By Kristi Kates
When I was young, the guitar represented a new way of life that you couldnt really learn in school, explains the California guitarist/vocalist/songwriter known simply as Michael On Fire. It was portrayed as a symbol of freedom - a weapon of the young rebellious spirit that was called rock and roll, he says.
By the time Michael On Fire was of age, as he explains it, musicians like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Muddy Waters had gotten into the fabric of society, and it was only a very short matter of time before Michael On Fire was - well, on fire for music. From that point on, no other career would do.
WAY OF LIFE
As a kid, it seemed like a great way to make a living as portrayed on TV and the radio, he says, and as soon as I started playing, I started to discover the roots of American music, and it was very natural to me.
Michael on Fires musical skills wouldnt lead him to a hobby, but to a way of life, he says - I have been on the road for four decades, traveling every part of the country and the world playing music for a living.
Influenced by all good music from every era and genre, Michael on Fire is irrepressibly positive in his approach to his craft, which he sees as a vehicle for a kind of musical good work that he hopes will help encourage a more peaceful world of affirmations, soulful sincerity, and sharing.
The theme of all of my music has always been the same, he explains. Self-awareness, self-healing, and striving to find the common emotions that we all can relate to as humans. The common thread is the roots of American music - the blues, country, rock and roll, and folk music, borrowing from all genres in the most simple way using guitars, fiddles, banjo, piano, organ, drums, harmonica, and beautiful melodies and harmonies.
NOVI TO LONDON
All of those musical elements were brought together for Michael on Fires latest album, which was recorded in November/December of last year.
It was recorded at Real Sound in Novi, Michigan, and at Black Box Sound in Atescadero, California, Michael on Fire says, it is my latest studio album, and has been on the National American Music Charts for 20 weeks.
Michael on Fire took tunes from that same album to England for the past two weeks, where he recorded a performance at The Live Room in Palmers Green in North London, a performance that he says is slated to be mixed and then potentially released as a Michael On Fire Live in London CD album.
It was all improvised, with me singing my songs and the Irish players doing what they do, he says, Americana (music) mixed with traditional Irish sensibilities. I think we got some worthwhile music out of it.
Michael on Fire will be bringing his sound to Northern Michigan for a trio of shows beginning July 20; hell follow his MI dates with a show at The Ark in Ann Arbor, and then its on to Texas, Colorado, and California, with a European tour in the planning stages.
We will be coming through the Northern Michigan stretch of the tour with a four piece band, he says, myself on guitars and maybe piano; the great English guitarist Ced Curtis, who comes from the same lineage as the great Peter Green and Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler; California/New Orleans bassist Jack Joshua; and Tompeet from Santa Barbara, California on drums.
Michael on Fire is keeping his positive attitude with an eye towards these upcoming shows, as well, as he looks to win over new fans - even if his style of music may not be your style of music.
Whether or not (my music) is your taste, he says, I can guarantee that it will be presented from the heart of these wonderful players.
Michael on Fire will be performing live at the Glen Arbor Music Festival on Wednesday, July 20; at the InsideOut Gallery in TC on Friday, July 22; and at the Elk Rapids Town Hall on Saturday, July 23.