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

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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
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MOBTOWN GREASEBALL 2013

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Every year the streets of Dundalk, Maryland, on the outskirts of Baltimore erupt with the sound and fury of roaring engines, Rockabilly guitars and the gasps of an entranced side-show crowd as the Mobtown Greaseball Event pays homage to American Kar Kulture and all its related art forms. I’ve been going for many years, & always enjoy the carnival atmosphere here, the sounds, the smells, and the general craziness. I won’t attempt to add to the write up from last year’s post, but here are a few images from this year’s event! ENJOY!
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Lucky the Painproof Man takes another hit!

SUMMER CD COVER DESIGNS

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. photo acdbloge.jpg
From Patuxent Music, some wonderful traditional blues
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A little bit of everything from super guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo
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Just in time for your Holiday Gift-giving, some Christmas Jazz from guitarists Steve Abshire and Vince Lewis
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Some more fine jazz from Ambient Records with trumpeter Clay Jenkins, guitarist Gene Bertoncini and bassist Ike Sturm, coming soon!
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A whole barrel of fine mandolin pickin’ from legend Frank Wakefield, joined by Taylor Baker and Tom Mindte & friends on the Patuxent Music label

ON THE ROAD WITH BARRY LOUIS POLISAR

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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“?
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Every musician needs a good cup of Joe to start the day
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a bit of tasty festival food in Pennsylvania
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If I had a hammer, I guess I’d be a smithy
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Mifflinburg is historically a center of the buggy makers art
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The many faces of Barry Louis Polisar
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….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!
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….and so ends another happy day on the road!

NEW JERSEY-THE GARDEN STATE

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It was a gray and dreary day as The Diner Hunter and I set out for an impromptu road trip to the Garden State. Although many folks associate New Jersey with refineries, turnpikes and the likes of someone named Snooki, we chose to view a different version of the Jersey shore, although our journey did ultimately lead us to Seaside Heights, to see the roller coaster and surrounding damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Once off the highway, New Jersey is home to a huge diversity of small towns, scrub pine forests and cranberry bogs. Along the way we saw our usual roadside collection of abandoned buildings, darkened neon and diners. Jersey is the repository of hundreds of diners of every shape and style and we barely made a dent in the list.
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After breakfast, Wildwood was one of our first stops. A piece of beachfront history suspended in time, every manner of so called “DooWop” motel and retro signage exists here, and their amusement park’s roller coaster rose out of the morning mist like a vision from a bygone era, a hole in the old space/time continuum.
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If you love vintage style neon, this is THE place to be-
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More retro neon in Wildwood – I need a shower, now!
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The Caribbean ( design art from the Library of Congress)
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This part of New Jersey is also home to re-purposed Muffler Men & all manner of strange creatures from the Land of the Giants- must be all those chemical mutations
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The most beloved giant of all is Lucy, The Elephant who has made her home in Margate, New Jersey since 1881.
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American Roadside architecture at its zaniest- Even the municipal offices are cool

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Pennsylvania seems to be the state that my wanderlust feels compelled to visit, so for the second time in a week, I’ve laced up my traveling shoes, cranked up the old jalopy, and headed west to the Keystone State and a new adventure out along America’s highways and byways. This was a leisurely journey, with no real destination or objective in mind, so my beautiful traveling companion and I settled for the scenic area around Lancaster county, home to a substantial community of Amish and Mennonite families, as well as Jennie’s Diner, in Ronk’s PA.
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Jennie’s is THE place to go if you have a hearty appetite and appreciate friendly service and delicious food.
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Although only a minute from strip malls and an amusement park & putt-putt golf, you’ll see the old ways practiced directly across the street from this busy diner.
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Another few minutes down the road and you’ll run into the Strasburg Railroad, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, always fun for young and old alike!
And darn, wouldn’t you know it ( because, after all, this is a blog about neon & diners & roadside stuff) we luckily happened upon some great old neon and motel signage along Rt. 30, The Lincoln Highway
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This is Amish country, and, as anywhere around the world, kids will always be, well, you know…..kids! The Amish are private people, and generally avoid photographs, so this was taken from a discreet and respectful distance.
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On a sunny spring day like this, all the other cultural rituals play out as well, and this wedding party in downtown Lancaster seems to be having a great time clowning around prior to the big event.Beauties every one!
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The many styles of architecture in Lancaster County
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Of course, no roadtrip would be complete without ending the day as it started…..at a great diner.