CD COVERS of 2014

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One of the artistic endeavors that both pays my bills and enriches my soul, is working with the many talented musicians that come to me to help create vibrant packaging for their CD and album covers, as well as promotional portraits and images for their websites and press kits. 2014 was a constructive and varied year for these projects, and 2015 looks to be one of many creative collaborations as well. From jazz, to bluegrass and country, from Irish to early classical, a musician’s visual presentation should always tell the story of his or her musical soul. Here are a few of the projects that I both photographed and designed last year. I’m looking forward to reaching out to some different areas of the musical spectrum this year & creating some truly memorable covers- Maybe for YOU!
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Springfield Exit on the Patuxent Music label photo blog WDON Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg
Frank Wakefield & Red Allen photo blog Tis Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Rira Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Palmer Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Matthews Carrara design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Hurt Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo Banjo Design Michael G. Stewart blog.jpg photo blog BRENNEN Design Michael G. Stewart fb .jpg photo blog Jan Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo Bluestone Design Michael G. Stewart blogfb.jpg

NEON of the AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

 photo a blog west header_1.jpgHowdy Friends! Long time no see, you might say! Yes, I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the past year,as my life has experienced many changes, but I am happy to say, all for the best. So I hope to get back in the groove and continue to post images that strike my fancy, or elicit an emotional response, or make a statement, or just plain look beautiful or interesting. As the title of this blog states, this is about that vanishing bit of Americana that I love so well, the neon landscape of this wacky and grand country of ours. So for my return to blogging, I present this bit of dreamscape from a recent trip to Arizona and New Mexico, a brief roadtrip down the “Mother road”, Route 66, and a bit of the vanishing commercial artistry of the local neon signage. photo a blog west12.jpg
We stayed here at the Monterey, clean, friendly, and a bit of time travel back to 1976! photo a blog west9.jpg photo a blog west8.jpg photo a blog west 11.jpg
The late, lamented Aztec Motel- now gone, with only this iconic neon remaining photo a blog west7.jpg
I’m getting a message from Sputnik here! photo a blog west6.jpg
The Dog House, in Albuquerque, New Mexico- great place for a hot dog & milk shake! Look for the sign of the happy, wagging tail!  photo a blog west5.jpg photo a blog west 4.jpg photo a blog west3.jpg photo a blog west2.jpg
The El Don- some of the best neon we saw, but the motel has been sadly neglected photo a blog westv10.jpg
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“AIR CONDITIONED by REFRIGERATION!” What could be better?

A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE & MUSIC of PAUL WINGO

Yesterday, the Washington, D.C. area music community gathered at Calvary Lutheran Church in Silver Spring, Maryland to remember and celebrate the life and music of jazz guitarist- Paul Wingo. Born in Havre de Grace, Maryland in 1946, Paul’s career spanned his early teen years in Cambridge, Maryland playing with the “VOLTS” through his years with the Army’s premier jazz ensemble, The Army Blues, to his many gigs with national and international jazz artists, including Zoot Sims, Phil Woods, Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis , Steve Allen and Dinah Shore. Paul was a Baltimore jazz institution in his own right, performing every Tuesday night at Bertha’s ( mussels ) Restaurant in Fells Point for 3 decades. ( He even rated a mention in a story by best selling mystery author Laura Lippman ) Paul was known as much for his quiet, gentle  and unassuming personality and as a deeply committed teacher and friend as for his complex and fiery guitar licks. His friends and fellow guitarists and musicians paid their heartfelt goodbyes at this tribute hosted by WPFW-FM host, Tom Cole. A man of peace and profound commitment to his music, Paul will be greatly missed by all those whose lives he touched with his music and deep sense of love and spirituality. photo afbIMG_7872.jpg photo afbIMG_7880.jpg photo afbIMG_7887.jpg
Steve Abshire, looking far too stern for such a lovable guy photo afbIMG_7905.jpg
WPFW’s own Tom Cole photo afbIMG_7913.jpg
Steve Herberman and Steve Abshire
 photo afbIMG_7947.jpgSue Matthews and Steve Herberman
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Bassist Paul Langosch photo afbIMG_7994.jpg
Paul’s student, Andrew Latona
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Aaron Rubinstein and Jan Knutson photo afbIMG_8052.jpg
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Clarinet virtuoso & music educator, Dr. Charles Stier photo afbIMG_8092.jpg photo afbIMG_8106.jpg
Tom Lawrence photo afbIMG_8121.jpg photo afbIMG_8125.jpg photo afbIMG_8134.jpg
Pianist Stef Scaggiari
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 photo afbIMG_8168.jpgFormer Airman of Note, Rick Whitehead
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Christiana Drapkin photo afbIMG_8195.jpg photo afbIMG_8209.jpg
Carlos Barbosa Lima
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Jazz Violinist, Susan Jones
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Saxophonist, Bruce Swaim photo afbIMG_8328.jpg photo afbIMG_8335.jpg photo afbIMG_8352.jpg
Chuck Karner and Laura Lee

PAUL WINGO CELEBRATION

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PLEASE FEEL FREE TO JOIN US IN OUR CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF JAZZ GUITARIST- PAUL WINGO, A DEAR FRIEND, TALENTED GUITARIST AND COMPOSER, AND TRULY GENTLE SOUL! THIS TRIBUTE TO THE LIFE OF PAUL WINGO WILL BE HELD ON, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2014 FROM 1:00-4:00 AT CALVARY LUTHERAN CHURCH, 9545 GEORGIA AVENUE, SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND 20910- ALL ARE WELCOME!! IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PERFORM, OR SHARE ONE OF THE THOUSANDS OF “WINGO” STORIES THAT WE ALL HAVE, PLEASE CONTACT STEVE ABSHIRE at steveabshire33@facebook.com or 301-318-4275 or MICHAEL G. STEWART at michephoto@msn.com TO GET ON THE PROGRAM. WE LOOK FORWARD TO HAVING YOU JOIN US IN CELEBRATION OF A TRULY GIFTED & UNIQUE HUMAN BEING!

2014 SHEEP & WOOL FESTIVAL

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For several years now, my significant other and I have been attending the Sheep and Wool Festival every May at the Howard County Fairgrounds in suburban Maryland. This may seem like a far cry from the musicians, tattoos, guitars and other fringe gatherings that I usually train my camera on, but believe me, it is as visually absorbing and culturally stimulating as any other event I attend. This time out, I tried to focus on doing a bit of lamb and ram portraiture, as well as the usual carnival parade.
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The irrepressible Lynn Zwerling, founder and driving force for “Knitting Behind Bars”. photo ablogsheep4.jpg
“What’s that smell?” photo ablogsheep5.jpg photo ablogsheep2.jpg photo ablogsheep9.jpg photo ablogsheep8.jpg
Fun for all ages! photo ablogsheep3.jpg

THE ART OF CONDUCTING

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Yesterday, I spent the evening freely sharing my time at a rehearsal for the Anne Arundel Community College Symphony Orchestra, with guest soloists Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo. The Orchestra was put through its paces under the able guidance of Dr. Anna Binneweg, who has distinguished herself in the areas of symphonic and operatic conducting early in her career. She is the Music Director/Conductor of the Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) Symphony Orchestra (Arnold, MD) where she also serves as Associate Professor of Music, and is the Music Director/Conductor of the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra (Annapolis, MD). Like all accomplished conductors,the beautiful & talented Dr. Binneweg communicates with her Orchestra in a variety of ways, both subtle and dramatic as well as entertaining. Here is a brief photo essay of an evening with the leader of the Anne Arundel Community College Symphony Orchestra. Tomorrow night’s concert should be a smash!
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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