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!
Springfield Exit on the Patuxent Music label
Frank Wakefield & Red Allen
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.
Here’s one by mandolin player and Patuxent Music label guru, Tom Mindte.
Local multi-reed player Halley Shoenberg
Nate Leath can play just about any style on the fiddle, and does it all well
Some gorgeous Celtic music by the LILT duo
My good friends EKG tearing up some fabulous Latin-flavored piano jazz in this sophomore release, this time with horns
Al Jones, the son of Bill Monroe, doing some hard-core bluegrass! Pass me that moonshine!
Jazz guitarist Paul Wingo, the living embodiment of all things jazz, livening up the legendary club, Blues Alley
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.
The 2014 Jazz Masters Anthony Braxton, Jamey Aebersold, Richard Davis & Keith Jarrett
A rousing piece of operatic jazz composed by Anthony Braxton
Avant-jazz guitarist Bill Frisell
past JazzMasters Kenny Barron & Jimmy Owens
Keith Jarrett explains all
Thelonius Monk competition winner, saxophonist Melissa Aldana
Annie Ross & Jon Hendricks having a grand old time
Good Morning, Devoted Followers! You have probably been wondering what has become of the Dreamer, but fear not, I have merely been busy with travel and …. believe it or not….. work! It has been a productive summer for CD photography and design, in every genre and musical style! Feast your eyes, and tune up your ears! The latest crop of Michael G. Stewart designed musical packages will be arriving soon.
From Patuxent Music, some wonderful traditional blues
A little bit of everything from super guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo
Just in time for your Holiday Gift-giving, some Christmas Jazz from guitarists Steve Abshire and Vince Lewis
Some more fine jazz from Ambient Records with trumpeter Clay Jenkins, guitarist Gene Bertoncini and bassist Ike Sturm, coming soon!
A whole barrel of fine mandolin pickin’ from legend Frank Wakefield, joined by Taylor Baker and Tom Mindte & friends on the Patuxent Music label
Underwear is Everywhere! My Brother Threw Up on My Stuffed Toy Bunny! Diaper Rash! …… and who can forget that immortal anthem- Don’t Put Your Finger Up Your Nose! Yes friends, these and many more delightful ditties celebrating the joys of childhood, warped or otherwise, sprang from the creative mind of children’s singer/songwriter and author Barry Louis Polisar. Barry and I have been friends and collaborators for over 35 years ( I’ve illustrated 3 books with Barry & several albums and CDs) so when he called and suggested I accompany him on a short roadtrip to Mifflinburg, PA. I of course jumped at the chance! We of course, swapped stories and compared notes over breakfast at the West Shore Diner in Lamoyne before arriving in Mifflinburg, where a charming street festival was in full swing, with wine tastings, traditional German cuisine, and buggy rides and demonstrations of the fine lost arts of the wheelwright, blacksmith, and buggy maker, recognizing the town’s long heritage as an American mecca for the production of fine buggies. Barry helped kick off one of the inaugural performances in the town’s new cultural arts center, located in a lovely old former church, situated in sight of three, count ’em three cemeteries. The audience was excited and appreciative, and of course, who can’t relate when Barry says” I’ve Got A Teacher, She’s So Mean!” ….. and did I mention, Barry wrote the opening theme song to the movie “Juno“?
Every musician needs a good cup of Joe to start the day
a bit of tasty festival food in Pennsylvania
If I had a hammer, I guess I’d be a smithy
Mifflinburg is historically a center of the buggy makers art
The many faces of Barry Louis Polisar
….and of course the happy faces in the audience! Hey, wait a sec, isn’t that guy with the spiked hair in the heavy metal band, Ministry? Guess Barry has a wide fan base!
….and so ends another happy day on the road!
Another slow week in the world of paying gigs, so it looks like another round of working out ideas and concepts with the aid of Number 1 son, and the beautiful Rebekah, joining forces as The Photones!- This legendary duo looks as good as they sound, and their string of hits can be heard on juke boxes from Halifax to Salt Lake City, from Leesburg to Silver Spring! Amazing how far a little imagination and the willingness to have a good time visually can transport a concept!
A few simple props and a little attitude goes a long way
The many moods of The Photones
Too Cool for Words- Is that Blind Melon Chitterlings?
A Discography going back for years- Look at that vinyl
Be on the lookout for this amazing duet- Many Thanks to Rebekah & Spencer for being so helpful & patient-Great Job showing how it should be done!