2015 NEA JAZZMASTERS

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For the 4th year, I have been fortunate enough to be the photographer for The National Endowment for the Arts’ annual Jazz Masters awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center, in New York City. While the weather conspired against me ( turning the usual less than 4 hour drive from D.C. into a 6 1/2 hour battle against torrential rains ), the event itself was, as always, a unique opportunity to meet and work with some of the most innovative luminaries of the jazz world, America’s special contribution to musical culture. This year’s class of Masters included pianist, composer & bandleader Carla Bley, saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd, and Chicago jazz entrepreneur Joe Segal. The award presentation, held in the Rose Theater, was an evening filled with fabulous music, entertaining stories and the warmth that comes with the companionship of old friends. The NEA, and its new Chairwoman Jane Chu, should be commended for helping to keep this most American of art forms alive and relevant, and affording its original innovators the recognition they so richly deserve.
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Carla Bley
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Steve Swallow photo a blog jazz7.jpg
George Coleman – from B.B. King to Miles Davis & beyond
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Charles Lloyd photo a blog jazz1.jpg
Ray Drummond photo a blog jazz8.jpg
Ira Sullivan performed with Jimmy Heath photo ablog jazz5.jpg
Thelonious Monk Award winner Cecile McLorin Salvant performed “Motherless Child” in honor of the Jazz Masters who left us in 2014 photo ablog jazz6.jpg
Charles Lloyd and company

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STRINGS & THINGS

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I love guitars! Banjos, mandolins, violins, viola de gambas! Not only do I get to photograph the musicians that make music on these amazing stringed creations, but I also get to work with the especially talented, thoughtful and gifted folks that design and build the instruments that allow musicians to make the noise that we call MUSIC! I recently had the opportunity to document a few of the latest guitars from Pennsylvania luthier Matt Artinger and some stunning banjos from Beltsville, Maryland based Kevin Enoch! Not only are these amazingly beautiful bits of musical eye candy, but they all sound as good as they look. photo Artinger Guitar  photo copyright Michael G. Stewart37.jpg photo Artinger Feb. 2014 copyright photo Michael G Stewart087.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart110.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart009.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart008.jpg photo Artinger Feb. 2014 copyright photo Michael G Stewart105.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart012.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart020.jpg photo Artinger Guitar  photo copyright Michael G. Stewart88.jpg
My personal favorite- “The Tokyo Rosie” but, then again, it would be! I got to lend a small hand in the design of this one- Billy Gibbons, eat your heart out! ( now I just need some folks to play with- )

BOMBAY BEACH, CALIFORNIA

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The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys.
The modern sea was accidentally created by the engineers of the California Development Company in 1905. In an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. Due to fears of silt buildup, a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed.
Bombay Beach is a small community located along the east shore of the Salton sea. Although still inhabited by a hearty group of residents, it has fallen on hard times and many of its vintage mobile homes and travel trailers are now unoccupied and facing the ravages of time, salty air and vandals. photo a blog bombay5.jpg photo a blog bombay6.jpg photo a blog bombay8.jpg photo a blog bombay7.jpg photo a blog bombay3.jpg photo a blog bombay10.jpg photo a blog bombay4.jpg
A Volkswagen station wagon! photo a blog bombay2.jpg photo a blog bombay 1.jpg
Tens of thousands of bleached fish skeletons litter the beach
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SIGNS OF THE TIMES

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From ancient petroglyphs to modern jumbotrons, man has felt compelled to leave a sign of his passing upon the landscape. While I usually focus heavily on neon, I also love ghost signs, graffiti and just about any other artistic mark that humans leave upon their environment, especially where it concerns commerce.
Here are a few more from our trip through Arizona and New Mexico. photo a sign blog1.jpg
Try as I might, I just can’t get away from those damn banjos!! photo a blog sign3.jpg
It is actually “Barn” Again, (In a barn) next to the Burger Boy photo a blog sigtn2.jpg
Just great vintage neon photo a blog sign6.jpg
I don’t think this development ever really got off the ground- (alongside an abandoned stretch of old Route 66) photo a blog sign5.jpg
**** note the strange little box in the right hand corner*** photo a blog sign 8.jpg
Left over from an old windmill- wish I could have brought it home photo a blog sign10.jpg
Let’s get Fluffy right over!! photo a blog sign 4.jpg
This is some great graffiti on an abandoned water tank photo a blog sign 9.jpg
I think this about says it all

SAN DIEGO DREAMING

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We recently took a trip to beautiful San Diego. While my significant other toiled away in the bowels of the city’s splendid convention center, I was left to my own devices to while away the daylight hours. The sky was blue, the temperature a soothing and constant 70 degrees, and the quality of light was a visualist’s dream. I averaged about 4-6 walking miles a day, and there was literally too much to possibly fit into this abbreviated blog, but here’s a small sampling, divided into a few brief sections.  photo a blog san diego faces.jpg
Faces were everywhere- and not just the ones on the people I met photo a blog Balboa .jpg
It had been over 30 years since I was last in Balboa Park, and it remains an oasis of beauty
and vibrant activity photo a blog sandiego retro.jpg
San Diego is in a huge boom of new building and renovation, but the remnants of an older existence are still to be found if you keep your eyes open photo a blog san diego 2.jpg
New and old architecture, side by side photo a blog sandiego water.jpg
….and of course, San Diego is a city whose livelihood and identity are linked closely to its historic status as a seaport city.

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

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

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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