Behind the Scenes of WEXT’s 2014 Local 518 Calendar

3 Dec

As noted in the last Low Down Review, No. 24, I sat for a tattoo at Ms. Dixie’s Tattoo & Pin Up Parlour. What I didn’t mention was that the session doubled as a photo shoot for WEXT 97.7 FM‘s upcoming Local 518 Calendar, which will benefit the station and help cover operational costs – a worthy cause.

During the shoot, Monkfish Media Group‘s Kiki Vassilakis captured video footage of both the tattoo and the shoot in progress. Pair that footage up with a few sample still shots from Julia Zave Photography, mix it in with footage and shots from all the other calendar shoots, and you have a behind the scenes video. Presto:

PREVIEW: Behind The Scenes Of WEXT’s 2014 Local 518 Calendar! from Monkfish Media Group on Vimeo.

The Low Down Review – No. 24

29 Oct

A Rebel Darling Configuration…
Photo by Kyle Plante

Hey Joe: A few weeks ago, in Saratoga Springs, NY, I was leaning back against the fence rail that separated the Keller Williams (thank you, Sam) concert-goers from those shuffling their way to some other party. I was taking in some air, beer in hand, during the set break between the opener and Keller’s set. A man walked up to me, pulled out a cigarette, and as he lit it, he said, “there’s something to be said about keeping your back to the wall.” He looked at me with a hint of suspicion. “I suppose there is,” I replied, and as he began to blow me off, I added, “I guess I’m cautious.” “Nothing wrong with that,” he said, and joined me on the rail.

We introduced ourselves, dug a bit into each other’s backgrounds, sipped our beers, and began trading music stories. This was his:

“STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN!? Man… I saw him in ’85, down at The Palace in Albany. It was the first time I’d seen or heard him. My buddy told me, ‘you gotta see this guy,’ and I’m up for just about anything, so I figured, why the hell not, you know?

“After the opener – who was pretty good, I forget who they were – Stevie Ray walks on stage wearing something like a frilly blouse, some kind of pink or purple scarf, and a big hat with silver medallions on it. I thought to myself, ‘What the hell is this? Who in the fuck is this guy?’ I looked at my buddy, and he didn’t say anything.

“Well, he didn’t waste any time talking or anything, he just tore right into this dirty, nasty, sweet, and I don’t know what tune, right off the bat. It’s like he hit the groove the second he stepped on to the stage. You could tell right away that this guy was all fire, man. He dug into this solo, burning it up, notes bending, singing, flying out like there was nothing between what his heart wanted to hear and what his fingers played. I just stood there, staring, listening, feeling that shit, and right at the top of it all, POP! The high-E string BREAKS! OH, MAN! You could see it swinging around in the stage lights, shining like a lightning bolt.

“Stevie Ray didn’t even pause, just kept right on with the groove and stomped over to the side of the stage. He yelled something back there – playing the whole time – and then strutted back to the center of stage and stood pat playing. Then some guy comes out from backstage with a stool. He set the stool right down in front of Stevie, sits on it, and… get this… Stevie flips his left hand up over the neck like this… and played it piano style while the tech RESTRUNG THE FUCKING GUITAR! Bwwowwww, bwwwieowww, bwwieeeyow, you could hear the string tuning up while Stevie’s mind and soul are still off somewhere laying it down, picking and bending the other five strings up-side-down. The tech picks up the stool, walks off stage like nothing’s happened, and Stevie digs in to kill the rest of this solo, ripping on the high-E. Then, he brings it down real soft and slow, leans into the microphone, and says, ‘My name is Stevie Ray Vaughan.’ Boom.”

Hey, Joe. Great story, man.

Click here to listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan and
Albert King play “Blues at Sunrise.” SRV breaks a string at the end…

It’s worth the 15 minutes.

Fresh Ink, Raw Skin. Lots of Freckles…
Nick Reinert is TALENTED

Tattoo Me: I thought I’d never get a tattoo. I thought it wasn’t my style, and I didn’t understand the desire. That changed as we carried “Harvest the Heart” through recording and into post-production. The image of the heart and the scythes, as Nick Reinert drew them, had a deep and lasting impact on my psyche when I first saw it, and I knew it was a special piece of art for me.

That sense grew stronger when finishing the record became both a personal and emotional struggle. Like most projects, what you didn’t imagine can become the greatest delight, or a burdensome obstacle. Nick’s art, and the boys’ playing were the delights. Wrapping the process up before deadline became the struggle as unimagined obstacles presented themselves.

Because of John Rice‘s efforts, selfless dedication, and professionalism, we wrapped up the post-production in time, and when I held that finalized CD in my hands, then listened to the tunes in the car, I knew that this experience would become a permanent part of my character and my being; a great deal changed over those few months. The image and the title drew the album and the effort together in one rugged, durable, and beautiful idea. And then, it came to me suddenly, and embedded itself amongst other recurring thoughts and daydreams – I wanted to express this feeling, this experience, through a tattoo. It’s as permanent as it can get for a body. Nick was the only choice as tattoo artist.

The Needle and Pen

I wear Nick’s art and that image as a badge, as a medal, and as a reminder. I’m honored and lucky enough to have been with all the right people, at the right time, working together to complete a project that I love. All of that is wrapped into that image, and the phrase, harvest the heart.

NOTE: If you are looking for a tattoo, and live around New York’s Capital District, I can recommend (and strongly urge you to visit) Nick and Jessica over at Ms. Dixie’s. Not only are they imaginative artists with steady hands, they are consummate professionals. They left no detail untouched on both the art and the process. I was amazed at how much fun I had because they made me feel at ease and comfortable.

Seriously, it was fun…
Photo by Julia Zave

From the Low Down: Those Womacks are a special group of people. They are full of so much life, love, positive energy, support, and musical talent. If you missed their show a few weeks ago, consider it an opportunity to see and hear them for the first time when they swing through again. If you caught the show, you know… A word to the wise, though – never leave them alone with your camera:

LtR – Noah and Tony of The Womacks

You might have noticed that “Rebel Darling” is scattered throughout this email. I also changed my website’s URL over to The reason is simple: the phrase rebel darling has become (perhaps always has been) a good description of the sound I’m trying to create, and the lyrics I write. I’ve been told this many times since I introduced the name on stage. It’s also a damn good name.

I provided a little background information on Rebel Darling over at the newly created facebook page, found here… It all started while sitting on stage with Ryan Dunham from the Red Haired Strangers, when I blurted out, “I think I’d like to call this Rebel Darling.” The whole room quieted down, and many of the folks in the room turned their heads towards the stage. That was a little over a year ago, and folks are still digging the name. Gotta go with what’s right and good.

The idea is to name the sound when I share the stage with any and/or all of the fine musicians I’ve come to know over the past few years. We all share a desire to constantly reimagine and reinterpret the tunes, playing them just how we feel. We’ve been rebelling from the rehearsed, and the result has been sweet. I’m not changing what is, I’m just giving it a name. On the technical side, all info will just redirect over to the new URL, so it’s easy on the user. At some point soon, I’ll change the website header and the one here on the LDR as well. Further evolution may occur…

As always, folks thank you for everything. Spread the word and share the song… Forward this email along to others you think would be interested. Definitely share the music, and head on out to catch an upcoming show, be it Rebel Darling with the boys, or a solo show… There’s no way I could do any of this without you. Thank you. See you out there.

– Mike

FYI – this place is better than ever…

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Update: September Shows and Summer Sampler

6 Sep

Summer Ain’t Over Yet

Hey there, folks. Just a few quick notes here…

It’s a busy September, and I wanted to share the show dates with you folks. The dates are spread out across the local map, with a couple of jaunts beyond the median perimeter. Tomorrow, I’ll head to Freeport, ME to meet up with buddies Andrew Olsen, and Laurence Scudder for tunes, brews, and BBQs. Nice… Remember Andrew from The Low Down Review – No. 22? He’s hosting the first (annual?) OlsenFest at his guitar shop… If you’re in the Freeport, ME area, send me an email for details. It’s a low-key affair.

Next week, Friday, September 13, I’ll team up with a couple of lads from the Emerald Isle for a night of songs and stories (I’m sure…) at the Linda Norris Auditorium in Albany, NY. The lads call themselves “The Guggenheim Grotto,” and have been making the rounds on this side of the Atlantic to critical acclaim. I’m playing a meat and potatoes opening set, and will push hard for a facial hair competition. Details:

    Friday, September 13 at 8:00 p.m.
    The Linda – WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio
    339 Central Avenue
    Albany, NY 12206
    518-465-5233 ext. 4

    purchase tickets here…

Hope to see you folks there, and/or at some of the other shows listed to the right…

Like I Said, Summer Ain’t Over Yet

Earlier this summer, songwriter friend o’mine Caitlin Canty reached out to me to ask if I’d like to contribute a song to her Summer 2013 Mix Tape. Easy questions get quick and easy answers. Mine was “yes.” It’s a joyful honor to be placed among some power-house and top-tier songwriters. And… All proceeds from the download go to the Miles of Music Camp, which fosters us lovable fools dedicating ourselves to the songwriting craft. Take a listen, and don’t wait on the download; Caitlin’s pulling the mix tape down next week. Fall is closer than I care to believe.

Be in touch guys, and as always, thanks for everything…

– Mike

The Low Down Review – No. 23

16 Aug

Wild Mustang, Big Horn Basin, Wyoming

What’s Left Remains: About a mile off to the north of the Greybull Highway, a herd of wild mustangs kicked up dust, and grazed in the sage brush. We doubled back and headed for the gate of a dirt road near to where the horses milled about. The sign at the gate of the McCullough Peaks Road read “It is unlawful to approach wild horses.” Keeping to the dirt road, we rolled the car along wondering just what in the hell “approach” meant, and tried to reason a definition that would suit our purpose to get a closer look at the herd.

As we debated, we came up to the top of a hill and saw something of an unusual color for the terrain in the distance. After staring from behind the windshield for a while, we headed down to where it lay. At first, we thought it might be a canvas tarp held down by rocks, but as we walked closer, our imaginations settled down, and we realized what we were looking at, the remains of a palomino mustang.

The wind was soft, the sun high above the approaching storm clouds, and the body still – the vultures, coyotes, and ravens having long ago taken what life Death offered. The hooves appeared soft, their edges curved over, more like fingernails than horse hoof. The left, hind leg’s metatarsus, or cannon bone was broken and poked through the hide, which we took to be the cause of the death. Unable to walk, the horse likely bedded itself down in the low growth chaparral, and waited. Out of some unspoken respect, I didn’t touch what remained of the body. I thought we stumbled upon a scene more rare and sacred than the herd itself.

Dazed and quiet, we walked to the car and drove back towards the entrance of McCullough Peaks Road. The herd hadn’t moved much, and a pair took turns rearing up, and chasing each other. It looked like play. The dust floated up into a small cloud before the light breeze spread it thin. It was at that moment, as I took a right onto the highway towards Cody, that I realized that for both the living and the dead, what’s left remains.

From Afar, the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Metrolanded: For those of you who know me well, my name garnering honorable mention in the Metroland, Albany NY’s Alternative Newsweekly, may be a bit of a surprise. It certainly was to me; I was notified of two separate honors this past month by text message… But upon the recommendation of local promoter, Greg Bell of Guthrie Bell Productions, and Ian White of music collective Swordpaw (I apologize for the lack of a link; the email wouldn’t send with it embedded or typed), and band Bear Grass, I read up on the writings of Josh Potter, and found him to be a sincere writer, not at all snarky in his reviews and commentary. Reading his articles refreshed me, and his insight and perspective interested me. I sent him an email, and soon thereafter, I mailed out Greenhorn and Harvest the Heart.

A few weeks later, a review of Harvest the Heart popped up. My favorite line from the review is, “…the thematic essence of what he writes is consistent with the genre’s pioneers.” That’s a satisfying sentence, judging from where I sit and write to you. It’s also quite an honor to set on the digital mantle.

And a week after that, I received a text message while in Wyoming congratulating me on my recognition as “Best Folk 2013” by the Metroland Staff. I had no idea it was a category. Another honor for the digital mantle. You can read all the the staff picks for the best of music here… I dig this quote: “His straight-from-the-gut songwriting and sterling guitar work are best heard up close and personal in a small listening room, of which M.R. makes a steady round.” I must give a very big thank you to Josh Potter, and the others over at the Metroland that took my name (and the boys’ inspired work…) into consideration.

Danny Whitecotton, in the Studio

From the Low Down: I’ve been working in the studio a little bit, on other songwriters’ projects. One day, I found myself in James Kinne’s Bennington, VT based SoundMIND Studio pushing my way onto Danny Whitecotton‘s latest album, Love, War, and Other Mistakes. Give a listen, and you’ll catch my vocals, and slide guitar on a couple of tunes, in addition to Danny’s well-written songs. I’m honored by my inclusion on his album. The guy is a multi-talented, hard-working, and steady gigging musician, so check out his schedule and head on out and enjoy.

And… Mr. fingerpicking and songwritin’ hisself, as well as long-time friend and collaborator, Matt Durfee just launched a Kickstarter! campaign for his debut solo album, Little World. All I can say about Matt’s work ethic and talent can be summarized in a clear statement: you are going to want this album. Donate and listen in. I’m also honored that Matt asked me to be on this project (vocals and electric guitar). It’s been a long time coming, buddy, and it sounds great…

I’m starting to book out the Fall months, yeah, they’re just about here. The summer was great, and mostly relaxing, which I am very grateful for. It was the first in a very long while, and I felt as though I needed it. But I’m now looking forward to setting up on the stage and playing and singing for you folks. Most of the current shows are in NY’s Capital District, but I’m starting to schedule out more MA, VT, NH, ME dates, with some others on the table. Check out the full schedule here, and, of course, let me know if you want me to look into heading your way. The short list is below…

As always, folks thank you for everything. Spread the word and share the song… Forward this email along to others you think would be interested, and definitely share the music and head on out to catch a show. I truly wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you. We’ve got some exciting events on the horizon. Thank you…

– Mike

Congratulations, many thanks, and lots of love to Matt & Kelly
for throwing a kick-ass party, and a hosting a beautiful ceremony
somewhere in the middle of Montana

Rebel Darling at Bellstock, photo by Roger Noyes

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The Low Down Review – No. 22

8 May

Maine Turnpike, Falmouth Spur
Photo by Laurence Scudder

Blinding Nemo: Remember February? I do… I woke up at dawn, cold in guitar maker, Andrew Olsen‘s basement. Drew and his family put Laurence Scudder and I up after our Friday night blizzard show in Portland, ME – we were on a quick four-day tour through the N.E., and it just so happened that it was during the Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon, or however the hell the news described it. They named the storm, Nemo. Drew and Laurence go way back, are good friends, and I wanted to take the greatest care in accepting the generous hospitality. But I was getting frustrated with the chill, and while stuck in a bleary-eyed daze, I couldn’t understand just where in the hell it was coming from. The house was new construction, and seemed solid. As I pulled the comforter closer around me, I woke a bit and realized that I heard the wind blowing, clear and crisp. Curious, I rolled over and saw that I had left the basement door open. Shit.

I hopped up from the air mattress and ran over to shut the door, plunging a bare foot down into 6 inches of snow on the cork floor. I brushed off my foot, pulled on my boots, grabbed a dust pan and shoveled the drift back out into the whipping wind and shifting snow blanket. After about 10 more minutes, I had the door shut again. I crawled back under the comforter and heard the furnace, all fired up, working hard. It was the first of many shovelling experiences over the course of the next couple of days. Nemo found us over on the Eastern sea-board, tracked our movement, and buried us in snow.

Well, we better get working…

Lucky for me, Drew and his family are not only generous, but easy going and understanding. There was a “no harm, no foul” receipt of the news, and that took a weight off my conscience. Drew said something along the lines of, “Yeah, that door doesn’t quite stick. I should take a look at it.” We spent the night before in his workshop, picking out tunes, sharing our favorite albums, and having generous doses of bourbon and scotch; it was a blizzard, and a short walk from shop to home (albeit through thigh-deep snow)… I was relieved when that warm and welcome vibe carried through my morning news. It was one of those special, memorable nights, and I hated the thought of scratchng it out with an absent-minded key-stroke.

Andrew Olsen’s AO Guitar Shop

And I’m excited to head back Andrew’s way, with Laurence, and our buddy and songwriter, Ryan Fitzsimmons in just a couple of weeks. We’ll all share the stage at Blue, a fine listening room in Portland, ME with delicious food and tasty beer. Blue is a well-thought out spot. I’m betting that we’ll be back at Drew’s shop, throwing a few beverages back, and a bunch of tunes out into the Spring night. It’s a welcome weather change, and I’m hoping to set firm some new memories on the green grass. It’ll be another Rebel Darling night, folks. More on that later, if you’re not yet taking to the shape of it.

Terry Doyle – WIOX DJ

Terry Doyle: I thought I was going to have the chance to take a better photo of Terry, but I was wrong. Terry Doyle, WIOX DJ and host of the Crackle and Imprint radio shows, passed away in February, due to lingering complications from a heart attack.

The day before he died, we shot the shit on facebook, and it was clear that his spirits were high. I thought all was well, and that I would have seen him early in March for an interview, and about a dozen of his signature Snickerdoyle cookies. The next day, I found out he died, and it was like I had been drained of my energy, and certainly a bit of my spirit. The news was sudden, and I felt a loss quick. Terry was an excited and energetic supporter of music, and songwriters in particular. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of NY bands, particularly those around the Catskill Region.

I hadn’t known Terry for too long, but he had a quirky sensibility, a slightly spastic disposition, and a genuine appreciation for music. As the saying goes, to know him is to love him, and Terry was an easy guy to get to know. He was upfront and sincere, made no bones about who he knew, who he wanted on his show, what he liked, and who he was. I liked him and his frenetic approach instantly. We recorded an interview in the front seat of my car in a coffee house parking lot in the Catskills. That’s how I met the guy. That was fun… Last I spoke with him in person, he had some very kind words for me, and neither they, nor Terry, will be forgotten. I truly miss the guy. He was a good one.

Click here for “Harvest the Heart”
Also available on iTunes

From the Low Down: It’s been a long while since I’ve reached out to you folks in this format. The better part of half a year slipped away from me. Time started to break away in pieces, at the very moment when I thought I had a grasp on how she dances. Maybe I held on too hard. Or maybe the tune changed, and the band leader hopped over to an awkward time signature, perhaps 13/8, all the while yelling, “Dance boy!” He tapped out the tempo in a shuffle, but I’m betting that before I have time to spin back around, I’ll be in an all-out sprint towards the caesura, and who knows who or what awaits on the other side of that timeless gap?

It’s been a blur, and the safe money is on that to continue through May. Throw your dollars down on the summer too. I’m hoofing a bit (with the help of a rental car), and trying to make my way through Wyoming, and looking to secure a night in fabled San Fran. Mid-point in time is Montana for some dear friends’ wedding. I’m picking for the processional. Y’all know anyone around those parts willing to host a home show, or to share some info one what’s good, real, and low down? Click on reply, if so, or if you just feel a chat stirring.

There are a few moments of sharp clarity scattered througout the whirling blur. One that stands out at this moment is meeting and hanging back-stage with human juke-box Martin Sexton. Laurence Scudder asked if I wanted to head to the show over at the Berklee College of Music’s Performing Arts Center in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Sounded like a good time. I had no idea that Martin had asked Laurence to join him on stage, or that I’d have one of those all access passes stuck to my shirt, a first for me.

Laurence Scudder sawing on the viola
with Martin Sexton

Sexton is a warm, loving, and generous man. I am not kidding you when I say that his hugs are electrified. He’s also a dedicated professional, and an amazing talent. It’s clear that Boston is firmly planted in his heart, and he sure as hell shared it throughout his performance. The pre-show Thai was pretty tasty, but the show was powerful, sincere, and prepared and executed with precision as well as passion. In short, he owned the night.

It’s pretty damn clear that I have many, many reasons to be greatful. So, and as always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I truly wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you.

– Mike

A great way to spend post-show time.
This was one of my favorite nights…

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Saturday, April 27 with the Stray Birds

25 Apr

LtR – Maya, Oliver, and Charlie – Photo by Jake Jacobson

Now, for those of you who have been on this email list for a while, you’ll likely recall the name The Stray Birds. I first mentioned them in LDR 13, then again in LDR 15, again in others, and also posted a photo of Maya bearing down on her banjo in LDR 20. I’m a fan, you get the idea… Even if you’re new on this list, you might know the name already. If The Stray Birds are brand new to you, I strongly suggest that you give them a listen; they are a trio of young musicians with a masterful grasp on both musicianship and songwriting. They are hardworking, traversing the country for packed show after packed show, and their dedication to each other and their music is both amazing and admirable. Great folks, those Stray Birds.

That hard work is paying off too, at least with rich experiences. They’ve been featured on the renouned World Cafe Live, selling out the house, and recently recorded a spot on the revered Mountain Stage radio show, which also featured banjo luminaries Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. They have been interviewed on more than one occasion for No Depression, the, as they put it, roots music authority, and their recent, eponymous album, The Stray Birds was listed in NPR’s top 10 Americana Albums for 2012. Quite a resume here, folks, for a band just a few years old.

The Stray Birds – 2012 release

And we’re bringing them to Albany, NY’s backyard, folks. On Saturday, April 27th, I’ll perform as Rebel Darling (more on that later) with John Rice and Ryan Dunham from the Red Haired Strangers for an opening set for The Stray Birds. Here are the show details:

A few of us are making a day out of it up in Rensselaerville, and plan to hike about the Huyck Preserve. There will be food and drink at the show, but if you’re looking for a bite or a beverage before you head up to the Center, grab it at The Palmer House Cafe. You’ll definitely enjoy the food, the atmosphere, and the beer. I’ll probably head down there after the show for a drink or two. You’re welcome to join. In fact, I dare ya.

Huyck Preserve – Photo by

Thanks so much, folks. Let’s get ourselves out and enjoy the Spring. Don’t forget to take a peek at the schedule, and get yourself a copy of “Harvest the Heart”. Much love your way…

– Mike

Click here for “Harvest the Heart”

Harvest the Heart – Now Available

3 Apr

Click here to listen / purchase “Harvest the Heart”

Well… I have the next LDR mostly written, but the content is already a month old. I likely scratch some of it, and start over. The “Harvest the Heart” CD Release Show has come and gone, and I’m disappointed with myself for not reaching out to you folks directly before the release. With the time crunch, I think I fell into the convenient trap of facebook and twitter promotion. I also had the great help of an advertisement on Nippertown, the Capital District’s (NY) premier arts blog, courtesy of my parents. Love you guys… I will say that the show itself was an incredible and overwhelming experience; we sold out Caffe Lena, an honor, and had to turn folks away at the door. That part was bittersweet. Some of you traveled more than three hours. I couldn’t shake the disappointment of watching faces I know being turned around. That tempered the excitement of filling each chair.

But, to turn it back around to the positive, the boys nailed the set and riveted those in attendance. Opener and friend Caitlin Canty played a lovely and captivating set, and it felt great to join her on stage for her tune, “Still Here“. All said and done, it was a memorable night that I seriously doubt I’ll forget. Many, many thanks to all of you for showing up.

It’ll be a while before “Harvest the Heart” is available on iTunes, or any of the other major players in digital downloading, but it is currently available on my Bandcamp page. You can purchase either digital downloads, or physical copies. You can also purchase physical copies directly from my website, For easy reference, here are the album details:


    M.R. Poulopoulos – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
    John Rice – Bass, Slide Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Harmony
    Tommy Krebs – Drums, Harmony, Percussion
    Roger Noyes – Pedal Steel, Lap Steel
    Laurence Scudder – Viola
    Ryan Dunham – Harmonica


    Engineer – John Rice
    Assistant Engineers – Tommy Krebs, John Rice
    Producers – John Rice, M.R. Poulopoulos
    Mixed by – John Rice, M.R. Poulopoulos
    Mastered by – John Rice
    “Reflection” Engineered and Mixed by Mitch Masterson, Swordpaw Studio

    Recorded at Hilltown Studio, Clarksville, NY
    “Reflection” Recorded live at Swordpaw Studio, Troy, NY –

    Album Artwork by Nick Reinert –
    Album Design by Matt Shortell –

    All Songs Written by M.R. Poulopoulos (BMI)

Click here to listen / purchase “Harvest the Heart”

Everyone involved in this project amazed me with their generous contributions of art and talent, their time and their support. I was reminded of just how much community it takes to compile a “solo” project. John, Tommy, Roger, Laurence, Ryan, Nick, Matt, Ian, Dylan and Mitch, thank you. I hope to someday be a part of the team that helps get you through to a goal.

Thanks so much, folks. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without your support and I hope to see you out there. Take a peek at the schedule below. Much love your way…

– Mike

Fresh outta the box

Friday Night Mellow Cinder

31 Jan

We’ve just about left January behind, and February 1 is on the mind. I’ll be celebrating the first day of the shortest month in fine fashion, folks, and I’m hoping that you’ll head out to join me. You’ll find me at More Bread and Jam, Cohoes’ finest coffee and sandwich shop, and a staple that now holds Troy and Albany, NY’s finest musicians and songwriters together.

Tomorrow night, I’m reaching beyond New York’s Capital District, though, to welcome Brookyln-based songwriter, Caitlin Canty for her debut performance ’round these here parts. Caitlin’s been stirring up excitement around the Northeast with her sparse and beautiful songs that both cut and caress (Check out this article in the Rutland Reader). This is pure, folks, and we’ll be sharing the stage for some song swapping. We’re also working on some prep and practice for the big “Harvest the Heart” CD Release Show in March.

I’ll also introduce you to the lastest member of my musical family, a Gibson ES-335 1959 Reissue. I ain’t gonna say much here. I’ll let the guitar do the talking, and it’ll be a mellow conversation.

Gibson ES-335 1959 Reissue

The Show Info:

    Friday, February 1st at 7:00 p.m.
    More Bread and Jam Cafe
    130 Remsen Street
    Cohoes, NY 12047
    (518) 874-4272
    Support traveling songwriters.
    Gas ain’t cheap and rent ain’t free.

Keep your eyes and ears close to my schedule over the next few months. In addition to Caitlin, I’ve scheduled a number of shows with fine songwriters and musicians from all over the Northeast. It’s mighty hard to get out there and find it all, so when I do find it, I make sure I’m working at bringing it to the neighborhood. Join us tomorrow, and you’ll hear what I’m writing about. And for all y’all out near the Northeast’s Atlantic Coast, I’m headed your way next week, joined by my buddies Laurence Scudder and Ryan Fitzsimmons. Been looking forward to this short tour for a while now.

Thanks so much, folks. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without your support and I hope to see you out there. Much love your way…

– Mike

The Low Down Review – No. 21

31 Dec

Boiling Gold: For a while, I was defintely in the low down, folks. I’m just now peeking through the most sick I’ve ever felt. I had the worst of what’s going around, a flu that wrapped a few other maladies into its careless cocktail of static illness. Dramatic? Not at all… Shit was intense, and the couch was the farthest I could reach from the bed for a week. I cancelled my last show of the year, and fell in and out of awareness to bad movies on Netflix.

Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche is probably the worst of the bunch, but watching Tommy Lee Jones react to a volcano erupting and forming in the middle of downtown Los Angeles proved to be a healthy dose of humor amidst a collection of crumpled tissues and empty tea cups. The man yells about as much as Samuel Jackson, and takes more charge than a fleet of car batteries.

At the other end of the spectrum, though, and just last night, I found Even the Rain (Tambien La Lluvia), a brilliant, layered movie that drew complicated parallels between the Spanish conquest of the Americas in search of gold in the 15th and 16th centuries and the fight in the Americas over water rights, using the Chochabamba protests in 2000 as a backdrop. The movie pushes the notion that though the details change, the story remains the same, but does so without falling neatly into the cliche. Substitute gold with water, and you’ll get the gist of where the movie takes the viewer. This does not stand to minimize the effectiveness of the cinematography, the dialogue and the captivating performances…

I’ll avoid a detailed recounting of the storyline (here’s the trailer), but I have to mention that the screenwriter, Paul Laverty has a masterful command of irony as an artistic and revelatory tool (we ain’t talking obscure albums and PBRs here…). He showed remarkable ability in weaving the conflicting stories of the indigenous fight for rights and the perceived rights of those in power into a coherent drama about a director and his producer. The characters (who endeavor to film a controversial movie about Christopher Columbus in the Americas) and their rich portrayal are the result of a very deep tool chest, and provide the viewer with an engaging story, as well as a detailed and colorful tapestry.

So, after the movie, and as I turn on the kettle for another cup of tea, I do so reminded that while I’ve been feeling down, I am, by and large, not held down. And while I ain’t yet paying gold for my water, I know it’s more precious than gold. Water, in my mind, is a gift of life from the planet, not a product for sale by humans.


Two if by Mail: I want to get the New Year off to a generous start, so I’m offering up a two-for-one sale on physical, mail-order Greenhorn sales for the month of January. It’s real simple, folks. Anyone who clicks the “Buy Now” link below or the identical link on my website to purchase through PayPal will receive an extra copy of Greenhorn for free. What should you do with this additional album? No rules against re-gifting around here; send it along to a friend you think will enjoy the tunes and spread the generous spirit. Happy New Year, folks!

From the Low Down: I wish I had more news on the recording front, but December is a difficult month to record, and a prolonged illness, John’s sprained ankle, holiday festivities, a vacation to Key West, and some other issues delayed the proceedings. We do, though, have quite a bit already recorded, including the vocal tracks for half of the album. So, there’s good news for certain. We have a lot to accomplish next month, though.

Also in the realm of good news and related to the album, I met with tattoo artist, designer and photographer Nick Reinert a couple of weeks ago to view some of his ideas for the cover art. It was an exciting meeting because the guy had some brilliant sketches, and I’ll show you one:

That image will be the thematic center-piece for all the album art, as well as for the collection of songs, and I’m glad to be working with Nick again after a long break between projects. Nick worked with me and Matt Durfee in 2007, snapping photos and helping with staging for the Palatypus CD Release show. Make sure you folks check out Nick’s work and portfolio at his website.

In other good news, the tickets to March’s CD release party are now available on Caffe Lena’s website. Here’s the direct link to the event page and ticket information, and here’s the info on the show – you’ll be reading and hearing a lot about this one:

    Harvest the Heart CD Release Show
    with opener Caitlin Canty
    Saturday, March 30 – Doors at 7:00 p.m.
    Caffe Lena
    47 Phila Street
    Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
    Ticket Info: Member – $12 / General – $14
    Purchase tickets here…

As always, folks thanks for everything. I’ve got a lot in the queue for the new year, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all. Spread the word and share the song… I truly wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

– Mike

Ernest Hemingway’s Typewriter
Hemingway House, Key West, FL

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Two Videos, and Weekend Shows

30 Nov

Folks! Check out these two videos on YouTube. This first one was a serendipitous arrival. While in New London, CT, and sharing a bill with The Womack Family Band, Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent, and The Weird Beards, I intended to ask the Womack’s photographer (Cody!), to record my tune “Sweepin'” when The Womacks joined me for some harmony. Well… I forgot, but some lovely folks in the audience found the initiative floating low in the room and captured the moment without a word passing between us. Nice… Check it out (the embed code is funky, so it’s an image with a link):

Sweepin’ – with The Womack Family Band

The second video caught me by surprise in a different manner. I knew that this show with the Lost Radio Rounders was recorded, but when I saw this video for the first time last night, I was reminded of how I completely oblivious I was to that fact while we were playing. This is the Carter Family’s tune, “No Depression” which I arranged specifically for this show. If you like this one, you can purchase the entire recording at one of my shows, or at this link… where you can sample and purchase individual tunes as well.

No Depression – with Lost Radio Rounders and Friends

Before I sign off, I want to share the info on this weekend’s shows. Tonight, I’ll be in Beckett, MA for my debut performance at The Dream Away Lodge, a place with great food, a steamy past, and legend all its own. Saturday, I’ll hit up WIOX Radio in the Catskills for a live studio performance with Terry Doyle. Later that night, I’ll be at the Crossroads Brewing Company in Athens, NY. They brew one of my favorite IPAs, “Outrage.” And on Sunday, I’ll be part of a benefit show for those affected by Hurricane Sandy at Red Square in Albany, NY. Folks… This is a solid line-up of Albany’s musicians, and you don’t want to miss it. More at the event link and poster image below.

Show Info:

    Friday, November 30th at 8:00 p.m.
    The Dream Away Lodge
    1342 County Road
    Beckett, MA 01223
    (413) 623-8725
    Reservations Strongly Suggested

    Saturday, December 1st at 5:00 p.m.
    Crackle Radio Show @ WIOX
    Roxbury, NY 12474

    Saturday, December 1st at 9:00 p.m.
    Crossroads Brewing Company
    21 Second Street
    Athens, NY 12015
    (518) 945-2338
    Eat, Drink and Enjoy

    Sunday, December 2nd at 7:00 p.m.
    Red Square
    Hurricane Sandy Benefit Show
    388 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12207
    (518) 465-0444
    $10 at Door, $7 w/ non-perishable food item or clothing donation
    Facebook event page and line-up

Thanks so much, folks. I wouldn’t be able to do any of the above without your support and I hope to see you out there. Much love your way…

– Mike