Howdy 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.
We stayed here at the Monterey, clean, friendly, and a bit of time travel back to 1976!
The late, lamented Aztec Motel- now gone, with only this iconic neon remaining
I’m getting a message from Sputnik here!
The Dog House, in Albuquerque, New Mexico- great place for a hot dog & milk shake! Look for the sign of the happy, wagging tail!
The El Don- some of the best neon we saw, but the motel has been sadly neglected
“AIR CONDITIONED by REFRIGERATION!” What could be better?
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
Although I am best known as a photographer who specializes in images of the arts and architecture, I still strive to capture the beauty and personality of characters in the animal kingdom. I recently spent a morning shooting portraits of some other subjects with personalities a bit on the wild side!
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
Back on the road, this time to beautiful San Francisco! Thousands of images to sort through, but while we wait, let’s match the Bay area greasy spoon to the breakfast standard of bacon & eggs, with a hot cup of Joe!
The Java House, The Pinecrest Restaurant and It’s Tops! All Tops in my book!
Once again, the intrepid traveler and neon explorer has loaded up the trusty Retromobile and set a southwesterly course through Kentucky and on to Tennessee before making my yearly pilgrimage to Princeton and Penningtonfest! As planned, it was a long drive, but one teeming with roadside treasures and surprises galore. My trusty and loyal crew and I were rewarded with new adventures and plenty of bizarre and interesting bits of vanishing small town Americana. …and, of course, plenty of neon, lost commercial ephemera from bygone eras and interesting architecture that the 21st Century has bid a not so fond farewell to in favor of a landscape of homogenized conformity.
What would a trip to Memphis be without a stop to Graceland. Sorry, no published pictures allowed! Elvis, Elvis!
Historic Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis- Beautiful!
Some cool neon in Memphis
I just LOVED this house- Was formerly a Doctor’s office, now up for sale, but too far from anything to make it practical
Old small town movie theaters
Several generations of wildly diverse roadside architecture in the South
Who knew that rural Tennessee was home to such great Deco design?
The musical world lost a great voice yesterday when Richie Havens passed away at the age of 72. I only saw him perform live twice, but his magnetic presence and incredible right hand were the stuff that legends are made of. Mr. Havens provided me with one of my most memorable personal moments in the music industry in 2007 when I had gone to photograph a performance and interview Arlo Guthrie at the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center in Vienna, Virginia. Richie was opening for Arlo that night, and my editor and I arrived that afternoon during sound check so he could do his interview prior to the show. While the writer was busy in the green room chatting to Arlo, I stuck around on the Wolf Trap stage to watch Richie warm up and do his sound check, snapping candids here and there. Eventually, the backing musicians left the stage to rest up, and I was left alone on stage with Richie. We talked for a few minutes, a very quiet, sweet and charming man, and presently he began to strum the opening power chords of the Who‘s “Won’t get fooled again” on his battered old Guild acoustic. As I sat on the stage at his feet, Richie Havens proceeded to bless me with a command performance of that rock classic for 20 minutes, singing, stomping, growling and smiling as if this was a moment that he lived for. To play THAT song, for me, and me alone. It was magic! We will miss you, Richie, and I thank you for a musical present that I will always cherish! Rest in Peace. Freedom.
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.
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.
If you love vintage style neon, this is THE place to be-
More retro neon in Wildwood – I need a shower, now! The Caribbean ( design art from the Library of Congress)
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
The most beloved giant of all is Lucy, The Elephant who has made her home in Margate, New Jersey since 1881.
American Roadside architecture at its zaniest- Even the municipal offices are cool