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CD Graphics & Jamming

18 Apr

Chicago bassist, Steve Hashimoto, recently wrote about his experiences doing CD graphic design, and compared them his work as a bass man. I’m reprinting what he said, below, and including samples of his graphics work.


Steve Hashimoto

As some of you know, I’m a graphic designer as well as a musician. I don’t think I have an identifiable style in graphic design; whether that’s good or bad I can’t say. Some of my favorite designers do have a style that I can identify immediately: Herb Lubalin, Reid Miles, Seymour Chwast, Michael Dorét, Milton Glaser, Gerard Huerta, The Hipgnosis Studio, all produced distinctive work. On the other hand, quite a lot of my favorite designers, like Paul Rand, George Lois and Lou Dorfsman were more chameleonic, producing work to fulfill a variety of purposes. And that’s what I think I do.

If you check out the samples below, and you’ll see that my clients have included jazz musicians, rock bands, country singers, new-age artists, easy-listening singers, singer/songwriters, and some not-easily-classifiable people. When I design a package I try to take everything into account, but oftentimes I’ll have no idea what the music is like; sometimes the clients don’t want a stranger to hear anything until it’s actually released, fearing internet leaks, and sometimes there’s just no time. I usually know the artist and most, if not all, of the sidemen, but sometimes not. But what I really go on is gut instinct; what the CD’s title is, what the artist or manager can tell me about the music, and what the genre is. I really liken what I do to how I operate as a musician; when I’m recording, I always hope that the first take will be the best, if not technically then at least conceptually, and that we can fine tune it along the way. Both in my music and in my visual art I tend to find that an idea can be worked to death, and I hope that my clients will like whatever my first idea is.

Again, equating my music and my design work, I have constraints to work within. Budget and time, obviously, but, just as when I’m playing a song and have to conform to general rules of harmony and theory, the structure of the song, the chord changes, tempo, etc., in a graphics job I have to know the lay of the land. Every CD manufacturing company has a proprietary set of templates to work with, and that’s actually how I get a lot of work. A lot of musicians are very gifted visual artists as well, painters or photographers, and feel like they can do their own project, but once they get into the template they find that it’s much more daunting a task then they initially thought. There are esoteric things to know like what color space to work in, what format or program the manufacturer wants to see the final artwork delivered in, bleeds and trims and folds. I’m happy to act like a carpenter, working from the artist’s blueprints; quite a few of my favorite jobs have been that type. But I also love it when a client says “Do whatever you want.”

I run into problems, of course; a lot of clients simply have no spatial perception. They have


4-page insert

a budget for a 4-page insert (one piece of paper folded in half) and they have 12 pages of Microsoft Word copy that they want crammed into it. Or they have a piece of art that a friend or spouse did and the dimensions just don’t want to fit. They have a portrait photograph and there’s not enough background; they don’t understand that for artwork to “bleed”, or print to the edge of the paper, that it actually has to extend past the edge of the paper and that the excess will be physically trimmed off (because of this kind of problem, which is probably the one I encounter the most, I’ve had to learn a lot of Photoshop tricks). They’re married to a particular font that is horrible. In cases like these I put my jobbing hat on and I just do what I can to either make things work, explain why it’s impossible or present an alternative that’s so brilliant that they immediately see the light. And, of course, sometimes the answer is “No, do what I want,” and I do what I can, and wind up with a job that I’ll never use in my portfolio.


front & back

Another way that I think my music and my design are similar is that, when I solo on a jazz tune, I hope that it won’t be predictable. Of course all of us have little licks that we tend to play, and you can’t be brilliantly original every night, sometimes you’re just vamping. But I try, in both of my disciplines, to be creative, and I always hope that lightning will strike; that I’ll be playing ”It Had To Be You” for the 2,000th time and the singer lets me play a solo and the Gods of Jazz whisper in my ear and I play a solo unlike any I’ve ever played. I hope that when a client contacts me to design their project that the heavens will open for a second and the entire design gets beamed to my brain. It could happen, right?

Anyway, I dearly love the work; every project is fun, and when I finish one I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it comes off the presses. You could do worse than hiring me if you’re thinking of making a CD. I have one other special skill that many people overlook or minimize, but I think it’s important. I once had a client submit a project and he had misspelled not only most of the musicians’ names (I knew every single one of them) but other important items like song titles and names of musical styles (I fixed everything, of course). Many designers wouldn’t know the difference and/or wouldn’t care – “It’s not my yob, man!” But I care. So give me a call.


This post is reprinted from Steve’s free weekly e-newsletter, News From The Trenches. If you’d like to get on its on its mailing list, just contact him at You can also reach him there if you’re interested in having him do graphics for your CD. More examples of his graphics work appear below:




















Kent McDaniel

26 Mar

at the heartland

 Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Kent McDaniel plays blues, roots rock, country, and jazz.  He works as a single, as a duo with his wife Dorothy sharing the vocals and adding flute and keyboards, or with a drummer and bassist as The McDaniel Trio.

An SIU grad originally from Metropolis, Kent stayed in Carbondale several years after graduation playing music full time. He then moved to Chicago, where he played for many years. Since moving back to Carbondale recently, he’s appeared regularly at such venues as PKs, Tres Hombres, 17th Street Bar B Q, Fuzzy’s, and Brews Brothers and on WDBX’s Lonesome Roys’s Country Hoedown. He also hosts Down Home Cookin’ Friday afternoons on WDBX. And he produced the popular recent album by blues legend Tawl Paul, That’s Just how I Am, for which he also provided the lead guitar and wrote five songs.

Kent’s original songs stream for free at Band Camp

Below are two videos of him performing live.  The first one shows him performing as a single and singing some country. Under it are audio recordings of two songs from a recent live appearance  on WDBX radio by Kent and his wife Dorothy. You’ll hear how they sound as a duo on these. Below those is a video of Kent with a drummer and bassist playing as a trio at the Custer Street Fair in Evanston, Illinois. 


Feelin’ Single/Seeing Double (Recorded at home for a Closed Mic Fundraiser)

Audio Recording of 2  Songs from Kent and Dorothy’s recent Live Performance on WDBX

Pride & Joy (Kent McDaniel Trio at Custer Street Fair in Evanston, IL.)

“Barsoom” (A Filk Song)

23 Feb



This is the edition of A Princess of Mars that I first read

 I’m posting a recording  of  “Barsoom,”  a filk song Gary Robe ran in his fanzine Tennessee Trash for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) a few years back. At the time, I commented on it in my zine, Dumbfounding Stories, and Gary’s next issue featured a revised version of the lyrics, which I also commented on. This process continued back and forth in our zines for almost a year. For trufans and Burroughs Bibliophiles the title will be a tipoff: the song concerns Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels. Many moons now, I been meaning to record Gary’s finished version of the lyrics. When I got ready to finally do it, I noticed that his finished product was one verse shorter than John Prine’s “Paradise,” to which the music of “Barsoom” is set. I came up with another verse for the recording (verse two), and I made two or three tweaks to Gary’s words–which I hope he’ll forgive me.

I hope you’ll click on the audio icon below and check out the lyrics beneath it. If you like filk, and especially if you like filk and Edgar Rice Burroughs, I think you’ll be glad you did.




A big box of books handed down generations

We found Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars

All summer we spent meeting adventure

With Captain John Carter and his green buddy Tars


And Edgar won’t you send me ‘neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars

I’m sorry, cadet, you’re too late to go there

The lander’s cold data has turned it to Mars!

We flew in airships, rode thoats cross the wastelands

Lived by our wits and our swords of cold steel

Faced foes and monsters and found our one true love

It was larger than life and realer than real


So what can you do with a dusty dead planet?

Make it our second home with some water and air!

It’ll take some nerve and a few generations

But someday we’ll send John Carter up there!


Grandpa will you see me to the Moons of New Barsoom?

The colony’s ready; I’m starting to pack!

Heads up, Grandson; just get up on that spaceship!

Cause the Terraform Project’s done brought it all back!


And Edgar won’t you send me neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars?

No problem, my friend; it’s all there in the pages

Just remember it’s Barsoom; it never was Mars!

“Barsoom” was recorded in Garage Band. I’m doing all the parts except the bass, which my  wife, Dorothy, added.

dumbfounding stories 2 cover

Cover by Pablo Vitruvian



Over Yonder And Round The Bend

30 Jan


I just like this pic

We just finished recording a new song for our next album. The tune’s called “Over Yonder & Round The Bend.” I feel great about how it came out, and hope you’ll give a listen. The audio’s below. Lyrics, too.




































I wrote the song and am on guitar and vocals. Andrew MacCrimmon is on drums,  Gus Friedlander’s on banjo, and Dorothy McDaniel’s singing harmony. I recorded most of the tracks on Garage Band, and Robert Marshall mixed and mastered them at The Cave Recording in Evanston, Illinois.

To hear the other songs in the can for our next album click here: www.





Audio Playlist of ABOUT TIME

1 Jan


cover art, Alys McDaniel

Here’s a a play list of the songs on my album About Time, 12 of them, all originals. I recorded it a million years ago and just gave it a listen again the other day. I’m still happy with how it came out. Ah, maybe we got a little too exuberant with the instruments here and there, stepped on the vocals occasionally, but I like the album’s energy, and honestly, I think we were playing our butts off. I’m still proud of the songs, too; glad I got em all down on a recording. Check em out:


If any of the songs hit you where you live, the good news is they’re available about anywhere that sells music downloads. The CD of the album is available, too at

And check out the songs on my other album, Live at Custer Street here:

Hash’s Faves: “Pressed Rat and Warthog”

11 Dec

This week’s pick is Cream’s “Pressed Rat and Warthog,” from their 1968 album Wheels Of Fire. The song was written by British composer/pianist Mike Taylor, with lyrics by Ginger Baker. Baker plays drums, of course, and intones the lyrics in his Cockney accent; Eric Clapton plays guitars, Jack Bruce plays bass and recorders, and producer Felix Pappalardi plays trumpet and tonette.

This record was Cream’s magnum opus, a double album that was divided into studio and live recordings, showing the band’s diversity – their blues derivations, the jazzier live explorations of blues material, and psychedelia, under which umbrella I’d say this song falls. For years I’d always assumed (even though I’m an inveterate album credit reader) that this was a Jack Bruce/Peter Brown song because of the surreal lyrics and the music, with it’s nod to classical music. After seeing the great documentary Beware Mr. Baker I can see how Ginger was capable of writing these words; modern medicine, I’d guess. I know nothing about Mike Taylor other than what Wikipediatells me. The YouTube comments thread also tells me that the strong melody that Bruce plays at the beginning of Clapton’s solo is a traditional English folk tune called ”Green Bushes;” the solo fades out, but I’d love to hear the complete take.

Pappalardi was one of rock music’s shadowy figures. He produced Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Goodbye albums, but is best-known as the bassist, producer and founding member of the hard-rock band Mountain, along with guitarist/vocalist Leslie West. Felix had a long and fascinating career, starting in a trad Dixieland band in New York city, and going on to rack up sideman, arranging, conducting and production credits with an eclectic who’s-who of 60’s and 70’s artists, including Richie Havens, Ian and Sylvia, Joan Baez, The Youngbloods, Mimi and Richard Fariña, Jack Bruce, Tom Paxton, Buffy Saint-Marie, John Sebastian, Hot Tuna, and Chicago’s own The Flock. He was a multi-instrumentalist; I seem to recall that on some of the Cream recordings he also played orchestral bells, viola, organ and mellotron. He co-wrote Cream’s song ”Strange Brew”with his wife, Gail Collins; she would wind up shooting Pappalardi to death in 1983.

You can listen to it here:

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at


“Don’t Need No More Rahm” Revisited

2 Dec

10363719_10153110973214780_6162630724580670963_nI wrote the song below last March during Chicago’s mayoral runoff, but the title applies more than ever, far as I’m concerned. A week after Rahm’s election, Barbara Byrd Bennet, who he picked to run our schools, got indicted by the feds for corruption. Then a 14 month coverup of a policeman’s murder of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, comes to light. Oh, and remember when Rahm said to vote for him cause his opponent would raise taxes? How’s that working out?




Live Music VS Sand Painting

15 Nov

sand paintingLive music rivals sand-painting as impermanence’s perfect symbol. I believe that. A band works up songs for weeks and then goes out and plays. When the show’s over, what’s left? Or when a sand painting blows away?

A while ago we got a Zoom video recorder. Around a cell-phones’s size, it sports a couple condenser mikes. We started recording our shows and hoping they’ll be around forever. We’re stashing them in a time capsule. A lot of them here are on this blog, too: Just click the “Making Music” category.

The McDaniels @ Heartland Cafe

The McDaniels @ Heartland Cafe

When we play we forget the camera. But what if some corner of our mind still sees it– maybe in peripheral vision?

What if?

So we’re not recording our next show. At Independence Tap, 3932 W. Irving Park, Chicago. This coming Friday, November 20 at 8:00 PM. Let’s see how that feels.

Like we’re sand painting.

The McDaniels behind the Backlot Bash.

The McDaniels behind the Backlot Bash.

“Don’t Take Your smell To Town”

9 Sep

cover by Robert E. Gilbert

cover by Robert E. Gilbert

I’m embedding some audio and lyrics in this post, but first some background:

In 1958 Johnny Cash’s “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” was #1 on the country charts for six weeks. It’s a lugubrious little ditty about a young cowboy who decides to go to town, ignores his mom’s advice to leave his guns at home, and ends up getting gunned down. (This was back when a country act could release an anti-handgun song without kissing his or her career bye-bye.) Around 1962 Howard Shockley, a teenage science-fiction fan from Opelika, Alabama, wrote “Don’t Take Your Smell To Town,”a parody to be sung to the same melody as Cash’s song. In SF fandom such tunes are called filk songs, and I think Shockley’s was a gem. It concerned a young sanitation worker who lived in the city dump and ignored the advice of the song’s title.

The protagonists of both songs were named Billy Joe, and Shockley presented his composition to his buddy at Opelika High, Bill Plott, who himself went by Billy Joe. Plott was fellow SF fan, and quicker than you could say “Great Ghu!”, published Shockley’s filk song in his fanzine, Maelstrom. Plott, for reasons too numerous and largely unspeakable to mention, is actually now somewhat of a legend in SF fandom, but around 1968 he left that subculture for what was to prove many decades. He got drawn back into the fold only in 2012 when he was invited as Guest of Honor at Deep South Con 50. That happy trip inspired him to revive another of his fanzines from long ago, Sporadic, and he has published it bimonthly since. By coincidence, around the same time, Plott reconnected with his old pal Howard Shockley, now a Presbyterian minister in South Carolina. In Sporadic #20 Plott reprinted “Don’t Take Your Smell To Town” much to his old friend’s dismay surprise.

I like to think–imagine, say some–that I can play guitar and sing, and when I saw the lyrics in Sporadic, thought, “Gee, I should record that.” Like most thoughts requiring effort from me if acted on, it was promptly forgotten. Then a few weeks ago, out of the blue, I found myself going into The GarageBand app on my Mac and recording “Don’t Take Your Smell To Town.” Personally, I think The Devil made me do it.

If you want–and how could you not?- you can click on the hypertext below to hear the result. For the record (no pun intended) I’m playing everything on the song except the snare drum. That, I talked my wife Dorothy into playing. Howard Shockley’s lyrics are below the recording.



By Howard Shockley

A D.S.* boy named Billy Joe grew restless in the Dumps.

He looked across the sea of trash while sitting on a stump.

He said, “I think I’ll leave today to see the whole world ‘round.”

But then he heard his partner say, “Don’t take your smell to town, boy.

You’d better stay at home, Bill.

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill just smiled and said to him, “Your boy’s become a man.

“I’ll take a bath, use Listerine, and roll myself in Ban.

“This Air-Wick, too, will help a lot to keep the odor down.”

But again he heard his partner say,

“Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

They’ll run you out of town, Bill.

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill jumped in the garbage truck and gave the switch a turn,

The wheels dug in the greasy muck and caused the stuff to churn;

As he drove along the trail, he said “At last, I’m City bound!”

But then echoed the words again, “Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

You’d better stay at home, Bill;

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill rode in the little town, a smile across his face;

And of that smell that used to be there wasn’t any trace.

But later on that afternoon, the folks began to frown;

Again he heard the warning words,

“Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

“Leave it here at home, Bill,

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill walked in a small saloon to get himself a drink;

A cowpoke cried aloud to all, “Say, what the hell’s that stink?”

Bill put down his drink and saw that no one was around.

Again, he heard the fateful words,

“Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

You’d better stay at home, Bill.’

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Walking to his faithful truck, young Bill began to frown;

He’d left the Dumps to see the World, and it had put him down.

Riding off, he looked around and wondered with a sigh,

Who’d wrote the posters with the words:

“Take your smell from town, boy;

Don’t leave it here with us.

And please don’t take the bus!”

Toward the setting sun he rode, not ever looking back;

Nothing of the job he held could anything detract.

He’s there today, out in the Dumps, his Destiny fulfilled.

His watchword is that sound advice:

“Don’t take your smell to town boy;

You’d better stay at home, Bill.

Don’t take your smell to town.”


The tune’s more fun if you’re familiar with Cash’s original, and you can hear that and read the lyrics at:

Hash’s Faves: “Sandu”

31 Aug

Double_TakeThis week’s pick is one of my favorite jazz blues tunes, ”Sandu,” written by the majestic trumpeter Clifford Brown, and in this case recorded by the awe-inspiring duo of Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard. It’s from their 1985 duo album ”Double Take,”and features Shaw and Hubbard on trumpets, Kenny Garrett on alto sax, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Carl Allen on drums.

Shaw takes the first solo, and after the 16th-note line he rips in his third chorus I can just picture him taking the horn off of his face and grinning at Freddie, like “How ‘bout that?” Freddie, of course, rises to the challenge, but I think I still dig Woody’s solo better.

It’s interesting to note that Miller was only 30 years old at the time of this recording, Garrett was only 25 and Allen was 26. McBee was the senior sideman, at 50. He’s one of my favorite bassists, and as we were watching a DVD of Blue Note records’ anniversary concerts in New York, McBee was featured with, I think, Roy Hutcherson, and Nancy said “He reminds me of you.” Quite a compliment, which I take with a grain of salt, but he’s definitely one of the cats I model my playing on. Longtime readers may recall that although I’m strictly an electric bass guitarist, unlike most bassists my age my first gigs on the instrument were bebop gigs, rather than the path usually taken by pork-chop players (whose first gisg were usually rock or blues or r and b gigs). The bassists I listened to as I was learning how to play were Cecil, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Percy Heath, Mingus, Keter Betts, Jim Hughart, Stanley Clarke, Nils Henning Orsted-Pederson and Dave Holland (would that I had absorbed more than I did!).

Sad to think that within 4 years Shaw would die. Freddie died in 2008, after a celebrated career that spanned post-bop, free jazz and fusion, and I’m glad that I had a chance to at least meet him, if not play with him. I first became aware of Shaw when he released his ”Rosewood” album in 1978, when I was still a new jazz listener. I loved his playing, being an ex-trumpeter, but his harmonic sophistication was probably beyond me at the time (probably still is). Tragically, he was only 45 when he died, and hadn’t achieved the fame he deserved, although he was considered a trumpet player’s trumpet player.

You can listen to it here:

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at