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.
The irrepressible Lynn Zwerling, founder and driving force for “Knitting Behind Bars”.
“What’s that smell?”
Fun for all ages!
THE ART OF CONDUCTING
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!
THE GREAT GUITARS
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.
Martin & Peppino
Vinny, Frank, Martin & Peppino
Tearing it up with Vinny & Frank
Martin, how do you do that?
The Great Guitars
The very gifted, Martin Taylor
On our recent visit in a southerly direction, through Winchester, Harrisonburg and Staunton, Virginia, we happened upon various reminders of these town’s genteel and charming pasts. While the usual strip malls, big box stores and detestable chain eateries were very much in evidence, churning out their oh, so regimented and reliably bland totems to mass consumerism, we also encountered the quaint and polite charm of a by-gone era, along with the reminders of the individual American spirit that is so often overlooked today.
The Scales of Justice, Harrisonburg, VA.
The DIXIE Theater, Staunton, VA.
Home after a hard day’s work, Winchester, VA.
George’s, Harrisonburg, VA.
Cleaning up in Winchester, VA.
The skies the limit in Staunton, VA.
When a car dealership really meant something, in Harrisonburg, VA.
Now this is a home worth coming home to!
THINKING OF YOU
On a recent roadtrip to Staunton, VA., we came across yet another tranquil oasis and resting place of the departed on the outskirts of town. Here are but a few of the interesting bits of funerary art that helped fuel my creative mind that day.
They do love and respect their dogs down here in Virginia-
A more apt name was never seen
Remember the Maine! Don’t see many of these
Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
THE DINER ART of MICHAEL G. STEWART
Although it seems that I am primarily a photographer, back in the day I was first and foremost an artist. My hands were permanently stained with India ink, and my second finger had a divot that took two years to regain its normal shape. While searching through some old files, I came across these examples of my old craft, and now, with renewed vigor, I hope to once again create images in pencil and pen. Enjoy!
The Short Stop Diner, in Wheaton, MD. Long gone, the building awaits yet another owner
Counterman with cigarette
The Silver Spring Tastee Diner, 1985
Christmas Card with The Summit Diner, Somerset, PA.
THE HIGHTSTOWN DINER EXPERIENCE
On our way to cover the NEA JazzMasters in NYC every year, the intrepid Miss Julie and I always make a point to stop along the way, take a break from the New Jersey Turnpike, and have an invigorating breakfast at the Hightstown Diner. It may not be the original, classic structure, pictured on so many vintage postcards, but it is friendly, charmingly local, the coffee is good, and the experience is what we all go to diners for! Just off exit 8, the sad and long abandoned Mom’s sits in the shadow of the new exit overpass, the reminder of tasty pancakes from my youthful trips to Maine, but an extra 5 minutes into town still yields the goods of small town eats in a wasteland of fast food franchises. Check it out, it’s a great treat!
Long closed, Mom’s! the name said it all!
You gotta love the art at Mom’s
Even though the new “Enviornmental” style facade can’t really compete with the original, it still has certain charms
A great breakfast and never-ending coffee,with plenty of bacon
We only stop here once a year, and run into this fun & friendly father and son every time! What are the chances? Dad, checking out the chicken sandwich on a diner’s plate- “Somethings wrong with that chicken!” Son “What?” Dad- “It’s DEAD!” Same joke every year, too funny.
2013 END OF THE YEAR CD DESIGN
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
2014 NEA JAZZ MASTERS
2014 NEA JAZZ MASTER JAMEY AEBERSOLD
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
THE FACES OF NEW YORK
On a recent visit to New York City to photograph the National Endowment for the Arts JazzMasters awards, I was fortunate enough to have a few minutes of down time to wander the nearby streets of the city. Although the sidewalks and streets bustle with the swirling masses of humanity, and every face is a new and interesting study in the massive diversity of human-kind, in this instance I chose to train my lens on the fascinating and never ending array of faces that reside on the facades of the buildings surrounding Central Park West. Here is a small sample.