Thank god for Grumpy D’s virtual Open Mic

Fucking pandemic. My band Don’t Think Twice was just getting our tunes tight and booking more gigs. Singing 4-part harmonies with Steve, Raya and Megan was such a good time, as was learning to play the bass to broaden our sound. Audiences were digging the music, we were digging each other and it was all coming together.

Then, well, you know.

I did some solo Facebook livestreams those first few months. Who didn’t, right? They were fun, a reason to play, but a hard way to connect with people unless you had a whole thing going. Kudos to friends like Jim Page and Bill Davie for figuring out their angle on making livestreams work in terms of community building.

My saving grace was finding the online manifestation of the Grumpy D’s Open Mic. It’s a place to play live online for people who not only want to hear music, they want to support each other as musicians and people. We range from seasoned touring pros to shower singers and everything in between. It’s a great opportunity to build community through music. I would not have made it this far through the pandemic without these friends. Special thanks to Alan Camhi, Godfather of the Grumpy D’s Open Mic, and to James Dailey, Charles Trafford, Judy Kaplan and Deb Seymour for hosting and making it all happen. Sometimes when I play, I capture my performance on video at the same time. Here are a few from the past months. Thanks for listening!

This Old World is a song a wrote about 10 years ago that is oddly prescient.

When I was a kid there was a family secret never told about someone dying on my Grandfather’s farm in West Virginia. Romney is my attempt to flesh out the story.

Redtail Hawk is about looking for my roots.

I love singing sad songs and Kris Delmhorst’s Words Fail You is one of the best.

I wrote this song for my father, but it goes out to everyone who hopes to see someone they lost on the other side if the Bridge Don’t Rise.

“It’s so easy to dream of the days gone by…” starts this perfect song by Bob Franke, Thanksgiving Eve.

Even in these dark days everyone has some light to Shine On (by May Erlewine).

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New tune: Two Days Down the Line

Here’s a new song about a contemporary right of passage, getting your first coronavirus test! I started writing it in the car on the way home, and finished it just before I got my results. You have to listen to hear them…

Sometimes songs come to you wearing the clothes of another tune. Folk process, I guess. This one arrived wearing a sporty John Prine set of chord changes. Given John tragically died of COVID earlier this year, it’s only fitting. So, thanks, John, for decades of inspiration and for these chords. Apologies for swiping them.

Bonus points to anyone who knows where they came from!

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Celebrate Labor Day at the Tumbleweed Music Festival!

The pandemic forced the legendary Tumbleweed Music Festival into virtual mode this year, and I’m happy to be playing one of the singer-songwriter showcase stages!

The Tumbleweed crew has done an amazing job building a virtual festival that captures the best of the 24-year old event. While I’ll miss lazy late summer walks along the Columbia River in Richland, the virtual festival gives everyone around the globe a chance to tune in and hear some amazing songwriters, and roots musicians of all genres. Performers have pre-taped their sets and Tumbleweed has grouped us on the “stages” we would have played live. All the sets will be available starting Thursday, Sept. 3 and remain on their web platform for a full year.

No more running back and forth between stages, catching half of an act and splitting to see another. We can all sit back, relax, replay and enjoy the shows!

The weekend also featured a number of live workshops on Zoom, on topics from “Chord Science for Songwriters” to “Flamenco Dance.” Details on the webpage.

This is something like my 6th appearance at Tumbleweed, including one time as a finalist in the festival’s Jane Titland Memorial Songwriters Contest. The 10 finalist songs on this year’s theme of “wind” will play Saturday afternoon, alas without me. I expect there will be some mechanism for expressing your vote for the People’s Choice award.

So tune in, this weekend, or anytime this year.

Usually when I drive to Richland for the festival I stop and enjoy the Yakima River Canyon. Here’s a shot from last year’s trip…

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Don’t Think Twice!

For the 4 months prior to the COVID lock-down, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of forming a band with a group of friends: Don’t Think Twice.

A cross-generational group, we bonded over simpatico tastes in music and a love of singing and playing. With three songwriters, four-part harmony and five decades of U.S. and Canadian rock and folk to draw from, we were on a run of great shows before the virus changed things.

Don’t Think Twice is Steve Polyak on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Mehgan Nolte on guitar and vocals, Raya Polyak on vocals and me on guitar, bass(!) and vocals.

In our short run we’ve played The Grotto at The Rendevous, Northwest Cellars and The Couth Buzzard. I hope to hell you get a chance to see us soon.

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Return to Tumbleweed!

I’ll be playing the Tumbleweed Music Festival in bucolic Howard Amon Park in Richland, Washington this Labor Day weekend!

My set is Sunday, September 1, 2019, on the West Stage from 5:45-6:30pm.

Tumbleweed is a truly magical event, driven by volunteers and an extended community that loves its acoustic music, and especially songwriters! Hope to see you there!

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Barrel-aged Folk & Pop at Northwest Cellars June 14

Steve Polyak and I are at Northwest Cellars for our only spring show, Friday June 14th from 5:30-8:30pm.

At Northwest Cellars, 12/18

Steve is a great harmony singer and we’ve worked up a mix of heartfelt and quirky originals and tasty covers for you. Here’s a couple of tunes we recorded this winter:

Big Wheel
The Great Wheel on the Seattle waterfront is the latest symbol of the impact of circles money on the Puget Sound region.

Kids on a Train
Steve Polyak original about a life-changing moment in his Grandfather’s life.

Mad World
‘Nuff said

Northwest Cellars is a lovely room to listen to music while sampling their lineup of award winning wines. Bob Delf is a master blender and Steve and I are huge fans of their reds! In addition the Northwest Cellars crew puts out a great spread of food and they love to talk about and show off their wines. So come and join us!

Friday June 14, 2019
Northwest Cellars
11909 124th Ave NE, Kirkland, Washington 98034 (map)
5:30-8:30 pm

Steve Polyak at Weird Signals studio

Steve in the studio

Mike Buchman at Weird Signals Studio

Mike in the studio

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Mike & Steve’s Antidote to Black Friday

Steve Polyak and I return to Grumpy D’s Friday, November 24,  7-9pm.
7001 15th Ave. NW. No cover, all ages!

a40e293e-f230-40b9-888d-5142562aa443Join us for an evening of intimate music, good friends, long-distance family, good eats and drinks. And music, from deeply personal originals to power pop covers featuring fancy picking and tight harmonies. And leftover pumpkin pie.

Here’s a slice straight from the oven. It’s my newest song and YOU are the first to hear it.

Hope you can join us!

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Heading back to Tumbleweed!

I’m thrilled to be playing the 2017 Tumbleweed Music Festival, this Labor Day Weekend, in bucolic Howard Amon Park on the shores of the mighty Columbia River in Richland, WA.

I’ve got a set 5:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 3 at the new Arts Gallery Stage, sponsored by
KPND 95.3 radio. You can find the complete festival schedule heremike.

Tumbleweed is a sweet festival that highlights regional and nationally-known singer-songwriters.

The  Jane Titland Memorial Songwriting Contest is a centerpiece of the festival. This year’s theme is “Harmony” and 10 finalists will perform their songs Saturday at 4:15pm at the West Stage.

My song “Visual Harmony” was named an alternate to the finalists, so if any of the 10 happen to miss the festival, I might get to join in! This is my third time as an alternate, to go with one time as a finalist for my tune “Bridge Don’t Rise.”

Tumbleweed is an ideal way to spend Labor Day weekend, lounging under the shade trees and enjoying the finest in new acoustic music. Hope you can join us!

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Updated pic

mike with beardOh shit, I grew a beard and never updated all the pics. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

Played a great gig last month as a benefit for the family of Joe Misuda, Victory Music President who suffered a tragic, fatal bike accident. My good friend Steve Polyak joined me for a few songs and I debuted my sparkly electric guitar, a Danelecto Hodad!

Steve Wacker shared the bill. We packed Egan’s Ballard Jam House and raised over $600 to help with Joe’s uncovered medical care. Good community vibe!

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Wild-crafted songs at the Couth

falltourI’ll be joining the lovely and talented Bill Davie an evening of wild-crafted-crafted, hand-formed, organic, locally-sourced songs! Drop on by and grab a fistful of sound and mixed metaphors! Warning: this performance may contain banjos.

Saturday Sept 20 @ The Couth Buzzard

8310 Greenwood Avenue North

7:30 – 9:30 (2 sets each!)

always free, always fun

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