Mike Younger is that rarest of artists - one so fervently driven to express himself through his music that he has navigated many obstacles, including homelessness and the carnivorous major label recording industry, out of an instinctive pursuit of his musical goals. Mike is a legitimate survivor, a gifted singer-songwriter who doesn't just drone vacantly about hardships and trials, but who has actually lived through them... and whose strength and resilience spring from his passion for his art. "I can't even imagine having lived my life any other way. I make music for one very simple reason - it's what I was born to do!"
With the completion of his new album, Every Stone You Throw, Mike has chronicled his intrepid odyssey, taking listeners on a tour of his styles and stories and offering a very intimate look into the frenzied world of an artist who has led his life in a relentless search for the muse. The 12 songs on Every Stone You Throw ultimately represent a turbulent, yet rewarding, chapter in this talented artist's unparalleled life.
Though born and raised in Nova Scotia, the wayfaring Younger has recorded in New Orleans, Nashville and New York. Since leaving home, he has unconditionally committed his life to following his creative spirit, drifting through manifold cities, cultures and styles - wherever the music has taken him. He has tirelessly performed in nearly every venue imaginable - street corners, waterfront piers, subways, work camps, coffee houses, nightclubs, concert halls and theaters. The beauty of Mike Younger's uniquely hybridized music is that it bears the influences of each and every one of these locales and experiences.
Mike began his career as a teenage busker, leaving his native Halifax at the age of 17. Anxious to see the world, he hitchhiked across the country, ultimately ending up in Vancouver. There, he survived by playing for tips with only an acoustic guitar and harmonica as accompaniment.
He touched down temporarily in Toronto before crossing the border to New York City, seeking out the energy of the storied Greenwich Village folk scene that served as one of his earliest inspirations. No longer the fabled Village of the '60s he had imagined, Mike instead discovered an altogether different side of New York, falling in with the tough squatting community on the city's Lower East Side. Basic survival very quickly became his first priority. Still, he grasped at every opportunity to share and cultivate his music.
It was a sound from thousands of miles away - the Southern blues of artists like Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly and Robert Johnson - that would speak to Mike Younger more than any other music previously had, and that would ultimately transform the determined musician from street player to professional recording artist. "When I first heard that Southern sound, it hit me in the gut... in my soul. It was so mystical and fascinating, but also instantly familiar - it was a real revelation to me just how big an influence this music was on the artists I admired." So when the South beckoned, he heeded the call by taking a trip to Mardi Gras in 1993. Intending to visit Louisiana for a week, he ended up staying for five years.
It was in New Orleans that Mike got his first big break, through legendary DJ John Sinclair, former spiritual adviser to the MC5 and founder of the radical White Panthers. After meeting Mike, Sinclair recognized a kindred rebellious soul and invited him to play live on his popular WWOZ radio program, "The New Orleans Music Show." The broadcast - and the urgent energy of a compelling young artist - happened to be heard by Nashville-based music publisher Chris Keaton, who signed Mike to a publishing deal. When one of Mike's songs reached Rodney Crowell, the country superstar was so blown away by the raw emotion and honesty ingrained in a basic demo, he signed on to produce Mike's entire debut album. Recorded in Nashville as a largely solo acoustic venture, Somethin' in the Air was released in 1999.
Mike Younger's debut record received tremendous critical acclaim and overwhelming radio success, spawning two top-requested singles, while also landing songs on two prominent network television series. The title track even has its own place in history, as part of both Starbucks' and the Sundance Film Festival's first-ever musical ventures. The album's success also led to Mike opening for artists ranging from Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle and Asleep at the Wheel to Kansas and Jill Sobule.
Following a soul-searching exodus into the deserts of the American Southwest, Mike made a decision reminiscent of one of his greatest idols, Bob Dylan, picking up an electric guitar for the first time and radically altering both his sound and his songwriting. Newly inspired, Mike returned to New York to reunite with old friend and pianist Bob Packwood to assemble a full four-piece band, adding Skip Ward on bass and Louis Appel on drums. After playing live together for nearly two solid years, Mike and his new band ventured to Nashville and - under the guidance of distinguished producer and engineer Rob Clark (Neil Young, Emmylou Harris) - laid down the basic tracks for Every Stone You Throw in just three days. A seamless combination of alt-country, singer-songwriter and pop-rock stylings, Every Stone You Throw is the result of a tightly-honed group of skilled musicians bringing a talented songwriter's compositions colorfully to life.
For Mike Younger, Every Stone You Throw is the tangible harvest of what has been, to this point, a journey of perseverance and determination. Ultimately though, at its heart, Every Stone You Throw is the sound of a free spirit reconciling his diverse influences under one roof and finally finding a place to call home.
Every Stone You Throw will be released March 7, 2006, by Bare Bone Productions.
Check out the artist's website:
2. Everyday War
6. Killin Time
7. Make You Mine
8. Trouble Can Last
9. Devil's On The Rise
10. Baby What Can I Say?
11. Eatin My Heart Out
12. Somethin To Believe