Mike Mizwinski: East Hope Avenue

Pop music since the 2000s has gone through interesting evolutions and continues as a topic of focus. So many styles and genres have been amalgamated and fused together. It seems as if modern pop seeks to embrace non-style or attaining something off-blues. The trend almost seems be a sound that denies roots and style, as if that would make it more interesting inherently through its disobedience of definition. In light of this goofy paradox, artists that reach out to roots seem to captivate my interest more so. When a guitarist and vocalist as ranged and talented as Mike Mizwinski aimed his newest album to seek out both pop and roots within the scope of its sound, he successfully over-hurdled this problem in modern pop.

Mizwinski could be called a folk vocalist, or a country artist, a future jam-band mainstay, a flat-picking or blues-ripping master. Ultimately with his range of ability, “Miz” decided to base his album East Hope Avenue, on something different than displaying his band talents. Rather, as a recovered addict, Miz’s album is a statement to the success of his rigorous touring career and persona as a musician. Combining songs he’s been playing for years and newer studio cuts, Easy Hope Avenue tells the story of Miz and the scope of his experiences. Many of the cuts on this album are all-too-personal to the extent that a listener may reflect parallel struggles in their life. On Easy Hope Avenue, struggle and recovery come hand in hand, but the truth within music lifts us back to the people we were before we lost ourselves.

So many acknowledgements of structure and blues come through in the twelve songs on this album. The opening tune, “October Skies” begins the journey with heavy harmonica, organ and guitar cooperation while already achieving lyrical complexity. Miz’s band acknowledges Mike as the leader, but certainly help complete the sound he could not gather completely with his solo-acoustic format. “New Morning Sky” which Miz performs frequently sounds like Paul Butterfield/Bob Dylan style Americana, embracing the sincere direction of that family of Woodstock rock. While grazing the struggles of addiction lyrically in previous tracks, “Dopesick Blues” directly illustrates Mike’s first and secondhand experiences with the cyclical dangers of using and the road it leads us down. Juxtaposing love and use and the damage of combining the two. The songs up-tempo is disturbingly opposite of the darkness displayed lyrically.

My favorite track on the disc is certainly the musically complex “Was A Time”. Where other tracks may have been stronger inspired by country or folk, Mike displays his flat-picking chops and the importance of ability to his sound and repertoire. The honky-tonk shuffle trades back and forth with bluegrass licks, which makes for high-energy results. The strongest track of the album lyrically comes next with “New York City Skyline” which pays due to the folk generation sound of the 1960s in Manhattan. Mizwinski uses the alternative blues sound to update the nostalgia contained its lyrics. “Oklahoma” utilizes pedal steal guitar playing; accumulating the idea of this roots country-rock idea in contemporary context. Every song in between congeals the mood of the album: melancholy devotion to the self.

Since Easy Hope Avenue seems to represent reconciliation between mistakes in the past and the power of music in the present. Mike treats his listeners to the entirety of his musical concept. He is an artist that lacks definition not through defiance of style but through the sheer range of his musical understanding. Miz’s concept seems to embrace the ingredients of what builds his big sound, as he weaves his story of overcoming addiction through his passion in music. Part of what brought him “back amongst the living” as a close friend put it was having something to soak up the sorrows of life’s perplexities.

Mizwinski only seems to tour heavily in the New England area. Perhaps this record will bring him into the national attention he deserves. Whether he prefers to tour in his home state of Pennsylvania or is an up-and-coming for venues west and beyond, I would be thrilled for the opportunity to see a live performance. This album should have fans of Miz thrilled and create positive expansion for his career in the future. The record certainly stands on its own separate from his touring band as a tight concept and successful execution

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1 Comment

CrazySweeney67's picture

 I consider myself a professional when it comes to the music business. I am a very lousy player of few instruments yet I can carry a rusty tune and my pen has the perpencedy to jot some interesting lyrics. Though none of that qualifies me as a "professional". My professionalisim comes from the fact that MUSIC is part of me. I have attended owell over 500 concerts as of January 2012. I have purchased tickets for the "Furthur Tours" upcoming run at the Beacon Theater in NYC and on Friday will be buying Thursday and Friday night tickets for the Allman Brothers Band yearly Beacon run. I am stoked to say the least. From the Allmans to Zevon I have seen the best of the best. I sat front row and watched as Derek Trucks  and Jimmy Herring exchanged smiles as Warren Haynes was showing to them his fingers bleeding during a mindblowing jam at Bethel Woods in the summer of 09'. Instead of slowing down Warren played harder which envoked the same response from Herring and Trucks. Of course they had to pick up the slack of the 5 stringed guitar Haynes was now playing. They may just be 3 of the best guitar players alive today. That are constantly touring anyway. Sure there is Clapton, who I saw several times and his old band mate Steve Winwood who I also saw on several ocassions with and without Eric. Jimmy Herring was playing with WSP the night of the finger bleeding incident. I mentioned the front row but it was actually 2nd row center. I have also had many a nose bleed climbing the steps to see some of my favorites as well. Now-a-days I like to be back a bit so I can consume the rich sound of the speakers. 

 

WOHA!!!! Hold up a second, I think I'm supposed to be talking about Mike Mizwinski here??? Yep, I get side tracked. I just neede to let you know my commitment to GOOD music and how I believe that makes me a professional is some form or another. I finally found time and a reason to hear Mike Miz for the first time in the summer of 2011. He was an early opener for Bob FUCKING Dylan! Well maybe the kid would get me a bit excited for my near 50th Dylan show. The first chords combined with the first notes of his opening song hooked me like a bass wit a mouthfull of trebble hooks. From there it was off to the races. The venue only 3 miles from my front porch is a beautiful ampitheater set on the East Mountain of the Lackawanna Valley. The Endless Mountains was the view behind me with a soft setting sun on a hot summer day. What I thought was going to be a sizeing up of sorts turned out to be a psychadelic trip out to the perimiter where there are no stars and again slowly back with no substances injested. Mike Mizwinski Lays it out. He bares his soul and bleeds music in a magical way which I have only witnessed from the best of the best, and here on this mountain top hearing him for the first time in my life and at such a young age this kid just preformed a motherfucking miricle. Dylan was fodder after what I had just witnessed. I had to go see Dylan 2 days later at Bethel Woods so I could get something out of it. My brain was still fragmenting This new music God by the time Dylan took the stage.

 I too am a junkie on leave, my demons at rest for the moment. The important part is that I know they travel with me day and night waiting and wanting to battle yet again, Thankfully, time, a great wife, 2 kids and the unwillingness not to hurt or loose them has helped keep my sword sheethed. With all of that I still have to say it is music that fills that void that longs for my certain self destruction. It was "The Grateful Dead" and so many more who helped in keeping me clean. CD's, MP3's and albums only help in a moment. It is Live music which soothes this beast. I say live not because I am seeing it played live but because I can see, hear and feel the music being played as its own living breathing entity. Mike Mizwinski has the ability to perform this miricle at will. I Have heard every song ever written about the demon heroin, From Zevon's Classic Carmalitta to Lennons sad attempt at Cold Turkey. Hey, I LOVE JOHN LENNON but lets be honest here, any junkie woth his spit knows lennon never felt the pangs of a good smack habbit, and good for him by the way. Comfortably Numb by Floyd is my most relatable tune concerning the devil but mike has some butes that just make me feel like I'm sticking a dagger right into the heart of the beast. Dope Sick Blues and Heel's of the Day bring the pain to the surface where you can....... Words won't do justice here. Another tune that no one would consider a dope song is beautiful and reminds you of who you are and how ther is no answer for the why. I won't name it so not to ruin it for ones who have never imbibed,

       Now besides the fact that Mike is a recovering addict and I could relate bares little weight on why I Love this guys music so much. With or without the weight this man is just a musical phenonemon. Rock/Country/Blues/ and Bluegrass rolled up into one big joint. The speed of his fingers and the risks of going furthur with every chord and note just boggles the mind. The profoundness of the lyrics from a 20 something year old man tells us he is the owner of a much, much, wiser and older soul. In 2011 mike playe 261 shows. He broke his own record. He is working on material for a follow up to East Hope Avenue. I have heard 3-4 of the singles and they are all amazing. The music industry is not only a hard nut to crack but a dangerous one at that.If Mike is searching for Fame, I hope he gets it. I just hope he has the tools and resources to handle it. We all need to be careful for what we ask for..... We just might get it. Weather mike plays for sold out stadiums or ends up back at the coroner is yet to be seen, The music industry isn't much interested in providing us with quality music to stimulate our mind and thought process. Something which Mike offers freely in his music. One thing is for certain, If your a jammer and you hear Mike play, you a fan taht day. I've seen it. People comming in to a small bar for dinner and a beer. Mike takes the satge or coroner in most cases and that hour or two oot for dinner turns into a night out. I told him he was right up there with the best of them and he replied coyly, "well, not yet but I'm practicing". Only weeks later he's making best of lists with the likes of Ryan Adams ans, YES, Derek Trucks. Thats just naming 2..... I know Tom Waits was up on one, and, well, search for yourself. This kid is the real deal, and when he makes it big you can always say, HEY! Billy Sweeney the Professional Music Guy said he was gonna hit the big time.... Good Luck Mike, Hold on tight!

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