With a vintage voice and a chest full of hauntingly heartfelt songs, prolific storyteller Mike Powell is the underground messenger of blue-collar soul. Each night the lights go up, this pioneering poet lets his guard down and allows the fervently fearless stories to come to life. His comfort behind a microphone and unique brand of atomic folk creates a vibe that warms the room like a long ago fire burning hot inside a cabin in the woods.
He was grown along the banks of the mighty Black River in the paper making town of Champion, NY, by his mill working father and an artist mother. The front half of his childhood home was converted into a retail space called “Grandma’s Room” where his mother would sell her crafts to the people of their small community. It was typical for her customers to be invited into their small kitchen for coffee and conversation. Young Mike Powell would lie under the table, close his eyes and absorb all of the unique stories that these folks would tell.
Around that same table, once the sun had set, his father, Larry, would return in his blue mill-issued uniform with beer, friends and a carton of cigarettes. Larry would play guitar and his friends would sing along to old country songs by Willie, Hank and the Possum. The format in the kitchen was the same every night, Larry would play a song and then someone would tell a story. All of this seeped deep into Mike Powell’s fabric and it truly comes through in his shows. His performances feel like your sitting around a small kitchen table in a tiny American town with your closest friends drinking. laughing and telling tales.
“A Mike Powell performance is an exhibit in honest talent.” NYS Music
In 2004, Powell left Syracuse University as the most decorated lacrosse player in history but declined offers to play professionally so that he could focus fully on the craft of songwriting. Over the past fifteen years he’s written over two hundred songs, released seven albums and has toured the country playing shows with Martin Sexton, David Lindley, Shooter Jennings, Sarah Lee Guthrie & many more.
This fiercely independent artist presents his songs in several different formats which allows his sound to match whatever room he’s playing. His relaxed solo-style listening room show puts Powell’s extreme comfort as a performer on display and breaks down the door between the stage and the mezzanine. His duo format features his best friend, multi-instrumentalist and musical companion for over 15 years, John William Hanus III. With the looseness of the solo show but with beautifully thoughtful landscapes created by sonic wizard Hanus III it truly adds another dimension to the palette and adds color to the pictures. Powell also fronts a five piece rock n’ roll band called The Black River that is designed for dancing and geared for grooving. Powell with The Black River has been described by fans as “Little Feat meets John Prine”.