Ry Cooder and I, Flathead

Here’s something different but totally inline with my own world of images and writings.


The Songs of Kash Buk and the Klowns

Ry Cooder

I get the feeling from studying the life of Ry Cooder that he is the musical equivalent of who Ed Iskenderian, Dean Moon and Vic Edelbrock Snr. are to the history of hot rodding. Just like these hot rod industry pioneers, he’s beaten his own path to bring exotic, interesting and sparkling elements to the heart of his business.

His I, Flathead is a walk around the world of the Fifties and Sixties, a visit with times past and characters that might pop out of your childhood. Looking back over his body of work you can see that there is a car guy hiding under all that music with tunes and the albums covers he’s released. (re:Into the Purple Valley, Mambo Sinuendo).

I, Flathead is a collection of finely crafted music – pure road music with an earthy vocals, blues, country-rock guitar, beat and keyboard. Not only is the musical talent unquestionable, Ry’s songs are a rich mix of cultural thoughts and reminiscences, blended into delightfully restrained storytelling. Tunes like Drive Like I Never Been Hurt, Can I Smoke in Here?, Little Trona Girl, Filipino Dancehall Girl and Flathead One More Time talk to the heart and throw you back to the early days hot rodding of dry lakes racing, listening to bench racing, girl chasing or drinking in slip-slap beer joints, Ry and his gang of musical magicians have again laid down another classic cut, a tri-power of tunes and tones.

Buy this CD, play it loud, drive slow and enjoy a whole lot more of your day!

Two versions are offered – one includes a short novella and the second is traditional CD package.

Release by Nonesuch Records.

1953 Austin A70 Hereford Wagon

Austin of England had a concerted export program with the A70 Countryman. Built for them by Papworth Industries using production four-door A70 sedans, these wagons were unique English station wagon at the beginning of the fifties. They were built using much the same production techniques as Mitchell/Ionia would use building the last of the Buick woody station wagons in the early fifties. It is believed that around 1,000 of these were built for both homeland and overseas sales. Export models appeared at the 1953 Toronto and Vancouver Auto shows and then appeared in New York and LA. Others were exported to India, South Africa, Singapore, Kenya, Australia and other ex-British colonies. I have seen only two examples remaining in this country. One in fine restored condition while the other (shown here at Woodies on the Wharf) a 1953 “Hereford” Countryman model is owned by Byron Brill. It is in an un-restored but quite drivable condition. (See color photos) Brill’s A70 was apparently sold by Fred Delay, the Canadian Vancouver B.C. the local Austin dealer and now comes with a unique two-tone paint job featuring black sides and tan topsides with two-tone wood.

My father owned one of these A70 Countryman wagons in Australia the mid-fifties, I have family photo in the front of my first woody book, “Woodys” shown with it towing a house trailer. I do recall years later my father telling stories about that Austin and how he hated it. It was classic tale of horrible English Lucas electrics – apparently, the Prince of Darkness would arrive with the rain!

Correcting Time and Acid Damage

I’ve added this third example of the restoration of an old hot rodding image to show yet another restoration that should be displayed as it was intended. In this very simple restoration, the original art work was even damaged when they went to press. On the left, you can see how it was when the client gave it to me. The paper was aged and discolored yellow/brown by acid and light deterioration. I made a high-quality scan with my Nikon D2X and then shifted it all into Photoshop though Bridge. It is retouched and restored as well as being desaturated to create the B/W image. The aim of this restoration is not to loose the sense of it being a sixties newspaper print ad but carry it cleanly to press or screen today just as the day it first appeared.

On the right you can see how it looked when the artist would have laid out in 1960 once again! – Photoshop Rules!

New Classic Woody Book Reviews – Fours Stars from Hemmings Motor News!!!


Fetherston’s Treasure Box of Classic Woodys  which contains the 400-page Classic Woodys  book just got a Four -Star review from Hemmings Motor News!

The Woodie Times also reviewed it this month and they too, gave it a thumbs up.

Click below to read.

See the attached reviews.

Correcting History-II

In addition to the restored image of Pinky Richards’ aka “Watson’s Wildest” Corvette, in my previous post, here is another image I recently restored that had been deemed unusable.

This is a photo of the famed Sylvester -11 at the Oakland Roadster show in either 1961 or 1962. It too, was an old slide which firstly was underexposed and then color shifted. Both fixable!

So if you have images that are historic and appear to be in the state of the original shown here – learn Photoshop!

Correcting History?

Some historians may well be horrified with this method of photo restoration but I for one love it! I dislike books which use unrestored black and white or color images. They simply tell a story of age but do not represent the intent of the photographer.  I would be mortified to see my work reproduced in either a damaged state or with the color badly faded simply because the dyes in the film degraded with age and the publisher was too lazy to fix the problem.

Now with Photoshop, restoration is only a learning curve away and even vintage black and white photos can be made into color if you know the tricks. Here are few examples of vintage images I have recently restored.

This picture of Pinky Richards’ aka “Watson’s Wildest” Corvette was taken by George Barris. on Ektachrome color transparency film back in about 1960. Larry Watson had done some of his craziest flames on Pinky’s Corvette and George wanted pictures for his magazine stories. In the past fifty years the color dyes have degenerated, leaving the image with a red-cast and other tonal issues . Some of this could have been removed with the latest color scan software but the subtle correct colors are only regenerated by time with Photoshop.

The conversion of the black and white image of the Fiat was done in multiple layers. The colors are correct as far as I can tell to the original paint and wood colors.

These days when virtually everything is printed or seen on the web in color, this method makes sense not only for visual appeal but for its added interest and ability to convey more information for the viewer to enjoy.

Now for something completely Different – Mostly using car parts – somewhere!

During the past seven years I have work with internationally known sculpture Patrick Amiot, to create a calendar for the elementary schools in and around my home town. During these years this calendar has generated over $400,000. Not bad for an enterprise run by three guys and six Power Mum’s who do the selling.

These are just some of the images from that yearly event.