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.
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.”
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.
J.D. McPherson is a delight to hear on the radio and a powerhouse when you see him live in concert. We were lucky enough to catch him at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix, Arizona, last year, and a small club is one of the best places to see him shine. His fall tour dates so far don’t look like he has a stop in Arizona this time around, but we’re eager to see him perform again. In the meantime, his videos, like this one for the punchy song North Side Gal, will have to do.
Deke Dickerson joined one of our all-time favorite bands, Los Straitjackets, on stage to perform one of our all-time favorite songs, Wooly Bully. The Jackets headlined Saturday’s lineup of bands at the 2014 Viva Las Vegas show that draws vintage fans from around the world. If classic cars, surf and rockabilly music, and pinup fashion are your thing, you must put Viva Las Vegas on your calendar for April 2-5, 2015. Meantime, as Deke says in this video, he and Los Straitjackets have a new album coming out with a tour in fall 2014. We’re looking forward to both!
Of course, it’s hard to beat the cool factor of the original song performed live in 1965 by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs as seen below. Sam’s infectious smile is the perfect contrast to the mannequin-like Cleopatras on stage with him. Check it out!
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!
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.
Jim Flora was a Mid-century illustrator who created numerous album covers for RCA Victor and Columbia Records as well as 17 popular children’s books. His style relied heavily on distorting dimensional perspectives as well as offering a skewed take (and coloring) on human facial features and other body parts. While some audiences found his work slightly unsettling, we like the jaunty, jazzy, irreverent feeling his fine art evokes.
Hmm, this one leaves us wondering why a song entitled “The Monkey’s Uncle” wasn’t part of the Beach Boys‘ Pet 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.