Creative Team

Amanda Frew

Food Stylist and Mixologist/Custom Cocktail Recipe Developer

“Meticulous” and “creative” seem like opposites to some people, though, personally, it’s one of my favorite combinations. And Amanda Frew deserves both adjectives in spades. She’s fearless in creating with food and drink and very thoughtful about what she does at the same time. We’ve worked together in other capacities, but this “after hours” project has been the real treat.

As the music and production side of The Drummer Loves Ballads was wrapping up, I had the idea of creating a companion booklet of sorts. The idea came, as ideas often do, from a combination of things. Numerous confidantes who listened to early rough tracks from the album commented that it was the sort of music one should enjoy an adult beverage with. Plus, there is a retro quality to some of the tracks that evokes a cocktail party vibe (“Dreamsville,” chief among them). And finally, there’s my own lyric for “At the Trocadero,” which tells the story of my parents’ favorite club in Kansas City when they were dating in 1955. “Cocktails and jazz, that cool fifties craze,” suddenly sounded like a title to me, not just a lyric. Thus the notion of a collection of custom cocktails inspired by the music of The Drummer Loves Ballads was born. I’d like to think it’s smart marketing, but mostly it just seemed like fun and worth doing for its own sake.

Enter Amanda, the more-than-obvious choice for musical mixologist. She had been one of those “early listeners” and immediately understood and appreciated the mood of the album. I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator. She was totally invested in the vision and made my ideas better. Plus, her drinks taste sooooooo good. Here’s a toast to Amanda!

Amanda Frew

Amanda has been playing in the kitchen for as long as she can remember, starting with her first solo culinary experience at the age of six, making “Amanda-cotti” for her parents – her take on manicotti – and she’s been cooking up a storm ever since.

Food is both her passion and profession, as a public relations exec specializing in food and beverage at FleishmanHillard, and as the agency’s in-house food stylist and recipe developer for client work.

Amanda has styled shoots for everything from potatoes to tuna to prunes, so when John asked her to concoct some beautiful jazz-inspired cocktails, she was, of course, thrilled!

When at home, you can find her (no surprise) in the kitchen, whipping up a batch of something delicious with the best of the season’s bounty, or shaking up a cocktail or two while listening to some jazz. Likely, in fact, The Drummer Loves Ballads.

A fortuitous Facebook scroll brought Sam Hrabko to my attention. A post by Chuck Haddix caught my eye. Chuck is the longtime host of KCUR’s “Fish Fry,” director of the Marr Sound Archives the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and all-around go-to repository of knowledge and stories about Kansas City and its music. His post was about a student in his KCAI course on Kansas City jazz history, who had recorded Chuck telling the story of how Charlie Parker got the nickname “Bird,” which he then animated.

The animation was outstanding. Simultaneously modern and reminiscent of classic mid-century styles, it had joy and bounce and ingenious visual treatments that advanced and illuminated Chuck’s narrative. I loved it. And then I wanted it. We had my “Prelude” track for The Drummer Loves Ballads already in the can and suddenly I envisioned it brought to life visually.

Sam keeps a pretty low social media profile, but I was able to track him down through Chuck and Sam’s dad, musician and video creator, Scott Hrabko.

Emails ensued. A quick agreement and then off I sent reference images. Back came amazing thumbnail sketches, and so it went over time until the wonderous animation you see on the home page of this site was fully realized.

Sam’s an amazing visual storyteller, and his work complements exponentially the whole storytelling ethos of The Drummer Loves Ballads.

Sam Hrabko

Sam Hrabko is a student at the Kansas City Art Institute and was recently awarded one of seven undergraduate scholarships by ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Educators Forum. The merit-based scholarship is designed to support college students in continuing their education in the field of animation.

Tricia Juanitas

DESIGNER

She’s the happiest person I know. Honest to goodness, I don’t think I know anyone who smiles more than Tricia Juanitas, or giggles more, or pumps other people up more, or genuinely believes more that good things are about to happen, than Tricia Juanitas.

That’s a nifty trait in a designer (I’m betting she’ll giggle at the word “nifty”) because at some level all creativity is problem-solving and that requires endless doses of optimism that you can, indeed, find a solution.

But attitude aside, in musician-speak, Tricia (“TJ” to her friends) has “great chops.” That means skills, ability, technique. I come from a graphic design background myself, so I have an annoying sense of ownership about ideas I bring her. I thought my original cover design was, well, pretty great. And she basically said “Okay, but how about I don’t really make it look different but make it look better?” Uhm. Okay. And she did, dammit, she seriously did. So much better. Better in a thousand little ways that didn’t swap one idea for another, but just made the idea actually work.

But that’s nothing. Wanna see what she can really do when I get out of the way? Check out the fun “Cocktails and Jazz, that Cool 50s Craze” booklet we did together with Amanda Frew. It’s pure TJ. And yes, you can buy it in PDF form, but trust me, buy the printed booklet. The photography is simply gorgeous and worth holding in your hands. And I KNOW that would make the happiest person I know even happier.

Tricia Juanitas

Tricia Juanitas translates complex messages and branding sentiments through visual communications in a variety of mediums for consumers and other stakeholders. She’s an accomplished designer with a decade of experience in logos, brand identity, special event collateral and design, social media content creation, pamphlets, press/tool kits, infographics, books, stationery, posters and mailers. Tricia is a part of the global creative community at FleishmanHillard, one of the world’s largest communications consultancies.

Tricia is a specialist in photography and visual design for the food and beverage industry, which she applied in spades to “Cocktails and Jazz, that Cool 50s Craze” – a companion booklet of custom cocktails inspired by the music of The Drummer Loves Ballads.

Tricia received her bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in graphic design from the University of the Pacific.

Daniel Stanush

Director, videographer, editor

I met Daniel when I was in New York and he was doing agency work in Boston. When I heard he was relocating I figured it was to his hometown of San Antonio, but lucky me, he was headed to my new home of Sacramento, too. I was thrilled because not only is Daniel one of those people you just enjoying having a meal and a drink with as you meander through interesting conversation, but he is also a deeply, deeply creative individual with an unassuming nature and absolutely marvelous ideas.

When we talked about my concept of “video liner notes” for The Drummer Loves Ballads he was on board immediately and just as quickly transformed my nascent notion into something fully developed. Always smiling and amiable, Daniel is anything but complacent. He sets a high bar for himself and others, and what he produced for this project exceeds every hope I had.

As is the case with so many of my collaborators on TDLB, Daniel makes me wonder what I did to deserve such extraordinary creative partners and friends.

Daniel Stanush

Daniel Stanush is a director and composer based in Sacramento, California. He is director of Rokovoko Studio, a creative content studio providing video production, film editing, 2D and 3D animation, graphic design, photography and custom music production. In addition to Daniel’s work with Rokovoko, he is co-founder of A.M. Architect, an electronic music group that provides music composition for film, television, and web licensing.

His interactive experience ranges from client work for Fortune 100 companies such as AT&T, CNN, and Biogen to nonprofits such as Teton Raptor Center in Wilson, Wyoming.

Ruben Young

WEB DESIGNER

I’ve found good people tend to move in circles of other good people. Thanks to good person Karl Palachuk, I was introduced to good person Ruben Young. Not only does Ruben not take away my admin rights when I foul up something under the hood of this site, he is a true champion of the entire TDLB project. I appreciate his great eye, savvy tech knowledge, and amiable collaboration — both with me and TDLB designer Tricia Juanitas. He’s also just plain nice and super professional. I’m glad to move in his circle.

Ruben Young

Ruben Young is a freelance graphic and web designer working from Southern California where he develops brand materials, graphics, websites and illustrations for creative professionals, small businesses, nonprofits and consultants. Since 2000, Ruben has focused on helping individuals and organizations brand themselves to separate them from competitors online and in print.

After being self-taught and working as a designer for 10 years, Ruben went back to school to receive degrees in Anthropology and Graphic Communication to better understand his industry, his clients and their audiences. Before this, Ruben worked in retail, wholesale sales and even a short stint with the Better Business Bureau, all which taught him the value of customer service and interacting with the public.

Ruben is also a lifelong visual artist, working in spray paint, acrylic, ink and digital mediums to create t-shirt graphics, stickers, illustrations, and murals. He has been painting murals professionally for residential and commercial clients since 2015, as well as participating in mural festivals and creating public art with various public, private and civic agencies across the State of California.

He lives in L.A. County with his crafty wife and two creative children.

Ruben is available for contract Graphic & Web Design work, creative illustration commissions, and murals. You can reach him by email or social media:

[email protected]

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