10 December 2012

Appreciation of bluegrass - the importance of design

Niall Toner writes:

An aspect of bluegrass and country music that's often overlooked is the overall appearance and image of how the music is presented, and I'm thinking here mainly of the images on CD covers and insert booklets. Some notable recent examples, and indeed winners of design awards, have been the CD sleeves and booklet inserts for Steve Martin, Pete Wernick, Noam Pikelny, the Punch Brothers, and Dailey & Vincent, to mention a few. In some quarters the emphasis on appearance has diminished, mainly due to the fact that so much music is now available online, as downloads, but if, like me, you are one of those who treasure the detail of sleeve notes and information, you will agree that design and image are not only desirable, but vital.

In this regard, I want to pay tribute to a talented young designer and photographer, Fiaz Farrelly, who is responsible for both the design and the photography for my Pinecastle album, Onwards & upwards. Fiaz, who specialises in photographing and cataloguing heavy-metal bands (yes,there are many parallels between the two musics: a high degree of energy, a high level of skill, and a low level of money, to name but three!) has a natural ability to get the best from his subject when taking pictures, and a great sense of understanding when it comes to the portrayal of an image.

My new logo on the front of my album, in which the mandolin takes the place of the 'I' and the 'O' in my name, was created by Fiaz, with the assistance of Laura Hale, and was universally praised in the US during my launch and recent tour, as was the overall appearance and design of my CD. My sincere thanks goes out to Fiaz and Laura, and I would like to recommend that if any of you out there are contemplating a release in 2013, you owe it to yourself to make the best impression that you can, in terms of your visuals. And in this regard, you could do a lot worse than to consult with Fiaz Farrelly. He can be reached by e-mail.

BIB editor's note: We mentioned two weeks ago that Lee Marcus in the USA has founded an International Bluegrass Music Appreciation Day, the first of which is due to be held this coming Wednesday (12 December). Thanks again to Brian McNeal of the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for the news. Brian initially offered free advertising on the PBB on that day to any bluegrass business, and has since extended that offer up to the end of 2012 for all ads supplied as finished artwork. Niall Toner comments on his own blog:

What a great opportunity to spread the word, and everyone who is in any way connected to bluegrass music should be included. Anyway, here's my strip for the project [see above, at top of post], reminding folks to check out my Pinecastle release.

Also, here's another great photo by Fiaz Farrelly, taken in Ballymoon Castle, near Bagenalstown in Co. Carlow.

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