Cool as a Keyboard

Austin-based keyboardist Basil McJagger commissioned an original illustration for a CD cover for his musical act The Basil Trio, with him on the Hammond organ, a guitarist and a drummer. Like me, he appreciates Mid-Century Modern style, and he was looking for a retro-inspired image that would evoke the early 1960s and portray the groovy vibe and cool stylings of his music. I chose a harmonious color palette of verdigris and various sepia shades and subtly incorporated basil leaves in the admiring fan’s cocktail.

Basil Trio CD cover illustration


Mid-Century Modern Entertainment Triptych

Also from my “Rock Art” series is a triptych entitled “Mid-Century Modern Entertainment” that visually brings to life three songs: Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” and Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”

Mid-Century Modern Entertainment Triptych

Unwilling to bid adieu to the Mid-Century Modern visual aesthetic that I love so much, I was intrigued by the idea of extending those design motifs another decade to songs from the early 1970s. I also wanted to explore merging three individual songs into one scene, in this case of a nightclub.

Mid-Century Modern Entertainment Triptych Stairway To HeavenStairway to Heaven

Mid-Century Modern Entertainment Triptych Long Cool Woman in a Black DressLong Cool Woman in a Black Dress

Mid-Century Modern Entertainment Triptych MoondanceMoondance

Route 66 Revisited

Ah, the Mother Road. Nothing captures the imagination of Mid-Century motoring Americana like Route 66. These illustrations are part of a series inspired by the iconic American highway that stretched more than 2,000 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles and served as a thoroughfare to freedom for families, road warriors and dreamers alike from its opening in 1926 through its heyday in the 1940s through 1960s. Even though the U.S. federal highway system made the road largely obsolete by 1985, history buffs can still get their kicks on portions of the old road that deliver cityscapes, desertcapes and great escapes.

Flat Tire

Drive In

Nothing Says Summer Like a Beach Party

And nothing embodies the spirit of mid-sixties California like a Muscle Beach Party! This 1964 sand-and-surf flick is the second in a seven-movie series produced by American International Pictures starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Directed by William Asher, this film also features the King of the Surf Guitar — Dick Dale — and 13-year-old Little Stevie Wonder appearing for the first time on the big screen. As with all of American International beach moves, the plots are thin but the beauties are buxom, and the music will have you tapping your toes, clapping your hands, and shaking your hips. There’s no better way to say hello to summer than with a Frankie and Annette beach movie!
Muscle Beach Party (1964)

If Little Stevie Wonder on Happy Street can’t make you clap your hands, nobody can!

Even though this song doesn’t show off Dick Dale’s guitar prowess, it’s a fun song. Fortunately he’s still touring in 2014 (we saw him live in April) and is just as good as ever.

Well, I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle!

Hmm, this one leaves us wondering why a song entitled “The Monkey’s Uncle” wasn’t part of the Beach BoysPet Sounds record! While this theme song from the 1965 Walt Disney movie of the same name starring Annette Funicello is certainly more standard Beach Boys cheery, surf-beat fare than the experimental tunes on Pet Sounds, tell us which you like better — the kooky or the critically acclaimed. The movie itself smells like a, well, you get the picture. But regardless of the cheese factor, who wouldn’t go bananas over cute and perky Annette Funicello? She was enough to make anyone one to be a monkey’s uncle. RIP Annette, April 8, 2013. You were one of a kind.