In the past year or two I’ve become friends with one of the talents I respect most in the music business: Van Dyke Parks. I’m happy to report that he is as kind and thoughtful as he is brilliant.
For those not in the know or familiar with the L. A. music scene, Van Dyke Parks is a kind of creative Zelig of the pop music scene. Here are just a few of this man’s phenomenal list of credits:
Van Dyke produced Harry Nilsson‘s music for the film Popeye, Ry Cooder‘s first LP, Randy Newman‘s first LP, and Arlo Guthrie‘s best LP (on which Van Dyke played synthesizer, a fairly new instrument at the time)
He composed the score for (and appeared in) Jack Nicholson‘s Goin’ South. He wrote the lyrics to Brian Wilson‘s (and The Beach Boys‘) Smile (including the classics “Heroes and Villains” and “Surf’s Up”) and collaborated again with Brian on the Orange Crate Art CD as well as other Wilson songs and projects.
He has played with Harper’s Bizarre, Phil Ochs, The Byrds (David Crosby asked Van Dyke to join both The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Tim Buckley, Little Feat, Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, Grizzly Bear and Ringo Starr.
He introduced Western culture to the music of the Caribbean islands and produced the outstanding LP of steel drum music by the Esso Trinidad Steel Drum Band.
He had a hit as one of the Mojo Men with “Sit Down I Think I Love You”, which is better arranged than the original version by Buffalo Springfield. He wrote “High Coin” and “Come to the Sunshine”, two fantastic and very California musical expressions.
This all brings me to his latest collaboration. He recently produced Inara George‘s An Invitation CD. Inara is the daughter of Van Dyke’s late friend Lowell George (founder of Little Feat). She also works in the duo The Bird and the Bee.
Live presentations of An Invitation will take place October 8 & 9 up in San Francisco with Inara backed by the amazing musicians known as The Awesöme Orchestra (conducted by David Möschler) Van Dyke will appear with Inara as well. Van Dyke asked me to create the poster for the event, hence this Journal post.
I thought you might like to see a very brief (I didn’t have much time to conceive and execute this piece) step-by-step on its creation. As you can see, there were a lot of elements that needed to be included in the poster, including a listing and representation of Lexi Pearl‘s aerial dancers.
The pencil rough is above. Here’s the final inked version:
After it was inked I had it professionally shot in digital form by the kind and talented (and very patient) folks at Artworks so that I could color it in PhotoShop. Here’s how that turned out:
There will be some beautiful versions of this poster that will be offered in limited signed editions on heavy paper stock to help raise the funds necessary to pay for the lavish concerts and their participants. I’ll keep you updated as to their availability.
My thanks to my dear friend Van Dyke for this collaborative opportunity and his enthusiasm for my work.