It’s one thing to be asked to illustrate a musician you admire, but another to have the drawing so well received that it is showcased on the cover of a national music magazine. There's an Oz slang expression that comes to mind right now which is rarely used these days.. Bonza!
Rhythms Magazine has just released the 25 Year Anniversary edition of their Roots, Rhythm and Blues magazine and my illustration of American musician “Bonnie Raitt” is their chosen front cover art. So that’s something to talk about, right? So here goes..
Editor Catherine Britt a prolific and successful Australian recording artist in her own right, gave me the good news soon after I initially emailed her the final art preview. What a great surprise!
It's actually the second time for me as far as cover art goes, with the magazine also publishing my rendition of Billy Brag and Joe Henry a few months ago. It's very humbling and complimentary at the same time. I love art and music.. especially the opportunity to meld both of these together in some way.
Hey I got to see Bonnie play live in Australia once. It was some years ago now and as opening act for Bob Dylan.. and as much as I loved Dylan at the time, I was equally excited at the opportunity to hear Bonnie play.
As for Dylan, well.. he seemed kind of preoccupied on the night, shuffling lyrics and rearranging songs to an almost unrecognisable state. It didn’t make it any less interesting mind you, and amazing to witness in person. I didn’t care. There was something about being in the same space as Bob Dylan that night.. breathing the same air as him. It tasted good, sounded good. He's an enigma, and still puts the eclectic in electric as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway, I shared the experience with my brother Shaun and as I recall wide, amber smiles were the order of the night. Bonnie sang some beautiful ballads behind keyboard as well as shredding on her trademark electric slide guitar throughout the evening to a rapt audience.
Suffice to say Bob Dylan had a hard act to follow after Bonnie left the stage. She really was fantastic that evening in so many ways and I’ve continued to follow her music. Come to think of it, I've even blown a little blues harp along to her tunes in one or two of the bands I’ve messed about in over the years. Music is art too right?
In fact, for this drawing I referenced my own Shure 55SH microphone (which the small bird is sitting on) as one of the budding flowers in the foreground amongst the flowering Shure 58s.
Like many good blues recordings, Bonnie’s songs carry a little darkness along with the light so I thought a few ravens or crows drawn flying about in the distance might add a little subliminal colour (blues) to the piece.
As for the names etched into her guitar, from my research they are several of Bonnie’s inspirations including BB King, Sleepy John Estates, Chaka Khan. Little Feet.. and I also included her Dads name (John Raitt) on the head stock.
Like all illustration commissions I like to watch as many videos, listen to as many interviews and read as much as I can about the musician before picking up a pencil or piece of charcoal and where music is concerned, these things feel so much more like a labour of love and I hope that some of that passion is evident in what I do.
So there you have it, a short, enthused ramble about this drawing and a little trip down memory lane for myself in a way. The magazine is the March/April 2017 edition and is likely to be in most good Australian news agencies now or very soon.
Bonnie Raitts new album 'Dig in Deep' is also out now and I believe an Australian tour to be on the cards.
Fingers crossed she comes to South Oz!