Creating a CD Cover That “Feels Good”

Last October I saw a picture of The Randy Oxford Band by Dan Hill which took my breath away!  The first thing
I thought was that it would make an amazing CD cover!  I then saw a graphic, done by Tim Sutherland, which was said to be the cover for the band’s new release.  Tim’s design wasn’t anything like Dan’s photography, so I figured that Dan’s pic would be used for another project... Little did I know, magic was about to happen!  I
saw the final product, and… They did it!  They seamlessly brought together the two styles and “…it feels good…!”
I decided to ask Randy how he was able to make these seemingly opposite images come together so beautifully.
Liz Caraway: How did you come up with the title, “…it feels good…”?
Randy Oxford: “…it feels good…” was a slogan that I came up with when I first started my band in 2003.  Being
a band leader and getting to hire top notch musicians who are willing and able to travel while remaining pleasant to work with no matter what the gig is, feels good to me so I came up with the slogan and I finally decided to use it as a CD title.
LC: How did the CD cover come about?
RO: I posted on Facebook, asking for artist submissions for a CD cover with the title “ feels good…” and
Tim seemed to get what I was asking for, and we went with his submission.  My project managers, Faith Loomis and Michele Sabol, were also involved in choosing the final art.
LC: What about the creation process did you enjoy?
RO: Asking Faith and Michele to take charge of the look and feel of the CD layout was a good call; all I had
to do was focus on being a music producer in the studio.  The team of people you see listed in the credits made
this project what it is; we are all very proud of the final product…it feels good!
Randy’s known for finding the right people and then letting them do what they do best.  I asked Michele Sabol about her influence on the cover’s creation, and she humbly gave credit to everyone else…
LC: Michele, please tell me your involvement in the cover project.
Michele Sabol: I guess the first part for me was attending the studio sessions and then onto the engineering and mixing. What a process!  I loved every minute of the experience.  Tim gave us the cover and we worked the graphics from there. I had an idea of the layout, while Faith put it all together.  It took some editing, but then we agreed “…it feels good…”
Faith Loomis is Michele’s daughter and I asked her to share her experience with us.
LC: Faith, how was your experience working on the CD cover?
Faith Loomis: This project was a blast!  I’m so grateful to be a part of it and such a wonderful group of people.
LC: Was it hard to combine the two very different styles together?
FL: Actually, it’s funny you ask, because at first it was.  I asked for Tim’s design to bleed over onto the back, as well as for the ember effect throughout.  I think it all came together beautifully.
LC: How was working with everyone?
FL: Well, my mom is like me: we both have an artistic vision for things but neither of us can hand draw! I admire the way some people can take their artistic vision and put it on paper the way Tim did. Then there’s Dan’s very artistic eye and talent for taking a photo and creating something really cool.  Finally, Disc Makers put our vision all together. Overall, it was a GREAT experience!
I told Dan Hill that I was surprised and really pleased with how the cover came out.  I was worried that his photos would lose attention, but Faith and Michele combined the work very well.
LC: When Randy approached you about taking pictures, were they originally for the CD or just for promotion?
Dan Hill: I believe we were talking about using the photos for both CD and promotion.
LC: What kind of editing did you use with the photos on the CD?
DH: I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC for the ‘heavy lifting’ along with plug-ins from Alien Skin (Snap
Art and Eye Candy) and the Nikon filters. The ‘digital manipulation’ is all me.
LC: Whose idea was it to gather around the pool tablewith the instruments?
DH: I suggested that we gather around the pool table, and I think that it was someone in the band who suggested putting the instruments on the table.
LC: How many pictures did you take?
DH: Probably between 1 and 200.
I wondered how Tim Sutherland approached this project and its vague theme, “…it feels good…” and ran with it.
LC:  You’ve done a sweet bit of graphics for this CD cover Tim, how did you get involved in this project?
Tim Sutherland:  Thank you! I contacted Randy about the cover because of his contest, and we talked about how everything should convey the “ feels good...” attitude. My design represents each band member, and the
band’s loose, free flowing music style.
LC: How did you come up with the fire?
TS: The flame logo was almost by accident, a result of tweaking the logo until it took on an attitude all its
own -- which fits the band well because they are on fire!  I then flamed up the title font so it would work with the
band logo.
LC: Does it …feel good… to be a part of this project?
TS: The whole aura about The Randy Oxford Band is that “ feels good...” and being a part of this project sure does!
Well, it’s obvious to me that Randy Oxford knows how to find great talent to create a great CD cover that FEELS


Seattle, Washington – December 6, 2013 - Seattle-based trombonist Randy Oxford is bringing his 6-piece high-energy blues and funk ensemble to Knucklehead’s in Kansas City on Wednesday, January 15th.  During this road trip, the band will be promoting its brand new recording, …it feels good…, en route to a repeat appearance at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis where it earned a highly-coveted spot in the competition’s finals in 2011.

The Randy Oxford Band is composed of a versatile group of seasoned vocalists and instrumentalists who primarily perform original compositions as reflected on …it feels good…; 9 of the 10 songs were written by band members.  This is the band’s 7th recording of its 10-year history and features the lead vocals of Jada Amy, Polly O’Keary (who also plays bass), Manuel Morais (guitar), and Randy Norris (guitar).  Richard Sabol keeps the beat steady as the group’s long-time drummer.

“I have found that great musicians do not always make for a great band unless there is a harmonious chemistry between all band members, “ observes Oxford.  “I believe I have found that special combination, and I know listeners will agree once they hear this recording or see us perform live.”  The dexterity of these individuals’ musical abilities means no 2 songs sound the same, and every show features a wide variety of musical styles with an emphasis on blues, soul, and funk.

For more information and to hear samples of the band’s music, check out

 Stacy Jeffress

Randy Oxford is a Northwest Legend. He has worked with such outfits as Little Bill & The Bluenotes, Fat Cat and Junkyard Jane prior to taking on the calling of leading his own band. The Randy Oxford Band has gone through several line-up changes over the years, but they have always been consistent on putting out exciting stage performances and excellent CDs. They have represented the Northwest multiple times at the International Blues Challenge and their last trip found them amongst the finalists (actually Randy’s second time as a finalist as he reached this plateau with Junkyard Jane also representing the Cascade Blues Association).

With a new band that may just be his strongest yet, and a new CD, feels good..., Randy and the band will be making an all too rare appearance in the Portland area at The Lehrer, 8775 SW Canyon Lane, Beaverton, on Saturday, November 23rd at 9:00 pm. The band will consist of Randy Oxford leading the group on trombone, the incredible Jada Amy on vocals, the twin guitars of Randy Norris and Manuel Morais, (Richard Sabol on drums), and new to the group on bass Polly O’Keary who has led her own popular band in the Seattle area and most recently was a member of Too Slim & The Taildraggers. This same group will once again be heading to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge representing the South Sound Blues Association in Tacoma. The Randy Oxford Band is always a treat to behold and with this group, The Lehrer will be alive with sensational grooves certain to bring the audience to their feet.

The nation's third largest blues society The Washington Blues Society held its annual "Best of the Blues," awards show at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center June 22. The evening's festivities included live performances from many of the nominees and a special presentation to Little Bill and the Blue Notes.

The 2013 Winners of the Washington Blues Society Best of the Blues Awards:

Blues Writer: Rick J Bowen

Blues Image: Kathi McDonald Bluesletter Cover by Dennis "Blues Boss" Dudley

Blues Graphic Artist: Dennis Hacker

Blues DJ: Jonathan “Oogie” Richards

Blues Club: The Highway 99 Blues Club

Open Blues Jam: Madison Pub – Unbound Blues Jam

Blues Songwriter: Eric “Two Scoops” Moore

Washington Blues Recording: Washington Blues, The WIRED! Band

Non-Festival Blues Event: Jam for Cans

Blues Festival: Mount Baker Rhythm and Blues Festival

Electric Blues Guitar: Mark Riley

Slide Blues Guitar: Mark Riley

Acoustic Blues Guitar: Mark Riley

Blues Bass: Farko Dosumov

Chris Leighton Blues Drummer Award: Richard Sabol

Blues Piano/Keyboard : Frank “Hot Rod” Holman

Mark Dufresne Male Vocalist Award: Sammy Eubanks

Blues Female Vocalist: Jada Amy

Blues Horn: James King

Paul Green Blues Harmonica Award: Jim McLaughlin

New Blues Band: Hot Wired Rhythm Band

Solo/Duo Blues Act: Nick Vigarino’s Back Porch Stomp

Blues Act: The WIRED! Band

Little Bill and the Blue Notes Traditional Blues Act:

Brian Lee & the Orbiters

Blue to the Bone Award: Mark Riley

Blue to the Bone Award: Maridel Fliss

Blues Performer: Kevin Sutton

Keeping the Blues Alive Award: Steve Sarkowsky

Lifetime Achievement Award: Nick Vigarino

Blues Hall of Fame: James “Curley” Cooke

Congratulations – Little Bill & The Blue Notes!

Little Bill and the Blues Notes was inducted to the Washington Blues Society Hall of Fame, and the Traditional Blues Award was renamed the Little Bill and the Blue Notes Traditional Blues Award in their honor.

When The Randy Oxford Band steps into the spotlight tonight at Jazzbones, it will mark the culmination of a busy and successful year for the Tacoma blues band.

Representing the South Sound Blues Association, the band made it to the finals at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February, advancing to the final eight out of 110 bands from 12 countries.


Trombonist and band leader Randy Oxford said the ranking is a major achievement. No small words from a man who’s been playing the blues for more than two decades and already has many accolades and awards on his résumé.


“It’s the exclamation point on what we’ve been trying to do and it’s opened new doors for us,” Oxford said.


Following the IBC ranking, the band has been invited to festivals from Quebec (Festival International du Blues de Tremblant) to Portland (Waterfront Blues Festival). Tonight’s event is a release party for the group’s latest CD, “Festival,” and a homecoming of sorts after a hectic summer.


The CD was recorded live at Sunbanks Rhythm and Blues Festival in Eastern Washington. Oxford said it already is getting airtime nationally and internationally.


The band itself is a reflection of just how much the blues have gone global. Featured vocalist Jada Amy is from Texas but has lived most of her life in Tacoma. Guitarist and vocalist Rafael Tranquilino is from Mexico City. Guitarist Jho Blenis is from Japan. Bass player Farko Dosumov is from Uzbekistan, and drummer Richard Sabol is from Rhode Island.


The band is heading back to the Midwest in November to play some of the top venues on the blues circuit. Before that, Oxford will host jam sessions on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas – his fifth year with that gig.


The accolades keep coming. Last week, the band was nominated for the prestigious Muddy Award from the Cascade Blues Association for Best Regional Act. It is the only Washington band to receive a Muddy nomination this year.


“Basically, we have become ambassadors for our Tacoma/Seattle blues scene, and we are now able to spread the word around the country and beyond about this great blues scene we have going around here,” Oxford said.


Oxford has a long history with Jazzbones. He’s hosted weekly adult and kids jam sessions there for several years. The kids jams have developed into an instrument giveaway program for youth in need of their first instrument. Oxford has kept that program going even though his schedule has put the jam sessions on hold. The program has given away more than 100 instruments.


“Some of the kids from my past Jazzbones jam sessions have been on the Blues Cruise with me, and another one (Nolan Garrett, 13) is going this October, so I get to showcase our local youth on the international stage,” he said.


“All of this is related to my history with Jazzbones, so having this homecoming/CD release party at Jazzbones is very special to me. I have met most of my band members at my past Jam sessions as well.”


Tonight’s show will feature guest percussionist Mike Muncy and guest bass player Eliud Atondo.

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