Sometimes I have to admit, I’m a lucky guy. Ever since I was a wee lad, all I ever wanted to do was make pictures, to create images. Now, here I am, an ocassionally cranky, bald headed curmudgeon, the mutant love child of Michael Stipe and the Pillsbury Dough Boy, cranking out CD and album covers for a living. 2012 was a good and productive year, with a wide range of musical styles and diverse personalities to collaborate with, and my hope is that 2013 will be no different! Not to complain, but since I am the Cover King, and hopes are that I pass the target number of 300 CDs in print sometime by mid-year, my New Year’s wish is a few more visually daring clients, a couple of really off the wall bands and projects to put me over the top. Maybe some vinyl? Something really, really out there! It will be 2013 you know. So, at year’s end, I want to thank everyone for their support, and the continued opportunity to create, create, create and remember, don’t forget that Image is Everything. (Thanks to Steve for a allowing me to steal a great line)
A great year for Ginny Carr and the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet-
What could be more musically diverse? A Japanese-American bluegrass mandolin player & traditional Sefardic music?
My dear friend, the great N.Y. jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini allowed me to finally do a diner cover- The best of my worlds. ….and a beautiful girl on the cover, too.
You’ll never get the blues by listening to the fabulous Deanna Bogart
Ain’t that Marcy Marxer cute? And she can play ANY stringed instrument. We really groove on tenor guitar around here.
The Stonemans are the keepers of the Traditional Flame
From the meager bandstand at the front of Bertha’s, the tune ended with a resounding crash of cymbals as Wingo brought the song in for a landing with his trademark pinky strum. In almost perfect time with the musical crescendo, a cacophony of curses and falling boxes arose from the little storage room, and Audrey came charging back into the bar, her hair a tangled rat’s nest, and her too snug white blouse held in place by a single button and covered in dust and flecks of blood.
“ Get outta here! Pervert! Somebody call the cops! Help me!” cried Audrey, her lower lip dripping red and looking like someone had tried to shove it in a blender. “Call 911!”
Findley swaggered out of the stockroom, hitching his pants up and buckling his belt like he hadn’t a care in the world. He spit out what appeared to be a small piece of raw hamburger, a tiny bit of crimson spittle hanging on his chin. His eyes were flickering like the worn out neon beer sign over the bar, and he was tunelessly humming “My Favorite Things” beneath his breath.
Audrey went running out the back door, a hysterical tornado in a savaged hairdo, heading in the direction of the main dining room and safety. Alton Findley stepped behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of Bushmill’s from the shelf. There was a large, old fashioned plaid thermos beside the coffee maker, which he had seen Audrey filling before they had toddled off together to their rendevous in the stockroom. Finn grabbed it and pitched in toward Barlow, who was just now lifting his head from its resting place in a puddle of beer on the bar.
“Catch, buddy. You’re gonna need it. You, too Daryll. Time to vamoose. I have a suspicion the little lady’s none too pleased with the present I tried to give her. Jeeze, I told her I was trouble. Don’t women EVER listen?”
The last thing the three fugitives heard as they pushed through the red portal and headed out into the Fells Point night was the voice of the guitarist as he stood smoking beneath the street lamp just outside the door.
“Hey man, awww, come back! That’s my coffee jug!”
Be Sure to see the REAL Paul Wingo play some of the best jazz on the planet every Tuesday night at Bertha’s
1965- Cautiously looking up and down the shop’s aisles, an inquisitive 10 year old boy quickly makes his way to the back of the local Peoples Drug Store. Back by the pharmacy is the display rack where the LPs and 45s are for sale, and the rumor around Kenilworth Elementary School is that a record has come in that is, well, hot! Really cool! Dirty! “Whipped Cream” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. A naked lady covered in whipped cream, on display in the record section for all impressionable young American boys to see! I was hooked!
It wasn’t long before I was blowing all my hard earned paper route money on music. It was the glorious era of the 45, but I was intrigued by the LPs, long playing 33 1/3 albums, encased in glorious and innovative packaging- The album cover! Fast forward a few years, and after Confirmation classes, I’d find myself rushing to the local Ben Franklin to get my sweaty hands on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s, or Robert Crumb’s classic art for Big Brother & The Holding Company, or Alton Kelly and Stanley Mouses’s psychedelic masterpieces for The Grateful Dead. I was buying for the covers as much as the music, and sometimes venturing into the complete unknown, for an unheard of band, but WOW! What a cover! The amazing thing was, the music was always as good as the packaging. You could judge the book by the cover. This was an art form. I knew that I had to do this. It was time to create.
Much water has passed under the proverbial bridge. Gone are the record stores, gone are the major labels, gone are the enlightened art directors, gone are the 12 inch canvases of the classic covers of old. (although vinyl IS making a come-back) Thankfully, that 10 year old boy did go on to fulfill his dream, and I now have over 250 album and CD covers in my portfolio, either as a photographer, an artist or designer- and in many cases all three. And with a great roster featuring many of my musical heroes. Jazz-Bluegrass- Classical- Blues- even Polka! But after 30 plus years, I’m still waiting to do that iconic rock cover. C’mon guys, crank up the Marshall and give me a call. Operators are standing by.
Featured below are some of the packages I’ve created in 2011.
Fine local jazz talent- Photography & Design by Michael G. Stewart
Photography by Michael G. Stewart, Design by the Labels
Photography by Michael G. Stewart Design by Rip Bang Pictures
Photography and Design by Michael G. Stewart
Photography and Design by Michael G. Stewart A big year for jazz guitar
This is my latest CD cover project released on November 21st, 2011 for Piano Jazz Trio, Ehoff, Gano & Knepp. I was acting as photographer, artist & designer on this one. The first recording for this trio, & it was a pure pleasure working with Jason, Marty & Clem. A nice blend of contemporary & Latin flavored jazz, these are some D.C. based musicians well worth listening to. Three great guys making some great music. As Marty is fond of quoting “A groove is a terrible thing to waste.” Don’t let this fine CD slip by you!