are the chances? Dad, checking out the chicken sandwich on a diner’s plate- “Somethings wrong with that chicken!” Son “What?” Dad- “It’s DEAD!” Same joke every year, too funny.

2013 END OF THE YEAR CD DESIGN

2013 found me bursting with creative collaborations in the form of many CD package designs and photography. The last few months produced a flurry of activity in both jazz and traditional musical forms, working with some of the finest musicians in the business today.  photo ablogcds7.jpg
Here’s one by mandolin player and Patuxent Music label guru, Tom Mindte. photo ablog2.jpg
Local multi-reed player Halley Shoenberg photo Ablog1.jpg
Nate Leath can play just about any style on the fiddle, and does it all well photo ablog5.jpg
Some gorgeous Celtic music by the LILT duo photo ablog4.jpg
My good friends EKG tearing up some fabulous Latin-flavored piano jazz in this sophomore release, this time with horns photo ablog3.jpg
Al Jones, the son of Bill Monroe, doing some hard-core bluegrass! Pass me that moonshine!
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Jazz guitarist Paul Wingo, the living embodiment of all things jazz, livening up the legendary club, Blues Alley

2014 NEA JAZZ MASTERS

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2014 NEA JAZZ MASTER JAMEY AEBERSOLD

In 1982, The National Endowment for the Arts created an endowment to recognize excellence in the uniquely American musical art form we know as jazz. It has been my great good fortune to be associated with the NEA for a number of years, following a life-long love and appreciation of jazz that began at the feet of my father, listening to Washington, D.C. disc jockey Felix Grant spin records by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz. In the many years since, I have photographed and designed album covers for several of my heroes, but at no other time am I so blessed to be in the presence of such a concentration of musical giants than when I head to New York City to work with my good friends at the NEA on the yearly JazzMasters events at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Hosted by Wynton Marsalis & Soledad O’Brien, this year saw the celebration of the work and lives of 4 new Masters- Jamey Aebersold, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis and Keith Jarrett, and four more talented, and diverse artistic souls you could never hope to meet under one roof. As always, it was a pleasure to work with the dedicated and tireless staff at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and all the wonderful folks from the National Endowment for the Arts. photo aFBnea2014portraits.jpg
The 2014 Jazz Masters Anthony Braxton, Jamey Aebersold, Richard Davis & Keith Jarrett photo afbIMG_8972a.jpg
Joe Lovano photo afbIMG_8669.jpg
A rousing piece of operatic jazz composed by Anthony Braxton photo afbIMG_9269.jpg
Avant-jazz guitarist Bill Frisell photo afbIMG_8738.jpg
past JazzMasters Kenny Barron & Jimmy Owens photo afbIMG_8179.jpg
Dave Liebman photo afbIMG_9193.jpg
Keith Jarrett explains all photo afbIMG_8464.jpg
Thelonius Monk competition winner, saxophonist Melissa Aldana photo hendricks.jpg
Annie Ross & Jon Hendricks having a grand old time