The only other album cover work that interested me much was making covers for reissues of the old music from 78s that I loved, and that I usually did in exchange for — guess what? — 78s! I’m still doing this today.
6) The majority of your album covers appear to reflect your taste in music — old time country, traditional jazz and acoustic blues. Were there gigs you turned down because they weren't from one of those genres and if so why? What is it about that type of music that attracts you more than others?
I’ve turned down a few offers to do album covers for rock bands — not much. I don’t need the money, I hate the music — Why do it?
What is it that attracts me to old time music of the 1920s and ‘30s? I don’t know. I could go on about how the older music sounds more authentic, less contrived, more home-made, etc. But I’m not sure that really explains it. Some kind of neurological fixation I don’t know. Who can explain these things? You tell me, why do you like what you like?
7) What's your process for creating the cover art for an album? For Eden and John's East River String Band's most recent recording, Be Kind To A Man When He's Down, you created an image based around the disc's title featuring the musicians playing in the disc, but what other attributes influence you?
Creative processes are a hard thing to talk about, and there are so many different processes or approaches. For instance, in the case of Eden and John’s East River String Band, the idea for the cover was suggested by them. I liked their idea and used it.
8) You were one of the musicians on that album, mandolin. When did you start playing and performing music? Why a mandolin?
I “graduated” from the ukulele in my 20s to the tenor banjo. For many years, I just banged out chords on the banjo, then I branched out into the guitar and the mandolin, in my ‘30s. I’ve also fooled around on piano and accordion. I tried the fiddle for a while, but gave up on it as it sounds pretty awful until you get good at it, after a lot of practice. Now I think I should have stuck with it. By now I’d probably be at least serviceable on it, if I’d persisted. I’d be able to get through, you know, “Home Sweet Home” or “Oh Suzanna,” stuff like that. That’s about my speed anyway. I never achieved virtuosity on any instrument, plus, I play string instruments backwards, left-handed, which is a serious handicap, although it didn’t stop Jimi Hendrix.