Album Art Still Matters

Missing Ghosts by Tim Lee - Second Sketch

The art of album art (and photography) - the Dirt Band's Circle AlbumI’ll admit that I’m a bit nostalgic for the physical experience of buying new music. I miss ripping the shrink wrap off of a vinyl record, the smell of the paper insert of a store-bought cassette tape when first unfolded, and flipping through the thick glossy booklet that (barely) fit under the little plastic tabs on the inside of a CD jewel case. Although these experiences are mostly in the past, the album artwork, the visual window into the music “inside” still lives on, in fact, I think it is more important than ever.

Tim Lee's Vintage GintageThis is why I was so excited a few months back when I received a new Twitter follower by the name of Tim Lee, a North Carolina-based artist who specializes in “Surreal Americana.” I was intrigued! When I went to Tim’s website and discovered the mandolin playing character in Vintage Gintage, I knew I had found the artist for my first solo project, Missing Ghosts, which is a mixture of folk, bluegrass and Americana music.

Working with Tim was a real pleasure and a relatively quick and straight forward process. After an initial email exchange, I sent him lyrics and a rough mix of the title track of the album and he went right to work. I did my best not to micromanage the art direction, in order to let the professional artist do what he does best- be creative. I’m very glad I did. Check out the photo gallery below for a little glimpse of his process:

 

I now feel like the album art is part is part of the music itself and am amazed at how it affects even my own perception of the music’s mood, sonic quality etc..  I’m very happy that the tradition of album art lives on in the digital era, as I believe it really enriches the overall experience of listening to music. Now here’s hoping that digital liner notes catch on…

Find out more about Tim Lee and his artwork at http://www.timleeartwork.com/ and http://www.etsy.com/shop/timleeartwork

BG Festival, Wisconsin Style!

Bluegrass in the Pines 2011 - Dueling Banjos Uncensored
Bluegrass in the Pines 2011 - Dueling Banjos Uncensored
Anthony & Dale in "Dueling Banjos II: Deathmatch (Uncensored)"

Just got back from playing with The High 48s at an incredibly fun bluegrass festival in central Wisconsin called Bluegrass in the Pines. It is hosted by one of my all-time favorite bluegrass bands, Art Stevenson and Highwater. They have managed to put together an event that combines a great location (literally in the pines – full of shade, soft ground, fragrant air etc.), with top-notch music (Bluegrass PatriotsBriar Pickers,  Hand-Picked BluegrassSloppy Joe  etc.) and one of the most amazing, fun-loving, appreciative bluegrass crowds I have ever had the pleasure of playing for.

Highlights include: the dancing at every set (day or night), the all-ages crowd (infants to elderly), the top-notch jam circles, the local microbrews (New Glarus and Central Waters available on-site), the authentic Wisconsin dinners (fried cheese curds and beer), hangin’ with Highwater and, of course, the final uber-jam version of  “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”  to finish off Saturday night… Amazing!